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Resolution Adds Agents Rachel Sheedy & Jennifer Good

By | Thursday July 10, 2014 @ 11:15am PDT

Resolution Adds Agents Rachel Sheedy & Jennifer GoodTwo new agents have joined Jeff Berg’s Resolution as the agency builds up following a number of departures in recent months. Talent agent Rachel Sheedy comes to Resolution after spending sixteen years repping actors in film, TV, and theater for Don Buchwald & Associates in New York. She’ll now work out of Resolution’s LA office on Century Park East.

jennifer good resolution rachelsheedyAlong with Sheedy, Jennifer Good recently joined the company’s TV lit department after departing The Alpern Group, where she repped writers and directors in TV and film with an emphasis on the international marketplace. She also did stints at Susan Smith & Associates and spent six years as a lit agent at The Bruce Brown Agency repping TV writers. Good also spent three years as a lit manager at Anonymous Content focusing on transitioning feature writers and directors into TV. It’s been a chaotic year for the 1 1/2 year-old agency. Read More »

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Resolution TV Lit Agent Dennis Kim Exits To Become A Manager

By | Wednesday July 9, 2014 @ 11:21am PDT

Resolution TV Lit Agent Dennis Kim Exits To Become A ManagerEXCLUSIVE: After less than a year heading the TV lit department at Jeff Berg’s Resolution,Dennis Kim has denniskim__120410203729-275x357moved on to being a manager. In the latest of several departures from the newish agency, the former Rothman Brecher Kim partner left Berg’s shop two weeks ago. The vet agent has landed as a partner at Bungalow Media + Entertainment LA office and their Storied Media Group, I’ve learned.

The management/production company was started back in 2013 by former ICM Partners agent Todd Hoffman, who reps Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and Nebraska writer Bob Nelson among others.Kim’s clients joining him at his new gig include Suits creator-showrunner Aaron Korsh; Copper co-creator/Executive Producer Will Rokos; Bridget Tyler, creator/Co-Executive Producer of the USA pilot Horizon; Tom Scharpling (Monk, The Best Show); Joe Halpin (The Lottery, Hawaii 5-0); Nora and Lilla Zuckerman (Suits, Haven, Human Target); and feature writer Eric Tipton (Valiant One). With high hopes of making big inroads in the lucrative TV lit biz, Resolution made a big deal of gaining Kim last year a year after the agent was made partner at his former employer after 12 years there. With all that and the efforts to build a new agency, this loss surely leaves a big gap at Resolution going forward.

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Resolution COO Jeff Franklin Exits Agency

By | Wednesday June 11, 2014 @ 6:41pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BERGEXCLUSIVE: Resolution, the talent agency founded by former ICM chief Jeff Berg early last year, continues to change form. The agency has confirmed the exit of  Jeff Franklin, the music agent who was COO and a key partner when Berg jumped ship and formed the new agency with backing from Jahm Najafi, a former Salomon Bros banker active in real estate and private equity with investments in diverse companies and brands.  I’m told that Franklin shed the COO stripes a year ago. The agency would not comment beyond that.

Related: Jeff Berg Opens New Agency ‘Resolution’ Monday; Investor ID’d

Resolution-logo-copy__130919162332-275x48__131010001843I had heard that Franklin would be exiting for months, but it was difficult to get clarity until now. Resolution has found it a challenge to form an agency in the current climate where CAA, WME, UTA, ICM and Paradigm are all well established. Berg left ICM Partners somewhat acrimoniously when the partners of that agency discovered that he was setting up shop elsewhere. Berg then made some high profile hires, paying big bucks to land Adam Kanter and Martin Spencer from CAA, but they had trouble keeping clients like Doug Liman and Peter Segal. When those agents were asked to take pay cuts despite having contracts, they declined and exited. Both of them have resurfaced at Paradigm. Some at the agency felt that Resolution would be better suited not chasing star agents, but growing organically. I’ve heard that the lavish headquarters on 1801 Century Park East have been downsized a bit — the agency took the whole 23rd floor, and that they would absorb the growing pains that any percentery would experience trying to launch in this environment.

Related: Resolution Agents Martin Spencer, Adam Kanter Exiting; Paradigm Next Stop?

