As expected, Kevin Tsujihara – once the most powerful Asian mogul in Hollywood – has been forced out of his job as Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO and chairman. Tsujihara was allowed to gracefully “step down” from the job he’s held for six years.
“It is 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.,” said WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey on Monday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Tsujihara was forced out after he allegedly met with a young British actress for a motel rendezvous that was apparently arranged by Mariah Carey’s ex-fiancé, James Packer.
“I have the opportunity of a lifetime for u,” Packer wrote to British actress Charlotte Kirk in a text message reviewed by The Hollywood Reporter. “Come to [the Hotel] Bel air now. U will never be able to pay me.”
Packer promised to introduce Kirk to “the most important man u can meet.” Kirk quickly agreed to the rendezvous, according to THR.
“I think he’s toast,” said one lawyer of Tsujihara’s future at Warner Bros. as the legal team conducted a third investigation into the alleged sexual relationship with Kirk.
Complicating the issue is the fact that Warner Bros. investigated the allegations twice before and resolved the CEO of any wrongdoing. But that all changed after emails, text messages and a draft of a financial settlement were leaked to The Hollywood Reporter.
In a THR article on March 6, text messages between the executive and Kirk revealed that Tsujihara promised he would push for auditions for the actress after having sex with her. Kirk appeared in two Warner Bros. films: 2016’s How to Be Single and 2018’s Ocean’s 8.
Tsujihara’s personal attorney stated, “Mr. Tsujihara had no direct role in the hiring of this actress.”
In one text, Tsujihara explained that his job duties don’t entail inquiring about casting for roles.
“I don’t usually call about casting about these types of roles–they’re going to get back to me,” he wrote.
“I hope it was ok,” Kirk replied.
“It’s fine, I just need to be careful…” he typed back.
At some point, Tsujihara apparently stopped returning Kirk’s messages.
On March 13, 2015, a frustrated Kirk text Tsujihara to say, “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?”
An apologetic Tsujihara quickly responded. “Sorry you feel that way. Richard will be reaching out to u tonight.”
THR identified “Richard” as Richard Brener, then president of production at Warners’ New Line label.
Twice in a 16-month span, Tsujihara was the subject of an internal investigation about his relationship with Kirk. An outside law firm continues to investigate the relationship.
A WarnerMedia representative said the company is treating the text messages between Tsujihara, 54, and Kirk, 26, as “new information.”
Tsujihara is the first executive of Asian descent to head a major Hollywood studio. He is credited with signing novelist J.K. Rowling for a series of Harry Potter spinoff movies that grossed hundreds of millions of dollars.
Tsujihara first joined Warner Bros. in 1994 as director of special projects, finance, to assist in the management of Six Flags theme parks. He was named president of Warner Bros. one Entertainment Group in 2005.
Tsujihara is married with two children.