Shrapnel from the Jeff Shell Bombshell

jeff shell
Former NBCU C.E.O. Jeff Shell was terminated for cause following an investigation into an alleged affair with a subordinate. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
April 24, 2023

Ron Meyer’s phone must be blowing up. The former NBCUniversal vice chair was fired in 2020 by none other than Jeff Shell, his boss at the time, when Meyer admitted to being a victim of “extortion” after helping an actress with whom he’d had a consensual affair. That was the same actress who brought down the Warner Bros. C.E.O. Kevin Tsujihara a couple years prior. So the first question I asked Comcast when the news broke today that Shell was exiting as C.E.O of NBCU for, yes, having a consensual affair, was, It’s not Charlotte Kirk, is it?

No, Shell made one of the dumbest and, confoundingly, common mistakes among Hollywood executives: With all the money in the world, all the possible women in the world, and all the savvy and common sense required to ascend to the top of the media business, Shell had an affair with an employee, a subordinate. All while navigating NBCUniversal through the #MeToo movement, the Matt Lauer scandal, the Ronan Farrow investigations, and firing people for bad personal behavior, like Meyer and Paul Telegdy and—incorrectly, it turned out—Josh Goldstine, the Universal marketing executive who was dismissed by Shell before he sued and won a $20 million-ish award.