Read More »

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Jeff Berg’s Resolution Agency Gets Investment Boost From China

By | Tuesday March 4, 2014 @ 12:49pm PST

ResolutionlogonewIn the first deal involving a Chinese company taking a financial stake in a Hollywood talent agency, Jeff Berg’s Resolution said today that Beijing-based Bison Capital Holdings has made an investment in the company. The deal means Resolution will advise and consult for Bison, whose founder Peixin Xu serves as an independent director of China’s Bona Film Group, which is 17%-owned by 21st Century Fox. Also, News Corp China Investments CEO Jack Gao will join Resolution’s board of directors. “This partnership will allow us to fund strategic expansion in the global marketplace,” Berg said in announcing the deal today. Bison’s China-based media investments include AirMedia Group, a provider of advertising platforms outside of the home in China. David Unger, the first agent from Berg’s former home ICM to join Resolution after its founding in January 2013, was key in the Bison deal; in addition to film and TV clients he guides Resolution’s media finance group and is the main player on the international side. Berg said Unger will “be coordinating our new China activities as we build our presence in Beijing with Bison.”

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Resolution Takes ICM To Court Over Commissions Claims

By | Wednesday October 9, 2013 @ 5:15pm PDT

Agencies fighting over commissions on deals negotiated in the past for clients who have now moved on is nothing new in the courts but fighting over deals yet to happen is certainly a novel twist. Yet that’s what happened today when Jeff Berg’s Resolution filed a declaratory relief complaint (read it here) against his former agency ICM Partners over the latter’s seemingly persistent claims that it is entitled to commissions that “Resolution earns for some deals Resolution either has negotiated or will negotiate through the agents who used to be ICM Partners employees.” Essentially ICM, which has seen a numbers of its agents and their clients leave to join Berg since he formed Resolution in January, wants to enforce the employment contracts it had with the agents who left. To that end, ICM sent the new agency “a number of claim letters” supposedly “reserving rights,” according to the complaint filed in LA Superior Court Wednesday. Now Resolution wants the court to declare that “Plaintiff owes no duty whatsoever to Defendants with respect to commissions.” Interestingly, this comes at the time of year when the agencies see the most movement as contracts are up and bonuses are assigned. In their civil case request for a 5-day jury trial, Resolution also … Read More »

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Jeff Berg’s Resolution Agency Sued By Month-Long Agent Poached From ICM

By | Thursday September 19, 2013 @ 10:27am PDT

Today saw the first public lawsuit against Jeff Berg’s Resolution Agency since the former ICM chief started his own tenpercentery back in January. Resolution was sued in LA Superior Court this morning for fraud, breach of contract, wrongful termination, and emotional distress in a 6-count complaint from Martin Beck (read it here). The LA-based agent and 30-year ICM vet joined Resolution on July 8th but was terminated on August 2nd. Beck booked acts for Vegas casinos and was recruited by Resolution COO Jeff Franklin over the early part of the summer. Among Beck’s clients at ICM were Wayne Newton, Tony Orlando and Frankie Valli who’s hot again because of Jersey BoysBeck claims in today’s filing that he signed a two-year contract with Resolution for an annual salary of around $165,000 and contends that his severe medical issues would be accommodated. He maintains that he was not expected to bring any clients with him but Newton actually did come over as client. The 11-page complaint notes that the relationship between Beck and Resolution soured after the agency failed to get Valli as a client. Beck says that he was let go after a flurry of emails about his performance and medical condition and seeks his two-year contract salary of $320,000 plus legal costs and penalties under the Fair Employment Act. Additionally, the suit paints Resolution as “fledgling and Read More »

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Leigh Brillstein Exits ICM For Resolution

By | Monday March 18, 2013 @ 9:05am PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Another very interesting sign from ICM by Jeff Berg‘s Resolution Agency. Leigh Brillstein gave her Resolution Agencynotice about 15 minutes ago after 25 years working for Berg and then recently Chris Silbermann. She ran ICM’s TV talent department twice and before that was at CAA, first as an assistant in the lit department and later as a talent agent, until 1980. She is, of course, the daughter of the late and legendary Hollywood manager and producer Bernie Brillstein. UPDATE: “Leigh has a great eye for performers and has successfully overseen the careers of numerous award-winning actors while also serving as a mentor for a generation of  younger agency colleagues,” Berg said in a statement. ”With the expansion of cable channels and the new digital platforms in addition to broadcast, Leigh’s expertise will become invaluable in helping assure that our clients are fully represented in all aspects of television.”

