TCM Programming Chief to Remain as WBD Outlines Network’s Future After Restructuring

The studio will spend more on content for the network, continue the festival and clarifies the roles of Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy going forward

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Film executives Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy will oversee programming and creative content for TCM while directors Paul Thomas Anderson, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese will provide guidance on curation and programming scheduling, Warner Bros. Discovery announced on Wednesday.

“TCM is a cultural treasure, and we are honored to help steer the future direction of this beloved brand with the partnership of three of the most iconic filmmakers of our time, Steven, Marty, and Paul. David Zaslav led the charge, driven by our shared love of storytelling, to bring us together for a project about which we are so passionate. Over the last year, we have meaningfully increased our content investment in TCM, and intend to further enhance TCM’s on-air programming and engagement with fans,” De Luca and Abdy said in a statement.

In a reversal, TCM’s long-time senior vice president of programming and content strategy, Charles Tabesh, will stay on at the network, while it has been confirmed that the TCM Classic Film Festival will return in 2024. Tabesh will provide dedicated programming leadership for TCM.

Anderson, Spielberg and Scorsese are said to have entered into a formal agreement to not only look at curation and scheduling of the network, but to have input on the network’s well-regarded interstitial programming. It was revealed last week they were working with WBD CEO, David Zaslav, in some way to help save the network.

They said in a prepared statement that “We have already begun working on ideas with Mike and Pam, both true film enthusiasts who share a passion and reverence for classic cinema that is the hallmark of the TCM community. This unique arrangement, initiated by David Zaslav, reflects his commitment to honoring the TCM legacy while also involving us on curation and programming. We are thrilled that longtime programmer Charlie Tabesh will be staying with TCM and gratified to know that the team is focused on preserving TCM’s mission of celebrating our rich movie history while at the same time ensuring that future generations of filmmakers and film lovers have TCM as a valuable resource.”

Distribution and technology associated with TCM will stay with the US Network Group while Michael Ouweleen, the president of Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Discovery Family and Boomerang, who was initially reported to be taking oversight of TCM will stay in his current role and work with Kathleen Finch, who runs the US Networks Group, with back end stuff pertaining to TCM.

WBD has come under fire in the last week after laying off several high profile people at TCM, that was said to take the network down to just 20 employees. An insider close to events at WBD told TheWrap that there is no rethinking of TCM’s placement within the company and that WBD plans to increase spending on TCM content by 1/3 as well as expanding the list of titles the network will show.

The goal, no doubt, is to quell fears by fans fearing that TCM was heading to the chopping block. Last week, in the midst of TCM’s head Pola Chagnon exiting the company after 25 years TheWrap reported how numerous sources associated with the classic film channel feared it was preparing to close down — only a few days later TCM’s UK counterpart did announce they were shuttering permanently.

A spokesperson for WBD said, “TCM is a cultural treasure which WBD is fully committed to safeguarding, supporting, and investing in for the future. This year, TCM’s content investment has grown by 30% and we plan to build on that in future years. That said, TCM is not immune to the very real pressure on the entire linear ecosystem, but we have taken steps to ensure that we stay true to the mission of the network — bringing more titles to the air, driving content investment, and preserving and protecting the culture of cinema. Part of this is the creation of a more sustainable structure behind the screen, one that benefits from the vast resources and promotional engine of WBD’s formidable networks group, so TCM is set up for long term success.”