For a moment, it seemed like Warner Bros. boss Kevin Tsujihara might have been somewhat in the clear — despite allegations that he’d had an extramarital affair with one of the studio’s actresses, his new corporate overlords at AT&T saw fit to promote him to head up all of the children’s programming at the newly minted WarnerMedia.
But now, Tsujihara is out — and both he and WarnerMedia are making it sound like it was his idea.
“It is in the best interest of WarnerMedia, Warner Bros., our employees and our partners for Kevin to step down,” reads part of a statement from WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey, which The Verge and other publications received by email. “Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the Company’s leadership expectations and could impact the Company’s ability to execute going forward,” it continues.
Message from Kevin Tsujihara, announcing his exit: pic.twitter.com/D80EIgdDho— Meg James (@MegJamesLAT) March 18, 2019
A personal note from Tsujihara (see above) echoes those comments, adding that “it has been clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success.”
WarnerMedia says it hasn’t named a successor for Tsujihara just yet, and is still completing its investigation into the allegations against him.
Tsujihara isn’t the only head that’s rolled following AT&T’s attempts to restructure its new media empire; HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler, who greenlit Game of Thrones among his other moves to shore up prestige television, was ousted in late February. While WarnerMedia is definitely positioning Tsujihara’s departure as related to the sexual misconduct allegations — the latest entertainment exec to topple as part of the #MeToo movement, which is also occasionally making waves in the tech industry — it’s not clear which straw broke the camel’s back with Tsujihara, or why it didn’t break earlier.
Perhaps someone noticed that “kids programming” plus “alleged sexual misconduct” weren’t a good pairing when it comes to maintaining a healthy brand. Or perhaps WarnerMedia or parent company AT&T realized that the issue was thornier than they thought; legal experts interviewed by the Los Angeles Times suggested that WarnerMedia may have faced more fallout than it originally seemed if they kept Tsujihara on.