Warner Bros. CEO booed by students at Boston University graduation: “Pay your writers”
Commencement addresses are traditionally staid affairs, wherein top thinkers, business people or celebs, impart advice to a college’s class of graduates. But Boston University’s graduation on Sunday was marked by angry shouts and loud booing from the audience when Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav stood on the podium to deliver his speech.
Some graduates said they were displeased with Zaslav as their university’s choice of commencement speaker amid the ongoing writers strike, which began earlier this month. Zaslav also received an honorary doctor of laws degree at the event.
About 11,500 film and TV writers are on strike after the Writers Guild of American and eight major studios, including Warner Bros. Discovery, failed to negotiate a new contract. (Paramount Global, the owner of CBS News and Paramount+, is another one of the major studios.) The guild argues that writers are making a smaller share of money earned by studios amid an explosion of streaming services.
“Pay your writers!” some students chanted, while others booed. Some graduates, dressed in their red commencement robes, joined a picket line near Boston University to show their solidarity with members of the Writers Guild of America.
Zaslav, a Boston University graduate, didn’t address the boos or protests outside the ceremony, according to Boston University, which described the event as “occasionally raucous.” Instead, Zaslav told the graduates to “show up” in life for friends and family, and to pursue what they love.
“If you want to be successful, you have to figure out how to get along with everyone,” Zaslav added. “That includes difficult people.”
Some students turned their back on Zaslav during his address. A few times during his speech, he had to pause because of the chants of “Pay your writers,” BU noted.
“I’ve been conflicted about it for a few weeks now, given that I want to support my family and all the writers,” Sydney Shore, a BU graduate whose father and brother are part of the guild, told CBS Boston about Zaslav’s speech. “But also I accomplished something, so it’s important to me to celebrate my graduation.”