UPDATED THROUGHOUT WITH NEW INFO: keep refreshing for the latest…
Maybe, instead of worrying about Earth Day and boasting to everyone how he took the Santa Monica bus to work today, Jim Berkus should be focusing all his attention on making sure his United Talent Agency doesn’t unravel over the next few weeks and months. Look, nearly every United Talent partner is in play right now (so much so that some junior UTA agents has been spreading rumors that even they are being courted with the hope of getting their pay upped.) CAA, Endeavor, ICM and Paradigm have been calling lots of UTA partners, even to the point of interrupting that tenpercentery’s meetings, and chumming the waters to see which sharks they can catch. Tracey Jacobs, David Kramer, David Guillod, Blair Belcher and even Darren Statt, and I’m sure many more, are all being courted. CAA’s Richard Lovett, for instance, is calling Kramer twice a day.
Defamer.com has posted an untrue story that UTA partner Tracey Jacobs is heading to Endeavor with Johnny Depp and other clients in tow. Oh, puh-leeze, I’ve been following the UTA-Endeavor battle from the start and know what’s fact and what’s not. I’ve been knocking down this Tracey Jacobs-is-leaving rumor for nearly two weeks because no deal is in place yet even though her people are calling around to other agencies with a price for her. What Defamer clearly doesn’t know is that she can’t leave UTA without also leaving a shitload of money behind her. Several million dollars. Because in addition to Johnny Depp, she has two big TV stars that are integrally involved in UTA television packages: William Petersen in CSI and Vincent D’Onofrio in Law & Order: Criminal Intent. With these golden handcuffs on her wrists, no agency wants to write that huge check just now. The strategy is that they’ll slow-play her — wait for her to get so desperate to leave UTA that she’ll agree to take less money. I understand Johnny Depp has told her he’ll go wherever she goes.
Meanwhile, I’d do nothing else all day if I were to report every UTA rumor-du-jour so I’ve spared you every twist and turn. Just this afternoon, I heard that client Rachel McAdams is about to jump ship. (I also checked out two of the latest rumors yesterday — that UTA co-owner and TV bigwig Jay Sures was leaving to head CAA’s TV department, or replace Nancy Tellem at CBS. Not true on both. In reply, a CAA source emailed me: “He’s out calling any agent who’s ever seen a television show and asking them to come and work there.” UTA denies that Sures is doing that.)
UTA, for its part, keeps telling me that it doesn’t believe its partners are in play.
Meanwhile, UTA and Endeavor are still fighting over how to unlock the golden handcuffs on those original defectors Nick Stevens (also a UTA owner), Lisa Hallerman and Sharon Sheinwold, as well as Marc Korman, UTA’s TV packaging partner who jumped to Endeavor a few weeks earlier. I hear there was an unsuccessful attempt at rapprochement yesterday morning at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City between UTA’s Jim Berkus, Jay Sures, COO Andrew Thau and Endeavor’s Rick Rosen, Adam Venit and COO Tom Maguire. Explains a UTA source, “We’ve been up and down. There are issues, definitely. We came very close to a deal and we expect to make one shortly. Neither side wants to have costly litigation. The employment agreement is the employment agreement, and speaks for itself.” If UTA stupidly smacks the trio with a lawsuit, I can’t wait for secrets to spill out about the agency. Stay tuned.
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