CEO and chairman Kevin Tsujihara stepped down from the studio on Monday
Warner Bros. Entertainment has picked its team to steer the ship until a permanent replacement for former CEO and chairman Kevin Tsujihara is found. The team will consist of motion pictures group chairman Toby Emmerich, television group president and CCO Peter Roth and CFO Kim Williams.
“We are doing this to ensure minimal disruption to the day-to-day operations of the studio and to provide the time we need to conduct a thorough search to find the best candidate to lead this incredible and storied business,” WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey wrote in an memo to staff on Tuesday.
“It goes without saying that our ability to tap into leaders of the caliber of Toby, Peter and Kim to continue our momentum without missing a beat is a testament to the talent we have across all of our companies,” he continued.
The interim team of executives will handle day-to-day operations until a replacement is found for Tsujihara. Emmerich will handle matters around theatrical, home entertainment and games; Roth will coordinate all television production interests and do the same with the Kids and Young Adults group; and Williams will coordinate with all of the other areas, including Otter Media.
On Monday, Warner Bros. parent company WarnerMedia announced that Tsujihara would step down. The decision, came in the midst of an investigation into a sexual relationship Tsujihara had with actress Charlotte Kirk and whether there was any impropriety in the casting of Kirk in Warner Bros. films.
Tsujihara and Stankey said the decision for Tsujihara to step down was a joint one, and Tsujihara told Warner Bros. staff in a email on Monday that “it has become clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success.”
Tsujihara, who has worked for two decades at the studio and served as chairman for the last six years, has denied any wrongdoing connected to his past intimate relationship with Kirk. On March 8, after The Hollywood Reporter published texts between the two that indicated she sought his help in obtaining acting jobs, he wrote a memo to staff in which he said he deeply regrets mistakes that he’s made in his life.
“I have committed to moving quickly as we conduct a thorough and thoughtful search for a new Chairman and CEO to lead Warner Bros.,” Stankey wrote in his memo. “My priority is to install leadership that sustains the direction and priorities of the organization – not dramatically change course.”
Emmerich ascended to president of Warner Bros. in 2017, taking over for Greg Silver. Emmerich had held a president and COO title at New Line Cinema since 2008. In his president role at the broader studio, Emmerich shared greenlight power with Tsujihara.
Roth has been with Warner Bros. for two decades, first joining in 1999. He’s been in the chief executive for Warner Bros. TV Group, which includes Warner Horizon and its animation studio, since 2013. Under Roth, Warner Bros. has been the top supplier of programming to the U.S. broadcast networks for 14 of his 20 years at the studio, including hits “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Prior to joining Warner Bros., Roth was president of Fox from 1996 to 1999.
Williams has served as Warner Bros. CFO since 2014. Prior to joining Warner Bros., she served as CFO for CORE Media Group and chief operating officer of NFL Network, responsible for the NFL’s cable television assets as well as administrative oversight of the NFL’s facilities and studios, before that.
The task now for Warner Bros. will be to find someone who can lead the Hollywood studio as it enters a new phase after AT&T acquired Time Warner in a deal worth $85 billion.
At this juncture there’s no indication when Warner Bros. plans to formally begin its search or install a permanent CEO, but the name that has been on everybody’s lips is Fox film chief Stacey Snider, who, after Fox’s deal with Disney closes this week will be up for grabs.
Read Stankey’s full email to staff:
I’ve asked three members of the existing Warner Bros. executive team to lead the organization on an interim basis until a new Chairman and CEO is named. We are doing this to ensure minimal disruption to the day-to-day operations of the studio and to provide the time we need to conduct a thorough search to find the best candidate to lead this incredible and storied business to its next chapter of growth and success. Our creative and business partners deserve this. Our company – and you – deserve no less.
The executives who have graciously come together to help me manage this business on an interim basis are: Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group; Peter Roth, President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Television Group; and Kim Williams, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Warner Bros. Entertainment.
We all recognize that operating day-to-day in this manner will be a little different from the normal course of business, but the four of us agree that we need to remain focused and steer clear of any counterproductive speculation around what this temporary leadership group portends for the future. Toby, Peter and Kim will keep us focused squarely on achieving our goals and staying on track with our ambitious plans for Warner Bros. this year.
I will work closely with the three of them during this period to help make sure issues are quickly addressed and operations continue to progress in the normal course of business. Toby, Peter and Kim will be responsible for bringing forward any matters that require broader deliberation and a more integrated review – those outside of the normal decision-making process within our skillfully led teams in each department.
To help with this and minimize organization disruption Toby, Peter and Kim will coordinate groups of their peers functioning as a team. Toby will handle matters around theatrical, home entertainment and games; Peter will coordinate all television production interests and do the same with the Kids and Young Adults group; and Kim will coordinate with all of the other areas, including Otter Media.
I have committed to moving quickly as we conduct a thorough and thoughtful search for a new Chairman and CEO to lead Warner Bros. This is an organization that has many talented individuals already operating successfully as a team. My priority is to install leadership that sustains the direction and priorities of the organization – not dramatically change course.
It goes without saying that our ability to tap into leaders of the caliber of Toby, Peter and Kim to continue our momentum without missing a beat is a testament to the talent we have across all of our companies. It also underscores the values, team orientation and spirit of collaboration that each of these executives exemplifies, and I thank them all for stepping up and leading by example.
Let’s continue working together to build an environment that informs and inspires audiences everywhere.
Beatrice Verhoeven and Brian Welk contributed to this reporting