(UPDATED WITH SETH BYERS DETAILS) Nearly two years after he was shown the door at Universal following undisclosed “inappropriate conduct” allegations, the studio’s former president of marketing Josh Goldstine has emerged with his name cleared and his bank account apparently quite healthy. While nowhere up in the eight digit pay out range, fired Universal EVP, Creative Strategy and Research, Seth Byers has also emerged from the dark shadow of his termination back in early 2018.
After months of declarations and depositions, a behind-closed-doors arbitration ruling more than a week ago determined that then Jeff Shell- and Donna Langley-run Universal Pictures rushed to judgment against the long-serving exec and Byers in 2018. Whether in the #MeToo wheelhouse or not, the precise details of why Byers was axed and Goldstine was fired in March 2018 after the latter was placed on administrative leave a month before remained unrevealed.
Sources have confirmed to Deadline that Goldstine is set to receive around $20 million from the Comcast-owned studio. Specific details of the arbitration judgment remain sealed between the parties. However, it also appears Universal is not going to fight the multimillion-dollar decision.
Additionally, Byers was also given a clean slate and a hefty sum, both in mediation and by request, so to speak. It isn’t clear why Byers was let go, but the reasons he was fired are somewhat less opened ended now.
An undated and succinct correspondence on NBCUniversal letterhead and signed by Lissa Freed, Global Head, Human Resources for the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, to be exact. Addressed to “Prospective Employers of Seth Byers,” the letter states that the former Universal executive “was not terminated as a result of any physical or sexual assault, sexual relationships, quid pro quo, or inappropriate touching.”
“I could not have survived this nightmare had it not been for the unwavering support of my family and our tremendous network of friends,” Goldstine said in a statement Monday.
“I am eternally grateful to all of them and cannot wait to get back to doing what we have all been fighting for: getting a job and creating great work,” the Glaser Weil-represented Goldstine added. The law firm will see some of that $20 million obviously.
NBCUniversal had no comment on the matter when contacted by Deadline.
Yet, in February 2018, as Deadline exclusively reported at the time, Shell and Langley had a lot to say, especially in memo to staff that announced Seth Byers, EVP Creative Strategy and Research, was toast, and Goldstine had been put on administrative leave.
“Our highest priority is to provide a working environment where every employee feels heard, seen and safe,” wrote Shell and Langley at the time. “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,” the duo declared.
While undoubtedly well-intentioned, that now looks like it was a very expensive over-reach.
Having joined Universal in 2011, Goldstine was anointed worldwide marketing boss in 2014. Previous to that he was at Sony for nearly 20 years, not all of them good. Back in 2001, Goldstine was suspended for a while after creating a phony critic who handed out gushing quotes to films like A Knight’s Tale.
THR first reported the arbitration decision today.
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