By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
RYAN SEACREST IS CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP
Ryan Seacrest may be rapidly becoming one of the richest guys in show business in front of and behind the cameras, but he doesn’t like paying commissions. The longtime client of the William Morris Agency, pre-merger, informed William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, post-merger, that he didn’t want to pay the agency’s fee on the differential between his new pact and old pact on American Idol. (Some sources say there was also a dispute over commissions on his radio contract.)
Commissions had been a sore point between Seacrest and the Morris office for years. But WME refused to cut him a special deal. A source tells me, “When he pushed back, WME said, ‘We can’t represent you then. Either stay and pay full commission and together we’ll keep growing and expanding and servicing your reality business. Or leave.’ ”
That’s when Seacrest took a meeting at CAA. And then left WME for them. Even rival agencies to WME are describing Seacrest to me as a “grinder” and “scumbag” for trying to negotiate lower commissions. A year ago August, I asked whether Seacrest was in play after his longtime William Morris agent Adam Sher left the rep business to run Ryan Seacrest Productions. It was assumed that Sher would protect William Morris, where he’d been an agent for 15 years.
But, after the Morris merger with Endeavor, all bets were off. Now Sher has helped guide Seacrest to CAA. For those who aren’t in the know, Seacrest is much more than just a fey TV personality with no discernible talent. He is Ryan Seacrest Inc. with cable, production, on-air, restaurant and fashion deals.
The Viscount of Vapidness is paid an estimated $12.5 million annually for hosting American Idol, not counting all the ancillary gigs he’s lined up. And he’s just signed a rich new contract that will pay him $15 million annually (for a total of $45 million) to keep him on American Idol through 2012.
THE UNREALITY OF REALITY TV
That Mike Fleiss, the reality-TV czar (The Bachelor, The Bachelorette) would leave his agent of 11 years, Michael Camacho, is a shocker. I understand that Camacho heard the news on July 21 after he had just touched down in London on vacation with his family. (At least Fleiss had the balls to make the call himself from his Malibu compound since the two men are also close friends.)
Camacho had repped Fleiss for 10 years at CAA, and then for 10 months at United Talent where the pair sold three prime-time network series and one cable series, and recently made a giant eight-figure, two-year Warner Bros. deal. Fleiss claims he wants to move away from the reality-TV biz to focus on features. Fleiss became a rich man because of reality-TV, worth $100 million by some accounts, and all those deals were done by Camacho. Even rival agents are telling me that Camacho had “batted 1,000” for Fleiss. But in the cutthroat agency biz where the grass is always greener, “it doesn’t matter how well you’ve done,” one source told me, “it’s how well someone else can promise you’ll do.”
MORE GHOULISH MONEY-GRUBBING OVER MICHAEL JACKSON
Major studios and networks like Viacom’s Paramount/MTV, NBC Universal, Sony Music and Sony Pictures, and News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox/Fox Broadcasting Co, all battled for the projects. AEG started the bidding for the movie rights at a staggering $50 million, and the TV-special rights at $10 million. “They are looking to do a prime-time TV special with NBC, and then go with live albums and films with Sony, since Sony controls the distribution rights to [MJ’s] music,” one of my insiders told me. “They will have to go to the judge to get any deals blessed.”
The reason for the Hollywood feeding frenzy over these projects is money, of course: “As you know, it will be huge,” one bidder tells me. AEG’s goal is to have the prime-time TV special on air in September and the film out in October to fully exploit Michael Jackson’s death.
As soon as executives involved in organizing Michael Jackson’s 50-night schedule of shows at London’s O2 arena learned of the performer’s death, they met at Staples Center in Los Angeles and secured all of the rehearsal footage that Jackson had done there. Randy Phillips, president and CEO of AEG Live, disgustingly boasted to AP that he had “more than 100 hours of footage that could be turned into live albums, a movie and a pay-per-view special. He was our partner in life, and now he’s our partner in death.” Ugh.