Tsujihara Out at Warner Bros.

Kevin Tsujihara is stepping down as chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment amid allegations of sexual improprieties.

“Over the past week and a half, I have been reflecting on how the attention on my past actions might impact the company’s future. After lengthy introspection, and discussions with John Stankey over the past week, we have decided that it is in Warner Bros.’ best interest that I step down as chairman and CEO,” said Tsujihara in a statement reported by Variety, adding, “My continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success.”

“It is in the best interest of WarnerMedia, Warner Bros., our employees and our partners for Kevin to step down as chairman and CEO of Warner Bros.,” WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said in a statement, according to the Variety report. “Kevin has contributed greatly to the studio’s success over the past 25 years and for that we thank him. Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the company’s leadership expectations and could impact the company’s ability to execute going forward.”

Stankey stated an interim leadership plan would be announced to staff March 19.

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Tsujihara March 8 had issued an email apology to staff members for his behavior regarding allegations he was having an extramarital affair with aspiring actress Charlotte Kirk, and that he helped her land roles and auditions to keep the tryst secret.

The affair, which reportedly occurred shortly after Tsujihara became studio chief in 2013, was disclosed March 6 by The Hollywood Reporter.

The story prompted Warner Bros. parent company WarnerMedia, the AT&T subsidiary created in the wake of its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, to re-open an investigation into Tsujihara regarding the allegations. A WarnerMedia management shuffle March 4, just prior to the article, had Tsujihara taking on additional duties at WarnerMedia involving programming for children and young adults.

“I deeply regret that these personal actions have caused embarrassment to the company and to all of you,” Tsujihara wrote in the March 8 email. “I realized some time ago you are right to expect more from me and I set a course to do better.”

Kevin Tsujihara Apologizes to Warner Staff for ‘Mistakes’ in Personal Life

Kevin Tsujihara, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros., March 8 issued an email apology to staff members for his behavior regarding an extramarital affair and allegations he helped aspiring actress Charlotte Kirk land roles and auditions to keep the tryst secret.

Tsujihara, who had his duties at WarnerMedia recently expanded following a management shuffle, is under investigation by the media company created following AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

Specifically, the affair, which reportedly occurred shortly after Tsujihara became CEO of Warner Bros. in 2013, was disclosed March 6 by The Hollywood Reporter.

“I deeply regret that these personal actions have caused embarrassment to the company and to all of you,” Tsujihara wrote in the email. “I realized some time ago you are right to expect more from me and I set a course to do better.”

The CEO said he would fully cooperate with WarnerMedia and a third-party law firm reviewing the situation.

“Please don’t let my mistakes become a distraction,” Tsujihara wrote.

 

WarnerMedia Re-Opens Tsujihara Inquiry Regarding Inappropriate Behavior

WarnerMedia has re-opened an internal investigation involving Kevin Tsujihara, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros., regarding allegations he traded sex for auditions with an aspiring actress.

Tsujihara, the former home entertainment executive who became CEO of Warner Bros. in 2013 when the studio was owned by Time Warner, had been previously investigated for inappropriate behavior involving British actress Charlotte Kirk.

That investigation reportedly found no inappropriate influence by Tsujihara. Kirk did land small roles in How to be Single (2016) and Ocean’s 8 in 2018, in addition to auditions for other Warner movies.

When details of the affair, including efforts by Tsujihara, director Brett Ratner and business partner James Packer to placate Kirk were made public March 6 by The Hollywood Reporter, WarnerMedia re-opened the investigation.

“Whenever we receive new allegations, it is our standard practice to conduct an appropriate investigation. And that is what we will do here,” a WarnerMedia representative said in a media statement.

Lawyers for both Kirk and Tsujihara deny the CEO exerted any preferential treatment or pressure on behalf of the actress.

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The inquiry comes as Tsujihara had his role at WarnerMedia expanded to include oversight of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, Otter Media, Turner Classic Movies and WarnerMedia’s licensed consumer products.

Indeed, Tsujihara’s long history in digital content distribution dates back to the dotcom era where he spearheaded Warner’s short-lived Entertaindom platform.

In an interview 10 years ago, Tsujihara questioned traditional distribution in a rapidly evolving digital age. He pushed for early electronic sellthrough movie release dates ahead of DVD, arguing EST margins were better than packaged-media’s cash cow status. And he advocated for early access to theatrical movies in the home at a premium price, otherwise known as PVOD.

It’s a progressive mindset that over time convinced Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes to put Tsujihara in charge of Warner Bros., arguing his digital vision and recognition of alternative distribution channels outweighed the status quo at the venerable film studio.

A legacy Tsujihara nurtures to this day spearheading stacking rights of Warner TV content to distribution partners across the ecosystem.

“At Warner Bros., what we want to do is take the show and put it on the most appropriate platform,” Tsujihara told Deadline.com in an interview.

Tsujihara was a big supporter of the studios banding together to create a digital storage locker for movies, first championing UltraViolet and later joining the other majors, sans Paramount, in Movies Anywhere — a platform that links to seven online retailers, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Comcast’s Xfinity Store, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV and FandangoNow.

In an interview last month with the Los Angeles Times, Tsujihara reiterated continued support for PVOD, despite the fact most exhibitors and Wall Street analysts consider it a failed venture.

“It’s about finding the right platform for the content,” he said. “If consumers want to be able to experience [a movie] in the home sooner, then they should have that. That’s where we’d like to see the movie business go.”