David Zaslav declined to appear on stage at this week’s Warner Bros. Discovery upfront — which has taken on an abbreviated form with no celebrity presence due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike — but has emerged to make an appearance publishes Sunday when he delivered the graduate address at Boston University. But despite being an educational event with no formal connection to Warner Bros. Discovery, the talk was still plagued by the strike-induced chaos it likely hoped to avoid by skipping advances (via The Hollywood Reporter).
The WGA complied with previously announced plans to protest the speech, as pickets could reportedly be seen outside the venue. The guild had previously criticized the university’s decision to select Zaslav as an initiation speaker during an ongoing writers’ strike.
“Members of the Writers Guild are on strike because companies, including Warner Bros. Discovery, have refused to guarantee any level of weekly occupancy in episodic television, have attempted to turn late-night writers into a daily rate, have obstructed free work on script reviews for screenwriters and refused to even discuss our proposal on the existential threat AI poses to all writers,” WGA said in a recent statement. “Boston University should not giving a voice to someone who wants to destroy their students’ ability to build a career in the film and television industry”.
But protests from professional writers weren’t the only problem Zaslav faced. As he delivered a speech filled with advice on the importance of hard work and getting along with different kinds of people, the students often booed and yelled insults at him. Videos began circulating on social media that featured a continuous “Pay your writers!” I sing choking the speech. Even more extreme obscenities could occasionally be heard.
The speech took place around the one-year mark of Zaslav’s tenure at the helm of the media giant. His first year on the job was filled with controversial moves, including the decision to scrap the completed ‘Batgirl’ movie and the merging of HBO Max and Discovery+ into a single streaming service known as Max.