Since taking the reins of Warner Bros. Discovery following the companies’ big merger, CEO David Zaslav has not, it could be said, been making too many friends in the creative community. He’s been on a giant cost-cutting drive, wiping shows and movies from streaming service Max and cancelling projects that were close to being finished, including ‘Batgirl’.
Yet he raised the potential ire of three very influential people when it was announced that much-loved cable channel Turner Classic Movies was to be restructured, and that its executive vice president and general manager, Pola Chagnon, would exit earlier this week after more than 25 years at the company.
The announcement sent shockwaves through the filmmaking community, since TCM has been a beacon for the appreciation of classic movies for years. And the move was a surprise, since Zaslav had been present at a TCM event just a few weeks ago, claiming to be a big fan.
It raised concerns from across the creative community, with the likes of Ryan Reynolds commenting.
Yet the most vocal concern came from three big-name directors, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson, who got in touch with Zaslav to ask for a meeting about the channel’s future.
Spielberg in particular has talked in the past at how TCM has been useful to him while he’s editing his movies, giving him something to enjoy when he needs some intellectual stimulation.
And from the sounds of it (for now), the channel is safe.
Michael Ouweleen, president of Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Discovery Family and Boomerang, will oversee the channel going forward, and from the sounds of the three directors, they seem convinced that TCM is in safe hands.
Here’s the statement from the three filmmakers following the meeting:
“Turner Classic Movies has always been more than just a channel. It is truly a precious resource of cinema, open 24 hours a day seven days a week. And while it has never been a financial juggernaut, it has always been a profitable endeavor since its inception. Earlier this week, David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, got in touch to talk about the restructuring of TCM. We understand the pressures and realities of a corporation as large as WBD, of which TCM is one moving part. We have each spent time talking to David, separately and together, and it’s clear that TCM and classic cinema are very important to him. Our primary aim is to ensure that TCM’s programming is untouched and protected. We are heartened and encouraged by the conversations we’ve had thus far, and we are committed to working together to ensure the continuation of this cultural touchstone that we all treasure.”
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