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An Ultimate Breakdown of the ‘Sexual’ Tsujihara Scandal

March has been a month of turmoil across the media landscape. With some of the major studios losing their crucial assets, a colossal reorganization seems to be in order.

It is the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter.

This transition becomes further clear once you take a look at an age-old Hollywood conglomerate, responsible for fan-adored movies like, Inception (2010), The Matrix (1999), The Exorcist (1973), Casablanca (1942), The Blind Side (2009), The Dark Knight series and the Harry Potter series etc. I’m referring to the famous Warner Bros.Entertainment Inc., headed by Kevin Ken Tsujihara—the recently ousted executive.

Up Close & Personal

In order to get to the bottom of this Hollywood scandal, first, you need to familiarize yourself with the protagonist who bore the brunt of it all, i.e. Kevin Tsujihara.

Private Profile

Born in the autumnal October of 1964 to a family of Japanese immigrants, Kevin grew up in the Petaluma area of the Sonoma County, California. This is where his father ran his own ‘Empire Egg Company’, responsible for supplying eggs to the whole San Francisco Bay Area market. By helping him manage this farm, Kevin realized his propensity for the distribution business, after which he completed his college degree from UofC and went to acquire an MBA from Stanford.

Somewhere along the way, he entered into matrimony with Sandy, and as of now, he is the father of two children, Morgan and Matthew.

Demeanor Profile

Kevin has often been regarded as an ‘amiable’ individual, with a glint of curiosity in his eye. Coupled with a quirky sense of humor and a rapt sense of attention, he is known to put people at their best conversational ease. Hobby-wise, Kevin is an ardent follower of his hometown’s i.e. San Francisco’s football, baseball, and basketball teams.

Along with this, he has recently taken an interest in racehorses, as a dedication to his late father, who loved the mighty animals.

Professional Profile


Kevin Tsujihara entered the media industry with Warner Bros. back in 1994 as a director of the company’s special projects line, including the 1990’s acquisition of the Six Flags Theme Parks. After working for eleven years straight in the financing department, he was offered the position of the president of the Home Entertainment Unit, mostly dealing with the DVD homevid/online distribution, and any video game ventures sought by the Warner Bros.

Tsujihara’s hard work, business development ideas and sheer devotion to this least-glamorous side of the business brought him neck-to-neck with two of the industry’s greatest veterans, namely film chief Jeff Robinovand TV in-charge Bruce Rosenblum, for the position of Warner Bros. CEO in March 2013.

Competing with his contemporaries for two years straight, he succeeded in getting the top chair. Why? Because of his leadership approach (encouraging employees from a technical background to come forth and take risks) and a progressive, digital ideology (aiming for optimal utilization of the company’s assets).

Visionary Profile

While speaking to the LA Times in an interview, Kevin Tsujihara emphasized the importance of delivering a ‘personalized’ content for achieving the highest levels of satisfaction in the audience. He acknowledged the present generation’s demand for lightning-fast network speeds, saying that he’s planning on using the groundbreaking 5G technology in his ‘streaming service’ strategy.

In addition to this, he marveled at the VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) developments, and the experience that can be unleashed through their incorporation, mentioning the recent “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” gaming project by Niantic that uses AR in its makeup.

Most interesting was his take on the entertainment opportunities that can be brought to the currently developing autonomous, self-driving cars. Getting the Batman experience in BMW? Not an impossibility, anymore.

Achievement Profile

Under Kevin Tsujihara’s supervision, the long-standing Warner Bros. powerhouse saw a retrieval of popular franchises including the Harry Potter films, the Lego movies and even the DC superhero flicks that alone may not have turned out as great as expected. However, his winning formula came with:

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), starring Eddie Redmayne, written by J. K. Rowling and directed by David Yates, which grossed an $814 million on the box office.
  • Wonder Woman (2017), starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins, that brought in $821.8 million on a worldwide scale.
  • Aquaman (2018), starring Jason Mamoa and directed by James Wan, which scored a whole $1.1 billion globally, outshining all the previous WB superhero films, including the famous Dark Knight series.

The list goes on.

However, last year marked the studio’s greatest success, verified by the gross accretion of $5.8 billion on the worldwide box offices—all in the tenure of Kevin Tsujihara. It is due to this record victory that AT&T, a Dallas giant offering amazing telecommunication services to people, upon the finalization of its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner on March 4, decided to give an expanded role to the CEO and Chairman of Warner Bros.

A promoted Tsujihara would now be heading the Global Kids and Young Adults animation sectors, including Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Otter Media and Turner, in addition to his other duties, had fate not decided something completely different for him.

Step-Down of the Decade

It seems as if this year’s consequential mergers have given birth to a wave of departures in the media industry. Disney’s $71.3 billion purchase of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox entertainment is ushering a new era of upheavals. Similarly, AT&T’s acquisition of Warner Media has resulted in a collection of ousters already, including the farewells of:

However, a step-down, which has actually shocked the entertainment community, is that of Kevin Tsujihara, the chief executive officer of Warner Bros. film and TV division on March 18.

