Warner Bros. Discovery has backed out of a plan to end workshops for up-and-coming writers and directors after an industry backlash.
The company said in a statement Wednesday that it was moving the Directors’ Workshop and Writers’ Workshop programs from its former home at Warner Bros. Television to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” of the company’s transfer ends in March 2023. WBD added that the DEI unit “will expand the workshop programs through its existing pipeline programs division.”
According to a spokesman for Warner Bros. Discovery, there are currently no plans to change the number of workshop participants – to up to eight writers and eight to 12 directors – in the future.
Sources say the current class of writers in the WBTV workshops will be supported in their current home until March 2023. The new workshops will be managed at the enterprise level and operated enterprise-wide across the entire content portfolio, with some practices from the WBTV workshops being carried over to the new ones, however which will make changes to the programming.
On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter reported on a previous plan to end these programs, which were often viewed as key avenues for diverse talent to gain important industry opportunities in directing and writing, despite not having a diversity mandate per se. At the time, the WBTV Group announcement said, “While we will no longer have these formalized programs, we remain committed to developing and mentoring emerging talent and preparing them for a career in television.”
This new announcement comes about half an hour after the Directors Guild of America announced its intention to “fight” the closure of Warner Bros. Television Workshop and its directorial programming as required by the union’s collective bargaining agreement.
“DGA today announced its commitment to campaign against Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to end its television director development program,” the union said in a statement Wednesday. “DGA will not stand by while WB/Discovery seeks to roll back decades of support for women and directors of color.” THR has asked the DGA to comment on the latest development.
The specific provision that the DGA alleges the closure of the programs violates is §. 15-203 of its 2014 Basic Agreement, which reads: “On or before July 1, 2014, each of the major television studios (ie, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. Television) (the ” Major Television Studios ‘) will establish and maintain a television director development program designed to expand opportunities for directors in episodic television with an emphasis on increasing diversity.’ “The basic agreement requires that these programs, among other provisions, seek members from underrepresented groups, provide opportunities for participants to meet creative leaders, and, where possible, find opportunities for leadership for participants.”
Although the WBTV workshops — the directors’ output began in 2013 and the writers’ more than 40 years ago — spanned relatively different cohorts and were credited with bringing more creatives from marginalized identities into the industry, they were not “developed with a unique diversity lens,” WBD said in its announcement this afternoon. “They will now operate with a specific DEI focus.”