First, it was extortion and blackmail. Now it has emerged that Ron Meyer, the movie titan, exiled this week after an illustrious 25-year career, waged another secret war in recent years.
OK! has been told Meyer, 75, was forced to sell his Malibu mega-compound to pay off what one source described as “a whopping gambling debt” in excess of $30 million. Two other sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed the massive bill.
Meyer, a known gambler and avid poker player, sold the 14,000-square-foot oceanfront home for about $100 million last August in one of the largest residential transactions ever completed in California.
"In the wake of his split from second wife Kelly Chapman (whom he married in 1993), Ron went on a tear and was gambling heavily," said one source.
When questioned about the size of the debt, when OK! suggested a source had told us it was $25 million, this well-connected Hollywood insider said: "Larger. More than $30 million." A third source verified the debt.
Said one snitch: "He borrowed money at times from people, and in the end, it added up and he had to sell the mansion to worm his way out of potential trouble."
All sources pointed out that Meyer’s gambling never impacted his professional work, nor was it illegal.
NBCUniversal ousted its vice-chairman on Tuesday after he admitted to settling a lawsuit with a woman with whom he’d had a brief “consensual affair.”
In a statement, Meyer said he disclosed the deal — which he made “under threat” — to his family and the company because it had led “other parties” to try to extort him.
Meyer’s ex-mistress was identified, according to multiple sources as British actress Charlotte Kirk, 28, who later had an affair with Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, 55, that forced his departure from the studio.
"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," Meyer said in a statement.
"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."
"Based on Ron’s disclosure of these actions, we have mutually concluded that Ron should leave the company, effective immediately," NBCUniversal chief executive officer Jeff Shell said in a statement that described Meyer’s behavior as inconsistent with "our company policies or values."
Meyer never played in son-in-law's Tobey Maguire's notorious underground poker game — the subject of movie Molly's Game and the recent book, The Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist — that also involved Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon.
Meyer has previously admitted to being a high-roller. He is said to have won and lost tens of millions of dollars over the years, dating back to when he was a partner at the Creative Artists Agency talent agency.
In 2007, a spokesperson for Meyer said: "Ron used to be a card player. He never gambled beyond his means. He never gambled illegally—and he hasn’t gambled in years.”
But, according to two well-placed sources connected to the underground poker scene, that was not entirely true.
A source told the New York Post’s Page Six this week: “He may have got into trouble with his womanizing and gambling, but it wasn’t illegal. He was just stupid. Classic gambler mentality — he got himself too deep into situations he couldn’t control.”
In a 2016 tell-all about CAA, titled Powerhouse: The Inside Story of CAA, it was revealed how Meyer faced the threat of mob retaliation when he racked up another huge gambling debt.
The book suggested that, sometime in the 1980s and 1990s, Meyer was “once in the hole for several million dollars.”
Author James Andrew Miller claimed the debt was to mobsters, though he did not specify to which faction.
“This wasn’t some casino on the strip,” the book said. “The ‘guys’ Meyer was on the hook to only swam in the deep end of the pool.” His troubles were so severe that Meyer went to Ovitz for an advance on his agency earnings, a request that Ovitz denied, though the CAA boss was “fearful for Meyer’s safety.”
According to Miller, there was a late-night meeting between Meyer and his creditors, with the then super-agent admitting he could not pay his debt—but he was spared.
“He left that meeting alive, both legs operative, genitalia intact,” Miller wrote.