David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, spoke at the Boston University commencement ceremony on Sunday after receiving an honorary degree. Students responded to the speech with irate chants and booing in support of the writers who are currently on strike.

As Zaslav began to speak at the graduation ceremony, students chanted, Pay your writers. David Zaslav acquired his law degree from Boston University in 1985, and in a later interview he communicated his appreciation to the university for welcoming him to participate in commencement and awarding him an honorary degree.

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David Zaslav at the Boston University
David Zaslav at the Boston University

David Zaslav IGNORED the WGA Strike

At Nickerson Field, David Zaslav was introduced by Boston University President Robert A. Brown, who spoke about his enthusiasm for recording and disseminating the tale of humanity on a global scale. Screams, shouts, and chants from the students in the audience greeted Zaslav’s 20-minute speech as 7,000 degrees were awarded.

The Warner Bros. CEO spoke for 20 minutes without mentioning the WGA Strike, instead encouraging the audience to follow their passions while discussing his career as a successful lawyer despite not feeling fulfilled by his work. His speech encompassed a section on his dedication to his profession and the quest to find fulfillment in his legal career.

David Zaslav said to the crowd, “Some people will be looking for a fight. But don’t be the one they find it with. Focus on good people’s qualities. In my career, I’ve seen so many talented people lose opportunities or jobs because they couldn’t get along with others.” The CEO continued to address the students regardless of the boos, stating, “You can’t choose the people you work with. Figure out what you like about a person — there’s always something — and do whatever it takes to navigate their challenges. We all have them.”

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David Zaslav faces the wrath of the writers’ strike

Before Zaslav took the stage, an airplane banner with the message, David Zaslav Pay Your Writers was seen flying above the picket and commencement exercises. The CEO’s 20-minute long speech was met with various chants from the students including We don’t want you here! and Shut up Zaslav!

After his speech, David Zaslav shared a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that mentioned, “I am grateful to my alma mater, Boston University, for inviting me to be part of today’s commencement and for giving me an honorary degree. As I have often said, I am immensely supportive of writers and hope the strike is resolved soon and in a way that they feel recognizes their value.”


Vanessa Bartlett, a graduating senior who helped lead the student-led writers’ strike shared with THR ahead of the event, “I’m in the same college as a bunch of film and TV kids. I’m friends with a lot of people in the College of Fine Arts, people who are in the theater arts program, so having a sense of solidarity is very important to me.”

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The WGA appreciates everyone’s support

The Writers Guild Association posted a clarification on social media, stating that the event’s goal was never to cause disruptions for the graduating students. They said, “The picket is in no way meant to stop students, families, or faculty from attending the graduation ceremony, or to disrupt the ceremony. The toolkit provides context for the picket and ideas for silently supporting the writers’ strike. Thank you for the solidarity.”

The association had announced that they would be picketing the ceremony as soon as David Zaslav was confirmed to give a commencement speech. WGA said, “Boston University should not give voice to someone who wants to destroy their students’ ability to build a career in the film and television industry.”

In an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box earlier this month, David Zaslav was asked about what, according to him, could be a solution to the strike which is going to enter the fourth week. He said, “A love for business and a love for working. We all came into this business because we love storytelling. … That’s what’s going to bring us together.”

Zaslav also acknowledged that the industry requires good writers, with whom everyone must collaborate, to produce great storytelling, and that everyone deserves to be paid fairly. The CEO suggested that everyone take action so that the writers feel appreciated and are paid fairly.

Source: Radar Online

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