Warner Bros. Discovery Asks Talent Not to Appear In-Person at Upfronts Amid Writers Strike (EXCLUSIVE)

Warner Bros. Discovery has asked talent not to appear in-person at their Wednesday upfronts presentation, so as not to put those individuals in a position where they need to cross the Writers Guild of America’s picket line amid the ongoing writers strike, Variety has learned.

A source close to the situation says this choice was made by WBD out of respect for both the talent and the writers on strike. However, talent will be represented in other ways throughout the show, and the event will cover all parts of the WBD business operations.

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The original pre-strike plan had been for a robust lineup, including big WBD stars like Magnolia Network’s Chip and Joanna Gaines, but has been trimmed down since the strike went into effect May 2. The work stoppage happened when the WGA and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) failed to ink a new contract.

The source says the WBD upfront presentation will still be large-scale, but only execs like CEO David Zaslav and HBO and Max chief Casey Bloys will attend in person.

Another WBD insider says that before the company had made the decision to eliminate in-person appearances, some talent had already expressed a desire to not attend due to the strike.

Warner Bros. Discovery declined to comment.

The Warner Bros. Discovery upfront will take place Wednesday at The Theater @ Madison Square Garden. The presentation is part of the traditional broadcast upfronts week, which includes events from NBCU and Fox Monday, Disney Tuesday, and now Netflix (which has gone strictly virtual as a result of the strike) and YouTube on Wednesday following WBD.

Throughout the 2023 upfronts, the WGA has planned multiple picket lines outside of the venues where the networks and streamers will be hosting their events.

WBD’s upfront comes ahead of the May 23 launch of Max, the company’s combined HBO Max-Discovery+ offering.

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