More massive shake-ups in Hollywood as WB chairman and CEO of six years Kevin Tsujihara has announced he will be stepping down from his position, THR and other outlets are reporting.
“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.,” WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey announced.
Tsujihara sent out his own memo to staffers.
The move came only weeks after Tsujihara, 54, was given greater responsibility in the WB re-organization. Unfortunately it also came after revelations that he had engaged in a three-year relationship with starlet Charlotte Kirk and promised to help her get roles as a result of their relationship.
In a separate memo Tsujihara sent to Warner staffers today, he said that after reflecting “on how the attention on my past actions might impact the company’s future,” he had decided to step down. He added that “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.”
Tsujihara’s departure comes as John Stankey, named CEO of WarnerMedia in 2017, puts his stamp on the company in the wake of the AT&T’s $85 billion to $105 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which was approved last spring and then upheld by a federal appeals court last month. In a major reorganization, announced March 4, Tsujihara had been given additional responsibilities, including oversight of a new kids and young adults business bringing together family, kids and animation businesses from across WarnerMedia, including Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang. Additionally, Otter Media, Turner Classic Movies and all activities around licensed consumer products development for WarnerMedia properties were added to his portfolio.
Tsujihara was the first Asian-American to run a major studio. He was also the first head of the WB studio to have more than a cursory interest in DC Comics and their characters’ importance to the WB film slate. Before heading up the studio, he had direct oversight of DC’s publishing arm and helped introduce the successful line of direct-to-home-video DC animated movies. After becoming chairman, he took a hands-on approach to developing the DC-based film slate as a rival to Marvel’s efforts.
This push had a lot of setbacks, including the terrible reaction to Batman v Superman and the perceived failure of The Justice League film. But things were once again on an upswing with the success of Wonder Woman and Aquaman and the plan to roll out a series of mostly unrelated, director-driven films based on the DC universe seemed to be a solid, if sometimes unorganized, plan.
A replacement for Tsujihara has not yet been announced. Whoever it is will have increased responsibilities to integrate not only the DC characters but the Looney Tunes, Harry Potter, and other massive, worldwide brands into the WB’s streaming and theatrical divisions.
More to come!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.