EXCLUSIVE: Screenwriter and producer Ed Ricourt has signed with WME in all areas. Last summer the scribe enjoyed a hit with his first produced script, Summit’s magician caper Now You See Me, which Ricourt penned with Boaz Yakin sharing credits with Ed Solomon. The pic starred Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson and Michael Caine and grossed $351M worldwide, spawning an upcoming sequel. Ricourt is currently a consulting producer on Netflix’s upcoming Marvel series AKA Jessica Jones, about an ex-superheroine who hangs up her costume to open her own detective agency. He’s also scripting graphic novel adaptation Anomaly for Relativity and Roth Films. Ricourt was previously at CAA. He’s additionally repped by Madhouse Entertainment and George Davis.
The Emmy-winning writer-producer is opening a new chapter, moving to CAA after a stint at WME and its predecessor Endeavor. He most recently created and executive produced the CBS comedy series The Crazy Ones starring Robin Williams. Kelley, who pulled the rare feat of winning both the best drama and best comedy series Emmy Awards with The Practice and Ally McBeal in 1999, continues to be with attorney Michael Gendler.
WME has just signed Dana Stevens, the prolific feature writer who is the exec producer and sole creator of Reckless on CBS. Stevens last year adapted the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven for Relativity, and her other credits include City Of Angels and the Kevin Costner baseball pic For Love Of The Game. She currently is adapting for James Cameron’s Lightstorm and Fox The Dive, the touching story of Cuban free diver Pipin Ferreras and his wife Audrey Mestres, the latter of whom died trying to better her record for a free dive, in which she plunged to an unimaginable depth on a single breath and then tried to swim to the surface. Stevens had been at UTA.
WME now represents Blake Anderson, Anders Holm and Kyle Newacheck in all areas, joining fellow creator and star of Comedy Central’s Workaholics, Adam Devine, at the agency.
Anderson is currently developing an animated half hour at Comedy Central and is owner of clothing line “Teenage.” He, along with Devine, Holm and Newacheck, appeared in this summer’s breakout comedy Neighbors. Holm currently is shooting Nancy Meyers’ movie, The Intern, and is developing an untitled comedy for 20th Century Fox Studios. He will next appear in Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s film, The Interview, followed by Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice and Finally Famous, alongside Chris Rock, who directs and stars in the film. Newacheck is the executive producer and director of Adam Devine’s House Party alongside Devine for Comedy Central. He is attached to direct Shore Leave at Fox for Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Productions.
Anderson, Devine, Holm, and Newacheck will return to production in the Fall for the fifth season of Workaholics, which was the highest-rated series in its timeslot across all of cable among men 18-34. The series ranked No. 2 on Social Guide’s Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings ranker and was No. 1 on Social Guide’s Cable, Series, Live/New ranker. Anderson, Holm, Newacheck will continue to be repped by Avalon Management and Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman.
WME has signed talk-show host/red-carpet commentator/best-selling author Ross Mathews, and his company, Ross Mathews Media. In addition to hosting his E! talker Hello Ross, he also has been a regular panelist and guest host on E!’s soon-to-depart Chelsea Lately, and is a fixture on E! News and E! Network’s Live From The Red Carpet shows as part of his overall talent deal with that Comcast cable network. There’s been increasing noise today that E! is not looking to move forward with a third season on the show, which is EP’d by, among others, Chelsea Handler – who’s moving herself from E! to Netflix. E! insists no decision has been made about the talk show; some insiders tell us the network’s deal gives it 90 days after the show wraps a season to make a call on a pickup — E! would be about a month into those 90 days, the show having wrapped it second season in mid-May.
Sources report that, regardless, Mathews will continue to do red carpet interviews for E! and be seen on-air as an E! News correspondent. Leading up to the 2012 Presidential Election, Mathews was the official political reporter for E! News. He covered both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where he interviewed political figures including First Lady Michelle Obama, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and former Republican Presidential nominee John McCain. In 2013, Mathews released his first book, the best-seller Man Up: Tales Of My Delusional Self-Confidence. He began his career in …
EXCLUSIVE: Hugh Jackman may not make it to Times Square as Houdini, but Oz and magic are still in the cards for the Main Stem: Road Show Theatrical, a new joint venture pairing investors Kilburn Media Partners and presenter/management company The Production Office, will make its Broadway debut during the coming holiday season with The Illusionists — Witness The Impossible, a Las Vegas-style extravaganza slated to run at the Nederlander Organization-managed Marquis Theatre. Road Show is fully financing the show to the tune of ”several million dollars,” according to the principals, Kilburn CEO Mark Manuel and Production Office managing partner Gregory Young.
