April 24, 2009 | 4:30 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Looks like the long talked about merger between William Morris Agency and Endeavor is finally happening, after rumors swirled for months.
According to the L.A. Times, “Driving the merger is a punishing economic climate in which fewer jobs for actors, directors and writers and a contracting market for TV shows mean lower commissions and fees for the agencies that depend upon them for their bread and butter.”
However there are devilish details that have threatened to derail the deal all along: How many agents would be let go (WMA has 300, Endeavor 75)? What would the new agency be called (William Morris Endeavor was one option)? Who will run the show (WMA CEO Jim Wiatt or Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel)?
According to the Hollywood Reporter, William Morris’ board will have to downsize and make room for Endeavor reps: “Among the strongest contenders to be on a combined board, other than WMA CEO Jim Wiatt and president David Wirtschafter, are COO Irv Weintraub, motion picture head John Fogelman and New York-based literary co-head Jennifer Rudolph Walsh.” (I interviewed Irv Weintraub, a finance wiz and Jewish community macher about a year ago.)
Last night, I heard that William Morris has confirmed to its clients that the merger is happening and will be announced next week. With that, WMA will lay off 50% of their television department though they’ll retain their name, that century-old brand recognition. But it sounds like Jim Wiatt will have to defer to the cocksure Ari Emanuel when it comes to deal making.
Still, another dilemma remains: Apparently a client merger is problematic too. WMA brings everybody’s favorite anti-Semite Mel Gibson to the table and Endeavor reps Larry David, who has reportedly said he will not work through the same agency as Gibson. So what happens now??
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