EXCLUSIVE: The rumors have been around for months and months, and I know some phone calls were exchanged after the end of the writers strike a year ago. But the reality is that these deals aren’t done overnight: like everything in Hollywood that involves ego and money, they’re complicated because they combine different agency cultures as well as partners and personnel. (Who else remembers back to 1992 when William Morris acquired Triad? The two agencies had been talking for 17 months; and, even when those chats became very serious, the deal points took five months. And let’s not forget the back story behind the ICM-Broder merger.) But lately talks have heated up between upstart Endeavor and venerable William Morris to the point where I’m being told the odds are “70/30” that the two agencies will do a merger deal. Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel has been on the prowl: he even had a meal recently with ICM’s investor Rizvi Traverse but that didn’t go anywhere. I think Endeavor-WMA is a great fit: William Morris has a powerhouse music division but a motion picture talent department needing more marquee names and a flagging television department except for unscripted fare. Endeavor, on the other hand, is signing marquee names and packaging primetime series galore and would love that music money. One agency is strong where the other is weak. But the problem is what it’s always been: the alpha male owners of major agencies always want to be in charge. I hear Ari Emanuel may run the combined agency as long as Jim Wiatt gets a fancy title and an uber-lucrative contract. Besides, if Wiatt doesn’t make this move now, then WMA will turn into a music agency and he could get sidelined. Whether this deal comes to fruition will be fun to watch…
IT'S FOR REAL: Endeavor And William Morris Talking About Teaming Up
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