Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav shipped up to Boston this past weekend to speak at Boston University’s commencement ceremony. The entertainment executive was promptly booed and protested at the ceremony, due to his apparent lack of cooperation with writers during the ongoing WGA Strike.
Zaslav previously told the Hollywood Reporter that he hoped to settle negotiations with the WGA before a strike. Instead, a settlement was not reached, and writers from countless programs continue to strike in both New York and California. The growing list of halted productions has not pushed major production companies to negotiate the writers’ demands yet. Amid lengthy picket lines being joined by celebrities and writers alike, Zaslav quietly slipped away to Boston, and was not met with a warm welcome.
Boston University students were none too pleased with their commencement speaker. The audience booed him and Bostonians gathered with picket signs in protest of his speech. Zaslav graduated from Boston University’s Law School in 1985. He additionally received an honorary degree from the university.
Zaslav loudly booed at BU commencement. Although I’m incapable of being happy, this comes close. pic.twitter.com/qtIaMJJaFb
— Shawn Wines WGA Captain (@shawnwines) May 21, 2023
School officials referred to Zaslav as a “media visionary”, and the executive then failed to mention the ongoing strike in his speech. His perceived lack of awareness set off protestors even further. Zaslav attempted to go into detail about his professional journey in the entertainment world, but students’ protest chants overpowered him.
Yes, the students are chanting “pay your writers” as this overpaid Exec talks about his journey, to unimpressed BU Grads https://t.co/7O8EznXIBc
— Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) May 21, 2023
One Twitter user even confirmed that Zaslav had to cross the picket line to exit the stadium after the heavy in-ceremony protests.
After getting booed by BU students David Zaslav had to cross the WGA picket line and Scabby the rat on his way out of the VIP exit. Sorry not sorry. pic.twitter.com/odtWKKw8ij
— Annie Stamell (@stamos) May 21, 2023
— K. B. (@kbsez) May 21, 2023
Local Boston labor unions additionally joined the picket line in solidarity with the WGA.
— UNITE HERE Local 26 (@UNITEHERE26) May 21, 2023
A skywriter flew over the ceremony tugging a sign that read “David Zaslav-pay your writers.”
— The Union Makes Us Strong #WGA #SAGAFTRA ???? (@saucissonsec) May 21, 2023
Neither Warner Bros. Studios nor David Zaslav have addressed the awkward graduation speech heard around the world. Current University President Robert A. Brown has not clarified the university’s stance on the strike or their decision to invite Zazlav to speak at the event.