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Jeff Berg’s Resolution Expands International

By | Wednesday March 6, 2013 @ 12:11pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: In between giving interviews, Jeff Berg keeps signing new agents. The latest is Marc Helwig who just left ICM for Berg’s Resolution Agency which is ramping up its international filmmakers’ coverage. The multilingual Helwig’s clients include Mama director Andy Muschietti and his sister, Mama co-writer and producer Barbara Muschietti, director Neil Marshall from Game Of Thrones who is helming the first episode of Starz Entertainment’s and Michael Bay’s Black Sails, Danish film director/actor/producer Ole Bornedal (Possession), and British writer Joe Ahearne who co-wrote the upcoming Trance for director Danny Boyle and just sold an untitled supernatural pitch to Warner Bros. Helwig worked in London and agented at Paradigm before joining ICM in 2010.

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UPDATE: APA Talent Agent Everly Lee Joins Resolution

By | Tuesday March 5, 2013 @ 2:53pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Everly Lee, agent in APA‘s talent department, has left the agency after a four-year stint to join Jeff Berg‘s Resolution Agency. Her APA contract was up and the two parties opted not to renew it. Lee’s clients have included Bow Wow, Brandy and Malinda Williams. Lee has been a talent agent since 2002, first at UTA and then Global Artists Agency, before joining APA in 2009.

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Jeff Berg’s Resolution Hires Two Veteran CAA Motion Picture Agents

EXCLUSIVE: Veteran motion picture agents Adam Kanter and Martin Spencer – who represent some very prominent directors, writers and producers – are joining Jeff Berg‘s new Resolution as senior agents after 25 years with CAA. Berg made the announcement today. Of course, it isn’t yet known how many of Kanter’s and Spencer’s clients will join Resolution from CAA. “But they’ve had long-term relationships with many of them,” Berg tells me. “We’re betting a lot of them.” CAA, on the other hand, is confident it’ll keep a goodly portion. Nevertheless, Berg is demonstrating that Resolution can shake loose established major agents with prestigious client bases who want quicker advancement. “Adam and Martin will play a key role in the development of our new agency,” Berg said in a statement.

Kanter is the son of longtime agent, producer and studio executive Jay Kanter who was Marlon Brando’s first agent and a protege of the legendary Lew Wasserman. The young Kanter joined CAA in 1989 and built a client list that includes: director Doug Liman and producer David Bartis of Hypnotic (The Bourne Identity), Peter Segal and Michael Ewing (Get Smart) filmmakers Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Entourage creator Doug Ellin, actor and producer Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment (The Pursuit Of Happyness), Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) and Parenthood’s Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. Other clients Kanter represented at CAA include Malcolm Lee (The Best Man), Brian Kirk (Luther), Joe Johnston … Read More »

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Jeff Berg’s Resolution Hires Steve Alexander

By | Wednesday February 13, 2013 @ 3:02pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: Steve Alexander was not just a very popular CAA talent agent for 10 years but also Heath Ledger’s, Jeff Bridges’ and Natalie Portman’s rep. After Ledger’s death, he left the agency business to go into management and independent production including 3 years with Atlas Entertainment. Now I’ve learned he’s joining Jeff Berg‘s Resolution Agency as a senior agent in the film and talent area. I’m told he was intensely sought after by many of the top agencies when it became known he wanted to return to the tenpercent business. Alexander was instrumental in building the career of Ledger, recognized posthumously with an Academy Award for best supporting actor for portraying The Joker in The Dark Knight.  His other clients also included Kim Basinger, Orlando Bloom, Johnny Knoxville, Chow Yun-Fat, Joy Bryant, Peter Gallagher, Emmy Rossum and Eddie Izzard. Alexander began working for Joel Silver before on his own producing Swimming with Sharks. UPDATE: Resolution just issued a news release: “I am thrilled Steve is joining Resolution as we accelerate the growth of our motion picture and television groups,” said Berg. “Steve’s respect among the executive and creative communities speaks for itself as does his invaluable knowledge of the industry and his unique ability to connect with actors.” Added Alexander: “I am excited to be working with Jeff and his team at Resolution. While I thoroughly enjoyed producing and gained invaluable experience from it, the opportunity to return to my first love of building … Read More »

