NBCUniversal said Vice Chairman Ron Meyer, a towering figure at its Hollywood studio, is leaving the company after he disclosed having a consensual affair and paying the woman a settlement.
In a statement, NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Shell said Mr. Meyer “acted in a manner which we believe is not consistent with our company policies or values.” He said Mr. Meyer disclosed the situation last week.
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Mr. Meyer, who has worked at NBCUniversal for 25 years, said in a statement that he had a brief affair with a woman years ago and that she made false accusations against him. He paid her a settlement under threat, 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,” Mr. Meyer said. NBCUniversal is a unit of Comcast Corp.
Mr. Meyer, 75, has been one of the most influential figures in Hollywood for more than four decades. He left famed talent firm William Morris Agency in 1975 and co-founded the now immensely powerful Creative Artists Agency with Michael Ovitz and other colleagues.
As an agent, Mr. Meyer was credited with personally guiding the careers of Hollywood legends like Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone and Meryl Streep. Considered congenial and diplomatic, he was often viewed as the polar opposite to the ruthless Mr. Ovitz. Together, they pioneered new ways of doing business in Hollywood and helped give artists, producers and directors more say over what movie and TV programming get made.
After a long career as a super agent, Mr. Meyer took a job at the Universal studio in 1995. During his tenure as studio chief—long by Hollywood standards—Mr. Meyer oversaw the production of both megahits and critical darlings, including “Erin Brockovich,” “Gladiator,” “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Fast and the Furious.”
In 2013, Mr. Meyer took over as vice chairman at parent company NBCUniversal, where he served as an ambassador to Hollywood, bridging the gap between his corporate bosses and the entertainment community in Los Angeles.
He also became a top adviser to former NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke as well as something of a mentor to Mr. Shell when he assumed oversight of the movie studio.
Mr. Meyer is the second high-profile departure from NBCUniversal recently. Earlier this month, Paul Telegdy, the head of entertainment for NBC, was pushed out in a corporate restructuring. His departure came after NBCUniversal launched an investigation into the culture of his division amid concerns of a toxic work environment. Mr. Telegdy has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Meyer’s abrupt departure comes as the entertainment industry— long known for having an anything-goes attitude toward executive misbehavior—is cracking down on excesses and behavior that in the past were often overlooked. Last year, Kevin Tsujihara, chief of the Warner Bros. movie and television studio, was removed after disclosing a consensual relationship with an actress. In memos to Warner Bros. employees around the time of his exit, Mr. Tsujihara apologized for his conduct and said his leadership had become a distraction for the company.
Mr. Meyer’s exit is part of a broader reshuffling of the top ranks in Hollywood over the past several weeks. Earlier this month, a restructuring at AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia forced out Robert Greenblatt and Kevin Reilly, the veteran executives behind the launch of streaming service HBO Max, as well as Jeffrey Schlesinger, Warner’s global distribution chief. Ann Sarnoff was elevated to a new role overseeing all content distributed by the company across its many platforms.
In February, Robert Iger made a long-expected move to step down as CEO of Walt Disney Co. after a more than 14-year tenure and was succeeded by Bob Chapek, with Mr. Iger staying on as executive chairman. Kevin Mayer, who was passed over for the job and was credited with helping launch the company’s streaming service, Disney+, left Disney about three months later so he could take over as CEO at TikTok.
Write to Joe Flint at [email protected]
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