Warner Bros. Television is laying off 82 of its employees, making up around 19 percent of its workforce, according to reports from Deadline and Variety. The studio has also chosen not to fill 43 open positions — making up 125 (or 26 percent) of its jobs in total — with those in unscripted, scripted, and animation most affected.
This most recent round of layoffs comes as Warner Bros. looks to cut costs following its megamerger with Discovery led by CEO David Zaslav. In August, Warner Bros. Discovery eliminated about 70 positions at HBO Max as part of a massive restructuring that also killed the nearly completed Batgirl film and shelved dozens of other shows and movies from the streaming service. As part of the merge, HBO Max and Discovery Plus will be combined into a single app in the summer of 2023.
Warner Bros. reversed its decision to shut down its long-time writers’ and directors’ workshops
In addition to the layoffs, Warner Bros. Discovery is doing away with its short-form digital content studio, Stage 13, which describes itself as a production company “dedicated to amplifying intersectional stories and championing creators from underrepresented communities.” The studio has produced works like Netflix’s Special, a series that follows a gay man living with cerebral palsy.
Warner Bros. Discovery also initially had plans to shutter its writers’ and directors’ television workshops, which often serve as an avenue for emerging writers and directors from underrepresented backgrounds to break into the industry. The company reversed this decision on Wednesday, saying in a statement that it’s going to house the workshops within its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) pipeline instead.
This decision came shortly after the Directors Guild of America (DGA) released a statement (via Variety) that it intends to “fight against Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to dismantle its TV directors’ development program” that has been an “advancement for women and directors of color.” The DGA added that it has been “in contact with WB and have received their commitment” on the matter. Notable workshop alumni include Luke Cage producer Akela Cooper and Only Murders in the Building director Jude Weng.
“These are challenging times in the world at large, and a tumultuous time in our industry. For this kind of change to hit so close to home is incredibly difficult,” Channing Dungey, the Warner Bros. Television CEO, writes in an internal memo to employees obtained by Deadline. “But my hope is that these changes, made with an eye to a more focused business strategy, will strengthen and stabilize our company, maintain our great creative output, and better position us for continued future success.”
Diversity at Warner Bros. Discovery has already taken a hit due to the studio’s layoffs, and the elimination of Stage 13 only adds to that. Warner Bros. Discovery already cut Batgirl, a film led by Leslie Grace, a woman of color, along with a number of animated series, like Cartoon Network’s Infinity Train, which features a number of characters of color, as well as Summer Camp Island, a series that has characters who are members of the LGBTQ-plus community.
Update October 12th, 4:41PM ET: Updated to add that Warner Bros. Discovery reversed its decision on shutting down its writers’ and directors’ workshop, and also added additional context about Studio 13 and a statement from the Directors Guild of America.