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 »
WME Co-CEO Patrick Whitesell is interviewed at the 2013 Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen. He didn’t expect to be grilled on his own: Egon Durban, the agency’s partner in Silver Lake Management was a no-show because of the Dell buyout. Listen to Patrick answer the question, “What’s it like working with Ari? Even he would describe himself as a lunatic.” Here’s the video posted today:
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 Gordon (LA-based book department); John Buzzetti (NY-based head of theater); Sara Newkirk (LA-based music agent); Josh Pyatt, (non-scripted TV); Ken Slotnick, (NY-based TV agent); David Levine (London-based music agent); Samantha Kirby (NY-based music agent); and Scott Seidel (LA-based TV agent). The new partners were announced by Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.
EXCLUSIVE: Not long after leaving his longtime manager, actor Jake Gyllenhaal has left his longtime agency. He grew up, so to speak, at CAA as one of Kim Hodgert’s first clients. I’m assured his departure is not because of anything she has done. “He needed to make a change after 15 years. He has enormous respect for CAA.” He will now be repped by WME’s Patrick Whitesell.
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 him or hate him (and those laid-off Morris agents who weren’t given the opportunity to transition to WME sure do), Fogelman nevertheless is a force of nature to be reckoned with in Hollywood. WME insiders don’t expect the agency to replace John on the board. ”The feeling is that there are too many people on the board already. Don’t expect them to add another name,” I’m told.
Meanwhile, Fogelman’s decision to depart WME was by no means sudden. I’m told he made the decision as far back as December right after a conversation with his kids. ”They love the Seinfeld show and were asking him why did Jerry quit. And John told them, ‘Because the ideal is that you quit when you’re at the top.’ And that started the thought in his head,” said one of my insiders. Fogelman considers the pinnacle of his career when he turned Discovery Kids into The Hub with Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner. See their photo above from this Wall Street Journal story back in November 2009. (“I launched a network. No agent had ever done that before,” John tells pals.) As well as helping his clients JJ Abrams (still managed by David Lonner) and Michael Bay on this … 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 Entertainment. He’ll be represented by Ari Emanuel, Patrick Whitesell, Jason Spitz, Cori Wellins, and Anna Deroy. Columbus has been responsible for such comedy classics as Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone 1 & 2, Gremlins, Goonies, Nine Months, etc. He’s currently working on The Help.
EXCLUSIVE: There’s no announcement of this yet. And details are still very sketchy. But I’ve just learned that WME Entertainment’s Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell have negotiated a deal to join with heavy-hitters Trivergance Founder/Chairman Marc Byron (formerly CEO for Mosaic Group) and Red Peak Group CEO Michael Birkin (the former Vice Chairman of Omnicom), to form LVERAGE, a new global marketing services company. Immediately, clients include such well-known brands as Intel, McDonalds, Adidas, Starbucks, General Motors, Polaroid, Under Armor, and more. While entertainment will be a piece of LVERAGE’s marketing business, it won’t be the majority of its broadbased business. The new company will be based in New York, with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, and London — all cities where the Red Peak Group operates now.
My understanding is that LVERAGE will operate as a stand-alone entity which in the words of one of my sources is “combining and integrating the services, expertise, and experience” of The Red Peak Group, WME Marketing, and Santa Monica-based REDInteractive.
LVERAGE will be run by Birkin, whose Red Peak Group will now be swallowed whole, and by Byron, whose Trivergance is contributing assets but will stay separate. WME’s Marketing Department also will be swallowed whole, and LVERAGE is now negotiating with its head Mark Dowley to see about coming aboard. [UPDATE: WME’s agency rivals immediately interpreted this as WME throwing in the towel and selling off its marketing department and Dowley along with … Read More »
4:20 PM UPDATE: I’ve just learned that WME Entertainment actually fired Mel Gibson the day before his longtime Hollywood agent Ed Limato’s death last weekend. I’m told what happened is that the news media reported last week there was a tape of Mel Gibson making a racial slur. And last Friday, WME board member Ari Emanuel “woke up at 3 AM and emailed his partner Patrick Whitesell that ‘we can’t represent a guy who said the N-word’.” So the agency dumped Mel Gibson on July 2nd, and the next day, on July 3rd, his agent Limato died. Today the 2-minute recording was released by the celebrity website RadarOnline.com which initially broke the news that on it Mel Gibson allegedly uses a racial epithet during a fight with Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of his child: “You’re an embarrassment to me. You look like a f***ing bitch in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of n***ers, it will be your fault.” Just now, the Drudge Report headlined both stories, “Mel In Hell”.
3 PM: “There is no way, with Ed Limato not here, that Mel Gibson would be a client of this company, ” an insider just told me. “I don’t think anybody’s surprised by this, given Ari’s history.” Of course that’s a reference to Ari Emanuel’s July 2006 appeal to Hollywood not to work with Gibson after … Read More »