It happened yesterday after Kate Bosworth, a longtime UTA client, let the agency know she was leaving. So far she hasn’t landed at another tenpercentery. But her latest film 21 looks like it will have a good opening weekend. Meanwhile, the rumor mill has heated up about UTA after this loss, and Vince Vaughn’s leaving, and partner Marc Korman’s jump to Endeavor. Competitors are swirling rumors that UTA’s talent department is “falling apart” because of a “toxic atmosphere”. There was even talk of a “coup attempt” to unseat some partners there or a “sure thing” that three talent agents are leaving. I’m on overdrive trying to check out every phone call. So let me set the record straight:
I can report that the lousy news led yesterday to some closed-door meetings among UTA’s partners that turned ugly (as seen through the glass walls). “The partners had a fight. It was a bad week. But nobody’s going anywhere,” an insider explains to me. “The partners are hyper-passionate, so when stuff happens, they get upset. This is not a place where nobody cares.” I’m told specifically that a couple of young partners not in the agency’s talent department used the losses of Vaughn and Bosworth to “make some noise and get everybody uptight” and took advantage of Nick Stevens being out of town to take aim at two partners in his talent department, Lisa Hallerman and Sharon Sheinwold. Another source tells me, “It is true there were many conversations going on relating to the talent department and actors. The agency this week turned in on itself. It did get heated and loud. Yesterday was an intense day, but today is calm. I don’t think anyone is leaving. I don’t sense it at all.”
At the same time, both inside and outside UTA, there appears to be a recognition that the major boutique may be at a crossroads right now. It certainly has turned down, and keeps turning down, overtures from other agencies to merge. It’s still, as I like to describe it, the pretty girl at the party with a lot of very high-producing clients. But I do think it’s getting harder for UTA to go it alone as the entertainment industry itself keeps consolidating. Yes, it has a unique place in the Hollywood food chain (even if its agents eat their young). The talent and tenpercenters attracted to United Talent can be described as notoriously aggressive and even combative, but also collaborative and creative, and ultimately original and iconoclastic. This is not agenting according to the philosophy that one-size-fits-all, thank god. True, over the years, UTA’s actors list and personnel roster have been continuously picked off by CAA. “But UTA consistently does something that CAA can’t, and CAA knows it: grow talent,” a source reminds me. I don’t see why that wouldn’t happen now.