UPDATE: Read the unedited emails here.
EXCLUSIVE: Few things satisfy more than a fiery Hollywood feud. I’ve learned the ongoing one between Ari Emanuel and Irving Azoff flared up again this past weekend in a way that one eyewitness told me was “like Yiddish Theater, complete with Jews and their drama and their masks and coats and robes”. I wouldn’t know, never having attended Yiddish Theater. But I do know Hollywood, and this flaming raged out of control. The email war erupted between the two entertainment executives Friday, the same day as a Financial Times article was published about how well Live Nation Entertainment is doing in 2013 after music manager Azoff resigned and where WME co-founder Emanuel is on the board. It doesn’t help that Azoff’s son works for CAA as an agent, or that Azoff is reputedly using his position as an advisory board member of IMG to lend help to CAA’s designs on that sports company which WME also wants. The surprise here is that Emanuel usually sends one- or two-word-only email messages. But Azoff loves all communications technology, even infamously micro-blogging on Twitter to spar with Live Nation critics when he ran the company. (“If you want ticket prices to go down, stop stealing music.”) Trust me, feuds like this are extremely multi-faceted.
I’m told the emails were “a lot of back and forth” over the FT story but not substantive. Instead, they consisted of each man baiting the other and “devolved into a fucking bitchfest about how much they hate each other. Irving tried to be nice and, well, Ari was Ari. They kept going back and forth. Such silliness from Ari about what a ‘piece of shit’ Irving was, and then Irving saying, ‘I forgive you for being an asshole.’ Ari telling him, ‘You’re a lying piece of shit,’ and Irving replying, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ It was so ridiculous.”
Emanuel claimed Azoff misrepresented how much money he made selling Live Nation stock because it went up 70% after the executive chairman’s departure — which means Azoff lost over $20 million. “It got really crazy. Ari said, ‘You didn’t make as much money as you said you did. You left all this money on the table.’ And then Irving’s wife Shelli chimed in and said, ‘Yes we did. I bought an airplane with it.’ I mean, the wives even got involved. It was so absurd.”
True, these were private emails cc’ed to Patrick Whitesell (Emanuel’s WME co-CEO), Azoff’s wife and son, and Ari’s wife. But they also were cc’ed to a list of about 10 business and media and Hollywood VIPs including Joel Silver (indie Hollywood producer), Brad Grey (Paramount chairman), Ron Meyer (president/COO Universal Studios), Jim Dolan (Cablevision CEO and blues guitarist whose band JD & The Straight Shot is managed by Azoff and even opened on tour for Irving’s client The Eagles), Ron Perelman (mega-investor), Mark Shapiro (the former Dick Clark Productions chief exec and top programming executive at ESPN who also ran Six Flags for Dan Snyder’s empire), Greg Maffei (who runs John Malone’s Liberty Media which currently is a 25% stakeholder in Live Nation), and Michael Rapino (Live Nation CEO). Some are friends with Azoff or Emanuel or both or neither. As to why they were privileged enough to be privy to this puerile pissing match, several told me with true bewilderment, “Not a clue.”