Despite the prevalence of rumors around Tsujihara’s participation in the “casting couch” culture (a quid pro quo of blockbuster roles in exchange for sex), what really triggered his resignation from the powerful studio is an article published in The Hollywood Reporteron March 6.

In this spectacular piece of investigative journalism, Kim Masters and Tatiana Siegel lay bare the intricacies of Kevin Tsujihara’s covert relationship with a British actress, Charlotte Kirk, crystallizing the case against him. The news spread like wildfire, leading to the CEO’s demise.

Read more:

Would you like to know more about the series of events that led to the unveiling of this ‘sexual’ scandal? Check out the timeline below.

What Actually Happened?

A scandal is like an iceberg. While tabloids may go only as far as to cover the tip, a whole secret history remains buried beneath the dark ocean. The Tsujihara-Kirk affair has a similar countenance. It went on surreptitiously for some years beneath everyone’s noses, only hitting the limelight with startling investigative journalism. In case you’re wondering about the series of events covered by THR, do not wander far. They are explained below for your spicy convenience.

After working for this media conglomerate for 11 years straight, Kevin Tsujihara finally beat two other contenders at a fierce internal competition. This newfound platform gave him the opportunity to execute new strategies of content distribution, and form fresh financial deals for the betterment of the firm.

After working for this media conglomerate for 11 years straight, Kevin Tsujihara finally beat two other contenders at a fierce internal competition. This newfound platform gave him the opportunity to execute new strategies of content distribution, and form fresh financial deals for the betterment of the firm.

After working for this media conglomerate for 11 years straight, Kevin Tsujihara finally beat two other contenders at a fierce internal competition. This newfound platform gave him the opportunity to execute new strategies of content distribution, and form fresh financial deals for the betterment of the firm.

After working for this media conglomerate for 11 years straight, Kevin Tsujihara finally beat two other contenders at a fierce internal competition. This newfound platform gave him the opportunity to execute new strategies of content distribution, and form fresh financial deals for the betterment of the firm.

After working for this media conglomerate for 11 years straight, Kevin Tsujihara finally beat two other contenders at a fierce internal competition. This newfound platform gave him the opportunity to execute new strategies of content distribution, and form fresh financial deals for the betterment of the firm.

After working for this media conglomerate for 11 years straight, Kevin Tsujihara finally beat two other contenders at a fierce internal competition. This newfound platform gave him the opportunity to execute new strategies of content distribution, and form fresh financial deals for the betterment of the firm.

After working for this media conglomerate for 11 years straight, Kevin Tsujihara finally beat two other contenders at a fierce internal competition. This newfound platform gave him the opportunity to execute new strategies of content distribution, and form fresh financial deals for the betterment of the firm.

Thus ends the career of the first Asian American CEO of Warner Bros.
over a sexual impropriety with a British actress.

Sneaky Introduction

Everyone wants a shot at stardom, regardless of the sacrifices. Same was the case with Charlotte Kirk, a 21-year old actress from Britain, trying to make it big in the blockbuster world. Her luck skyrocketed when she received a text from the Aussie billionaire, James Packer, in the September of 2013, offering her an opportunity for a lifetime. It was a late night meeting with one of the “most important men” in the industry, the newly appointed Chairman and CEO of the powerful WB studio, Kevin Ken Tsujihara.

Golden Promises

In Hotel Bel Air, Kevin and Charlotte immediately hit it off, where the CEO supposedly promised the up-and-coming actress that he would pass her name off to the major Warner Bros. TV and Film executives for roles if she would only warm his bed. A “highly unorthodox” approach for a top executive, I’d repeat. In reality, according to the sources, the actress claimed that she was used as an “icing on the cake” for the $450 mil deal made between the studio and Packer’s RatPac-Dune.

Follow Up Demands

A few months into the affair, Kirk started asking after the claims made by Tsujihara in the “motel”, since she was still not getting any high-fi roles. She’d read for Becky in The Intern (2015) and wanted Kevin to use his influence in the final casting. That aside, she’d proposed playing the lead in DC’s Supergirl (2016) and other TV sitcoms, yet did not get any adequate reply from the directors. Then, she ushered urgent queries in the form of texts to Tsujihara, to which he responded that he’d talked to his “guys” at the studio, but his having an ‘special’ say in the casting of actors was making people suspicious. 

Increasing Evasion

By March of 2015, due to the rise of “industry chatter,” Kevin started avoiding the whole thing in general. This made Charlotte more paranoid than ever. On the brink of a breakdown, she sent an emotional text to KT, “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?” This drew the final straw for Tsujihara who then forwarded her Richard Brener’s number, the head of New Line, and by September, cut off the communication almost completely.

Eerie Silence

2016 passed by in a breeze without the two crossing paths at all. On the one side, Kevin Tsujihara supervised AT&T’s successful acquisition of Time Warner. On the other side, Charlotte Kirk got cast in small roles for two Warner Bros. films, How to Be Single (2016) and Ocean’s 8 (2018), giving her relative stardom. Yet, this period of peace proved to be an illusion.

