Filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson will help lead Turner Classic Movies (TCM) programming and curation decisions as consultants after IndieWire first reported that the trio called Warner Bros. Discovery David Zaslav for their concerns about the network after a series of recent layoffs.
TCM’s guide will be a collaboration between the three titan filmmakers, and they’ll also provide guidance on interstitial programming, such as guest intros and outros between films. A source also says that Scorsese, Spielberg and Anderson have a formal agreement to volunteer with the company but won’t take a salary.
TCM veteran Charles “Charlie” Tabesh will remain at the network and report to Warner Bros. executives Michael de Luca and Pamela Abdy, who previously would oversee programming and creative content at TCM. The two film chiefs are friendly with the directors, and this move will take oversight away from WBD TV networks’ chief content officer Kathleen Finch, who previously mandated the cuts at TCM. She will also continue the TCM Classic Film Festival.
“TCM is a cultural treasure and we are honored to help lead the future direction of this beloved brand with the collaboration of three of the most iconic filmmakers of our time, Steven, Marty and Paul. David Zaslav led the charge, driven by our shared love of storytelling, to bring us together for a project we are so passionate about. Over the past year, we have significantly increased our content investment in TCM and intend to further enhance TCM’s on-air programming and engagement with fans,” said De Luca and Abdy, Warner co-chairmen and chief executive officers. Bros. Motion Picture Group in an official statement.
Spielberg, Scorsese and Anderson said in their joint statement, “We have already begun brainstorming ideas with Mike and Pam, both true film buffs who share the passion and respect for classic cinema that is the hallmark of the TCM community. This unique arrangement, initiated by David Zaslav, reflects his commitment to honoring the legacy of Traditional Chinese Medicine while also involving us in the curation and programming. We are thrilled that longtime programmer Charlie Tabesh will remain with TCM and gratified to know that the team is focused on preserving TCM’s mission of celebrating our rich cinematic history while ensuring that future generations of filmmakers and movie lovers have TCM as a valuable asset.”
Tabesh was one of several recent firings from the classic film network which also included executive vice president and general manager Pola Changnon; VP of Creativity and Brand Marketing Dexter Fedor; Vice President of Enterprises and Strategic Partnerships Genevieve McGillicuddy, who also served as director of the annual TCM Film Festival; and vice president of studio production Anne Wilson. Tabesh is believed to be the only recently laid-off employee who will remain with the company at this juncture.
An individual with knowledge also says that despite the increased layoffs, spending on content and programming at the network increased by a third from a year earlier and that TCM will expand the roster of titles shown. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn in his column last week that suggested TCM might need a new home in the wake of all the cuts reported that TCM’s annual operating budget was around $45 million.
“TCM is a cultural treasure that WBD is fully committed to safeguarding, sustaining and investing for the future. This year, TCM’s content investment grew 30% and we expect to continue to do so in future years. That said, TCM isn’t immune to real pressure on the entire linear ecosystem, but we’ve taken steps to ensure we stay true to the network’s mission: to bring more titles to the air, drive investment in content, and preserve and protect the culture of cinema. Part of that is creating a more sustainable behind-the-screen facility that benefits from the vast resources and promotional engine of WBD’s formidable network group, so TCM is poised for long-term success,” said a WBD spokesperson. in an additional statement.