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'Red Table Talk’ is canceled after Facebook Watch shows are shut down

The series has 11 million followers on Facebook and an active Facebook discussion group with 600,000 members.
"Red Table Talk" hosts Pinkett Smith, daughter Willow Smith and Pinkett Smith's mother, Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield-Norris.
"Red Table Talk" hosts Pinkett-Smith, daughter Willow Smith and Pinkett-Smith's mother, Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield-Norris.Facebook Watch
/ Source: Variety

Amid broad cost-cutting moves, Meta is shuttering the Facebook Watch originals group, whose small slate of shows included the breakout hit “Red Table Talk” hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, Variety has confirmed.

A Meta representative confirmed that the company is shuttering its Facebook Watch originals group but declined to provide further comment. The news was first reported by Deadline.

None of the Facebook Watch originals will be returning for new seasons. Moving forward, Meta’s entertainment team is focused on creating virtual-reality experiences in Meta Horizon Worlds that can also be accessed across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.

With the shutdown of Facebook Watch originals, Mina Lefevre, head of development and programing for the group, is leaving the company. Lefevre joined Meta (then called Facebook) in 2017, after serving as MTV’s head of scripted development. At Meta, Lefevre reported to Ricky Van Veen, VP of creative strategy.

Lefevre’s exit comes as Meta is cutting 10,000 jobs across the company, coming after it laid off 11,000 staffers at the end of 2022. On Wednesday, Meta announced first-quarter 2023 earnings that beat Wall Street expectations, as its revenue grew 3% for the period after analysts had forecast a decline.

Facebook Watch’s originals started out with a mix of scripted and unscripted shows, but the company shifted entirely to unscripted fare in recent years. Its current shows include “Red Table Talk” and Steve Harvey talk show “Steve on Watch,” a revival of his daytime show after it was dropped by NBC. Other Facebook Watch shows shepherded by Lefevre included docuseries-style shows from Gen Z star JoJo Siwa, Yara Shahidi and Becky G.

“Red Table Talk” series is produced by Westbrook Studios, cofounded by Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith; the company is said to be looking for a new distributor now that the Facebook Watch deal is done. The Daytime Emmy-winning talk show featured Pinkett Smith, daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield-Norris. “Red Table Talk” has 11 million followers on Facebook and spawned an active Facebook discussion group with 600,000 members. Westbook also produced a spinoff, “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” featuring Gloria Estefan, her daughter Emily and her niece Lili.

For the Facebook Watch team, the strategy from the beginning was to produce video programming that tapped into “the social fabric of Facebook,” as Van Veen said in 2018 — i.e., generate communities of people talking about and sharing the episodes. Execs also hoped that the originals would encourage other content creators to adopt Facebook Watch.

Meta’s shutdown of Facebook Watch originals comes after other tech companies have similarly retreated. Snapchat shuttered its originals group last summer as part of a broader cost-cutting move, while YouTube folded most of its original productions while maintaining a slate of kids’ content and programming from its Black Voices fund.