2ND UPDATE: Robert Newman and Matt Solo today jumped from ICM to Endeavor as partners. Newman was motion picture department head, and Solo was TV literary head who’d departed ICM back on December 6th. This looks like yet more fall-out from ICM’s recent merger with Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann, and more evidence that Endeavor’s on a roll. Still, Newman, 48, was very close personally and professionally to ICM chairman Jeff Berg and had been at that agency for 17 years. (He’d quit Miramax Films, where he started making tuna fish sandwiches for Harvey Weinstein and moved up to running acquisitions and distribution before the jump into agenting.) One of the most well-liked agents in town, Newman had been known over the years for repping art house filmmakers as well as discovering new talent and then nurturing their independent movie careers. His best-known clients are Robert Rodriguez, Baz Luhrmann, Danny Boyle and Guillermo del Toro. Sources tell me that ICM knew Newman’s contract was in play but only found out this morning that he was leaving for Endeavor. ICM issued an official statement this afternoon: “After a long career at ICM, Robert Newman is no longer with the agency. We wish him well. ICM has just experienced a year of tremendous growth, and this path will continue.” Later, so did Endeavor. “We are incredibly excited to welcome Robert Newman and Matt Solo to Endeavor and the partnership,” said the Endeavor partners in a joint statement. “Robert is the consummate motion picture agent and a real champion for his clients and their passion for filmmaking. Matt has proven himself to be one of the top television agents in the business and is a great fit with our agency’s culture. They are exactly the kind of people we want to work with.”
Everything today was done very gentlemanly — no psychic drama, no lockdowns, no security guards escorting Newman out the door. In fact, he’s still working in his office at ICM today. As for Newman, he explained to pals this was the toughest decision of his life because of his loyalty to ICM. “He’s excited about Endeavor and what they’ve accomplished in a short time in terms of talent, directors, financing and drive. He thinks his clients will fit in perfectly with their list. Plus, he was entering as a partner,” a source told me. Newman said in Endeavor’s statement: “I’m honored that I’ve been asked to become a partner at Endeavor and I join the agency with the confidence that I’ll have the greatest resources to support the artists with whom I work.” ICM, in turn, considers this an opportunity to promote from within and look at outside agents as well. I reported Solo’s departure from ICM back on December 6th to probably join Endeavor. Solo, who joined ICM in 1996, reps David Shore (creator of House), Tim Minear (overall TV deal at Fox) and Shawn Ryan (creator of The Shield). From what I understand, Solo asked for a big salary boost and ICM didn’t bite. Plus, there were some personality conflicts. In the end, Solo’s leaving was a mutual decision. He said in the Endeavor statement: “I’m thrilled to be joining Endeavor and creating even more opportunities for my clients. I’m excited to rejoin so many friends there, including fellow partners Nancy Josephson, Richard Weitz, Paul Haas and Jason Spitz.” Interesting, when you think about it, how many of today’s great agents have moved through ICM and into other agencies around town: Jeremy Zimmer, Jim Wiatt, and, yes, the original Endeavor partners. So Newman’s leaving is yet more evidence that ICM has a tradition of populating other agencies, which is one of the liabilities of having an entrepreneurial culture. As opposed to, say, CAA where agents are told to stay in lockstep. (By the way, those rumors of three other agents leaving ICM for Endeavor are just that: rumors. I’m told they’re not true.)
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