Warner Bros. Discovery recently announced staff layoffs at Turner Classic Movies (TCM), prompting renowned filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Paul Thomas Anderson to engage in discussions with WBD chief David Zaslav about the future of the esteemed cinema network.
According to sources, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery organized a conference call with the three prominent directors to seek their guidance following the departure of key TCM executives, including long-time general manager Pola Changnon. In a joint statement issued after the conversation, Spielberg, Scorsese, and Anderson emphasized the significance of TCM as more than just a channel. They acknowledged the challenges faced by a corporate giant like WBD and expressed their commitment to preserving TCM’s programming intact.
The filmmakers, who are all associated with the Film Foundation—a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of classic films—underscored their positive conversations with Zaslav, highlighting his genuine interest in TCM and classic cinema. Their ultimate objective is to ensure the continuation and protection of TCM as a cultural touchstone.
Spielberg, Scorsese, and Anderson have been actively involved in the Film Foundation since its inception, with Scorsese as the founder in 1990 and Spielberg serving on the original board of directors. Anderson joined the foundation in 2006. In 2022, TCM expanded its partnership with the nonprofit organization, announcing a multi-year financial commitment to support classic film education and restoration. The expansion was celebrated at the TCM Classic Film Festival, where Spielberg introduced a 4K restoration of Warner Bros.’s classic film “Giant.” Furthermore, Spielberg, Anderson, and Zaslav participated in a Q&A session moderated by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz after a special screening of the 4K restoration of “Rio Bravo.”
The recent job cuts at TCM are part of Warner Bros. Discovery’s broader layoffs within its domestic cable group, affecting approximately 100 employees across Discovery and Turner brands. Apart from Pola Changnon, other high-level TCM executives departing the company include Charles Tabesh, Anne Wilson, Dexter Fedor, and Genevieve McGillicuddy. The news of the layoffs has generated concern among the film community, with filmmakers and stars expressing their worries about the network’s future on social media platforms.
Ryan Reynolds, in a tweet, expressed his deep connection with TCM, referring to it as a fundamental part of his life and a vital repository of film history. Reynolds urged the preservation of TCM’s integrity.
In a memo to the staff, Kathleen Finch, WBD TV networks’ chief content officer, announced the leadership transition and assured employees of the company’s unwavering commitment to TCM’s brand and purpose. She mentioned that Michael Ouweleen, president of Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Discovery Family, and Boomerang, would oversee TCM, as he did before the Warner Bros.-Discovery merger in 2022. Finch emphasized the company’s dedication to showcasing the cultural impact of classic movies through various platforms.
Indiewire initially reported the filmmakers’ conversation with Zaslav.