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Ron Meyer, NBCUniversal’s vice chairman, is out after 25 years. “I am writing to share some unfortunate news. Late last week Ron Meyer informed NBCUniversal that he had acted in a manner which we believe is not consistent with our company policies or values,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
It’s unclear if Meyer will be replaced at the company, which is in the midst of a massive reorganization that saw NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy pushed out and Frances Berwick promoted to an expanded role at the company overseeing business strategy for all of the entertainment side. A search is underway for a new executive to oversee all centralized entertainment programming across the company’s portfolio, including streamer Peacock, cable networks USA and Syfy, as well as NBC.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce my departure from NBCUniversal,” Meyer said in a statement of his own Tuesday. “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. 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. After I disclosed this matter to the company, we mutually decided that I should step down from my role as Vice Chairman of NBCUniversal. 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.”
Meyer, who had a year left on his five-year contract, provided strategic guidance and counsel at the company, including film and TV assets as well as NBCU’s theme park business.
His departure arrives 11 days after NBCU TV and streaming chairman Mark Lazarus informed staff that the company planned to push forward with its investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace culture that were raised in a Hollywood Reporter story centered on Telegdy and his top deputy, unscripted chief Meredith Ahr. Lazarus said the company will carry on with the investigation after Telegdy’s departure as well as launch a broader cultural assessment at the conglomerate.
Telegdy unceremoniously exited the company as part of its larger restructuring, while Ahr remains in place. Lazarus, alongside Shell, is overseeing a major restructuring of the company’s TV division. THR published a story in late July in which scores of current and former executives alleged Telegdy fostered a toxic culture. NBC immediately launched an investigation into the culture at the network. A source close to the investigation at NBC noted the probe will be conducted by a different outsider than the person who found a “culture of diversity” at America’s Got Talent following former judge Gabrielle Union’s allegations of racism and homophobia on the show.
Union’s attorney, Bryan Freedman previously told THR that NBC’s outside investigator, an older white woman, “seemed incapable of perceiving the more subtle forms of racism” that Union experienced on AGT.
Meyer, the former co-founder of CAA, joined Universal in 1995 as its president and CEO. He was named to his current position in 2013. Meyer had been a constant at NBCU as the company continued to change corporate ownership. He was first recruited to the company by his fellow CAA co-founder, Michael Ovitz, though the latter bungled negotiations to join NBCU. Meyer boarded NBCU when it was under Seagram control. When that company was sold to Vivendi in 2000, control of NBCU passed to the French water utility and media company. Vivendi in 2004 sold the studio and theme parks to General Electric, parent company of NBC. It is now part of Comcast’s NBCUniversal.
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