“It’s one of many conversations about examining our talent department and how to make it work more efficiently. Some of these conversations have included Gaby, yes. We have to make things better,” a WMA insider confirmed to me.
Endeavor partner Patrick Whitesell especially has expressed frustration with WMA’s attempt “to pump its chest like crazy” over its talent department even though Hollywood knows it’s been weakened by agent layoffs and client defections. At one recent meeting, WMA agents were boasting about having just signed Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis. The Endeavor agents were seen rolling their eyes, and Ari and Patrick were overheard saying quietly to the other, “Didn’t we fire her?”
I also hear that the Endeavor side has not tried to hide the fact that its TV agents think WMA’s Aaron Kaplan should be “on top of the list” of people to be let go once a deal is consummated. Hollywood is well aware that, under Kaplan, the Morris TV department has plummeted in prestige, power and packages, whereas these days, Endeavor is a juggernaut. But Wiatt is Kaplan’s mentor, and Jim has been wheedling, and even begging Endeavor to keep Aaron. It’s such a nonstarter that even Kaplan probably realizes the ax is about to fall.
It’s weird, too, that Endeavor has signed three William Morris clients in a row recently. Usually, when there’s a deal in the works, the two agencies agree not to poach. Then again, I’m told Jim Wiatt said at a WMA staff meeting on March 11 that a merger deal wasn’t happening right away and the 10-percentery should stay focused on its clients.
After another particularly ugly meeting took place recently between the two agencies, a depressed Emanuel started using the phrase, “We all need a bigger boat.”
Repeated battles also have broken out over what to call the new agency. WMA is fighting tooth and nail to keep its name on top, citing its long-standing brand. Endeavor is arguing that brand is a moldy oldie. “Morris is trying to hold onto anything to keep their respect and pride,” one source tells me.
There’s no question Endeavor is in the driver’s seat with regard to this deal. Says an insider, “If they decide to walk away, they know William Morris is going to chase them and acquiesce to some of the areas that are in conflict because Morris wants it so badly.”
I’ll let you know as soon as anyone knows the next move.