UPDATE: The people who run Hollywood agencies may talk tough. But in reality they’re a bunch of pussies. For the 3rd time since I founded Deadline Hollywood in 2006, agency bosses wrongly thought I gained access to an internal document because someone supposedly leaked it to me. And their response was to fire people. This first happened at CAA a year ago when I obtained an internal schedule. (While CAA Agents Go On Retreat, Their Assistants Go To “CAA U” …Mandatory!) Then it happpened at WME last October when I obtained an internal memo. (WME Keeps Alicia Keys After CAA Catfight) But I’ve now learned that yesterday WME carried out a mass firing over an internal email I posted last Sunday. (WME Floater Sends Harsh Goodbye Email). When the reality is that not one of those fired staffers at CAA or WME leaked anything to me. Yet, in each case above, both CAA and WME told me that staffers were fired because they had “violated company policy”.
So here’s what happened yesterday: At Ari Emanuel’s insistence, WME conducted a witch-hunt to determine who had sent that Marcus Washington goodbye email to addresses outside the company. (Yes, all the top agencies have the technology to determine that, which has a creepy Big Brother feel to it.) My insiders say 75 staffers were ID’ed.
In the NYC office, an assistant was fired for forwarding that email to a close friend at ICM who had previously worked at William Morris. At LA headquarters, there were multiple firings. First, HR told the ID’ed staffers to come to the conference room. There, they were informed that they had violated company policy by sending the email to their personal accounts or outside parties. Ari Emanuel personally delivered the mass reprimand and spoke about how they’d violated the “trust” of the organization and hurt the company’s ability to work together. Three staffers who’d sent the email to Industry types were axed. (I heard Ari wanted to fire all 75 — but was told he couldn’t.)
Not one of the fired or even ID’ed staffers was responsible for the leak to me. But here’s what also disturbs me. In the case of CAA, a Latino was fired. In the case of WME’s first firing, a gay man was fired. In this latest episode, the leaked email itself was from an African-American who felt “bored, miserable, stifled, underutilized and looked over at WME”. Draw your own conclusions.