William Morris Endeavor today filed a petition to get Tommy Lee Jones to pay the $1.95 million in commissions the state Labor Commissioner recently ruled the No Country For Old Men actor owes the agency. WME’s filing today (read it here) with the California Superior Court arises out of the appeal the Oscar winner filed on October 10, with an amendment on October 19, against the Labor Commissioner’s October 1 ruling. WME says it can still push for its money now because Jones did not follow procedure. “A prevailing party in a Labor Commission proceeding may enforce an award where the opposing party has appealed the award but has failed to post the requisite bond,” WME’s action today noted. “To date, Jones has not posted a bond…Absent a satisfactory bond, an award issued by the Labor Commissioner is not stayed and may be confirmed by the Superior Court,” it added. Today’s petition requests a hearing date from the court for a ruling on its request.
The No Country For Old Men actor today filed an appeal (read it here) of the state Labor Commissioner’s recent ruling in favor of his former agency William Morris Endeavor. On October 1, the California State Labor Commissioner rejected Tommy Lee Jones’ request to bar the agency’s recovery of $1.95 million in commissions from his role as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in the 2007 film. The recent ruling also said the agency did support the actor in his multi-million-dollar battle with Paramount over his NCFOM back-end compensation. Jones was awarded $15 million in that action. This case arises from WME seeking 10% of that award. The October 1 ruling also found that subsequent actions by WME did not prevent Jones from getting a role in the 2010 remake of True Grit (although the role eventually went to Jeff Bridges). “Everyone did their job here, including WME albeit with a few bumps along the way. And in the end, Jones received every dollar he was entitled to,” said the ruling from commissioner Julie A. Su. Jones first filed his petition in January 2010, with an amendment in February 2011.
EXCLUSIVE: The final arbitration decision came down in mid-December and all sides have been operating under a strict confidentiality clause. But real estate sources tell me that the Hollywood agency is paying on the low side of what the Beverly Hills commercial property community expected would be 8-figure damages. It was WME chief Ari Emanuel who decided to back out of the William Morris Agency’s commitment to lease that big blue 6-story Beverly Hills office building going up at 231-265 N. Beverly Drive after Endeavor took over the venerable tenpercentery. As I previously reported, WME could have been on the hook for anywhere from $25 million to $70 million because of Emanuel’s refusal to move. The final figure of $20M-$30M damages was set because the landlord George Comfort & Sons was able to recoup by leasing to MGM. Several real estate sources tell me this is “the appropriate amount of damages” in the situation. That still sounds like a lot of agency moolah. “Given the result, I think he did the best thing for the company by not moving,” one of the sources explains, referring to Emanuel. “The cost would have been to build the space from scratch and accept a lease negotiated at the height of the market.”
I’ve been following this 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. …
If you can’t reach WME agents this week and think nobody’s working there, you’re not hallucinating. The tenpercentery is holding its retreat at La Costa resort starting Wednesday. Nice weather for it…
Where is WME holding its Golden Globes party this year? At new client Top Chef judge Tom Collichio’s Craft restaurant … in the CAA building. (See my previous, CAA Loses Top Chef Tom Colicchio To WME.)
The following WME’ers were promoted to agents last December: Beau Bryant (Digital), Ben Simone (TV-Nonscripted), Cody Irizarry (Voiceover), Drew Welborn (PA/Personal Appearance), EJ Johnson (TV-Nonscripted), Jad Dayeh (TV-Nonscripted), James Farrell (Talent), Jamie O’Hara (Commercials), Lance Alleman (PA/Country Music), Miles Gidaly (Commercials), Ryan Blake Jones (PA/Personal Appearance), Ryan Draizin (TV-Scripted), Scott Chaloff (Theatre), Shawn McDonald (Talent). Only 2 of the 14 are women. But WME reminds that in the last batch of promotions in June, 6 were women.
