WME is wrapping up its third day of its annual retreat at La Costa Resort & Spa and the roster of speakers the agency has put together is looking more and more each year like a mini-Herb Allen Sun Valley Conference. The mini, however, is major with 450 WME agents gathered to listen to such prominent names as former CIA director and four-star Gen. Michael Hayden who once headed the National Security Administration and returned again this year. He headlines a roster that includes former and current Google and Facebook executives and even more political heavies. Also, one of the highlights, agents say, was Anne Wojciciki, one of the co-founders of 23andMe, a biotech and genomics company which her husband’s company Google invested heavily into (along with Genetech). It produces direct-to-consumer personal genome test kits that can determine inherited traits and genetic risk factors. Another speaker said to have one of the strongest presentations was Regina Dugan, the former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the first first female director to run the intelligence group before leaving for Google. She spoke about ingenuity and how you can be successful if you use the tools presented before you. She has previously done a series of TED talks. “It’s been really quite remarkable this year,” said one agent in attendance. “It like a bunch of really cool TED talks. I have learned so much.”
Each year WME executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell gather their agents for three days to listen to talks from some of the most influential people in America. This year’s lineup is said to include Deputy NSA Advisor Thomas Donilon, who stepped down in June 2013 and has worked with the Obama administration in various capacities; and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer for Facebook and author of the book Lean-In about how to motivate women to take their place in the executive ranks. She is on the board of the Walt Disney Co. and used to work at Google in sales and helped launch Google’s philanthrophic endeavors. She was also the chief of staff for the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Joining them are Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom (who previously worked at Google where he helped implement Gmail and other offerings); Mixed in with this prestigious group of political and tech speakers will be Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, which owns and operates some of the country’s largest amphitheaters and and concert venues such as the House of Blues, Hollywood Palladium, and Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Guests also include WME’s rapper-musician-composer-producer Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dogg. Read More »
The latest episode of The Tinsel Zone, a web series created by current Hollywood assistants, is described by its makers as a pitch meeting run by an Ari Emanuel-inspired Hollywood boss (down to the “tan skin, Chicago accent, etc” they write). Director Zach Copeland works at 1821 Pictures and series … Read More »
UPDATE: Read the unedited emails here.
EXCLUSIVE: Few things satisfy more than a fiery Hollywood feud. I’ve learned the ongoing one between Ari Emanuel and Irving Azoff flared up again this past weekend in a way that one eyewitness told me was “like Yiddish Theater, complete with Jews and their drama and their masks and coats and robes”. I wouldn’t know, never having attended Yiddish Theater. But I do know Hollywood, and this flaming raged out of control. The email war erupted between the two entertainment executives Friday, the same day as a Financial Times article was published about how well Live Nation Entertainment is doing in 2013 after music manager Azoff resigned and where WME co-founder Emanuel is on the board. It doesn’t help that Azoff’s son works for CAA as an agent, or that Azoff is reputedly using his position as an advisory board member of IMG to lend help to CAA’s designs on that sports company which WME also wants. The surprise here is that Emanuel usually sends one- or two-word-only email messages. But Azoff loves all communications technology, even infamously micro-blogging on Twitter to spar with Live Nation critics when he ran the company. (“If you want ticket prices to go down, stop stealing music.”) Trust me, feuds like this are extremely multi-faceted.
I’m told the emails were “a lot of back and forth” over the FT story but not substantive. Instead, they consisted of each man baiting the other and “devolved into a fucking bitchfest about how much they hate each other. Irving tried to be nice and, well, Ari was Ari. They kept going back and forth. Such silliness from Ari about what a ‘piece of shit’ Irving was, and then Irving saying, ‘I forgive you for being an asshole.’ Ari telling him, ‘You’re a lying piece of shit,’ and Irving replying, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ It was so ridiculous.”
