BREAKING: Universal Pictures toppers Jeff Shell and Donna Langley have just sent an internal memo telling staff that marketing head Josh Goldstine has been placed on administrative leave, and Seth Byers has been let go after “inappropriate conduct” in the studio marketing department. We are trying to get to the bottom of this, and the studio is not commenting. Early word is that Goldstine might have tried to handle the issue with Byers by himself, instead of going through studio protocols. Deadline called Goldstine’s office and was told he is unavailable. At Byers’ office, the call went to a machine. Here is the bombshell missive just sent out by Shell and Langley:
Late last week, we received allegations of inappropriate conduct in the Universal Pictures Marketing Department. The information provided was detailed, and we believe both credible and indicative of an unacceptable climate.
Effective immediately, Seth Byers, Executive Vice President, Creative Strategy and Research, will no longer be with the company.
Josh Goldstine, President of Marketing, has been placed on administrative leave while we conduct a thorough investigation. These steps are necessary as part of a broader evaluation of the environment in our division.
Our highest priority is to provide a working environment where every employee feels heard, seen and safe. We commend the people who have had the courage to come forward. We have no tolerance for harassment or other disrespectful behavior, and we will be taking any necessary steps to ensure that actions that violate our core values are dealt with swiftly and decisively.
We will be doing a number of things to address this immediately, including a full review in the marketing department to ensure every employee has the opportunity to voice concerns, raise any issues and provide feedback about the working environment, and we are prepared to take whatever additional action is needed.
This isn’t Goldstine’s first trip to the doghouse. When he worked in Sony’s marketing department for 20 years, he got suspended in 2001 for creating a bogus critic named David Manning, and using his quotes in ads for such Sony films as The Animal and A Knight’s Tale. He moved from Sony to become Uni’s head of marketing in 2011. Universal is responding to a moment in Hollywood where there is zero tolerance for boorish behavior and worse, after decades of it that went unreported or got swept under the rug.