Famous directors Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson held an “emergency” meeting with the boss of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, following recent layoffs at Turner Classic Movies.
The three directors are among Hollywood’s most prominent advocates for film preservation, in the past publicly voicing their support for the cable channel that airs classic films and even appearing at its film festivals.
They argued the channel was important in connecting moviegoers, including future producers and directors, to the medium’s history – and were therefore worried when Zaslav announced earlier in the week that some of the top executives were being fired. .
The layoffs have sparked speculation among industry insiders that Turner Classic Movies may be shuttered under Zaslav’s leadership as it seeks to restructure Warner Bros. Discovery to attract new talent.
Following a call with Zaslav, the directors released a statement saying they were “couraged and encouraged by the conversations we’ve had so far.”
David Zaslav, the head of Warner Bros. Discovery, announced earlier this week that some of Turner Classic Movies’ top executives were being laid off
Famed directors Martin Scorsese, left, and Paul Thomas Anderson, right, held an ’emergency’ call with Zaslav over the layoffs
Along with Steven Spielberg (pictured at the premiere of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate last week), they are among Hollywood’s most prominent advocates for film preservation.
In their statement to Deadline, Spielberg, Scorsese and Anderson said, “Turner Classic Movies has always been more than a channel. It truly is a valuable cinema resource, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And while it was never a financial juggernaut, it has always been a profitable business since its inception.
“Earlier this week, David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery got in touch to discuss the restructuring of TCM.
“We understand the pressures and realities of a company as large as WBD, of which TCM is a moving part.”
But, the directors said, “we’ve each spent time talking to David, separately and together, and it’s clear that TCM and classic cinema are very important to him.”
“Our main goal is to ensure that TCM’s programming is intact and protected. We are heartened and encouraged by the conversations we have had so far, and are committed to working together to ensure the continuity of this cultural touchstone that we all cherish.
Since taking over as head of Warner Bros. Discovery, Zaslav sought to restructure the entertainment giant.
He moved quickly to cut costs for the combined company, with $3 billion in cost savings expected from eliminating layoffs.
One of his biggest decisions was to immediately pull the plug on the $300 million CNN+ streaming service, just weeks after it launched.
And in October, the company announced that nearly a fifth of its internal television division had been laid off on Tuesday.
The layoffs included 82 current employees and 43 vacancies in the sector – led by chairman Channing Dungey – representing 19% of the staff at the time and 26% of the total number of employees.
In addition to cutting 125 positions, the company also canceled Stage 13 and the Warner Bros. Television Workshop, two initiatives that supported diverse voices for writing and directing.
Zaslav (pictured at the world premiere of ‘Rio Bravo’s 4k restoration) moved quickly to cut costs at the merged company, with $3bn expected in cost savings from eliminating layoffs
Several TCM executives were fired amid the cuts, including VP of Marketing Pola Changnon (left) and VP of Content Charles Tabesh (right)
Last month, insiders said The envelope the company would target cable TV employees in its next round of layoffs.
And earlier this week, Warner Bros. Discovery announced Executive Vice President and General Manager of Turner Classic Movies Pola Changnon, Senior Vice President of Programming and Content Strategy Charles Tabesh, Vice President of Creative and Brand Marketing Dexter Fedor, Vice President President of Enterprises and Strategic Partnerships Geneviève McGillicuddy and Vice President of Studio Production Anne Wilson were fired.
Turner Classic Movie PR staff members are also expected to be included in upcoming cuts.
But Zaslav has apparently insisted he wants to keep Turner Classic Movies, just months after telling audiences at the 14th TCM Classic Film Festival: “I’m a fan like you.” If I wasn’t here, I’d be sitting with you.
“I watch Turner Classic Movies all the time,” he said. “It’s the history of our country, cinema.