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 »