Warner Bros. Television’s decision to close its television workshop for aspiring writers and directors sparked outrage from those concerned about a major backlash for women and people of color trying to make careers in Hollywood.
But on Wednesday, parent company Warner Bros. Discovery said it’s not giving up programs to develop writers and directors of color after all. The company said in a statement that its pipeline programs will exist under its larger Diversity, Equity and Inclusion umbrella, where they will specifically focus on working with writers and directors from underrepresented groups.
The company didn’t give many details about how the revamped programs would work, but said they “would build on the successful program initiated by Warner Bros. Television and also build on the larger Warner Bros. Discovery company would expand.
This does not change the fact that Warner Bros. television programming as it currently exists will be discontinued. Warner Bros. Television chairman Channing Dungey said in an email Tuesday to employees that the company will end programs after the current class of 2022-2023 completes work in April.
“While we will no longer have these formalized programs, we remain committed to developing and mentoring emerging talent and preparing them for a career in television,” Dungey said in the memo.
The end of the program coincides with the decision to cut 82 employees and eliminate 42 vacancies from Warner Bros. Television’s workforce as David Zaslav, chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, enacts cost-cutting measures to please Wall Street . Zaslav has pledged $3 billion in savings from the combination of Discovery and former WarnerMedia entertainment assets, which include Warner Bros., CNN, HBO and Cartoon Network.
The announcement of the new program is a clear attempt by the company to calm jitters in the creative community, which has taken the cost-cutting measures as a serious blow. Existing workshops were not billed solely as diversity initiatives, although a clear aim of the programs was to address the entertainment industry’s issues with inclusion. Another initiative getting the ax is Stage 13, a unit that focuses on short-form videos and also encourages early-career voices.
The Directors Guild of America blasted the closures in a statement Wednesday.
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“DGA will not stand by while WB/Discovery seeks to roll back decades of support for women and directors of color,” the guild said. “This important program, mandated by the DGA collective bargaining agreement, aims to promote inclusive hiring practices for diverse talent and ends by offering program participants the opportunity to direct a TV episode. The program and other similar programs are essential to establishing inclusive direction in the entertainment industry.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), in response to the programs being suspended, criticized Warner Bros. Discovery for its track record on diversity.
“So far, the new @wbd [Warner Bros. Discovery] has been downright hostile to content creators, color creators, new voices trying to break into the industry, etc.,” lawmakers tweeted Tuesday. “The new WBD appears to be doing everything it can to make the company less inclusive while also getting rich from the communities they marginalize.”
According to the company, the new Warner Bros. Discovery program will be explicitly aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion behind the camera.
Under collective bargaining agreements signed in 2014, major television studios that are members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, including ABC, NBC, Sony and Warner Bros., agreed to establish and maintain a television director development program based on a Opportunities in episodic television with a focus on increasing diversity are aimed at increasing.
A spokesman for DGA did not comment on Warner Bros.’s statement Wednesday that it would move its directorial programming from its TV business to its diversity division.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-10-12/warner-bros-discovery-television-workshop-diversity Warner Bros. Discovery revamps diversity programs