Under the WME banner, The Illusionists has been filling theaters in Australia and New Zealand, including the Sydney Opera House, with a splashy combination of magic acts and production numbers. The stars are billed as “seven of the most incredible illusionists on Earth.” The Marquis run is set for November 26 through January 4.
Former CNN and Turner exec Greg D’Alba has joined WME and IMG as president of Global Sales and Marketing. He will work with co-CEOs Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel, oversee all brand partnerships and lead the companies’ sales and marketing strategy. He starts this week and will be based in NY. As president of CNN News Networks and Turner’s digital ad sales and marketing, D’Alba oversaw domestic ad sales, marketing strategies and business operations for CNN’s portfolio of networks and Turner’s digital portfolio of news, entertainment, sports and animation properties, as well as its direct response business.
EXCLUSIVE: WME has signed Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, the Oscar-winning scribes who wrote The Descendants and who helmed their script for The Way, Way Back, the Sundance film that starred Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell and Toni Collette. This continues a run of screenwriter signings for the agency, which recently brought Akiva Goldsman and Nebraska‘s Bob Nelson into the fold. The agency also signed Robert Zemeckis recently.
Faxon & Rash had been at CAA. Faxon is also an actor, and he continues with Principato Young for management, while Rash is managed by Intellectual Artists. The law firm Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson and Binder rep both.
EXCLUSIVE: Over the weekend, Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and agents at CAA reached loggerheads and made a mutual decision to part company. Today, he has signed with WME. The move will come as a surprise to some because Goldsman had been a CAA client for so long and is a close friend of agency head Richard Lovett, but the way it was described to me, they realized the relationship had run its course. Abruptly.
EXCLUSIVE: WME has signed Gabriela Amaral, the Brazilian writer/director and director who received buzz coming out
of this past January’s Sundance Writing Labs for her horror-drama The Father’s Shadow. She was just selected for the Directing Labs in June and will shoot her feature debut in Brazil in January 2015. Rodrigo Teixeira and RT Pictures is producing alongside Acere Film’s Rodrigo Sarti and Rune Tavares. As a scribe, Amaral is currently writing a script for Walter Salles and is also in post on Freeze, a genre short that will play festivals in the fall.
EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situatiom, WME has signed writer/director Cedric Jimenez. Jimenez’s Cannes Festival film, the Jean Dujardin-starrer La French, was just picked up by Picturehouse Entertainment and Altitude Film Distribution for the UK. The film, which is repped by Gaumont Intl. and produced by Legende Films, is produced by Alain Goldman. Several U.S. distributors are circling it.
Set in the late 70s in Marseille, La French is based on the true story of the judge who tried to stop the French Connection, one of the most powerful drug organizations of its day. The film crisscrosses between Marseille, which was the world capital of drug trafficking and the main supplier of heroin in the U.S., and NYC. Jimenez continues to be repped by Film Talents in France.
It seems like Jimmy Kimmel’s annual roast has been a highlight of the upfronts forever. It’s been around for a while — Kimmel has been insulting networks, executives and ad buyers alike for the past 12 years. But it is not the longest upfront tradition, not by a long stretch.
In 1996, in his first upfront at CBS as president of entertainment, Leslie Moonves, ever the showman, gathered journalists the morning of the network upfront presentation for a breakfast where he revealed the fall schedule. It became an annual thing, and 19 upfronts later, it still is going strong. Some things have changed — Moonves runs CBS Corp. now, and the magnet board has been replaced by a computer. But the schedule unveiling ceremony and the menu — bagels and lox — have remained the same, and Moonves is still there every year to kick things off.
A year earlier, in 1995, the Endeavor agency was less than 2 months old. Co-founders Ari Emanuel and Rick Rosen went to the upfronts to see clients — Rosen staying with his uncle, Emanuel with friends. People took them out to dinner the first two nights but on the third, they were on their own. With no money, their options were very limited. Rosen had a Peter Luger credit card, so they decided to go the Brooklyn steakhouse for dinner where they were joined by fellow Endeavor co-founder David Greenblatt, Dean Valentine, then president of Walt Disney TV, and attorney Jim Jackoway. From five, the dinner party grew to 10 the following year and soon became a tradition. It never expanded too much — 135 attended this year’s 20th anniversary dinner — but that is by design. The organizers keep the event exclusive — open only to top-level network and studio executives as well as clients with new shows. That exclusivity has made the Endeavor — now WME Peter Luger dinner — one of the hottest tickets during upfronts.
Related: Upfronts 2014: The Overachievers
Going back even further, to the early 1990s (some pinpoint the year as 1994), then-NBC SVP Primetime Series Jamie Tarses decided to throw a karaoke party on Sunday, the night before the NBC upfront presentation. Organized with the help of her assistant (now Amblin TV co-head Justin Falvey), the party was held late Sunday night at a karaoke place in Koreatown, attended by fellow NBC executives like Karey Burke, Flody Suarez and Steve McPherson.
