During his speech, Zaslav suggested students that “some people will be looking for a fight, but don’t be the one they find it with,” which induced an eruption of boos and cheers from the group. He then advised students to “focus on people’s good qualities,” which was a tip he mentioned he obtained from the late General Electric CEO Jack Welch.
As he wrapped up his handle — advising students to “figure out what you’re good at” and “show up for your friends” — viewers members shouted expletives at him.
Zaslav, who wore sun shades in the course of the length of speech, didn’t straight handle the strike. But he could have been talking to the picketers and protesters when he wrapped up, saying, “I hope to see all of you — and I mean all of you — along the way. The journey of life. There’s nothing better.”
Zaslav addressed the protests in a press release despatched to The Washington Post Sunday afternoon.
“I am grateful to my alma mater, Boston University, for inviting me to be part of today’s commencement and for giving me an honorary degree, and, as I have often said, I am immensely supportive of writers and hope the strike is resolved soon and in a way that they feel recognizes their value,” he said.
Boston University did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The Writers Guild of America, which first announced its strike on May 2, said it would picket the BU ceremony after the university confirmed the WBD chief executive would be giving a commencement speech.
Movie and TV screenwriters began striking after talks with producers broke down. The WGA is seeking better pay and new contracts amid the streaming era of content, as well as protection against AI-generated content. The work stoppage has already impacted the entertainment industry with television and film productions going dark.
“Writers Guild members are on strike because companies, including Warner Bros. Discovery, refused to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, attempted to pivot late night writers to a day rate, stonewalled on free work on script revisions for screenwriters, and refused to even discuss our proposal on the existential threat AI poses to all writers,” the guild mentioned in a press release, per the Hollywood Reporter.
The WGA didn’t instantly reply to request for remark.
Zaslav has commented on the writers’ strike in the past. He told CNBC in early May that great writers are needed for good storytelling and that everybody, including writers, “deserves to be paid fairly.”
“Let’s try and get this resolved,” he advised CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on May 5. “Let’s do it in a way that the writers feel that they’re valued, which they are, and they’re compensated fairly. And then off we go. Let’s tell great stories together.”
Zaslav thinks it’ll take more than just time to get the writers and producers to meet together on a deal.
“We all came into this business because we love storytelling, we want to entertain and when we’re at our best, we get a chance to have an impact on the culture,” he said. “Almost all of us got into this business with a lot of sacrifice in order to be part of that journey. And so that’s what’s going to bring us together.”