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Winners Of The Deadline Caption Contest: Meet Resolution (And Congrats, Everyone)

By | Tuesday February 12, 2013 @ 7:11am PST

TUESDAY AM UPDATE: First, you should know that Jeff Berg and his new Resolution Agency colleagues thought this caption contest was hilarious. Like, duh, they know how old they are. They also know that they’re wiser and richer and badder than all you wusses who complained it was ageist. That said, I’d advise the four to hire a good stylist - geez, any stylist – next time their photo is taken. As for the contest itself, the captions were so effing funny I laughed until I cried. (Why can’t SNL hire you Borscht Belt comics?) And the winners are:

Disney wonders how it will break it to the original Star Wars actors that they won’t be in Episode 7.

We’re the four guys who believe McG can actually tell a story.

“Dear Gentlemen, Thank you for your interest in Kappa Alpha. We regret to inform you that we have no interest in sponsoring you at Adams. In the future we recommend you not include a group photo.”

The first thing they resolved is the age-old question: Jerry’s Deli, or Cantors???

Asked about competing with younger agents, Berg said, “What? I can’t hear you. Please speak louder.”

Resolution’s first order of business was an attempt to put the gay rumors to rest. Yes, it turns out, they all use Ben Gay.

FRIDAY 10 PM: A rival tenpercentery sent over this authentic photo of the brand new Resolution Agency together at Pollstar Live! for the ”Meet The Agents” networking session with most of the concert promoters from … Read More »

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TOLDJA! Jeff Berg Announces New Agency

By | Monday January 28, 2013 @ 11:34am PST

I just obtained a draft copy of Jeff Berg’s news release announcing his Resolution full-service talent and literary agency. There’s not much new compared with what I scooped on Sunday (EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Berg Opens New Agency ‘Resolution’ Monday; UPDATE: Investor ID) except that principal investor Jahm Najafi will serve on Resolution’s Board of Directors:

Jeffrey Berg has announced the formation of Resolution, a new full-service talent and literary agency, which has opened in Los Angeles and New York. Mr. Berg, who served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ICM for 27 years, will be the Chairman of Resolution. Entertainment entrepreneur, film and television producer and music agent Jeff Franklin, will serve as Chief Operating Officer.

“As a founding shareholder, I am delighted to partner with Najafi Companies, a strategic private investment firm in the media industry, and Jeff Franklin, a recognized agent and builder in the music business, to launch Resolution. I look forward to working with an exceptional and diverse team of talents to provide our clients with the highest level of advisory and transactional services.” Mr. Najafi will serve on Resolution’s Board of Directors along with Mr. Berg and Mr. Franklin. Jahm Najafi, CEO of Najafi Companies added, “There is no smarter, strategic and knowledgeable agent than Jeff Berg. We look forward to sharing and building this progressive agency in an evolving entertainment marketplace.”

“We are fortunate to have Jahm and his team as our financial partners,” Mr. Berg said. “They are respected and experienced investors who share our passion for the worldwide entertainment community and bring deep critical industrial insights to our company.”

Mr. Franklin added, “With new office space secured and construction completed, our focus is to now expand the recruitment of agents to create a new enduring institution in our industry. Resolution will be active in all of the critical entertainment areas: film, television, theater, music, literary publishing, digital media, and marketing consultation.”

Resolution will focus on the core functions of talent representation but will also provide a wide range of financial and advisory services including the sale of libraries and catalogues, financial transactions for media companies, raising capital for independent and studio films, providing restructuring advice and the sale and licensing of independently financed films and television series to the domestic and international markets.

“After a long run at my former company, I want to re-engage in a new business again as an owner-operator, and Jahm and Jeff became my logical partners,” Mr. Berg stated. “Resolution has a business plan that allows for internal growth, and it also has the committed capital for outside strategic acquisitions.”

