Warner Bros. Entertainment's chairman and CEO, Kevin Tsujihara, will be stepping down from his position at the Burbank studio. The decision comes after hundreds of text messages surfaced between Tsujihara and actress Charlotte Kirk, which were the missing link in a sexual misconduct investigation from November 2017. The messages between them had brought to light the sexual relationship between Kirk and Tsujihara along with promises that he'd made saying he'd push for auditions for Kirk.
Inquiries into Tsujihara's relationship with Kirk first bubbled up in 2017, but no action was taken until September 2018 after WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey received an anonymous letter detailing that a top Warner Bros. executive was promising roles to a young actress in exchange for her silence. The letter ended with the initials "CK", leaving many to assume it was penned by Kirk. Warner Media immediately brought on the law firm Munger Tolles & Olson to investigate, but no evidence of misconduct was uncovered.
As reported by THR, Stankey released a statement saying, "It's 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. [...] Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the company's leadership expectations and could impact the Company's ability to execute going forward." WarnerMedia is working to complete the investigation in its entirety, but Tsujihara's exit is effective immediately. There is currently no one named as his replacement.
According to the THR report of Kirk and Tsujihara's text messages, Kirk was introduced to Tsujihara by Australian business mogul James Packer and his partner director Brett Ratner, who's also been accused of sexual harassment, of RatPac Entertainment. The two had multiple encounters that later evolved into a sexual relationship that lasted roughly three years. Ultimately, she was cast in small roles in two films from the major production company: 2016's How To Be Single and 2018's Ocean's 8. The text messages revealed that Kirk grew increasingly frustrated over the number of roles not being what she had anticipated. In order to help manage the situation, a settlement agreement was later proposed by Ratner to help secure more roles for the actress along with an appearance in one of his films. WarnerMedia continues to work with a third-party law firm to finish out the investigation.
Tsujihara consistently denied claims of sexual misconduct up until the texts were published by THR, prompting him to release an official statement and apology. He stated, "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 all of you." It appears that he is no longer denying the allegations and is cooperating with the studio and the investigation. This situation shines an unfortunate spotlight on a very dark and common aspect of the entertainment industry. Hopefully, growth can come from it.