Warner Bros Discovery has performed a quick U-turn on its decision to close its Writers and Directors Workshops.
On Tuesday, the company revealed that the two initiatives, which have been lauded for their inclusion of diverse voices into the television industry, were being shuttered at Warner Bros. Television, where they have resided, as part of a massive slew of cuts.
Today, the company said that the workshops will now be housed within WBD’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion unit, in partnership with WBTV. They will now be led by Warner Bros. Discovery DEI Vice President Grace Moss and overseen by recently elevated Warner Bros. Discovery DEI U.S. Lead Karen Horne.
It comes after much criticism for the decision to close them from talent and industry execs. The DGA had committed to fight against the decision, saying that it would not “stand idly by while WB Discovery seeks to roll back decades of advancement for women and directors of color.”
Responding to studio’s quick turnaround, the DGA said that it “is pleased to see that Warner Bros. Discovery has responded to our concerns, however, the proof will be in how the new program structure effectively addresses directorial diversity, equity, and inclusion. We will be watching closely to ensure they follow through with their commitment.” The guild had previously said that the program is “mandated by the DGA collective bargaining agreement.”
The current 2022–23 edition of the Warner Bros Television Workshop was set to be its last for both the writers and directors, but they will now continue as part of the DEI units.
Both workshops have been a popular and sought-after avenue for training emerging writing and directing talent, with Regina King (directing), LOTR: The Rings of Power executive producer Justin Doble, Lovecraft Country co-exec producers Jonathan I. Kidd & Sonya Winton-Odamtten, Animal Kingdom exec producer Etan Frankel and House of the Dragon writer and co-exec producer Charmaine DeGraté among the alumni.
Doble had called the earlier move “absolutely gutting” and a “loss,” while Star Trek: Discovery exec producer Michelle Paradise called it “really disappointing” and M3gan and Malignant writer Akela Cooper said, “To see it scrapped in the name of capitalism is infuriating and heartbreaking.”
“By continuing this successful WBTV initiative through the DEI division, we ensure that Warner Bros Discovery’s continued commitment to training and development continues. Additionally, this is a strong example of how DEI plans to leverage our recently announced Creative Council to best align with our internal partners in maintaining our commitment to infuse our pipeline with diverse storytellers,” said Asif Sadiq, Warner Bros Discovery’s chief global diversity, equity and inclusion officer. “As we solidify the agenda and scope of the Council, we are excited to be able to expand this important initiative alongside our other efforts providing opportunities for underrepresented creatives.”
Added Horne: “Including the Writers and Directors Workshop within the scope of our current DEI pipeline programs, which include development opportunities for music supervisors, comedic voices and showrunners among others, will allow for a broader and more intense DEI focus and yield an even larger pool of cohorts to benefit from the experience and exposure we provide. We are encouraged by this chance to house this long-standing WBTV effort to impact the industry with emerging talent within the DEI team.”
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