NEW YORK — Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara is stepping down after claims that he promised acting roles in exchange for sex.
As Warner Bros. chairman and chief executive officer at one of Hollywood’s most powerful and prestigious studios, Tsujihara is one of the highest ranking executives to be felled by sexual misconduct allegations. Warner media chief executive John Stankey announced Tsujihara’s exit Monday, saying it was in the studio’s “best interest.”
“Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the company’s leadership expectations and could impact the company’s ability to execute going forward,” said Stankey.
Earlier this month, WarnerMedia launched an investigation following a Hollywood Reporter story that detailed text messages between Tsujihara and British actress Charlotte Kirk going back to 2013. The messages suggest a quid pro quo sexual relationship between the aspiring actress and the studio head in which he made promises that he’d introduce her to influential executives and she’d be considered for roles in movies and television.
Tsujihara, who has headed the Burbank, California, studio since 2013, earlier apologized for his actions in a memo to staff.
“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,” said Tsujihara. “I also deeply regret that these personal actions have caused embarrassment to the company and to all of you.”
WarnerMedia, the studio’s parent company, said Monday that its investigation into the situation, carried out by a third-party law firm, is continuing.
Kirk appeared in Warner Bros.’ “How to Be Single” in 2016 and “Ocean’s 8” in 2018. She has denied any inappropriate behavior on the part of Tsujihara or two other executives, Brett Ratner and James Packer, who she communicated with. “Mr. Tsujihara never promised me anything,” said Kirk.
The scandal unfolded just as Warner Bros. was restructuring on the heels of AT&T’s takeover of WarnerMedia, previously known as Time Warner. Tsujihara’s role had just been expanded to include global kids and family entertainment.