How does a Hollywood agency lose one of its hottest high-brow writers? Well, ICM over-reached. Having screenwriter Peter Morgan (Oscar nominated for The Queen, Last King Of Scotland) leave co-head of motion picture lit Doug MacLaren and jump to United Talent Agency this week caps a disappointing motion picture year for ICM. (FYI, sources told me MacLaren said in staff meetings that he’d hold on to Mel Gibson and Richard Gere, only to have Ed Limato of course take them to William Morris. All I can say is ICM must be serving magic mushrooms at these confabs for someone to hallucinate that badly.) Regarding Morgan, I’m told that ICM asked Universal/Working Title for $3 million and gross for a four-week rewrite on State Of Play whose director Kevin MacDonald did Scotland with Peter. I hear Morgan was horrified that his agency would make him look greedy and oafish by demanding something so above and beyond what any writer has been paid for a quickie rewrite, not to mention potentially damaging his relations with Working Title, that he fired ICM even though he’s had a banner year. When I first heard about Morgan’s problems with ICM back on September 19th, I asked the agency for comment. I was told that nothing was amiss, and, in fact, MacLaren accompanied Morgan to the Emmys. ICM was gobsmacked when Morgan left. Anyway, UTA now gains a writer on a hot streak: Sony will release his next project, The Other Boleyn Girl, at the end of February, and Ron Howard is currently in production on Frost/Nixon, which Morgan adapted from his own successful Broadway play. Meanwhile, ICM is now on retreat (literally, not just figuratively) after signing Robert Duvall. I’m speechless.
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