Warner Bros CEO, Kevin Tsujihara is stepping down amid an ongoing investigation regarding his relationship with actress Charlotte Kirk. Investigators are checking if Tsujihara had sexual relations with the now 26-year-old woman while pushing for her to get roles in movies and television. Slate obtained his resignation letter addressed to his colleagues which he states that he’s stepping down due to his investigation being a distraction to the company.
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.
The affair between the two became public news after the Hollywood Reporter allegedly got texts between Kevin Tsujihara and Charlotte Kirk. In the text messages, Tsujihara and Kirk talk about their sexual relationship and acting career. The relationship spirals out of control as Charlotte allegedly gets more demanding for auditions and roles. Eventually, Brett Ratner gets involved and tries to alleviate the situation between the two, but that also dovetails with her demanding roles. This causes Ratner to call her “entitled and despicable.” To which she accuses him of using her as sexual bait for Tsujihara to secure a financial deal between Ratner’s Rat Pac and Warner Bros.
When the Hollywood Reporter article came out, all three denied any wrongdoing.
Charlotte Kirk later talked to the Daily Mail and clarified her relationship with Kevin Tsujihara. She emphasized that the relationship was not a casting couch situation but rather a relationship where she liked Tsujihara.
“It was not casting-couch sex,” Kirk said. “Kevin might have thought I was on his casting couch but my sense of self-worth is such that I thought I was just having sex with a man I fancied. Like any normal women, I kept on good terms and in touch afterwards”
She went on to say that as friends she expected Tsujiharat to help her out. “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,” she said. “In my case, that meant him potentially directing me towards auditions, helping me get into the room.”
However, she said that any role she got was due to her talent and work ethic. “Whatever work I got from an audition would be on my own professional acting ability and merit,” she said.
Additionally, she noted that she wasn’t the one to leak the text messages.
An investigation was launched and Kevin Tsujihara resigned as the chairman and CEO of Warner Bros Studios. The 54-year-old Japanese American man joined Warner Bros in 1994 and rose to the upper echelon of power. He was the first Asian person to run a major Hollywood Studio. He has a wife and two children.
Charlotte Kirk told Fox News that she felt “saddened” about Kevin Tsujihara stepping down. “I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Kevin Tsujihara stepping down at Warners,” she said. “Our relationship ended many years ago. The release of the story by The Hollywood Reporter was nothing to do with me.
“In fact I tried to prevent it. Whatever differences we may have had in the past were long since forgotten. I only wish him the best of success in his future endeavors.”
Warner Bros has not named a successor to take over Tsujihara’s role.