Music City just saw a big shift over to the WME offices as Buddy Lee Attractions lost a president and Ari and Patrick’s entertainment and media company gained a partner in Kevin Neal. The music industry vet will not be making the move alone as Neal is bring clients Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Colt Ford and Parmalee with him, among others. Before heading over to WME and bolstering their Nashville offices, Neal capped his three decades in the music biz as Buddy Lee prez for the last 5 years. The move will also reunite Neal with his old BLA CEO Joey Lee, whose 360 Artist Agency was picked up by WME back in 2010. This addition comes just under four months after agents Mike Snider, Kevin Huffman and Dan Rauter exited Paradigm to oversee and build WME’s Christian music unit in Nashville.
UPDATED, 8:30 PM: The deal officially has closed today, and here is a welcoming letter to IMG Worldwide employees from WME Co-CEOs Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel looking forward to “what will surely be an epic collaboration”:
Our acquisition of IMG has officially closed, and we’d like to take this opportunity to express how excited we are to work with all of you.
Whether you’ve been here for 20 years or two weeks, think of today as day one.
IMG wouldn’t be where it is today without the incredible employees that define its culture. You’ve been amazing throughout this process, and we’re ready to get started on what will surely be an epic collaboration.
Patrick and Ariel
PREVIOUSLY, December 18: It’s done now. After some last-minute tweaking of the finer points of the $2.2 billion deal, talent, management and licensing powerhouse IMG Worldwide has been acquired by WME and Silver Lake Partners. WME’s Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell will serve as as co-CEOs of the now mega-agency, though IMG and its more than 3,000 employees worldwide will continue as an independent entity, the parties announced this morning. “IMG has incredible strategic value to WME. The brand’s global reach, outstanding management team and leadership across sports, fashion and media are a strong complement to our business,” Whitesell and Emanuel said in a statement. Details are sketchy and there is a lot of …
Director-choreographer Josh Prince, currently represented on Broadway with Tony best-musical nominee Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, has signed with WME. Prince previously choreographed the Shrek tuner. He’s worked with Sam Mendes’ Bridge Project and is founder and artistic director of The Broadway Dance Lab, a nonprofit that encourages use of dance in early stages of a musical’s development. He’s also repped by DGRW and Sendroff & Baruch.
Kem Nunn has signed with WME. He is a writer/co-executive producer on FX’s Sons Of Anarchy and also co-created and wrote HBO’s surfer series John From Cincinnati. Nunn also is the author of books including Pomona Queen, Unassigned Territory, Tijuana Straits, Chance and such “surf noir” novels as Tapping The Source and Dogs Of Winter. He continues to be repped by Echo Lake Entertainment.
India de Beaufort has inked with Gersh. She was a regular on ABC Family’s Jane By Design and starred in Comedy Central’s series Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire. She also has appeared in episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Necessary Roughness and One Tree Hill and had a role in the feature Run Fatboy Run. De Beaufort remains with Think Tank Management.
EXCLUSIVE: WME has signed Gavin O’Connor, the writer-director of the superb generational fighter tale Warrior, the indie Tumbleweeds, cop drama Pride And Glory, and the U.S. Gold Medal-winning hockey team saga Miracle.
O’Connor most recently directed the pilot that launched the FX series The Americans, and he came on to save the day when he signed on to direct Jane Got A Gun, the drama that stars Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor and Rodrigo Santoro. Relativity acquired the Western for release and will open the film later this year. O’Connor had been at CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: When seasoned agents leave one major percentery for another, the tale is told by how many clients change addresses with them. Back in March, Stuart Manashil made the leap to WME after spending the past 6 1/2 years at CAA and before that spent six years at UTA. In what marks the third case — Dan Aloni and Warren Zavala were the first two — where agents pried their clients away from CAA, Manashil has strengthened WME’s writer-director roster quite a bit.
Related: Selena Gomez Signs With WME
Here’s who he brought with him:
Former Disney star and recording artist Selena Gomez has exited as a client of CAA and has signed with WME. The 21-year-old singer and ex-Wizards of Waverly Place actress has also signed with Brillstein Entertainment Partners as she restructures her team and transitions from teen star to more adult projects. I hear the change has been long in the works as Gomez has taken meetings around town with various management firms. Last year she made a bold leap playing a partying coed in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. Gomez has a huge social media following, with 57.9M Facebook fans and 19.3M Twitter followers. She’ll next be seen in William H. Macy’s directorial debut, Rudderless, which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival. Gomez continues to be repped by attorney P.J. Shapiro.