Adam Conover Used CNN’s Own Airwaves to Roast Their Boss’s Salary Amid Writers’ Strike
Adam ruins CNN.
In a total boss move, Adam Conover slammed Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s salary amid the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) strike while on live on CNN—which is owned by Zaslav’s WBD. Conover is a comedian and writer who serves on the board of the WGA. As one of the negotiators of the WGA labor union, he has offered a very important perspective on the WGA strike. The WGA officially began its strike on May 2, 2023, marking the first time in 15 years that the organization has call a strike. It arose after attempts at negotiation with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) proved ineffective.
The announcement of the WGA strike was issued on May 1 and detailed why it was necessary after six weeks of negotiating led to the AMPTP failing to address the WGA’s major concerns. The strike means that all 11,500 members of the WGA are obligated to withhold all writing services from any “struck company.” Struck companies include all of the companies that signed the 2020 Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA), which expired on May 1.
What the WGA mainly hopes to achieve through the strike is higher compensation for writers, increased job security, regulation of the use of A.I. in TV/film writing, and compensation for the loss of residuals due to the way streaming rights work. As for why the WGA is striking now, after 15 years of peace, it’s because of the changing world of television and film. The rise of streaming means that writers have been forced to work under more fast-paced and tense conditions while finding their length of their employment cut down, as well as their greatest avenues of income, such as residuals, being phased out by the changes. As a result, given the changing nature of the TV/film industry, change in writers’ contracts are necessary to ensure greater flexibility and pay for writers.
Meanwhile, Conover has pointed out that many of these studios do have the means to compensate their writers more effectively, so there’s no reason not to other than greed.
Adam Conover calls out David Zaslav on CNN
On May 2, Conover appeared on CNN to discuss the writers’ strike and ended up taking aim at Zaslav during the interview. The fact that Zaslav oversees CNN didn’t stop Conover from calling out his ridiculous salary. When explaining what the problems were that led to the writers’ strike, Conover pointed to the salaries of top executives at studios as a major problem. He stated,
David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company of the network I’m talking to you on right now, was paid $250 million last year, a quarter of a billion dollars. That’s about the same level as what 10,000 writers are asking him to pay all of us collectively, alright. So I would say if you’re being paid $250 million—these companies are making enormous amounts of money. Their profits are going up. It’s ridiculous for them to plead poverty.
While Zaslav is pocketing his $250 million a year, writers are finding themselves unable to pay rent or in need of applying for assistance because their wages are so unlivable. If Zaslav’s salary alone were split between 10,000 writers, it would mean an extra $25,000 for each writer. Recently, many studios, including Warner Bros. Discovery, have been claiming to be hit by an economic downturn and have been slashing jobs and pay across all departments. However, how can a studio make so much money in one year that it has enough to pay one person a quarter of a billion dollars, but then simultaneously claim it can’t improve the working conditions and compensation of writers, who are one of the primary reasons for the studios’ success?
Conover isn’t afraid to call out Zaslav and pinpoint a major problem as the owner of the very media outlets that are currently reporting on the writer’s strike. He also mentioned Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, who made $50.3 million last year, raising awareness for the tens of millions that most heads of major studios and streamers took home last year. His decision to call out CNN’s boss on CNN was quite brilliant, as it will ensure that the point he made gets further circulation, which is that the writers’ strike is also very much about the grossly uneven distribution of wealth in the film industry.
(via Variety, featured image: CNN)
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