EXCLUSIVE (refresh for latest): I’m told Larry Shapiro, who created and co-headed the Games Division of Creative Artists Agency, has just left, and the Hollywood agency is really, really pissed. “They were profoundly unhappy and made it very uncomfortable for him. You don’t leave the mother ship,” a source explained. Still at CAA is Seamus Blackley, who took the CAA gaming gig in 2003 after the demise of the boutique game funding agency, Capital Entertainment Group, he had co-founded. But I’m told Blackley went to CAA specifically to collaborate with Shapiro. This is the latest blow for the ten-percentery, which in one week has lost actor Alec Baldwin, director Lasse Halstrom and NFL star QB Matt Leinart. It also saw TV bigwig Lee Gabler announce his retirement and let go indie financing agent Kevin Iwashina. (By the way, I’m told Iwashina learned he was fired as he was giving a lecture to a UCLA film class. He answered his cell phone, then told the class he needed to step out for a minute to take the call. He came back a few minutes later and told the students class was cancelled and left. “Another example of a talent agency handling this type of thing with no class,” an insider explains.) Meanwhile, I hear CAA is in the midst not just of negotiating some more high-profile agent exits, but also quietly showing the door to some low-level and newly promoted agents and trainees. Reason? Cost-cutting. Here’s an example… Today, Reality TV agent Bryan Geers was let go by CAA. He’d only been upped from assistant to agent in 2002.
Shapiro gave his notice to CAA about 48 hours ago. He is a major figure in the gaming industry, having helped CAA clients create entertainment franchises that intersect the game industry. Gamers laud Shapiro for “making things happen” for game companies in terms of getting licenses, working with Hollywood talent, moving IP back and forth, and doing the kinds of things you would imagine Hollywood and the games industry doing. Shapiro was in charge of all game initiatives focusing on integrating the video game industry with the movie and TV industries in order to create the next generation of cross platform franchises. He repped Will Wright, Valve Software and Xbox, and brokered movie deals for Doom and Halo two of the biggest games in the industry. (But Halo isn’t being made. See Universal & Fox Fighting Over Halo $$$.) Shapiro also set up movies for such game franchises as Half Life, Return To Castle Wolfenstein, and Dead To Rights. Before joining CAA, Shapiro worked as VP/GM of Stromlo Entertainment, and as EP of New Media at Palomar Pictures.