Read More »
EXCLUSIVE 10 AM… UPDATEd 12:30 PM : Deadline has learned the meetings were an intimate preview of the new Xbox One capabilities before next week’s E3 confab where secretive Microsoft will unveil details of the device’s technology. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was escorted by his entertainment studios president Nancy Tellem for the visit late last week to lobby her closest Hollywood pals: her former boss CBS chief Les Moonves, Sony TV boss Steve Mosko, and WME co-CEOS Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell. It’s all part of Ballmer’s effort to drum up exclusive content after Microsoft intends to launch 40+ new voice-controlled customized TV and entertainment apps on Xbox One. But it was also more, one insider tells Deadline, “to reiterate Microsoft’s commitment to transitioning its business to devices and services and to explaining that Hollywood entertainment is a big part of that. Microsoft in the past has just dipped a toe but now has a real commitment.” Tellem wanted to give Ballmer 3 different perspective: the broadcaster, the independent producer, and the agent. Deadline has learned that Ballmer touted “what we could do with” the Xbox One in sports, music, reality and scripted programming, promising execs that they’d see more sophisticated technology and that his company “doesn’t want to be a cable channel”. He also met Tellem’s Santa Monica team for the first time and outlined his vision for a new Xbox One world. Ballmer’s trip to Hollywood will only anger more hard-core gamers who already were miffed by Microsoft’s focus on entertainment when it unveiled the product on May 21. (Xbox One will be on store shelves later this year). The hard-core gamers fear Microsoft sees its new Xbox One more as a souped-up Internet-connected, voice- and motion-controlled cable box than a next-gen gaming console. Read More »
It’s not shutting them down as many in Hollywood would like but if a site is repeatedly posting pirated material then Google announced today that they’re going to flag it. “Starting next week, we will begin taking into … Read More »
Ari Emanuel this week started a battle — or, to put it more politely, a debate — with Google over the piracy issue. The WME chief complained about Google at the AllThingsD conference on Wednesday, then Google bitchslapped him … Read More »
“I’m going to piss a lot of people off,” Ari Emanuel told the AllThingsD conference tonight. And in a room of tech execs, the WME boss kept his word. “Where Google decides to play in this piracy issue, plus … Read More »
It’s Official: WME-Silver Lake Announcement
BREAKING… EXCLUSIVE… UPDATED: WME held a mandatory staff meeting this morning to announce internally that a “strategic equity partner”, techno-savvy Silver Lake Partners, is taking a 31% non-controlling minority … Read More »
UPDATE: WSJ has swapped out the photo.
The once venerable Wall Street Journal needs to get a clue when it comes to reporting about Hollywood agents. Accompanying today’s story about WME’s ‘Camp Allen’-like conference which the agency held at La Costa … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The final arbitration decision came down in mid-December and all sides have been operating under a strict confidentiality clause. But real estate sources tell me that the Hollywood agency is paying on the low side of what the Beverly Hills commercial property community expected … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: WME Entertainment minted 11 new partners, formally announcing them at the agency retreat held last week at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad. The new partners are:
Tim Curtis (commercial/voiceover); Jay Williams, (Nashville-based music agent); Joey Lee (Nashville-based music agent); Alicia … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas is joining 3 Arts as a manager/producer, returning to the rep business after 11 years. Once a high-powered dealmaker at ICM best known for guiding Julia Roberts from unknown to $20 million a picture as the world’s biggest female star, Goldsmith-Thomas left ICM in 2000 to run Revolution Studios East for Joe Roth and supervise films under Roberts’ production deal there. She has been a full-time producer since Revolution folded. An agent for more than 15 years at WMA and ICM, Goldsmith-Thomas also repped Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Connelly, Madonna and Darren Star.
The obvious question is whether she will be rejoined by Roberts, who went to CAA not long after Goldsmith-Thomas left. Goldsmith-Thomas said she comes to 3 Arts without any clients. While producing, she continued to give career advice when asked, but referred talent to agencies and management companies for years even as people asked why she wasn’t building a client list. She decided months ago to explore a return but was reticent to resurface as an agent. It would be hard returning to a job she left behind, and she never liked the poaching part of that game. She also didn’t want to give up producing, which agents can’t do. After meeting with 3 Arts’ Erwin Stoff, Goldsmith-Thomas felt she’d found the right fit. She will operate out of the management/production company’s New York base, where Richard Abate manages authors and runs the book department and Avi Gilbert manages stand-up comics.
“I’ve always loved the architecture of careers, and I missed working with colleagues in breaking down walls that have gotten thicker,” Goldsmith-Thomas told me. “I think it’s a mistake when people try to re-create the same career they had. I love what I’m doing now, and I see this as a complement.” Read More »
Hollywood is very much on the minds of cable executives meeting in Chicago this week at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s annual trade show. Introducing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his welcoming remarks, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said that “in our industry he’s known as Ari’s brother” — referring to WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel. The mayor picked up the theme by offering a mock apology on behalf of his family. “You know him as an agent,” he said. “We know him as a brother. We thought we got the worse end of the deal.” He said that when HBO introduced its series Entourage, Ari wanted to know what Rahm thought of the Ari Gold character who’s based on the super agent. “I like Ari Gold more than I like you,” Rahm says he replied. Read More »
2ND UPDATE, FRIDAY 3 PM: This morning after being intro’ed by Patrick Whitesell, John Fogelman stood up at WME’s quarterly meeting inside the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and gave a small “I-was-lucky-to-work-here” speech. He received a standing ovation. Love … Read More »
Yes, the WME are leaving their Beverly Hills headquarters for Rancho Las Palmas resort for 36 hours starting tomorrow because it’s retreat time. (CAA Retreating… With Tom Cruise) A chance to reflect on 2010 … Read More »
The wildly successful director/producer/writer who of course helmed the first two Harry Potters (Sorcerers Stone & Chamber Of Secrets) and produced the entire film series of JK Rowling’s novels just gave his notice today to CAA and immediately signed with WME … Read More »