Untangling Charlotte Kirk’s Role in the Fall of a Hollywood Executive

Actress Charlotte Kirk. Photo: Shutterstock

A soap-opera story line has unfolded in the pages of the trade magazines. Upon NBCUniversal vice-chairman Ron Meyer’s resignation on August 18, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the woman in question with whom he had an extramarital affair that led to a $2 million dollar settlement was British actress Charlotte Kirk. Kirk is the same woman who reportedly had an affair with former Warner Bros. Entertainment head Kevin Tsujihara in the early 2010s, leading to his resignation last year. And according to THR, the relationships occurred around the same time. Anonymous investigations into these sudden resignations and potential executive abuses of power reveal a scandal more interesting than anything playing at a movie theater right now. Our heroine is Kirk, a friend of producer Brett Ratner. Around seven years ago, Ratner introduced her to his then-RatPac-Dune Entertainment partner, James Packer, who began a sexual relationship with Kirk. From there, a timeless story of Hollywood chiefs taking advantage of young women meets a post–Anna Delvey saga of fame and fortune. Kirk stars in and wrote the upcoming film The Reckoning, directed by her boyfriend, Hellboy’s Neil Marshall. Now that reports claim Marshall and Kirk’s ex, director Joshua Newton are involved, here’s a timeline of the industry mystery everyone will be too nervous to option.

September 27, 2013: According to messages published by The Hollywood Reporter in 2019, James Packer texts then-21-year-old Charlotte Kirk telling her to come to the Hotel Bel Air. “U will never be able to pay me,” he said, promising an introduction to “the most important man u can meet.” The man in question, THR reported six years later, is Kevin Tsujihara, head of Warner Bros. Entertainment from 2013 to 2019. Later that morning, she texted Packer “His [sic] not very nice! Very pushy!! He just wants to fuck nothing else does not even want To say anything!” He replied “U OK?” and “Be cool.” For the next three years, Kirk followed up on Tsujihara’s “promise” to try and secure her roles in Warner Bros. productions. In their messages over time, Tsujihara claimed he would “back” her auditions and suggest he was looking into opportunities for her at various WB projects across film and TV.

August 28, 2014: Tsujihara gives her the phone number of the president of production at Warner Bros. New Line, Richard Brener, and says he’s waiting for her call. He says to tell him they met at a party. THR found no indication Brener knew about the relationship.

October 14, 2014: Tensions strained between Kirk and Packer. In a text exchange that resumed on October 18, she asked Packer to watch her self-produced music video that, by the way, “Kevin loved.” He replied, “I’m really happy for you. Just don’t want to overpromise. Sending you good energy.”

October 18, 2014: Days later, she replies “putting me in one of your many movies shouldn’t be a big deal,” adding, “I did help u out with Kevin which was hard for me but I did it for you.” Her 2013 introduction to Tsujihara happened three days before a $450 million deal between RatPac-Dune and Warner Bros. was reported as finalized. According to THR, Kirk later texted Ratner saying she felt she was “used as the icing on the cake for your finance deal with Warner Bros.” She added: “It’s gross what you all did to me!!!” Ratner “angrily” denied her involvement in the deal. In her statement to THR, Kirk denied any inappropriate behavior from Ratner, Packer, and Tsujihara, who she adds “never promised” her anything. “I also deny that I had any connection to the Warners Bros/Rat-Pac slate-financing deal,” she said. “I had nothing to do whatsoever with closing the transaction, directly or indirectly.”

October 21, 2014: Ahead of a face-to-face meeting, Packer texts Kirk, “Dont push me. U’ll regret it,” to which she responded “James if you’re trying to make me worry about my safety you’ll be forcing me to give this to my attorneys.” “Can’t wait tough girl…” he replied. “Get back in your box or let’s fight. Lying and blackmail are a bad start… tough lying girl.” In her reply, Kirk said “This is all getting out of hand. I’m just asking you to do the right thing and help me. Let’s just meet and resolve this amicably, ok?” He concedes: “I’ll meet you but get back in your box.” After they meet, Kirk would text Packer, but apparently received no response. Three years later, Packer sells his interest in RatPac-Dune, reportedly having sustained losses from several WB projects.

March 25, 2015: Kirk texts Tsujihara saying she received “a very strange call from Brett.” She continued saying Brener was ignoring her calls and presumably referenced her upcoming role in How to Be Single. “Kevin? A two liner?? U have got to be kidding me!!” It’s unclear whether he responded. A source with THR says the casting was “backchanneled” by producer Joshua Rickard, who was previously Ratner’s assistant.

July 2015: Shortly after wrapping up How to Be Single, Kirk messages Ratner: “You know what u need to do. U haven’t even come close to doing it. If you thought I would be so easily manipulated you’re wrong.” It begins a monthlong back-and-forth between the two where Kirk presses for auditions for films like Wonder Woman, after which Ratner says the film’s casting director will contact her agent. In other messages, he called her “entitled and despicable.”

August 2015: “I am helping you but your attitude sucks.” Ratner texts Kirk. “As I said, I don’t owe you anything. If anything u owe me for all the money James paid you. A thank you would be nice.” Kirk is unhappy with the accusation she’s been paid for sex. In a statement to THR, Ratner’s lawyer Marty Singer said while the director “offered to help get Ms. Kirk a limited number of auditions, he consistently told her that she would have to earn any job herself.”