Legal Probing

Once the rumors of Warner Bros. CEO’s sexual involvement with a role-hungry actress hit the frontline in 2017, Kevin Tsujihara addressed it by seeking “legal counsel” and denied any charges of impropriety. The magma rose again in 2018 when an anonymous letter, mentioning the behavior of a top executive of WB who’d promised “speaking roles” to an actress “CK”, was sent directly to John Stankey, the head of Warner Media, leading to a particularly serious investigation, sponsored by AT&T, against the CEO. The results led to naught and the legal probing was dropped.

Blasting Trigger

March 6, 2019, marked the worst day in the life of Kevin Tsujihara, as a damnable article in The Hollywood Reporter set the world of media ablaze with hardcore evidence of the said sexual affair. Going by the intriguing title of, "I Need to Be Careful": Texts Reveal Warner Bros. CEO Promoted Actress Amid Apparent Sexual Relationship, the post showcased thousands of texts, crystallizing the impropriety done by the CEO, the latest proponent of the “casting couch” culture. After this, Kevin’s stepdown was only a matter of formality.

Eventual Goodbye

Finally, on March 18, Kevin Tsujihara, after 25 years’ worth of contributions to the Warner Bros. media giant, handed in his resignation, saying his continued stay “might impact the company’s future” and set wrong examples. That it is in the “best interest” of everyone at the studio that he step down, and how it has been an honor to “head this organization” and work alongside such talented individuals.

John Stankey reinforced the sentiment in his own memo that day, saying Kevin’s unethical behavior as a CEO was “inconsistent with the company’s leadership expectations” yet he’s acknowledged for his progressive efforts, and will be missed in the right proportions.

Read the full memos here:

Addressing the Leadership Vacuum

What’s a body without a head? Just a dangling mass of confusion. Similarly, following the adieu of its CEO, a distinct rupture has appeared in WB’s organization, halting its day-to-day business operations. John Stankey, the chair of its parent company, Warner Media, has taken the matter into his own hands seriously. On Tuesday, the 19th, he issued an internal memo, announcing the interim team formation to keep the workflow going. It consists of,

  • Toby Emmerich, the chairman of Motion Pictures—focusing on home entertainment, theatricals, and games.
  • Peter Roth, the president of Television division CCO—dealing with Young Adults, Kids, and the general television group interests.
  • Kim Williams, CFO—overlooking all others, in addition to Otter media.

This interim setup is just for the time being, in order to stave off speculations regarding the sudden stepdown and possible melancholic streaks in the general ambiance.

So, the main question then becomes: Who will fill Tsujihara’s shoes?

Interestingly, this time, the selection for the Warner Bros. CEO is expected to be closely scrutinized by women’s rights advocates everywhere. Why? Because the case has given rise to a set of fiery #metoo debates, covered in the next section. The whispers in the air give us the name of 20th Century Fox’s CEO and Chairperson, Stacey Snider, who is known for leaving a sharp imprint in a particularly ‘male-dominated’ industry. Other possible successors include New Line’s co-head Carolyn Blackwood and the digital media expert, Jeff Shell. But, the signs foretell a woman’s touch.

Debate Corner

Almost a year and a half ago, when the #metoo movement broke out on Twitter, a whole sea of sexual harassment cases made a startling appearance in the social narratives. Victims of assault spoke out, expressing their pains through a hashtag. The movement shaped the general consciousness of people towards this pressing issue, and offered a stronger impetus to women’s rights enthusiasts around the world.

These activists are now debating over the Tsujihara scandal, giving birth to a fiery debate on social media forums.

Can Warner Bros. CEO Tsujihara’s sexual improprieties against the British actress, Charlotte Kirk, be termed as a #metoo harassment, or not?

Opinions are flooding everywhere.

Some point towards a yes, Kirk was used as a pleasurable perk by the studio executive in exchange for promises he left unfulfilled.

Others lead towards a no, the sexual relationship between the two was largely consensual and cannot come under the aegis of workplace ‘Harvey Weinstein’ type assault.

Charlotte Kirk, projected into the midst of all this speculative chatter, gave her statement following the CEO’s resignation, saying she is “deeply saddened” by Kevin Tsujihara’s step down. Upon further insistence, she revealed that the “relationship” concluded many years ago, and since then, it’s been her sheer talent that’s brought her success. With another prod, she exclaimed that she was only 19-years old when she came to Hollywood and “definitely very naïve”, and hoped for Kevin to “direct” her towards auditions.

Read her full statement here:

Most importantly, she denied being a #metoo victim, which settles the debate for now.

All in all, this CEO-ouster scandal teaches us that the entertainment industry, with its ‘boys club’ atmosphere, is on the road to reformation, and is currently in the process of growing out of its ‘casting couch’ culture that has laid waste to more talent than you or I can image.

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