David Zaslav will be putting his bulldog approach to the bottom line to good use for Turner Classic Movies’ future, according to TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.
One of the long-standing faces of the channel, Mankiewicz addressed how the Discovery buyout of TCM parent company Warner Bros. will change the brand with new CEO Zaslav at the helm.
“We’ve had a lot of changes in the last five years, one after another. New bosses,” Mankiewicz told Entertainment Weekly. “When [Zaslav] says that they value what we do and that we’re going to be continuing what we do in the foreseeable future, I believe him. And he’s ready.”
Mankiewicz added, “He is connected in this town, and he’s prepared to use that muscle to make sure this town turns out to support us.”
Since the merger, TCM has weathered company-wide layoffs and terminated its partnership with Fathom Events’ Big Screen Classics screening series in theaters.
“Zaslav talked about the value of curation,” Mankiewicz continued. “He gets what we do. He’s not a guy who thinks, ‘Let’s just show the movies.’ He gets what TCM does and why it’s important…There’s such a logical connection between this defining studio in the history of Hollywood and the classic channel to tell that story. This is a promising point in TCM’s development and not a cause for alarm.”
Mankiewicz joined TCM in 2003 as the channel’s second-ever host. He has been at TCM the longest compared to his counterparts.
“This industry is changing, and there’s not a cable channel in the world that isn’t reevaluating how it does business,” Mankiewicz said. “That’s a truism that is inescapable. But that said, the sky is not falling, and there is a place for TCM. Discussions about how this channel is going to look going forward should be seen as welcome, not as, ‘Oh, no, what’s happening?’ We are planning for a changing future that includes TCM. That’s how people ought to look at it.”
Warner Bros. will also be ringing in its 100th anniversary in 2023, and TCM will be the “centerpiece” programming for celebration with tributes at the annual TCM Film Festival and on-air segments from hosts capturing the extensive Warner Bros.’ role in film history. To note, Warner Bros. Discovery streamer HBO Max has since quietly removed close to 100 movies and TV shows since the merger, with some perhaps seeing play on TCM.
Mankiewicz’s colleague Eddie Muller, who specializes in film noir programming, summed up, “People feel helpless because stuff comes at them on social media and they assume the worst. But the changes that you’re going to see are a natural progression. A movie from the 1980s is now fortysomething years old. You have to start thinking about classic film in a slightly different way. It doesn’t mean we’re abandoning any core mission that we started with. It just means the mission is expanding.”