September 2015: Ratner put Kirk in touch with producer Christa Campbell, who has produced multiple movies for Avi Lerner’s Millennium Films. Ratner also implores her to leave Tsujihara alone. “KT cannot get you jobs or auditions I told u this many times,” he writes.

August 21, 2016: Kirk receives an agreement from Ratner’s lawyer that says the director will “arrange for [the actress] to obtain one (1) acting role compensated in accordance with SAG scale in the next theatrical motion picture directed by Ratner … In the event that, prior to the next theatrical motion picture Ratner directs, Ratner is able to obtain an Acting Role for Kirk in a motion picture he produces but does not direct, that Acting Role shall satisfy Ratner’s obligations pursuant to this provision. Kirk acknowledges and understands that there is no guarantee as to the size of the Acting Role and no guarantee with respect to credits for such Acting Role” in exchange for her silence. The agreement was apparently never signed and Ratner hasn’t made another movie. (A year later, six women, including actress Olivia Munn, came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against him.)

May 17, 2018: People unveils a first look at Nicole & O.J., starring Boris Kodjoe and Charlotte Kirk. According to THR, the film has connections to Millennium films, but a company spokesperson says the reportedly $65 million film is not funded by Millennium. At the time, the film had a release date of March 2019, but has yet to be distributed. The film was directed by British filmmaker Joshua Newton, who had a five-year relationship with Kirk. Written by Newton, the film purports O.J. Simpson was framed in the infamous murder, based on Newton’s reexamination of the case. Kirk’s casting was initially reported on June 28, 2013. In a statement to THR in 2019, Newton said once Nicole & O.J. comes out, Kirk “will be one of the most sought-after actresses on the planet.”

September 6, 2018: Warner Media opens an inquiry into an executive and an actress working on WB productions as a response to an anonymous letter sent to Warner Media CEO John Stankey. At the time, THR did not reveal the name of the actress and her agent denied any wrongdoing.

March 18, 2019: Kevin Tsujihara resigns following reports in THR that he used his influence to land Charlotte Kirk small parts in two Warner Bros. films: How to Be Single and Ocean’s 8. He denies the accusations through a statement from his lawyer, saying “Mr. Tsujihara had no direct role in the hiring of this actress.”

August 13, 2020: NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell and vice-chairman Ron Meyer sit down for a regularly scheduled lunch at Universal Studios CityWalk in Hollywood. “Out of the blue,” Meyer confesses that he had an affair with actress Charlotte Kirk in the early 2010s and reached a $2 million settlement with her last year, per THR. (Meyer was divorced by the time of the settlement.)

August 18, 2020: Five days later, Ron Meyer steps down, revealing that he made a settlement “under threat” with a woman with whom he’d engaged in an extramarital affair: “Admittedly, this is a woman I had a very brief and consensual affair with many years ago. I made this disclosure because other parties learned of the settlement and have continuously attempted to extort me into paying them money or else they intended to falsely implicate NBCUniversal, which had nothing to do with this matter, and to publish false allegations about me.” The Hollywood Reporter reveals shortly after that the woman in question is Charlotte Kirk and the affair occurred around the same time as her relationship with Tsujihara.

August 19, 2020: The Wrap reports that Neil Marshall, director of The Reckoning and Kirk’s current boyfriend, and Joshua Newton, Kirk’s ex, both allegedly contacted Meyer asking for payment and threatening to expose the affair from eight years prior. Over the past year, The Wrap alleges they implicated Comcast, NBC’s parent company, and tried to pressure Meyer into green-lighting one of their movies. In a response to Vulture, a representative for Newton said he “never threatened to make public Mr. Meyer’s secret settlement agreement with Ms. Kirk, and Mr. Newton never did disclose it publicly, nor to NBCUniversal.” Marshall gave The Wrap a firm denial. “Insiders” told The Wrap that Kirk went to Meyer for advice on a settlement she was seeking with James Packer when she was about 20 years old. They claim she later regretted the deal and blamed Meyer, demanding he pay the difference and threatening to expose their relationship. The sources allege he chose to pay the money and did not tell Comcast.

August 20, 2020: A Q&A for The Reckoning with Marshall and Kirk is pulled from the Fantasia Film Festival virtual lineup in a “mutually agreed” decision with Marshall, following the publicity from … all this. The plague horror still opened the genre festival on August 20. Charlotte Kirk’s 15 minutes haven’t even started yet.

August 26, 2020: The Hollywood Reporter identifies another potential executive in the web: Steve Tisch, a producer behind Forrest Gump and co-owner of the New York Giants. Anonymous sources allege he and a 19-year-old Kirk went on “two or three dates” in 2012, before her affair with Meyer. The report also confirmed that NBC is investigating Ron Meyer’s $2 million payout to ensure that the company was not involved. They are also looking into the Universal film Non-Stop (2014), which Kirk was cast in after meeting Meyer, but before they began the affair. Kirk does not appear in the finished film.

THR sources add that Kirk settled with Meyer after the Tsujihara scandal went public, though only a portion of the settlement had been paid to date. They allege Marshall and Newton separately contacted Meyer when he stopped paying. Newton did not respond to THR’s request for comment, but Marshall did give a lengthy statement in which he denied any truth to these claims. “No evidence has been provided, and no sources have had the guts to stand up and be counted,” he said. “If this were a movie, it would be akin to a Michael Bay movie — full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Vulture has edited this post to include that what has been reported with respect to Mr. Marshall and Mr. Newton are allegations and to include a denial from Mr. Newton.

Untangling Charlotte Kirk’s Hollywood Executive Takedown