Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, who has been leading the studio since 2013, and helped launched the DCEU and the Fantastic Beasts film franchises, will be stepping down as of today in the wake of a new sex scandal, according to THR. The decision comes after a number of explicit texts between him and actress Charlotte Kirk was leaked to the public that revealed that the CEO would offer acting roles to the actress in exchange for sex. More on the report below.
THR was the first to report on the shakeup. “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.,” said WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey on Monday. “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.”
Earlier this month, THR had actually reported on a series of leaked texts between Tsujihara and Kirk that revealed the CEO would help the actress’s career in exchange for sexual favors. In the correspondence, Kirk reportedly offered to arrange for Kirk go get auditions, but Tsujihara’s personal attorney said that he had no direct involvement in Kirk’s casting. Kirk went on to get two small roles in the WB films How to Be Single and Ocean’s 8. However, a third-party investigation is looking into the claims made against Tsujihara.
Tsujihara first joined WB in 1994 as the director of special projects, finance, and overseer of the company’s Six Flag amusement park properties. He was soon promoted to CEO of the studio’s home entertainment division. As the years progressed, he would soon become the first Asian American to head a major entertainment studio and was soon given more responsibilities that included “oversight of a new kids and young adults business bringing together family, kids and animation businesses from across WarnerMedia, including Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang. Additionally, Otter Media, Turner Classic Movies and all activities around licensed consumer products development for WarnerMedia properties were added to his portfolio.”
The decision also comes at a time when AT&T acquired the studio for $85 billion. With no head overseeing the studio, and the responsibilities that Tsujihara was just given, it looks like execs could be scrambling to find a suitable replacement.
In a company-wide memo, Tsujihara addressed his previous indiscretions and explained “how the attention on my past actions might impact the company’s future,” was one of the reasons for him stepping down. Additionally, he said, “it has become clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success. The hard work of everyone within our organization is truly admirable, and I won’t let media attention on my past detract from all the great work the team is doing.”