Until now Irving Azoff has served in an unofficial advisory capacity for Chelsea Handler – now he’ll get paid for his work. In addition to guiding Handler’s personal brand, Azoff will serve as a key adviser to Borderline Amazing Productions, the production outfit she operates with Chelsea Lately EP, Tom Brunelle, and Co-EP, Brad Wollack. The host of E!’s top-rated late night talker Chelsea Lately, Handler is positioning herself for life after her current contract expires at the end of 2014. “I have many more things I want to achieve – in addition to my nightly show, of course. I’ve known Irving for a while – actually, since he auditioned for Chuy’s job”. (Chuy Bravo is Handler’s assistant on Chelsea Lately). “I know he’s primarily a music manager, so just to stop the rumors before they start… I won’t be dropping an album”, Handler said in a release. Azoff added, “She is an original and there’s no one else like her in comedy and on television. She can be a total bitch, but I’ve dealt with a lot of those before. Chelsea is damn good at what she does and has an undeniably strong brand. She and the guys have exciting ideas for the future of her career and production company. My goal is to assist them in facilitating and realizing their vision.”
This should relieve investors who feared that Madison Square Garden Executive Chairman Jim Dolan‘s decision to invest $125M in an entertainment partnership with music manager Irving Azoff would leave the …
Listen to (and share) episode 49 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s financial editor and host David Bloom talk about winners and losers in the CBS-Time Warner Cable deal to end the month-long blackout; the “venture capital” fund pulled together by Irving Azoff and Jim Dolan to try to grab the next big thing in entertainment; whether Real-D’s share-price problems mean 3D is in trouble; and what Hollywood legacy can Microsoft claim now that Steve Ballmer is stepping down as CEO.
The longtime music manager will be CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, which vows to develop “artist-friendly and, as a result, fan-friendly projects” in music, TV, and digital media. Irving Azoff will own 50% by folding in Azoff Music Management, where he’ll continue to handle clients including the Eagles, Steely Dan, Van Halen, and Christina Aguilera. Madison Square Garden will kick in $125M for its 50% and will provide as much as $50M in revolving credit loans. Outside of music management, Azoff and MSG Executive Chairman Jim Dolan see themselves largely as a source of venture capital. “We don’t know what the next big thing is going to be, but we want our phone to ring so we get a chance to help find it and nurture it,” Azoff tells me. “This was a dream we had to have a place where we could move quickly.”
The unedited emails follow after the jump.
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.”
Like other parts of the music business, there’s a lot of consolidation taking place in talent management — including this announcement today from feisty independent firms Primary Wave and Violator Management. They’ve chosen the unfortunate name of Primary Violator Management for the 50/50 joint venture. Primary Wave’s client list includes CeeLo Green, Ginuwine, Goodie Mob, Eric Benet, Cody Simpson, Case and GMD3. Violator adds Curtis “50 Cent’ Jackson, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Soulja Boy, and Diggy Simmons. Primary Wave CEO Larry Mestel will be in charge. Competition is intensifying: Yesterday, Live Nation Chairman Irving Azoff said he plans to announce a big music management acquisition soon. Here’s today’s release:
New York, N.Y. (September 16th, 2011) – Music industry veteran, Larry Mestel, CEO of Primary Wave Music, one of the largest independent music publishing, marketing, branding and talent management companies in the United States, announces a unique partnership with legendary music manager, Chris Lighty, Founder and CEO of Violator Management to create Primary Violator, a new powerhouse talent management firm. The new business venture will bring together Lighty and elite music manager Michael “Blue” Williams, uniting two of today’s most influential and successful talent managers in urban and pop music.
Curious that the press release (below) doesn’t explicitly say that Azoff is chairman of Live Nation Entertainment — the parent of Ticketmaster and the No. 1 owner of concert venues.
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 4, 2011 — Front Line Management and Syco Entertainment today announced a partnership which will see the future winning artist or group of the U.S. version of The X Factor managed by Front Line Management, the world’s leading artist management group.
Front Line, a division of Live Nation Entertainment, manages the careers of some of the world’s biggest-selling artists, including The Eagles, Miley Cyrus, Journey, New Kids on The Block, Christina Aguilera and Fleetwood Mac.
It’s fascinating to watch companies in decaying industries resort to financial sleight of hand to try and survive — which is why we’re going to start paying attention to the music business. But you’d never know that music, including the concert business, is in trouble from the huge compensation packages that Live Nation just revealed it paid last year to its two top executives: chairman Irving Azoff and CEO Michael Rapino. They collectively made $38.7 million, mostly because they engineered several business deals including a merger with Ticketmaster — a combination that tightened Live Nation’s grip over the concert business but provided no discernible benefits for consumers. The financial gamesmanship certainly worked well for Azoff. He picked up a lot of Ticketmaster stock back when Barry Diller controlled the company and wanted to merge it with Azoff’s Front Line, a management firm that handles performers raging from The Eagles to a blues band that Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan fronts in his spare time, JD and the Straight Shot. Diller left Live Nation last year after losing a boardroom battle. Still, Azoff made $22.8 million in 2010, which included $13.8 million for his Ticketmaster and Front Line holdings. Live Nation also paid $731,130 to a private airplane company that Azoff owns — as well as salaries to his son, daughter and son-in-law, who hold non-executive jobs at Live Nation. Rapino ended up with nearly $15.9 million, a 138% raise over his compensation in 2009.