WarnerMedia has set the team that will lead its movie and television studio Warner Bros., for now, after the exit of Chairman and Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara amid a sex scandal.
Warner Bros.’s top film executive Toby Emmerich, its television group president Peter Roth and Chief Financial Officer Kim Williams will run the Burbank-based studio as AT&T-owned WarnerMedia seeks a new chief, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey told staff late Tuesday. The trio will be tasked with managing and stabilizing the company after days of turmoil and uncertainty.
“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,” Stankey wrote in a memo to staff. “Our creative and business partners deserve this. Our company — and you — deserve no less.”
Tsujihara quit Monday after six years as studio chief, following allegations that he helped get auditions and meetings for a young actress with whom he’d had an affair. The actress, Charlotte Kirk, appeared in bit parts in “Ocean’s 8” and “How to Be Single.”
Tsujihara’s exit, coming after 25 years at the company, left many insiders stunned. The revelations came shortly after Tsujihara received an expanded role at WarnerMedia, overseeing all animation, including Cartoon Network. Warner Bros. enjoyed a strong 2018 at the box office, with hits including “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Aquaman.”
WarnerMedia’s investigation of the situation, which was first revealed in text messages published by the Hollywood Reporter on March 6, is ongoing with Tsujihara’s cooperation, the company said.
The company has not said when it will decide on a new leader. Hollywood is rife with speculation that WarnerMedia may look to bring on 20th Century Fox Film Chairman Stacey Snider, who is out of a job following Fox’s acquisition by Walt Disney Co. Former Disney executive Tom Staggs has also been floated as a possible candidate.
Warner Bros. needs an executive who understands not only film, but also can lead a strategy that encompasses TV production, networks such as Turner and HBO, online streaming and video games.
“My priority is to install leadership that sustains the direction and priorities of the organization — not dramatically change course,” Stankey said.
For now, Emmerich will handle Warner Bros. theatrical, home entertainment and games business. Roth will focus on television, as well as the studio’s kids and young adults business. Williams will coordinate other areas, including the studio’s Otter Media digital assets.
Emmerich serves as chairman of Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group, a title received last year when he won oversight over the film operation following the exit of marketing head Sue Kroll. Emmerich has swiftly risen through the studio ranks after running its New Line Cinema label for years. He moved over to the larger studio in 2017 as president and chief content officer.
Roth is a two-decade veteran of the Warner TV studio, having joined the company in 1999 as president of Warner Bros. Television. His role has expanded over the years to include oversight of specialty television production division Warner Horizon Television and the studio’s global television business. Under his watch, the company has produced shows including “The Big Bang Theory,” “Arrow” and “Riverdale.”