Ari Sandel (West Bank Story, which won the 2006 Academy Award for live action short) made this video for WME’s Talent Department. As you know, WME often puts together spoofs (‘Pinkberry: The Movie’ here) for its quarterly meetings. APA was first to forward it because it pokes fun at both WME and CAA. Starring Maz Jobrani with cameos by Armie Hammer and Sofia Vergara and WME agents. Genius, and not just because it mentions Deadline and me:
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 …
A. Smith & Co Prods Merges With UK-Based Tinopolis Group For $100M Deal Creating Reality TV Powerhouse
Insiders are speculating the deal is worth upwards of $100 million:
London / Los Angeles – June 28, 2011 – The Tinopolis Group and A. Smith & Co. Productions announced today that the two entities have joined forces by bringing A. Smith & Co. and its decade of success developing and producing some of the most notable unscripted television programming seen around the world under the Tinopolis Group, creating a transatlantic television powerhouse. A. Smith & Co. will continue to operate as a stand-alone entity based in Los Angeles joining and working with Tinopolis Group’s other companies which include television production entity Mentorn and sports television producer Sunset + Vine. The announcement was made today by Ron Jones, Executive Chairman of Tinopolis Group, and Arthur Smith, Founder and CEO of A. Smith & Co., who will join the Tinopolis Board of Directors and continue to lead the company alongside his partner and company President, Kent Weed.
Under this agreement A. Smith & Co. becomes the leading North American television production entity within the Tinopolis organization with the ability to tap into the company’s resources on a worldwide basis. This transaction brings together the financial resources and expertise of Tinopolis, one of the UK’s leading producers of media and programming, and its primary investor, private equity firm Vitruvian Partners, and A. Smith & Co.’s leadership which has pioneered genres and delivered ratings hits such as “Paradise Hotel”, “The Swan,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Trading Spaces,” “Kitchen Nightmares,” “I Survived a Japanese Game Show,” and “Pros vs. Joes.”
EXCLUSIVE: There has been no internal announcement at WME about this. And the feeding frenzy has already started, with manager David Lonner’s phone ringing off the hook with calls from every major agency within minutes of Deadline first scooping the news. Because we’ve learned that Super 8 director JJ Abrams is taking a sabbatical from WME and will be repped by his former William Morris agent-turned-manager David Lonner as well as his longtime Jackoway Tyerman attorney Alan Wertheimer. Also advising JJ is John Fogelman, who also was on Team Abrams at William Morris and then repped him at WME when Lonner was exited before the merger. Fogelman has since left WME to start his own venture. Abrams feels his primary reps are gone, and he wants to take a breather before deciding who’ll make his deals in the future. Abrams is telling friends that when Lonner left WMA, he still had Fogelman. But when Fogelman left the merged WME, he was without a dedicated agent. So he’s now decided to “just take a beat” to figure out where he should be agency-wise. “He may very well end up at WME. But it is irresponsible to just assume that is the way to go simply because his agent(s) once worked there,” one insider emailed us just now. “He likes those guys. But he needs to consider everything.” Meanwhile, writer-director-producer Abrams and his reps …
EXCLUSIVE: Regis Philbin surprised the TV world with his announcement yesterday morning that he will be leaving Live with Regis and Kelly later this year. Well, it shouldn’t be inconceivable for someone pushing 80 to consider retirement, but the fact of the matter is that Philbin is not retiring. Far from it. He is going for a major life and career change that is being complemented by a big representation change. Philbin has left Paradigm, where he had been represented by his agent of 25 years Jim Griffin, to go to WME. This marks a homecoming of sorts for Philbin who had been at WMA for decades until following Griffin to Paradigm in 2009 after 30-year WMA veteran Griffin was let go in the fallout from the WME-Endeavor merger. (But WME kept the packaging fee on Live via the merger.)
During his 23 years on Live, Philbin has been doing a lot of side gigs, mostly hosting (most famously, ABC’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire). But now, with his full-time gig over, I hear he is looking to do a lot more, which prompted his move to WME.
As for Live, I hear producer Buena Vista TV was ready to offer Philbin a lengthy new deal. (Last time Philbin signed a new deal for Live was in 2007, the same time the show was renewed. Both deals expire at the end of this season.) Philbin had already scaled …