After all the furore over Turner Classic Movies’ layoffs, which saw the firing of longtime executives who were key to steering the brand to the level of admiration its fans feel, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson are here to strike a mild note.
In a joint statement released by Spielberg’s production company, Amblin, the three directors go out of their way to pay tribute to the Warner Bros. CEO. Discovery, David Zaslav.
“Turner Classic Movies has always been about more than just a channel,” the statement reads. “It is truly a valuable resource for cinema, and it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And although it has never been a financial juggernaut, it has always been a profitable endeavor since its inception.
Earlier this week, David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, called to talk about restructuring TCM. We understand the pressures and realities of a large company like WBD, of which TCM is a moving part.
“We’ve spent time talking to David, individually or together, and it’s clear that traditional Chinese medicine and classical cinema are very important to him. Our primary goal is to ensure that TCM programming remains intact and protected.
“We are comforted and encouraged by the conversations we have had so far, and we are committed to working together to ensure that this cultural touchstone we all cherish continues to grow.”
What could that mean – bigger plans for the brand involving managers? What is at stake is more than the survival of traditional Chinese medicine. TCM was shaped what it is because of ardent movie fans in executive roles. The brand is supported by the people who work in it day in and day out. What follows will be, to say the least, different from traditional Chinese medicine.
One thinks of what writer and film journalist Mark Harris wrote on Twitter earlier today: “David Zaslav might answer this by saying, ‘But we don’t fold TCM.’ But TCM isn’t just a library, it’s a small, intense, extraordinary talent pool. It is not defined simply by its content, but by the people who nurture and nurture it. This is true of all great culture brands.”
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