WarnerMedia to Investigate Claims Involving a Top Executive

WarnerMedia to Investigate Claims Involving a Top Executive

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LOS ANGELES — WarnerMedia said on Wednesday that it would conduct an “appropriate investigation” into allegations that Kevin Tsujihara, the chief executive of Warner Bros., pushed for a woman with whom he had a sexual relationship to be considered for roles in Warner films and television shows.

The claims surfaced Wednesday in a 4,200-word article in The Hollywood Reporter, which outlined a sexual relationship between Mr. Tsujihara, 54, and Charlotte Kirk, an aspiring British actress in her 20s. The account, quoting from private text messages obtained by The Reporter, portrays a situation in which Mr. Tsujihara — prompted by Ms. Kirk’s statements that he had promised to help her career during a meeting at a motel — reaches out to his lieutenants on her behalf.

“I just need to be careful,” Mr. Tsujihara, who is married, said in a 2014 text message, according to the trade magazine. “Let’s look for a movie role.” In an exchange from 2015, Ms. Kirk wrote, “Are u going to help me like u said u would?” He responded, “Richard will be reaching out to u tonight,” a reference to Richard Brener, president of Warner’s New Line division.

The disclosure appeared two days after AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia, publicly praised Mr. Tsujihara and added children’s television, including the Cartoon Network, to his portfolio.

“Whenever we receive new allegations, it is our standard practice to conduct an appropriate investigation,” WarnerMedia said in its statement on Wednesday. “And that is what we will do here.”

A lawyer for Mr. Tsujihara said in an email that his client “did not have a direct role in the actress being cast in any movie.”

Ms. Kirk’s résumé includes bit parts in two Warner films: “Ocean’s 8,” which was released last year, and “How to Be Single,” released by New Line in 2016. In a statement, Ms. Kirk said, “Mr. Tsujihara never promised me anything.” She added, “I emphatically deny any inappropriate behavior” by Mr. Tsujihara.

Whispers about Mr. Tsujihara’s alleged conduct have circulated in Hollywood for over a year, ever since the #MeToo movement gained momentum, ensnaring men like Brett Ratner, a producer and financier with whom Mr. Tsujihara was once close. The Reporter article, written by Tatiana Siegel and Kim Masters, also detailed text messages between Ms. Kirk and Mr. Ratner involving Mr. Tsujihara and acting roles. Mr. Ratner has denied accusations of sexual misconduct made by multiple women.

In September, John Stankey, the chief executive of WarnerMedia, was sent an email from an anonymous account (reporters from 11 publications, including The New York Times, were copied) asking whether an actress had been offered speaking roles in films in exchange for silence about sex with a senior executive. At the time, Mr. Stankey enlisted the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson to look into the claims.

On Wednesday, WarnerMedia said, “The actress has publicly denied any impropriety in her casting, and our prior investigation did not find otherwise.”

Mr. Tsujihara has been chief executive of Warner Bros. since 2013. One of his biggest achievements was persuading J. K. Rowling to expand the Harry Potter movie universe with a series of “Fantastic Beasts” spinoffs.

Warner Bros. is Hollywood’s leading producer of television shows, with a stable that includes “Young Sheldon,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Westworld.” On the movie side, Warner racked up worldwide ticket sales of $5.6 billion last year, a record for the company that reflected hits like “Aquaman,” “A Star Is Born,” “The Meg” and “Crazy Rich Asians.”

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