The executive team will include former WME Vice President of Finance and Controller Laura Li who will become Resolution’s Chief Financial Officer; former Universal Pictures and MGM senior international marketing and distribution executive Randy Greenberg who will serve as Co-Head of Operations and Business Development; and former Universal Pictures Executive-Vice President of Business Affairs and former CEO of Intermedia Pictures Jon Gumpert will act as General Counsel and Head of Business Affairs.

Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Berg Opens New Agency ‘Resolution’ Monday; UPDATE: Investor ID

EXCLUSIVE UPDATE 7 PM: I can now reveal the identity of Jeff Berg’s principal investor and financial partner. His name is Jahm Najafi, a former Salomon Bros banker active in real estate and private equity with investments in diverse companies and brands. According to news reports, he isn’t in the deal-making stratosphere, but the CEO of Phoenix-based private equity firm Najafi Companies is in the mix of many high-profile deals. MORE BELOW

EXCLUSIVE 1:54 PM: Inside 1801 Century Park East on the entire 23rd floor, Jeff Berg‘s new full-service Resolution agency capitalized with about $200 million is opening its doors on Monday. The offices are still being painted and the Jeff Berg Resolution Hollywood Agencybathrooms are a work in progress. But the longtime ICM Chairman at age 65 just moved into the new space this weekend now that the phones and Internet are up and running and the conference room is finished. Today he’s calling clients. He’s already more than a week ahead of schedule. Over the next six months, Hollywood and New York and Nashville will witness a series of announcements about agents being hired from the top tenpercenteries and midlevel executives being culled from the Industry. Most are still in secret negotiations on Resolution contracts, others are signing non-disclosure agreements, several are in the process of being raided, and still more are daily dialing Berg to inquire about coming over. Their own companies don’t know they’re even contemplating departures. There hasn’t been a major full-service agency start-up like this since Endeavor was formed in 1995 by four former ICM agents who left Berg et al in a midnight stealth. Resolution will keep making headlines as Berg slowly builds his film/TV/talent/literary/music/publishing/digital tenpercentery to an anticipated staffing level of 35 agents plus support staff in LA, 25 agents in NYC, and 10 agents in Nashville. He’s still not settled on his Manhattan office, looking at a variety of spaces in Midtown, Downtown, Chelsea. “He’ll figure that out,” an insider tells me.

It only took him 8-to-10 weeks to set up Resolution doing it primarily by mobile phone, a gmail account, and temporary digs. Berg already has Resolution’s executive infrastructure put together: his COO will be his new partner, former music agent Jeff Franklin, CFO will be former William Morris Agency Finance Director Laura Li, and chief counsel will be former Universal Business Affairs’ Jonathan Gumpert (father of Andrew Gumpert who runs business affairs at Sony Pictures). Still to come is a “people person” senior agent who will function as the catalyst to help keep morale at a high level — because no one knows better than Iceberg what his reputation was and still is. I understand that Berg and Franklin went far with a top CAA senior agent who ultimately stayed put.
Read More »

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Shari Smiley Joining Jeff Berg’s New Agency

By | Sunday January 27, 2013 @ 11:15am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While former ICM chief Jeff Berg is still assembling the pieces of his new agency, we know he’s going to get started with a strong book-to-movie department. Shari Smiley has signed on to join the agency, rejoining former CAA colleague Rich Green. Deadline revealed Saturday that Green left CAA Friday to join Berg’s new shop.

Smiley has for the last year operated her own business, The Smiley Group. Before that she spent almost 19 years at CAA, rising from receptionist to agent. Like Green, her specialty is putting together movie deals from bestselling books. Since she has been on her own, the deals Smiley has made include the Fox deal for Gillian Flynn’s bestseller Gone Girl, which had Reese Witherspoon attached and to which David Fincher is coming attached; Wild, the Cheryl Strayed bestseller that Nick Hornby is adapting for River Road and Witherspoon; and for client Quirk Books she has brokered film deals that include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, which is shaping up as a Fox property that Jane Goldman is scripting for Tim Burton to direct.

