Warner Bros. Television Group closed after less than 2020 hours of long-term hosting Writers and directors workshops spark outcry and lament from industry creatives — and a challenge from the Directors Guild of America — Warner Bros. finds declaring that these workshops aren’t dead after all : They were just transferred from the TV department to to the company’s corporate DEI team.
WBD Senior Vice President Karen Horne takes over as DEI under the team’s recent restructuring The U.S. lead, she said she has made it clear to leadership that her goal has always been to unify the company’s pipeline of projects under the DEI division (the WBD Access portfolio already includes development projects across categories including animation, comedy, gaming, news and sports, post-production and unscripted), and she’ll make sure there’s a writing and directing workshop suitable for any entry-level TV as well.
Horn joined what was then WarnerMedia at 2020 to oversee the pipeline program and he Did the same thing during long tenures at NBCUniversal and Nickelodeon and Disney. At NBCU, she launched programs such as Women Forward and Emerging Directors , setting a new standard for industry pipeline programs by guaranteeing participants temporary employment. She discussed with The Hollywood Reporter what the former WBTV seminar would look like under new management.
When can we expect the seminar to come back?
We will try to align with the current workshop schedule, but I will not promise that it is completely same schedule. Production now runs year-round, and while the current schedule favors broadcast, we don’t have to make sure that’s the case when it comes to writing or directing. Additionally, the program will expand under our supervision. It’s going to be just as powerful, but arguably broader, because we’ll also be working with our TNet partner, HBO Max, for whom many of the Warner Bros. Television Group produce shows. I want to make sure that we’re not competing against the timeline to get it done, but really building a bigger, stronger platform.
Are the workshop changes likely to include extensions beyond the plot script?
For the director’s plan, absolutely. My team is already looking to develop an unscripted director program. We’ve also been discussing with the Discovery team about scripted-side showrunner plans [Editor’s note: WBD Access has launched showrunner program April for intermediate and advanced writers], we also want to build something similar without scripting. We really want to work with Discovery to scale better.
Will you keep shop floor employees?
The WBTV team is two people, they won’t be on my team, I don’t have the numbers to have them, but In addition to myself, Grace Moss now leads the Pipeline show—she works with me on NBC’s Women Forward. We now have a larger team at Pipeline. We have more plans, but in the restructuring, we will make sure we have more people.
The new “DEI-specific focus” means that workshops will now only focus on historically excluded backgrounds Applicants open?
We review submissions blindly. When we read the script, no one knows whose material we are reading – and the same is true when we look at the material. We always open submissions to everyone. We do cast the net wide enough to make sure we’re really targeting those historically underrepresented groups. We also love working with different organisations like NALIP and NAACP to help support the talent they have. We will notify them specifically, but they are open to everyone.
Now that the company DEI team has changed to WBTV to cover the cost of the seminar, will there be any changes to their budget?
I don’t know how much they cost. I don’t know if they will be the same. As we redevelop these programs to be larger and more extensive, the costs may be more expensive – but because I have a good understanding of running these programs, they may be cheaper.
I think WBTV has enough budget to pay the writers to have them staff the show. [ Editor’s Note: Networks or studios have traditionally paid staff writer salaries for writers who work from their diversity or pipeline programs, which often results in writers not being fired once they’re fired Being rehired is no longer affiliated with the program. ] I don’t have that budget and I don’t believe in this practice. When someone gets an episode [on a female forward or emerging director show], the show pays for it, not NBC. We will pay the director’s shadow, but not [their plot director’s fee], nor should any company pay the writer’s staff.
Are there any plans to move the workshop to WBD Access prior to seeing the outcry of the workshop being cancelled yesterday Next – or a statement from the DGA opposing the decision?
I have been supporting the writer and director 20 years, so you can imagine how crazy my phone call was yesterday. I’m having a hard time seeing this. I have a great relationship with the DGA in the Women Forward and New Directors Program — I’ve been on those collective bargaining calls and diversity meetings, and I’m a member of the diversity committee. They were really happy to hear that it would be under our supervision.
People say it’s a U-turn. When I came in, the goal was to unify our different diversity or pipeline programs. This has always been our plan: to centralize these efforts in one pipeline team. It’s not as big a U-turn as it seems.