Students boo and turn their backs on Warner CEO David Zaslav during Boston University graduation speech
Dozens of Boston University students turned their backs on the head of one of Hollywood’s biggest studios, and some shouted ‘pay your writers’ as he delivered the keynote Sunday school at a stadium where protesters supporting the Hollywood writers’ strike picketed outside.
About 100 protesters chanted “No salaries, no pages”, waved signs and were accompanied by an inflatable rat outside Nickerson Field as David Zaslav, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, was giving his speech inside the stadium. Thousands of graduating students, family members and educators attending the graduation ceremony had to walk alongside protesters to enter the stadium.
Above the stadium, a small plane flew a banner that read: “David Zaslav – pay your writers”.
Kim Caramele, a writer and producer from North Stonington, Connecticut, said she hoped the protesters’ presence at the graduation ceremony would help give students a different perspective on what they should value in life.
“Writers here today can help show students that wealth is different from good,” said Caramele, an Emmy and Peabody award winner for her work on her sister’s show, “Inside Amy Schumer.”
Inside the stadium, dozens of students dressed in red gowns stood up during Zaslav’s speech and turned their backs on him. Other students booed during his speech and shouted in support of the striking writers.
Zaslav, who graduated from the university’s law school in the mid-1980s, was a controversial choice, with many alumni taking to social media with their objections.
Saying the rise of streaming has hurt their buying power, about 11,500 Writers Guild for America members quit their jobs in early May after new contract talks broke down, and they’re not have since returned to the negotiating table. . It’s the first writers’ strike – and the first Hollywood strike of any kind – in 15 years.
The union is demanding a higher minimum wage, more writers per show, and shorter exclusive contracts, among other demands — all terms it says have been reduced in the content boom driven by streaming.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said it had offered “generous compensation increases for writers as well as streaming residual improvements”, including the largest salary increase for the first year of a contract. WGA in over 25 years, and the creation of a new rate category that would mean a new, higher minimum for mid-level writers.