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Warner Bros. Discovery to shift Cannes party from Zaslav to ‘Mad Max’ year after bash backlash

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It’s take deux for Warner Bros. in Cannes — as the studio’s bash goes from Zas to “Mad Max.”

Last year the historic studio was slammed as “sad” and “ridiculous” after boss David Zaslav reportedly ignored his advisors’ pleas to abandon a glitzy bash he planned to host with Graydon Carter’s Air Mail at the Cannes Film Festival the start of a Hollywood strike.

Now Page Six hears that Zaslav’s taking a well-timed night off this time around — and his studio boss underlings will be stepping up to host the bash this year with Air Mail.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO Zaslav got flack around town for hosting the epic, opulent star-studded affair in Cannes last spring — at the same time the WGA strike raged back home. But the media giant and Carter’s erudite publication are teaming again on a Hôtel du Cap fete, we hear.

It’s not clear if Zaslav will even be able to fit the bash into his busy schedule.

 David Zaslav and Graydon Carter
It’s unclear if Zaslav will attend this time. Getty Images for Air Mail LLC.
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio were among attendees last year. Getty Images for Air Mail LLC.

Last May stars including Leonardo DiCaprio, Scarlett Johansson and Robert De Niro attended Zaslav and Carter’s lavish party, which celebrated 100 years of Warner Bros. and coincided with the rebranding of the studio’s streaming service, HBO Max, as just plain Max.

The event was Cannes’ hottest ticket, even overshadowing a party by Carter’s former mag, Vanity Fair that was soaked by rain.

Page Six reported at the time that Carter was still “Cannes king,” and “Zaslav was seen mingling with the crowd, occasionally dancing and looking like he was having a blast.”

But as the champagne wore off in the cold light of day, the New York Times Magazine reported in a November profile, “How David Zaslav Blew Up Hollywood,” that Zaslav’s top comms officer at the time “strongly urged him to cancel” the fancy fete to avoid any awful optics of suits celebrating as writers picketed back home, and SAG-AFTRA struck soon after.

Furiosa
The party will also celebrate the cast of the the studio’s latest “Mad Max” movie, “Furiosa.” AP
Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost
Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost shined at the starry party. Getty Images for Air Mail LLC.

The Times piece said Zaslav “plowed ahead” against his advisor’s advice, and summed up, “Was this really the right moment for Zaslav to spend a fortune on an over-the-top party at a posh hotel on the French Riviera? It all seemed sad, and also ridiculous.”

A year later, that chief communications officer is gone, and we hear the party will go on, with some changes that will take the focus off Zaslav.

It will be hosted by Air Mail and Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy, CEOs of Warner Bros Film Group.

Graydon Carter
Graydon Carter was the former mastermind of the Vanity Fair Oscars party. WireImage
David Zaslav
It’s unclear if Zaslav will attend the Cannes bash this time. Getty Images

The party will also honor the upcoming action epic “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” — which makes its world premiere in Cannes on May 15 — as well as the film’s cast and its 79-year-old director, George Miller.

Said a well-heeled source, “There are changes this year.”

A studio insider further confirmed: “This is not a repeat of last year… David is not co-hosting with Graydon, and while they hope David is able to make it, his attendance is currently TBD given his (understandably) busy schedule.”

Michael DeLuca and Pamela Abdy
Michael DeLuca and Pamela Abdy will host the Cannes bash, we hear. Getty Images
Michael DeLuca and Pamela Abdy
The studio bosses will take center stage this time around. Getty Images

The source added there “may be other partners involved” in the party, and that brands are eager to join since “Furiosa” stars Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth will be in attendance.

We hear the décor at the bash will be an homage to the film. (Though it’ll be interesting to see how Carter’s brand of old Hollywood chic mixes with “Mad Max”‘s post-apocalyptic gear-grinding pulp? And hopefully it’s not all a metaphor for Zaslav’s reign at the media giant.)

Last year’s party, which marked the storied studio’s 100th birthday at the legendarily lavish Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, had images of classic films projected on the infinity pool.

Robert De Niro and Tiffany Chen
Robert De Niro and Tiffany Chen made the starry scene. Getty Images for Air Mail/Warner Brothers Discovery
Robert De Niro
“You talkin’ to me?” Getty Images for Air Mail LLC.

Zaslav and Carter’s seemingly matching outfits were even covered, with New York Magazine’s Shawn McCreesh writing: “They were both dressed alike in creamy suit jackets and blue shirts. They assured me they didn’t coordinate their wardrobe.”

The strikes have subsided. But Warner Bros. Discovery — which also owns CNN, TNT and TBS — has faced financial difficulties.

Zaslav said on a conference call last month after “The Color Purple” and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” flopped: “Bottom line, the studio has really been underperforming, including the end of the year where we had some real struggle.”

Bright spots have include the blockbusters “Barbie” and “Dune 2,” and, perhaps next, “Furiosa.”

Troye Sivan and Lily-Rose Depp
Troye Sivan and Lily-Rose Depp were among the young guns in Cannes. Getty Images for Air Mail/Warner Brothers Discovery

This month, comedian Patton Oswalt even took a shot at Zaslav while hosting the 71st annual Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards, quipping of the studio’s finances, “It’s exciting to see our industry once again flourishing… I hear that David Zaslav just gave a three-picture deal to H&R Block. Vive la cinéma!”

Reps did not comment.

But a studio source also told us of the Cannes party this year, “Michael and Pam, who joined the studio in 2022, are thrilled at the opportunity to celebrate his return to Cannes and the debut of the newest installment in the ‘Mad Max’ series of films.”

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