EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros Discovery promised to give writers and directors proper credit on its Max streaming service, but don’t expect the fix to happen anytime soon.
“This could take weeks with all the data that needs to be transferred, checked, finalized,” said one studio insider of the May 23 streamer launch SNAFU that attracted outrage and ire from striking scribes and negotiating filmmakers this week. “It is not a simple as pressing a button.”
But it did hit a nerve.
“Warner Bros has lumped writers, directors and producers into an invented, diminishing category they call Creators,” WGA West chief Meredith Stiehm said on Wednesday in a joint release with DGA boss Lesli Linka Glatter on the Max rollout. “This is a credits violation for starters. But worse, it is disrespectful and insulting to the artists that make the films and TV shows that make their corporation billions.”
As it stands, Jesse Armstrong is still listed among a coterie of non-alphabetical “Creators” for the about the conclude Succession. Regardless of the inclusion of executive producers Will Farrell and Adam McKay among the Succession Creators squad currently on display on Max, Armstrong is the sole creator of the Emmy winning satire.
In fact, despite the frustration (to put it politely) many writers, directors, producers, and others feel at being lumped together as “Creators” on the Max credits pages, the promised process to “correct the credits” will take weeks in the best of scenarios.
“From Roku to Apple and more, you have to do this platform-by-platform and that takes time,” a streamer exec told Deadline. “The number of platforms will be a determining factor in how long it’ll takes overall,” he added, noting the old credits that existed on HBO Max could not simply be skinned over to Max.
When contacted today about how long it would take to fix the multitude of Max credits on shows like the Robin Thede created A Black Lady Sketch Show and classics like David Chase created The Sopranos, a Warner Bros Discovery spokesperson referred Deadline to their statement of May 23. That oblique statement said: “We agree that the talent behind the content on Max deserve their work to be properly recognized. We will correct the credits, which were altered due to an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max and we apologize for this mistake.”
To be clear, in but one of literally thousands of examples on errors on the streamer, no matter what it says on Max right now, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner did not co-create The Sopranos — but he was a writer on the acclaimed series and rose to be an executive producer.
Though there has been a proliferation of conspiracy theories about how something so stupid could happened, and could it have been orchestrated by WBD CEO David Zaslav in revenge for being repeatedly targeted by the striking WGA, the truth seems to be a far more banal case of ill-considered efficiency stumbling into human error, I hear.
In the rush to transition HBO Max to Max this week, a unit within WBD’s sprawling IT department took the credits matter in their own hands and keyboards. With the plentitude of dramas, comedies, specials, animation, movies and unscripted material from WB, HBO, Discovery and more in the Max inventory, it was decided to create a reductive catch-all format so everything in place for launch. Unfortunately for all concerned, tech team’s efforts never went up the corporate flagpole, where they might have been corrected. The internal consequence of which was most top level WBD executives didn’t even know about the fumble until the slightly shaky launch of Max was live and the criticisms were pouring in online.
Still, that means bupkis to many, and two days after Max’s apology and promises to fix things were made, the desire to see the correct credits on shows remains:
Occupied by today’s big rally in downtown LA, the WGA, who have been on strike since May 2, referred Deadline to the joint statement it put out with the DGA on May 23. The DGA, who are been in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over a new contract to replace the current one that expires on June 30, did not reply to request for comment on the status of the “Creators” credits.