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Warner Bros. Discovery will be shutting down its long-running writers’ and directors’ television workshops at the end of the current 2022-23 season, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
While they were not specifically diversity programs exclusively for participants from historically excluded backgrounds, the Warner Bros. Television Workshop was regarded as an important pipeline of opportunity for such artists looking to break into the business. The writers’ workshop had been in existence for more than 40 years, with more recent notable alumni including Akela Cooper (Luke Cage, Blumhouse’s upcoming M3GAN), Zak Schwartz (Wu-Tang: An American Saga, TNT’s Snowpiercer) and LaToya Morgan (The Walking Dead, Into the Badlands). Alumni of the directors’ workshop include Jude Weng (Only Murders in the Building, Finding ‘Ohana), Jaffar Mahmood (Reboot, Young Sheldon) and Regina King.
Last month, WBD restructured its diversity, equity and inclusion group, with senior vice president Karen Horne, who formerly oversaw pipeline programs under WarnerMedia, promoted to oversee DEI for the North America region. In her place, Grace Anne Moss was appointed to oversee pipeline programs at the vp level.
The company also is shuttering Stage 13, its shortform digital content studio, with existing projects in the works to be absorbed into Warner Bros. Television, which has been overseeing Stage 13 development and programming since 2020. Stage 13 was founded in 2017 as part of the then-Warner Bros. Digital Networks division and has produced such series as Netflix’s Special, created by and starring Ryan O’Connell about his experiences as a young gay man with cerebral palsy, and The CW/Netflix’s anthology Two Sentence Horror Stories, which was created by Vera Miao and served as a showcase for directors from a diverse range of backgrounds.
The decision to shutter Stage 13 and the WBTV writers’ and directors’ workshops are part of a larger round of layoffs taking place today at the Channing Dungey-led Warner Bros. TV Group. Additional layoffs are expected to come as part of Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s larger effort to find an estimated $3 billion in cost savings from the newly merged company. Casey Bloys’ HBO and HBO Max division went through a similar round of layoffs in August. Staff cuts are expected to come at other WBD divisions as Zaslav and his top lieutenants look to eliminate staff redundancies and right-size its various divisions. As part of the larger effort, HBO Max and Discovery+ will be merged next year as execs continue to debate a new name for the service.
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