Warner Brothers CEO Kevin Tsujihara Steps Down Amid Misconduct Allegations
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Another day, another Hollywood bigwig brought down in the #MeToo era. Kevin Tsujihara the chairman and CEO of Warner Brothers, stepped down yesterday after claims that he had promised roles to an actress with whom he was sexually involved. Kim Masters of The Hollywood Reporter broke that story. She is with us now from LA.
KIM MASTERS: Hey.
KELLY: So what are the specifics of these allegations?
MASTERS: Well, Kevin Tsujihara is the chairman of Warner Brothers. He was part of a circle that included Brett Ratner, a filmmaker who has himself been ejected from Warner Brothers because of sexual misconduct allegations, and James Packer, an Australian billionaire. Those two were financing a lot of Warner Brothers movies - co-financing.
MASTERS: They introduced this young aspiring British actress, Charlotte Kirk, to Kevin Tsujihara. And the two of them began an affair, which Charlotte Kirk - 21 years old, again, very ambitious - began, after a time, to press Kevin Tsujihara for movie roles, for helping getting movie and TV roles. And he makes every effort to help her, although he doesn't directly order someone to put her in a film.
KELLY: So what you are describing - and this is an important point - was it sounds like a consensual relationship, some sort of quid pro quo arrangement - that he would introduce her around, maybe help her get roles.
MASTERS: I don't know if he was thinking that was what would happen when he began with her. But yes, it was consensual, you know - but bearing in mind that she was a 21-year-old trying to become a movie star, and he was a 50-plus-year-old wealthy and powerful executive, one of the most powerful jobs in Hollywood.
KELLY: What is Kevin Tsujihara's side of the story? He's put out a statement.
MASTERS: Well, he's apologized for his mistakes. When we were breaking the story, through his lawyer, he said he did not directly help her get any roles. And that's all that he said at that time. And subsequently, he has apologized and stepped down, saying he would be, you know, a distraction and a problem for Warner Brothers.
KELLY: You broke this story, as I said. Was this another open secret around Hollywood?
MASTERS: Yeah, we - my colleague Tatiana Siegel and I started hearing about this in November of 2017 when I first approached what was then Time Warner - it subsequently was acquired by AT&T - about this story. And it was absolutely the subject of chatter at the highest echelons of Hollywood. I don't think everyone knew about it. But, boy, a lot of people knew about it. It was a pretty frustrating year plus of us trying to get to a point where we could publish. You know, Kevin Tsujihara promptly threatened to sue me when I asked this question in November of 2017.
KELLY: And it was the text messages - getting your hands on the text messages that allowed you to go forward.
MASTERS: Yes, that is where we finally had clear proof that this had gone on as we had heard it had gone on. It confirmed what we knew.
KELLY: So what is your takeaway in the sense of whether we should feel disheartened that these cases seem to keep coming or should we feel heartened that this casting couch culture, if I can call it that, is no longer being tolerated, is being rooted out in Hollywood?
MASTERS: You know, it's been interesting. I mean, I've heard very mixed reactions in Hollywood. Certain people are saying, this was an abuse of power. He took advantage. It was not right. He deserved what he got. And then there's some people who say, well, this is just the way it is. And why should he be blamed? And she was willing.
KELLY: A consensual relationship.
MASTERS: Yeah. You know, I don't think 50-something-year-old men in positions of wealth and power should be eagerly meeting 21-year-old young women in hotels, especially, you know - he's a married man with young children. So I think it's a terrible look. But what's disheartening is - why are other people saying, well, this is just what guys do, and she was OK with it?
KELLY: Kim Masters - she is editor-at-large for The Hollywood Reporter and host of KCRW's The Business. Kim, thanks for joining us.
MASTERS: Thank you for having me.
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