Warner Bros Television is cutting more than a quarter of its workforce as part of the parent company’s drive to cut costs.
The studio cuts 26% of employees, a total of 125 jobs, across written and unwritten scripts and animation.
Limit open Monday discounts are likely to come today and we open Earlier, Warner Bros. TV is closing its digital production arm Stage 13 and Warner Bros Television Workshop – an essential step in finding and directing new and diverse talent.
These cuts come with a number of structural changes introduced by Chairman Channing Dungey, particularly in animation and animation. She described the move as “extremely challenging” as she indicated a “turbulent time” in the industry (read the full staff memo below).
The television studio is the latest arm of Warner Bros. Discovery, which had to make cuts in order to save at least $3 billion after a merger overseen by David Zaslav. It comes after HBO and HBO Max laid off 14% of employees, about 70 people, in August.
The total number of employees who have lost their jobs is 82, about 19% of the current workforce, while Dungey and her team do not fill 43 vacancies. This means that 125 jobs have been lost.
On the unrecorded side, which is still managed by Mike Darnell, president of Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative Television, there are some strategic changes across its three divisions: Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, Telepictures, and Shed Media.
The company combines creative development with programming roles via Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, which is behind series such as the sound And the BSCThe Telepictures that produce Jennifer Hudson Show and previously made The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Bridgette Theriault and Dan Sacks will run Warner Horizon, after take off Brock Karzen 20 years after Warner Horizon. David McGuire will direct Telepictures.
The move follows the combination of several divisions’ background jobs as part of a restructuring in 2020 that saw Kevin Fortson, in physical production, and Matt Matzkin, on business, legal and finance, work across all three divisions. Both Fortson and Matskin remained.
Shed Media, which is behind series like Bravo Below Adventure Deck and the number of Real Housewives Appears, it will remain a self-contained unit led by Lisa Shannon and Dan Pearson.
The studio does not fully integrate Warner Horizon Unscripted Telepictures and Telepictures, ostensibly due to differences in the production methods of the shows. Warner Horizon does syndicated shows while Telepictures is non-union.
There will be no changes on the international side, where Warner Bros. operates more than 20 production companies worldwide, or in All3Media, which comes to the company via Discovery’s ownership stake.
On the written side of the business, Brett Paul will remain president of Warner Bros Television, which is not making any structural changes to the way the business is run, having previously brought together Warner Bros Television and its cable/streaming unit Warner Horizon Scripted Television in 2020.
Clancy Collins-White will continue to manage development and Vicki Dommer will oversee current programming, both of whom continue to report to Dungey. Adrienne Turner will continue to manage comedy development and oversee the comedy team. Adam Gleick continues to serve as Chief Business Officer, Sue Palladino as Head of Production, and Millie Nagler as Head of Casting.
The cuts will be made at the lower levels of this division.
However, the biggest moves in her writing were the closure of the digital studio Phase 13 and the expiration of its workshops, which we did open earlier on Tuesday.
The script movements are a continuation of the group’s changing television business, notably the increasing focus on live broadcasting and cable programming, which is believed to comprise about 65% of its current programming, amid the decline of television broadcasting.
This was further mitigated by a change of ownership in The CW, with Warner Bros. TV and CBS Studios being the sole feeders for its original scripted pipeline.
In animation, Warner Bros Television brings together some of the creative and programming teams in two of its three animation studios: Warner Bros Animation and Cartoon Network Studios.
While current programming, acting, legal and commercial affairs have worked across all three (the group includes Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe), it will now bring together the development and production teams at Warner Animation and Cartoon Network Studios.
The three ratings will continue and the Sam Register will continue to run.
The Children and Family series development team will be led by Audrey Dale, Peter Girardi will lead the development of the adult animation, and Sammy Perlmutter will lead the development of the feature-length animated series, with Bobby Page leading productions. Ed Adams will continue as EVP and GM.
Offers that come out of these divisions include Indomitable Fighting Girl, Unicorn: Warriors Abdinal And the Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake.
The company said several projects are still under active production and development, and despite the restructuring, production output is “relatively unchanged”.
