The Emmy-winning writer-producer is opening a new chapter, moving to CAA after a stint at WME and its predecessor Endeavor. He most recently created and executive produced the CBS comedy series The Crazy Ones starring Robin Williams. Kelley, who pulled the rare feat of winning both the best drama and best comedy series Emmy Awards with The Practice and Ally McBeal in 1999, continues to be with attorney Michael Gendler.
After a month of last-minute haggling between CBS and 20th Century Fox TV over deal points, the network and studio have sealed an agreement for a ninth season of How I Met Your Mother. It will be the veteran comedy’s last season, and the show will finally reveal the identity of the mother. I hear it will be for 24 episodes. All series regulars — Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan — are back, as are creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. To show the cast their commitment to the show, Bays and Thomas were first to close a one-year show deal. Then came the dramatic actor negotiations as chronicled in Nikki Finke’s story that broke the news about HIMYM‘s pending renewal. The prospects of a ninth season appeared all but dead after Segel had held firmly to his decision to leave until an eleventh-hour turnaround. I hear Segel finally changed his mind after reviewing detailed records of the relatively light workload the hybrid series requires for a fat paycheck while also allowing busy actors like him to also pursue a feature career.
We all know that Ari Emanuel is an asshole, but we also thought he was at least a smart asshole. Because he decided to back out of the William Morris Agency’s commitment to lease that big blue Beverly Hills office building after Endeavor took over the venerable tenpercentery. Well, now that decision is biting him on the ass big-time. Informed sources tell me that WME could be on the hook for anywhere from $25 million to $70 million because of Emanuel’s petulance. (Talk about money going down the drain.)
I’ve been following this building story since 2008 when Morris first decided to sell its buildings and make the move, through the WMA-Endeavor merger in 2009, and well into Ari’s subsequent antics. But then two weeks ago I was tipped to the latest news. What happened is that, of the two-pronged arbitration, the first ruling went WME’s way but the second one didn’t. Ari’s argument had been that George Comfort & Sons violated its lease agreement with WME by letting rival Gersh agency move from Canon Drive into another Comfort space next door at 9465 Wilshire Blvd. That was just 50 feet away from the site of the new WME headquarters in the 6-story building going up at 231-265 N. Beverly Drive. The two agencies would have shared valet parking services and a parking lot. (God forbid!)
So WME decided that was a lease dealbreaker. The arbiter agreed that was a violation. But the arbiter then determined that this breach was not material enough to warrant WME breaking the lease. Comfort’s damages …
WME literary agent Julie Weitz is joining Carol Mendelsohn’s CBS TV Studios-based production company as president.
For the past 6 years, she was an agent at Endeavor and then WME. She joined Endeavor in 2004 when the agency launched a movies-for-television division and tapped Weitz to run it. Prior to that, Weitz served as EVP of original programming for TNT, where she was responsible for the supervision of development and production of original movies, mini-series, series and reality series. Weitz started her agency career in 1992 at ICM, where she headed the longform television packaging department. Before joining ICM, Weitz served as both the president of von Zerneck-Sertner Films and director of development for Hearst Entertainment.
Endeavor talent agency will represent both Barbra Streisand as an actress, director and producer as well as her Barwood Films. The Hollywood legend’s longtime manager Marty Erlichman will continue to principally help guide her career. Streisand had been with ICM but it’s been quite some time since she’s starred in a movie (2004′s Meet The Fockers) or directed one (1996′s The Mirror Has Two Faces). However, she has been an active executive producer in television. And, of course, she’s a busy recording artist. I understand Babs now intends to become more active in all entertainment arenas. Mused a source at a rival agency: “And Endeavor will go out with a vengeance for her because whatever she does now, it will be quite obvious who got it for her.”
I’m told these are the clients who immediately followed those three UTA talent agents – UTA co-owner Nick Stevens and his partners Sharon Sheinwold and Lisa Hallerman who together left a week ago – to Endeavor. Listed in no particular order: Ben Stiller which I previously reported, Jack Black, Jason Lee, John C. Reilly, Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, Amy Heckerling, Rob Letterman, David Wayne, Frank Coraci, Tom Dey. Even though Endeavor won’t confirm this list, it’s firm.
