NBCUniversal boss Ron Meyer was ousted from his long-held position this week after anonymous blackmailers sent a draft lawsuit to the network threatening to expose an affair he had with British sex-for-roles actress Charlotte Kirk, forcing him to admit he was being extorted over it.
Meyer, 75, stepped down after telling friends and colleagues that he had an affair with ‘a woman’ – later identified by others as Kirk, 28 – ‘many years ago’.
It’s unclear when exactly their affair took place but sources told The Hollywood Reporter and Variety that it was in 2012, when Kirk would have been 20 and Meyer, then married and 47 years her senior, would have been 67.
It ended with Kirk making some kind of allegation against him. He paid her a ‘settlement’ and kept the entire ordeal quiet.
Recently, someone else discovered the affair and the payment, and had been blackmailing him over it.
That person or persons anonymously sent a draft lawsuit to NBCUniversal, threatening to make the details public. The network confronted Meyer, who said he thought he could handle it ‘on his own’, and encouraged his resignation this week.
‘Universal asked Ron, “Why didn’t you tell us you were being extorted?” “He told them, “I thought I could handle it.”
‘Universal said, “We can’t allow you and the company to be extorted, you should have called the FBI,”‘ an unnamed source told Page Six.
The source added he was an ‘idiot’ for ever paying Kirk, who also toppled the career or Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara after having an affair with him.
Tsujihara was fired after their explicit texts were made public. He’d offered her movie roles in exchange for sex.
Meyer and his wife Kelly Chapman announced they were separating in 2018 after 25 years of marriage. Since then, the source said he’s dated ‘a lot of women’ and that while many were younger, all of the relationships were consensual.
‘The irony is that Ron is one of the most loved people in Hollywood.
‘He dated a lot of women after his divorce. They may not have been the totally appropriate women for his age and status, but it was always consensual.
‘He may have got into trouble with his womanizing and gambling, but it wasn’t illegal. He was just stupid. Classic gambler mentality — he got himself too deep into situations he couldn’t control,’ the source said.
Kirk declined to comment through her manager.
The saga began on Tuesday, when Meyer stepped down.
‘I recently disclosed to my family and the company that I made a settlement, under threat, with a woman outside the company who had made false accusations against me.
‘Admittedly, this is a woman I had a very brief and consensual affair with many years ago,’ he said.
‘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,’ he said.
Meyer has been married twice – first to Ellen Meyer, the mother of his two oldest daughters, in 1975.
The pair divorced 11 years later and Meyer went on to marry model Kelly Chapman in 1993.
Meyer and Chapman, who have a son and a daughter together, announced that they would be separating after 25 years together in May 2018.
‘While we’ve grown apart, we remain best of friends and will always share the love we have for our beautiful family,’ the couple said in a joint statement at the time.
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell released a statement about Meyer’s departure on Tuesday, saying that the vice chairman ‘acted in a manner which we believe is not consistent with our company policies or values’.
‘Based on Ron’s disclosure of these actions, we have mutually concluded that Ron should leave the company, effective immediately,’ Shell said.
‘We thank Ron for his 25 years of service, and for his significant contributions to NBCUniversal.’
The Hollywood Reporter and Variety were first to identify Kirk as the woman with whom Meyer had an affair, citing unnamed sources.
Kirk’s attorney, Raymond Markovich, told Variety that he does not know Meyer and had not arranged a settlement between the executive and his client.
Markovich did not respond when asked if Kirk had signed or engaged in a settlement, the outlet reported.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Markovich and Kirk’s agent for comment.
Kirk – whose acting credits include Ocean’s 8, How To Be Single and Vice – made headlines last year after it was revealed that her affair with the married Warner Bros CEO had led to his ouster.
The actress was just 21 when she had sex with Tsujihara, 28 years her senior, with the Hollywood executive promising to help her acting career after their rendezvous in a motel in 2013.
In March 2019 her texts to Tsujihara, his friend Australian billionaire James Packer -who was also her lover, and film director Brett Ratner were leaked – prompting Tsujihara to step down from his position as one of the movie world’s most powerful men.
It was widely seen as a moment of vindication for the #MeToo movement that a CEO’s casting couch sex with an actress decades his junior had cost him his job and millions of dollars in pay and bonuses.
But Kirk told DailyMailTV in her first television interview in April 2019 that she does not see what happened as part of #MeToo.
‘I don’t consider myself a victim then because it was my choice,’ Kirk said.
‘I wasn’t forced into anything and I did what I wanted to do – good or bad. I would make completely different choices now and I regret doing that.’
Kirk went on to say that she wants to be judged on her own merits as an actress and that her roles were gained entirely without the help of any powerful Hollywood sponsors.
‘I have been thrust into the limelight and no one had heard of me before this. My intention was to make a big bang in the world but not for this, for my work,’ she said.
‘It’s terrible but I’m trying to reverse that by showing people my abilities.’
Kirk insisted that she did not leak the text messages herself and said she had urged the Hollywood Reporter not to run its story exposing her relationship with Tsujihara, who she said had not done anything inappropriate.
Deadline reported on Tuesday that Meyer became the target of an extortion scheme after he sought to help Tsujihara and Kirk – whom he knew previously – come to a settlement amid the fallout from their scandal last year.
Sources suggested that Meyer’s offer to help tipped a third party off about the existence of another settlement between Meyer and Kirk.
Meyer joined Universal Studios as president and chief operating officer in 1995 and held that job until 2013, when he was promoted to vice chairman of NBCUniversal.
He had a year left on his five-year contract when he stepped down.
Meyer began his career as a talent agent in the 1960s and made a name for himself by co-founding the powerhouse Creative Acting Agency with Mike Ovitz, Bill Haber, Rowland Perkins and Michael Rosenfeld in 1975.
He built a reputation in Hollywood circles as a cool-headed people person who helped shepherd the careers of major stars including Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, Barbra Streisand and Cher.
He was set to become an independent producer in the mid-90s before Ovitz convinced him to go to Universal.
It’s was not immediately clear if Meyer would be replaced as vice chairman of NBCUniversal, which is currently in the middle of substantial restructuring of the company’s television and streaming unit.
NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy was removed from his post earlier this month after he was accused of making racist and homophobic comments.
At the same time of Telegdy’s apparent firing, Lifestyle Networks president Frances Berwick was promoted to an expanded role overseeing business strategy for the entire entertainment side.
NBCUniversal is currently on the hunt for a new executive to oversee all centralized entertainment programming across the company’s various platforms, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
In his departure statement, Meyer said: ‘I’ve spent 25 years helping to grow and support an incredible company in a job I love. It is the people at this company that I will miss the most.
‘I regret what has happened and I am sorry for all the people in my life I may have let down, especially and most importantly, my family.’