Manager Leonard Hirshan, who represented Clint Eastwood from his days in television to his turn as a multi-Academy Award-winning filmmaker, died on January 31 at his home in Beverly Hills. The cause of death for the longtime former William Morris agent was Merkel cell carcinoma. He was 86. Hirshan was a longtime William Morris agent — he spent 50 years at the agency and at one point was head of the agency’s motion picture group. He represented Elvis with Colonel Tom Parker, Walter Matthau, Sophia Loren, Eva Marie Saint, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Edward G. Robinson. He passed away with his two daughters, Karen Hirshan and Sarah Dey Hirshan, by his side. He and Eastwood were close and have what is likely the longest business relationship in Hollywood; they celebrated birthdays together; they were there for each others’ marriages; and Hirshan celebrated Eastwood’s triumphs such as when the filmmaker won Best Picture and Best Director for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby and even traveled overseas to visit the set of Eastwood’s Flags Of Our Fathers. He was fiercely loyal to his clients and an extremely private person — except to speak proudly about the daughters and granddaughters he loved.
A native of New York City, Hirshan began in the mailroom of William Morris Agency’s NYC offices in April 1951 and quickly moved up the ranks to agent when be began representing then-unknown Saint. Hirshan pushed to land her a role in On The Waterfront which was her first film and earned her an Academy Award for supporting actress. In 1955, he moved to Hollywood, where he began very long-term relationships with Jack Lemmon and Matthau. Hirshan negotiated Presley’s deal for his very first feature film, Love Me Tender. In 2001, Hirshan left William Morris to form Leonard Hirshan Management where he continued to be the exclusive agent and manager of Eastwood. In meetings at William Morris, he would often say to the younger agents: “Get a piece of paper and a pencil and write this down.” He taught many agents about the business and negotiation skills. “He was a good mentor to me and the best negotiator I ever met and a true friend. Recently, we had lunch at the Soho House with (former agents) John Ptak, Bob Shapiro, Steve Kenis, Rick Nicita, and Fred Specktor,” said longtime friend Fred Westheimer, who worked with him for about 45 years at WMA. “This is a shock.” Read More »
UPDATE: That’s just one of the drinks being served at the William Morris Agency Alumni Party happening this Saturday night and organized by Rikin Mantri and and Mike Palank. “We have all been witnesses to the legacy of the William Morris Agency, and now it’s time to come tell a few stories with the people who at some point or another made 150-151 El Camino home.” There’s free food (since so many people lost their jobs) and specialty discounted cocktails (so ex-staffers can drown their sorrows). Here’s the drinks menu:
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 … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE (UPDATED BELOW): There’s been no announcement yet. But Ann Blanchard is already being accused of breaking Hollywood protocol by not first informing those agents repping her Mosaic Media Group’s TV management clients of her change of employment. Instead, she’s calling those clients today and trying to take them with her to CAA. As a result, agencies who gave her clients to manage are calling me spitting mad. For instance, UTA reps Mosaic’s TV biz and yet Blanchard today was phoning UTA clients to come with her to CAA. Before moving to Jimmy Miller’s Mosaic where she’s been producing several projects, Blanchard had been a TV lit agent and SVP at the old William Morris Agency and is now calling her former clients from there, too. Blanchard, who wasn’t supposed to start at CAA for another 3 weeks, already has 10 high level clients at the tenpercentery including Amy Brenneman, Ed Redlich, Alexa Junge, Doug Petrie, and TV director Michael Dinner. I’ve been hearing that CAA wants to widen its writers / creators / showrunners list after what is well known to be several ”off” years packaging pilots and down this year as well. Remember that movies are the glitz of the agency biz but TV is the cash cow.
UPDATE: Ann Blanchard just told me: “I feel terrible about this reaction and of course want to make clear that I truly value my relationships with all the agencies. I’m in the process of calling all the high-level agents I’ve worked with over the course of this weekend. … Read More »
3RD UPDATE: Ed Limato’s clients weigh in on his passing:
Richard Gere: “Ed was my dear friend and agent for 40 years. He was the best of the best. There will never be anyone like him. The mold has been broken. He was probably the most respected agent of our time who loved his clients dearly and would do anything for them. “
Mel Gibson: “It’s said of agents ‘they have no hearts’. Ed was all heart!
He was there for me 30 years. I will miss him.”
Steve Martin: “Ed Limato not only represented important actors in Hollywood, but also represented class and kindness.”
Denzel Washington: “Ed was more than an agent. He was like a father to me and a dear friend to me and my entire family.”
2ND UPDATE (now completed): Ed Limato had been ill from lung disease and awaiting a lung transplant that never came. He arrived home from Cedars Sinai this week and fell into a coma. In recent days the icon who’d spent four decades in showbiz guiding the careers of some of its biggest stars was surrounded by everyone he loved: his clients and his friends and his colleagues. The untimely passing of this legendary talent agent at age 73 will cast a pall over Hollywood this holiday weekend. But his reputation as one of the greats will live on.
Most recently, Limato was a senior agent at WME Entertainment but he’d spent a lifetime moving between ICM and William Morris agencies. … Read More »
I’m told Jackie Chan fired CAA on the day his new movie The Forbidden Kingdom opened #1 last Friday. Today he landed with the William Morris Agency’s Phillip Button. As for the There Will Be Blood director, Paul Thomas Anderson left Endeavor yesterday and landed tonight at WMA with Mike Simpson and John Fogelman.