She worked closely at CAA with Green, who at that agency repped Grace Of Monaco‘s Arash Amel, Maleficent‘s Linda Woolverton, Rock Of Ages‘ Chris D’Arienzo, Mike LeSieur (the Black List script The Flamingo Thief which Will Ferrel … Read More »

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SHOCKER! Jeff Berg Leaving ICM Now To Start Own Agency In Month’s Time

By | Friday October 26, 2012 @ 5:26pm PDT
Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE: Whenever the exit of a major Hollywood player like Jeff Berg occurs late on a Friday, it is rarely by chance. I am hearing that the exit of Berg, and Carol Bodie for that matter, is directly related to the principals of ICM Partners learning of Berg’s plans to start a competitive business that already has funding lined up. That is why this happened so abruptly, and I’m hearing Berg will not be on the premises on Monday–Berg himself called to dispute this, saying he will hang around to help close up some deals and put things in order, joking, “I’m not being escorted out at gunpoint, there is no Bataan march going on here.” There is some spinning going on, but to say that Berg was fired (as some insiders have suggested) wouldn’t really be meaningful, when he is a month away from launching his own competitive venture anyway. But ICM Partners certainly forced his hand and that is the reason for the late Friday drama. It comes down to this: ICM Partners and Berg spent a few months since the buyout trying to figure out a way to work together going forward. They could not find common ground, and very shortly they will be competitors. It is hard to imagine that place without Berg, who made the original Star Wars deal, the deal for The Simpsons, and so many others. Berg still … Read More »

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TOLDJA! ICM Management Buyout Complete

UPDATE: It’s been a long, winding, and troubled road which began more than a year ago, but ICM President Chris Silbermann now has completed his management buyout – thus putting an official end to what was a destabilizing period for the agency. I can tell you that Jeff Berg, Chris Silbermann, Rick Levy and all the other bigwigs are giving up their titles at the new ‘ICM Partners’. In fact all 29 partners won’t have titles. The management buyout deal was finalized and signed late last night and presented to the staff first thing this morning. It’s the end of an agenting era: Chairman/CEO Berg has been the longest serving tenpercentery head in Hollywood – since 1978 when he was made ICM’s president. He will remain as an agent but surrender his management role in exchange for tens of millions of dollars over the next years. The tenpercentery is going to be 100% owned and operated by its agents after the buyout of Berg and ICM’s major investor, Connecticut-based Rizvi Traverse Management which has owned 40%. The pair sold their interest for a combination of cash, preferred non-voting shares, and an ongoing financial interest in certain assets of the agency. The official announcement just released says:

Reflecting the new, collaborative structure, the agency will be renamed ICM Partners. Representing a cross-section of the agency’s core departments – film, television, publishing and touring, those named to the partnership

Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE: ICM’s Chris Silbermann Nearly Completed With Management Buyout

ICM Implosion Stopped: Chris Silbermann Stays, Less Power For Jeff Berg
ICM Part 3: Agency Board & Rizvi Blow Off Silbermann’s Demands
ICM Part 2: Silbermann Forces Decision By Rizvi; Relying On Mike Ovitz
ICM Imploding! Silbermann & Berg Battle For Control

EXCLUSIVE: Insiders are telling me that ICM President Chris Silbermann has completed his management buyout except for the “little legalities”, thus putting an official end to what was a destabilizing period for the agency. The tenpercentery is going to be 100% owned and operated by its agents as soon as the lawyers “put in the periods and semicolons” on the contracts. ”This is truly exciting to be able to say to agents, ‘You’re going to own your company.’” It will emphasize ICM’s entrepreneurial culture and begin an expansion,” a source tells me. I understand that some agents are going to be exiting as a result. (“Those agents not asked to be partner will take it personally,” one of my sources explains.) Now it’s a waiting game to see who stays and who goes. (I’ll report only confirmed names, not rumored.) ICM so far has announced no details about this restructuring. Silbermann’s goal over the past year has been to take over the tenpercentery and obtain more ownership of the agency from its major investor: Connecticut-based Rizvi Traverse Management which has owned 40% of ICM. After some very difficult months behind the scenes and then played out in public, Suhail Rizvi eventually decided to play ball with Silbermann’s demands — or face the threat that his senior TV agents might walk out of the tenpercentery. Assisting Silbermann in this power play was Rick Levy, ICM’s Chief Business Development Officer & General Counsel who was a longtime confidante to ICM Chairman/CEO Jeff Berg until this buyout plan was hatched. I understand that Berg’s ownership of ICM also is being bought out and he has been offered to continue at the agency as Chairman Emeritus. Read More »

