Scorsese, Spielberg, And Paul Thomas Anderson Will Help Curate TCM As WB Discovery Rehires Key Programmer


After a tumultuous week, it seems as though the future of Turner Classic Movies has been secured ... for now, anyway. Warner Bros. Discovery, under the direction of CEO David Zaslav, recently laid off several key staffers from the network in a cost-cutting measure. This included longtime network programmer Charles Tabesh. Well, following pretty intensive backlash from both film fans and heavy hitters in Hollywood, Zaslav has reversed course somewhat.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. Pictures bosses Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy will now be in control of TCM, taking over for the division run by WBD TV networks chief content officer chief Kathleen Finch. De Luca and Abdy taking over had been widely reported in recent days, but has only now been confirmed by WBD. "Part of this is the creation of a more sustainable structure behind the screen, one that benefits from the vast resources and promotional engine of WBD's networks group, so that TCM is set up for long-term success," a spokesperson for Warner Bros. Discovery said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Tabesh will also be returning to the network, and he is expected to be able to bring back some of his staff. Also key is the fact that directors Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Paul Thomas Anderson — who have loudly championed the network — will have a hand in programming it from here on out. The trio had this to say in a collective statement:

The Importance of Turner Classic Movies

TCM is a relatively small part of the WBD empire, but one that got caught in the crosshairs as the company looks to chip away at its massive pile of debt. Following the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery, David Zaslav has been militant about cost-cutting, no matter how unpopular some of his measures seem to be. However, gutting TCM was a bridge too far. Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Paul Thomas Anderson, among many others, were not happy about it. An emergency Zoom call between Zaslav and the filmmakers seems to have helped. Again, for now anyway.

A big part of the problem is that TCM is a cable network that makes the bulk of its money through cable subscription fees. The network doesn't run ads and has very little presence on streaming, save for a hub on Max. As cord-cutting continues to accelerate, the network's profits will only continue to shrink. So, inevitably, WBD will have to reassess the financials at some point again in the not-too-distant future. Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy added:

TCM is a wildly important tool in the digital age for classic film preservation and appreciation. So many of these films wouldn't have a home otherwise, particularly in the streaming era when so much stuff gets lost in the shuffle. For Warner Bros., it should be an investment in the cultural significance of classic film. Even if this is just a bandaid, at least Zaslav was willing to listen to the outcry and scale back his plans to all but destroy the network. TCM lives on.



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