During Boston University’s 150th graduation commencement at Nickerson Field on Sunday, audience members, including 2023 graduates, jeered and booed Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav as he accepted an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Zaslav’s 20-minute speech was interrupted with yells and synchronized chants such as “Pay your writers,” “We don’t want you here,” and “Shut up, Zaslav.”
This sentiment towards Zaslav comes amid strikes of Hollywood writers organized by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) earlier this month due to low residual pay. Other labor unions and countless actors, writers, producers, and directors have come out in support.
Outside the stadium, around 350 picketers, including members from other labor unions such as IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, SEUI, IUPAT, Boston Local 26, Local 537, and UA Local 447, marched with signs.
Video and pics from my IATSE friend at the BU Graduation / Zaslav picket in Boston. Big turnout with loads of different unions attending.#wga#wgaStrong#wgaStrike pic.twitter.com/qpe2KCXgAf
— Calvin Starnes (@CalvinStarnesOG) May 21, 2023
In his speech, Zaslav commented on his work ethic, “making good money,” and “feeling great” about it. In 2021, Zaslav received a compensation package close to $250 million and earned $39 million last year.
Moreover, Zaslav has made tone-deaf and dismissive comments about the WGA strike ending due to “a love for the business and the love for working” despite clear demands for higher residual payment.
The CEO remains at odds with industry creatives due to the controversial decision to remove dozens of movies and television shows from the Max streaming platform. Entertainment finance expert David Offenberg explains that removing content is a financial strategy to maximize revenue and minimize costs. Economic reporter Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi also links the strategy to saving money on residuals:
“Streaming companies pay residuals to the writers and directors and actors of their original shows every year those shows stay on the platform. So by removing a show like Made For Love, streamers could be saving millions. “
While Zaslav continues to ignore the pleas of his workers, the message remains loud and clear: pay writers and workers in the film industry fairly for their labor.