Who is Charlotte Kirk and how did she take down NBC’s CEO?
NBCUniversal has launched an investigation into Charlotte Kirk’s relationship with the now-former executive Ron Meyer, who admitted to having an extramarital affair with the actress.
NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer abruptly departed the network earlier this month after disclosing that he’d been extorted after settling a lawsuit with a woman with whom he’d had an affair, according to a report. NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said Meyer “acted in a manner which we believe is not consistent with our company policies or values”.
Meyer revealed his prior involvement with Kirk to NBCUniversal executives last week, and said that their relationship had been “brief and consensual.” Meyer said in a statement August 25 that he “made a settlement, under threat, with a woman outside the company who had made false accusations against me.”
It’s said the seventy-five-year-old Meyer agreed to pay $2 million to Kirk in 2019 to settle a lawsuit over their 2013 affair. Meyer, who famously co-founded Hollywood talent agency CAA in 1975, confessed to the affair and settlement to NBCU Chief Executive Jeff Shell on August 13. Meyer’s claims of extortion have also sparked the FBI to reach out for more information.
Mowing down moguls
Twenty-eight-year-old Kirk, who has appeared in films including Ocean’s 8, How To Be Single, The Reckoning and Vice, was at the center of former Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara’s 2019 departure.
On March 19, 2019, Tsujihara resigned from Warner Bros. following reports that he used his influence to land Charlotte Kirk small parts in two Warner Bros. films – How to Be Single & Ocean’s 8 – in exchange for a sexual relationship. He denied the accusations through a statement from his lawyer that said, “Mr. Tsujihara had no direct role in the hiring of this actress.”
Kirk has also been linked to famed producer Steve Tisch, among other Hollywood heavyweights. Sources say that Tisch — major league producer behind Forrest Gump and The Equalizer and chairman, co-owner and executive VP of the New York Giants — had a relationship with Kirk in 2012, predating the beginning of the Meyer affair by a few months.
Unlike Meyer and Tsujihara, however, Tisch was not married at the time he was involved with a then-nineteen-year-old Kirk, who had just moved from her native England to New York.
NBCU house cleaning
The outside probe by NBCUniversal is a sign that the company is trying to clean up its culture after famously refusing to allow an outside counsel to investigate former–Today anchor Matt Lauer’s alleged sexual misconduct. Then–NBC News chairman Andy Lack insisted that the investigation remains in–house, and his now-former colleagues concluded that NBC was completely unaware of any wrongdoing.
The Hollywood Reporter reported that NBCUniversal launched the probe, in the “effort to determine if any company money or resources were used in conjunction with the affair or its cover-up” and the goal is to “determine if the media giant was unwittingly a party to any impropriety.”
Meyer publicly apologized for the affair and said he regretted hurting people that are important to him. Meyer stated, “I am sorry for all the people in my life I may have let down, especially and most importantly, my family.”
Soap opera scenario
The entire Kirk et al affair reads like a soap opera storyline. In an industry where aspiring actresses had to trade sexual favors in order to win roles — the “casting couch” has been a familiar Hollywood image since the advent of the studio system in the 1920s and 1930s. Over time, the phrase has become emblematic of the way that sexual aggression has been normalized in an industry dominated by powerful men.
Even when women choose to play the system, they’re still forced to “play the system”.