NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell just broke the news in a corporate note.
“I write to share unfortunate news. At the end of last week, Ron Meyer informed NBCUniversal that he had acted in a way that, in our opinion, was not in line with our company policies or values, ”Shell said. “Based on Ron’s disclosure of these actions, we have mutually concluded that Ron should leave the company, effective immediately. We thank Ron for his 25 years of service and for his significant contributions to NBCUniversal.
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Meyer released his own statement, explaining the reasons for his brutal exit:
It is with a heavy heart that I announce my departure from NBCUniversal.
I recently revealed to my family and the company that I had made a deal, under threat, with a woman outside the company who had made false accusations against me. Certainly, this is a woman with whom I had a very brief and consensual affair with many years ago. I made this disclosure because other parties became aware of the settlement and continually attempted to extort me into paying them money or they intended to falsely implicate NBCUniversal, which did not had nothing to do with this case, and to publish false allegations about me. After disclosing this matter to the company, we mutually decided that I should step down as vice president of NBCUniversal.
I have spent 25 years helping to grow and support an amazing business in a job that I love. It is the people at this company that I will miss the most. I regret what happened and I feel sorry for all the people in my life that I may have let down, above all and most importantly, my family.
As the news broke this morning, Meyer’s bio had already been deleted from the NBCUniversal company’s website.
Meyer started as President and COO of Universal Studios in 1995, replacing Sidney J. Sheinberg, who was awarded a production contract. Meyer was promoted to vice president of NBCUniversal in 2013. In this new role, he provided strategic advice and guidance to all aspects of the conglomerate, including its film and television assets as well as its theme park operations, in collaboration with the president of Universal Filmed Entertainment, Jeff Shell and president of Universal Pictures, Donna Langley. Together, they saw Universal hit a box office record of WW $ 6.9 billion in 2015 (a record that has since been broken by Disney). Meyer brought Spielberg and Amblin back into Universal in 2015 after the director’s DreamWorks left at Disney where the Oscar-winning director has directed films such as Lincoln, War Horse, Bridge of Spies and The BFG. Meyer’s renewed contract in 2016 was originally intended to keep him at the studio until the end of 2021.
He co-founded CAA in 1975 with Mike Ovitz, Bill Haber, Rowland Perkins and Michael Rosenfeld. A former sailor, Meyer, through a family connection, landed his first entry-level job as a courier at the Paul Kohner Agency, working there from 1964 to 1970. He then joined William Morris as a junior agent , working alongside Ovitz.
Meyer was known as a human person, a cool-headed diplomat who personally guided the careers of Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, Barbra Streisand, Meryl Streep, and Cher, among others. The stars turned to Meyer at Universal as their champion: he was the guy who encouraged Dwayne Johnson to transition from WWE wrestler to leader, and gave Angelina Jolie all the support for her first big gig of studio director in 2014. Uninterrupted. Jolie’s bond with Meyer dates back to her childhood when she replaced her father Jon Voight at CAA.
Originally, in the mid-1990s, Meyer would go on to become an independent producer, but Ovitz convinced him to come with him to run Universal Studios after being courted by Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., while the talks went awry between Ovitz and Bronfman, David Geffen, the billionaire co-founder of DreamWorks SKG, convinced Bronfman to hire Meyer.
Meyer’s departure comes at a time when there has been a major reshuffle at NBCUniversal with its streamlined network and direct-to-consumer business. Recently, NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy recently resigned over allegations of misconduct, including racist, sexist and homophobic behavior. In the aftermath of the Telegdy incident, NBCUniversal TV and Streaming President Mark Lazarus posted in an internal memo that the conglomerate is expanding its investigation into its workplace culture.
Frances Berwick recently stepped into an expanded position within the conglomerate overseeing entertainment business strategy. NBCUniversal is currently seeking an executive to lead a centralized portfolio of its programming outlets, including Peacock, USA, Syfy and NBC.
Anthony D’Alessandro contributed to this report