UTA is still staking its claim to Owen Wilson, Patrick Dempsey, Jason Bateman, Paul Rudd, Steve Coogan, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Saturday Night Live cast members Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Casey Wilson. But things are definitely very fluid so stay tuned.
What happens with Judd Apatow, however, is anybody’s guess. True, the movie mogul is self-generating when it comes to projects and doesn’t think he needs an agent right now. But Apatow’s manager and producer Jimmy Miller has systematically put many of his UTA clients with CAA in recent years because of friction with Stevens who has repped Apatow for seemingly forever. However, Miller is a close pal of Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel who has mutual client Sasha Baron Cohen. So it will be interesting to watch where Judd goes, if anywhere.
The actor/TV producer left that agency’s representation in all areas today. It’s been a bad couple of days for Adam Venit, first Chris Rock on Thursday, now Kutcher. Interestingly, Kutcher’s name surfaced just last week when an SEC filing showed he had a directorship in a SPAC financial vehicle (for media, entertainment and publishing mergers and acquisitions) in which William Morris also has ownership. Hmm.
As I reported yesterday, Ben Stiller is following his agent Nick Stevens from United Talent Agency to Endeavor. This was expected. Today, the actor/writer/director/producer issued this statement through his publicist: “I think Nick Stevens is a unique entity in this business: an agent with integrity, a point of view, and most of all, humanity. He’s Jerry Maguire at the end of the movie. I would be with him if he was working out of the Sunglass Hut at the Beverly Center.”
2ND UPDATE: United Talent has been holding urgent strategy meetings all day.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that, at 10 pm last night, United Talent Agency was formally notified by an attorney for longtime Talent Department managing director and agency co-owner Nick Stevens that he’s jumping to rival Endeavor. Insiders tell me that two UTA partners in the Talent Department who work closely with him, Lisa Hallerman and Sharon Sheinwold, are following the 44-year-old uber-agent out the door. The high-profile defections were related to my reporting last week of an ugly “heated and loud” 5th floor closed-door meeting inside UTA. That’s where certain partners took advantage of Nick Stevens’ being out of town on a family vacation to take aim at the two women. This happened on the heels of UTA moving to unseat Stevens as a board member. What took place next was a week-long frenzy of secret negotiations between the tenpercenter and Endeavor that was touch-and-go until Friday night when the new deal was mostly in place.
What is transpiring can only be described as a seismic shift for the two agencies, and Hollywood talent representation in general. It’s too early to confirm exactly which clients like Ben Stiller, Judd Apatow, Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Jason Lee, Jason Bateman, Patrick Dempsey, Jonah …
UPDATE: He was repped there for movies and TV. But ICM does his tours and personal appearances, and Chris Rock is headed there signing in all areas to consolidate all his business. (For motion picture stuff, his agent is Eddy Yablans. So forget lining up with coffee and donuts at the Roybal federal building where Chris is testifying tomorrow at 8 AM in the Pellicano wiretapping trial.] ICM also just signed Paul Verhoven. However, the agency just lost Hitch hot comedy writer Kevin Bisch as well as T.I. (The rapper’s growing film career, that memorable role in American Gangster and as the star of ATL, culminated in an in-the-works 3-picture deal at Screen Gems. But T.I. just got sentenced to a year in prison and 1,500 hours of community service for numerous federal weapons charges.) Both men were clients of ex-ICM agent and now manager Brian Sher of Category 5. ICM denies the rumors that Sher may soon be pulling more of his clients from the agency. I say, it’s gonna happen.
Marc Korman was United Talent’s most junior partner, one of 20, and one of six TV lit agents at the tenpercentery. Now he’s jumping to Endeavor talent agency where I’m told he’s joining several good friends. Korman had been part of the UTA television department since 2002, representing showrunners, directors and playwrights and specializing in one-hours. He’s a former criminal defense lawyer out of Chicago who joined UTA from Michael Ovitz’s short-lived Artists Management Group, where he was a manager.