The chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. is currently under investigation by WarnerMedia after reports that he used his position to advance the career of an actress with whom he was having an extramarital affair.
According to a report published by The Hollywood Reporter, actress Charlotte Kirk was promised multiple roles and career support after sleeping with Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara. Kirk was introduced to Tsujihara through Australian billionaire James Packer. Following their introduction, Tsujihara and Kirk’s relationship soon became sexual, and according to text message exchanges, Kirk was promised career assistance by Tsujihara during their affair:
“You’re very busy I know but when we were in that motel having sex u said u would help me and when u just ignore me like you’re doing now it makes me feel used. Are u going to help me like u said u would?”
These revelations come at a pivotal moment in Tsujihara’s career, as a recently unveiled reorganization of WarnerMedia shows that Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Studio will soon be placed under his direction. Tsujihara’s relationship with Kirk was first alluded to in an anonymous letter first reported on in September 2018, and the resulting investigation was reported to have found no evidence of wrongdoing.
At the time he introduced Kirk and Tsujihara, Packer and his business partner, X-Men: The Last Stand director Brett Ratner, were finalizing a deal between Warner Bros. and their production company, RatPAC-Dune Entertainment worth $450 million dollars. Kirk later texted Ratner that she felt her introduction to Tsujihara had been in service of this deal, stating she felt as if she was “used as the icing on the cake for your finance deal with Warner Bros” and that “It’s gross what you all did to me!!!”
Though she was enticed with roles in The Intern and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and was directly offered an opportunity to read for the titular role of Supergirl on the then-upcoming CW show by Tsujihara, Kirk was never cast in these productions. After months of frustration, Kirk was only cast in two small roles in How to Be Single and Ocean’s 8 (2018) respectively, the former to which Kirk texted Tsujihara, “Kevin? A two liner?? U have got to be kidding me!!”
During the course of this affair, Ratner became the point person when communicating with Kirk concerning the promises made by Tsujihara. Ratner responded to Kirk’s frustrations and complaints with sweeping dismissals of her stories:
“Kirk: You know what u need to do. U haven’t even come close to doing it. If you thought I would be so easily manipulated you’re wrong.
Ratner: “What are u talking about? I told u i would get Richard [Brener, then President of Production at Warners’ New Line label] to talk to u…. And he did. He is the key to getting work…. I don’t work for u. Why are u so unappreciative?”
“Kirk: You just keep lying to me about getting me jobs and you’re not doing what Kevin told you to do.
Ratner: I only promised u auditions not jobs.
Ratner: Jesus.. Stop acting desperate..”
At one point, a settlement was drafted by Kirk’s lawyer, but was ultimately not signed. According to the agreement, in exchange for Kirk’s silence on these matters, Ratner was to:
“arrange for [the actress] to obtain one (1) acting role compensated in accordance with SAG scale in the next theatrical motion picture directed by Ratner … In the event that, prior to the next theatrical motion picture Ratner directs, Ratner is able to obtain an Acting Role for Kirk in a motion picture he produces but does not direct, that Acting Role shall satisfy Ratner’s obligations pursuant to this provision. Kirk acknowledges and understands that there is no guarantee as to the size of the Acting Role and no guarantee with respect to credits for such Acting Role.”
Of considerable note is the fact that Kirk, the actress at the center of the controversy, has issued a statement denying The Hollywood Reporter’s report and denies any wrong doing by Packer, Ratner, or Tsujihara:
“I emphatically deny any inappropriate behaviour on the part of Brett Ratner, James Packer, and Kevin Tsujihara, and I have no claims against any of them. I confirm that I was in a romantic relationship with James Packer in the summer of 2013 and that I was treated with respect by Mr. Packer, and I have no issues with him or claims against him. I further confirm that when the relationship ended I sought the advice of Mr. Tsujihara whom I had been introduced to by Mr. Packer. Mr. Tsujihara never promised me anything. I also confirm that Brett Ratner helped me out of friendship to assist me in getting auditions and trying to help me find an agent, and I have no issues with him or claims against him. I deny that there was any legal settlement or agreement entered into between myself and Brett Ratner in 2016.”
In the wake of these revelations, WarnerMedia stated that “Through her spokesperson, the actress has publicly denied any impropriety in her casting, and our prior investigation did not find otherwise,” and that “Whenever we receive new allegations, it is our standard practice to conduct an appropriate investigation. And that is what we will do here.”
An attorney for Tsujihara has stated that “Mr. Tsujihara had no direct role in the hiring of this actress,” but on March 8th, Tsujihara issued a memo apologizing for his conduct and indicating that he would cooperate with the newly opened investigation:
By now, you’ve all seen the news reports from earlier this week.
I deeply regret that I have made mistakes in my personal life that have caused pain and embarrassment to the people I love the most. I also deeply regret that these personal actions have caused embarrassment to the company and to all of you. I realized some time ago you are right to expect more from me and I set a course to do better. That journey continues.
I am so proud of the great work you do every day. Together, we have built a company that is the gold standard in our industry. Warner Bros.’ culture is as important to our success as our business model. We need to continue the hard work we’ve done over the years to create a workplace where everyone feels included and heard. To that end, I’ve asked HR to make additional accommodations if anyone needs to talk.
Since WarnerMedia’s leadership became aware of details surrounding this situation some time ago, it has carefully reviewed the matter and handled appropriately, including having engaged a third-party law firm to conduct a series of inquiries. Following these most recent news reports, the company will again work with a third-party law firm to review the situation, and I will cooperate fully with this investigation.
Please don’t let my mistakes become a distraction. It’s important that we all stay focused on our work — and part of that is creating a culture and company of which we can all be proud. Thank you all for everything you do to make that happen every day.
What are you thoughts on the investigation into Tsujihara?