Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara has stepped down as Chairman-CEO of Warner Bros. after an investigation into sexual impropriety with actress Charlotte Kirk as well as claims that he used his personal clout during their relationship to help her land work with the studio.
Tsujihara released a statement announcing his departure from the studio. In part, it said, “my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success.”
You can read the entire text of the memo below:
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.
I love this company and the people that make it so great. I’ve been honored to head this organization and work alongside all of its talented employees over the past 25 years. Together we’ve built this studio into an unequivocal leader in the industry.
However, 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.
I am overwhelmed and grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from colleagues and industry partners during this difficult time.
Again, I am so proud of the great work that you do every day to make Warner Bros. the gold standard in our industry. It has been a pleasure to work alongside each and every one of you, and I wish you all the absolute best.
Echoing his words, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey wrote his own memo:
“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. It was a decision made with the best, long-term interests of the Company, our employees and our partners in mind.
Kevin has acknowledged that his mistakes are inconsistent with the Company’s leadership expectations and could impact the Company’s ability to execute going forward. During his 25 year tenure, Kevin contributed greatly to the growth and success of the studio, and for that we thank him. I would like to personally thank him for the support he provided me following the close of our merger.
You have my commitment to work diligently and quickly to minimize any disruption in the day-to-day operations of the studio as a result of this leadership transition. I will share an interim leadership structure with all of you tomorrow.
I also want to thank all of our employees, particularly the teams at Warner Bros., for your patience and honesty, and we will continue to lean on your collective resiliency, dedication and professionalism as we chart a new path for our company together.”
This all comes after WarnerMedia launched an investigation against Kevin Tsujihara after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. A number of text messages between Tsujihiara and Kirk implied the Tsujihara used his position as chairman-CEO to help Kirk obtain acting roles with the studio.
One text message conversations showed Kirk frustrated with her lack of progress in the industry. She texted Tsujihara: “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?” Kevin Tsujihara responded: “Sorry you feel that way. Richard will be reaching out to u tonight.”
Kirk recently discussed her relationship with Tsujihara with the Daily Mail saying, “Hollywood pivots on helpful friends. You can talk to someone differently after you have been intimate with them. There is a connection. You don’t say, “Get me a role”, but you expect openness and honesty when you have been lovers and you expect them to be there for you as a friend. In my case, that meant him potentially directing me towards auditions, helping me get into the room.”
She added, “Whatever work I got from an audition would be on my own professional acting ability and merit.”
“If I’d been a man I would have had a pat on the back. Instead, because I am a young woman, I am accused of being a slut and a conniving, calculating one at that. Women like powerful men. Power is attractive – anyone who doesn’t believe that needs to look at the history of Hollywood or politics or big business. I liked Kevin, there was chemistry.”
Kirk would also comment on the #MeToo movement and why she chose not to claim victimhood, “That would cheapen all the men and women who have genuinely been exploited. That’s not me. I had a relationship with Kevin because I wanted to.”
What do you make of Tsujihara’s decision to step down from Warner Bros.? What do you think about Kirk’s handling of the situation?