EXCLUSIVE: WME just scored in the ongoing fallout from the exit of a dozen comedy agents from CAA to UTA. WME has signed Rawson Marshall Thurber, a longtime CAA client who became “in play” after his primary agent Gregory McKnight was part of the exodus of CAA comedy agents who left en masse for UTA.
Thurber is about two weeks out from starting production on Central Intelligence, the New Line comedy that stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Ed Helms. While the decision-making process for most of the clients consists of staying or going — I’ve heard that 150 or so are expected to move with their agents to UTA — Thurber invited WME into the conversation and ultimately decided to go there. He was open to the argument that he hasn’t achieved as much as he should have for a guy who blazed on the scene with the 2004 cult classic Dodgeball: An Underdog Story and then scored a big hit with the 2013 We’re The Millers. Thurber wants a shot at directing a big tentpole movie, maybe a superhero film, and that has eluded him. He got close: He was the runner-up in getting the job of directing Ant-Man, but didn’t get the gig.
Whenever that happens, it creates an opening, even as CAA met with him and argued for six months to prove why he should stay, and the exiting UTA agents argued for him to go there. Ultimately, he decided to give WME the shot, and it will be very interesting to see what that agency can do to give the director the kind of trajectory enjoyed by Paul Feig and others who came up in the same directing crop.
WME has managed to do pretty well in all the continual scrum among the agencies, bringing in Peter Sarsgaard, Eli Roth, Vince Vaughn, Mark Strong, Julie Taymor, Furious 7‘s Michelle Rodriguez and Lea Seydoux, the Blue Is The Warmest Color star who stars in the next James Bond film, Spectre. They had been repped by CAA except for Taymor, who was with Jeff Berg forever. CAA recently brought over filmmakers JC Chandor and Ruben Fleischer, and UTA so far landed Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell and Ed Helms, with many others expected to come as well.