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ICM IMPLOSION ENDS: Chris Silbermann Will Stay At Agency With More Power; Jeff Berg Will Stay With Less; Details By Xmas

ICM Part 3: Agency Board & Rizvi Blow Off Silbermann’s Demands
ICM Part 2: Silbermann Forces Decision By Rizvi; Relying On Mike Ovitz

ICM Imploding! Silbermann & Berg Battle For Control

BREAKING… EXCLUSIVE… 3RD UPDATE: I’ve just learned from insiders that major investor Suhail Rizvi has made a decision regarding the future of ICM. And it’s timed to tonight’s ICM holiday party so the staff can enjoy themselves instead of worrying about the agency’s future. “Management wanted to close the deal today so its employees have a reason to celebrate as well as to send a message to the other agencies,” an insider says. Rizvi is ensuring that President Chris Silbermann will stay at the agency. Chairman/CEO Jeff Berg also will stay. Whether their titles will change remains to be seen. But the power inside the agency will definitely change as the management buyout takes shape: Silbermann and his TV camp will have more power. Berg and his motion picture division will have less. Let me emphasize that neither Silbermann nor Berg will characterize publicly the coming settlement the way I’m doing it here: this is my insiders’ assessment of the Rizvi deal. I understand that both Silbermann and Berg are pleased with the way Rizvi has put an end to what has been a destabilizing period for the agency. Other agencies aren’t so sure: “They have successfully shifted the conversation into a management buyout story, but the fundamental problem still persists. In other words, they may have stopped the implosion but they haven’t stopped the erosion. More agents and clients are going to be exiting,” one rival agency exec predicts.

ICM staff have not yet been informed what the future will hold After my story broke, news of the partnership was finally announced late this afternoon in a company-wide memo before tonight’s holiday party. Still to be determined is who will become partners because of the management buyout and who will be left out in the cold. “Everyone at ICM holding Class A and Class B stock are part of the management buyout. Not everyone who’s part of the management buyout will be offered to join the partnership,” an insider says. Silbermann said at a staff meeting yesterday merely that an “announcement” is coming in 2 or 3 days. My insiders say details of the Rizvi deal will be worked out between now and Christmas. Meanwhile Silbermann has been busy extending his TV camp’s contracts by 3 years. “There will be a restructuring of ICM,” one of my sources explains. “Even Jeff is saying this is a deal that could be good for everybody. But there’s now no doubt that Chris will have more power, and Jeff will have less power.” Insiders now expect Silbermann to steer ICM into more of a TV agency than a movie agency with the music and publishing departments remaining at same strength.

Both the Silbermann and Berg camps as well as Rizvi realized that a decision had to come sooner rather than later because of the hundreds of calls coming in daily to the agency from clients, managers, and lawyers worried about ICM imploding. According to my sources, Rizvi, whose Connecticut-based Rizvi Traverse Management owns 40% of ICM, this week explained in several phone calls to key senior agents what he was thinking. Rizvi was especially perturbed that the ICM schism was playing out in the media. (Deadline broke the story and has been first on every development. “Where is Deadline getting all this accurate information,” Rizvi asked the agents.) Rizvi explained in the phone calls that he had “reservations” about Silbermann because the ICM president was “out of control” and “immature”. But Rizvi went on to say, “If I go with Jeff, then who’s going to run TV?”

In recent days, Silbermann sensed that Rizvi was going to back his power play. Chris holed up in the 7th Floor conference room with ICM’s CFO, coming out only to tell his camp, “Suhail is going my way. I’ll be in charge.” As for Berg, Silbermann’s camp says Jeff wants to wrap his long agency tenure within 3 to 5 years and leave with dignity. But Berg’s camp says he has no imminent plans to exit the agency and expects to keep repping his clients for a long while.

Though the friction between the two men has been ongoing since April, ICM’s crisis began last month when Silbermann confided to senior staff that he was leaving with several key ICM execs and starting his own Hollywood TV agency. Read More »

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