Here’s Dungey’s note to employees today:
I am writing to you today with sad news and a heavy heart. As many of you already know, some of our dear colleagues will be leaving the company due to restructuring and reorganization within our group. This was a strict business decision, taken as carefully and mercifully as possible by the studio leadership. But understanding that does not make this moment any easier. These colleagues are more than just people we have worked with, they are part of our work family. We spend more time together than we do with most other people in our lives. Because of that, this loss is painful and difficult. For those affected by the changes, I want you to know how grateful I am for your contributions – in some cases, over decades – and how deeply saddened I am.
There are some changes taking place within WBTVG and I would like to make a specific note here:
As part of a strategic reorganization on the unscripted side, managed by Mike Darnell, president of Warner Bros. Unscripted Television We are making some changes aimed at finding synergies within the group, which includes Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, Telepictures and Shed Media.
As I read yesterday, Brooke Karzen, President of Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, told us in the past few weeks that she’d like to try something new in her career after her huge 22-year success at the company. Brooke has been synonymous with The Bachelor brand for over 20 years, supervising the original show and developing The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise and many other extras that propelled The Bachelor into a global franchise. Her other Emmy-winning hits include The Voice, Game of Games for Ellen, and the specials Friends Reunion and Harry Potter, to name a few. Please join me in saluting Brooke for her tremendous accomplishments and I wish her well for the future.
As a result of Brock’s departure, Bridget Thraault and Dan Sacks will now lead Warner Horizon. We are bringing together some creative development and programming roles to work across both Warner Horizon and Telepictures, with David McGuire continuing to lead Telepictures. Lisa Shannon and Dan Pearson will continue to manage Shed Media.
Working in all three unregistered divisions, Kevin Fortson continues to lead all aspects of physical production (including budgeting, scheduling, staffing, and more), and Matzkin oversees all business, legal and financial matters of the unregistered series.
In the animation, directed by Sam Register, President, Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios, we are implementing a new streamlined structure in which the main development and production team operates across both Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios. The Children and Family series development team will be led by Audrey Dale, Peter Girardi will lead the development of the adult animation, and Sammy Perlmutter will lead the development of the feature-length animated series, with Bobby Page leading productions. This is an extension of teams across studios already in place for existing programming, acting, legal and commercial affairs, and artist relations. Ed Adams will continue as Executive Vice President and General Manager.
On the written side, it’s run by Brett Paul, President, Warner Bros. TVOur senior creative leadership team is still in place. Clancy Collins White continues to lead development, with Vicki Dahmer as the current head of programming. Adam Gleick continues to serve as Chief Business Officer, Sue Palladino as Head of Production, and Millie Nagler as Head of Casting.
We will be closing Phase 13, which was established in 2017 under the former Warner Bros. Digital Networking division. As the original short digital programming studio and has produced previous series such as Special and It’s Bruno! for Netflix, two sentence horror stories for CW/Netflix, and more. WBTV has already been overseeing the development and programming of Phase 13 since 2020. Any existing Phase 13 projects in development will be absorbed within WBTV, which remains committed to finding new voices and providing opportunities for its richly diverse creative collaborators to tell true stories. I would like to thank Diana Mogollon for her enthusiastic drive to Stage 13 and for the groundbreaking series that she and her team have produced.
Also, after concluding the current 2022-23 edition of the Warner Bros. Book Workshop in April, we will conclude the Warner Bros. Television Workshop Program, which includes both the Writers’ Workshop and the Directors’ Workshop. Both workshops were instrumental in training the next generation of creative talents in the industry. While we no longer have these formal programs in place, we remain committed to developing, mentoring, and preparing emerging talent for careers in television.
As of this writing, all of WBTVG’s impact talks are complete. Out of respect for our colleagues, we will not be distributing the list of those affected. Line managers will provide you with information about changing roles within specific groups. Your P&C Partner will also be available to answer any questions or concerns. During this transition period, please support each other, and treat each other kindly.
These are tough times in the entire world, and a turbulent time in our industry. It’s very difficult to have this kind of change so close to home. But I hope that these changes, made with a more focused business strategy in mind, will strengthen and stabilize our company, maintain our impressive creative output, and put us in a better position for continued future success.
However, today we are losing members of the business family that we love, whose hard work helped make our success possible, and for that I am truly sorry. I want everyone who leaves to know that your contributions matter, and the shows you helped bring to life will always be a part of Warner Brothers Television Group legacy. Thank you for being a part of our story.
With deepest gratitude,