EXCLUSIVE: In the old days, to be a board member at the William Morris Agency, you had to be an “Elder” with white hair, a slight stoop, Red Buttons as a client, and pants pulled up to the waist. As of today, the Morris board is much younger, almost hipper, suddenly rockin’. Who’d a thunk it? I’m told that the tenpercentery just added these agents to its 20-member governing body and upped them to the rank of executive vice presidents: Paul Bricault, head of corporate consulting; John Ferriter, head of non-scripted television; Marc Geiger, head of contemporary music; Aaron Kaplan, head of scripted television; Jon Rosen, head of East Coast television; Rick Shipp, co-head of WMA Nashville; David Snyder, head of adult contemporary music.
To briefly list their clients, Bricault works with MySpace, General Motors, Anheuser-Busch and oversees. Ferriter has Ryan Seacrest Inc, Larry King, Chelsea Handler and also oversees other clients. Geiger co-founded Lalapalooza and reps Nine Inch Nails among other groups. Kalan has Darren Star, Barry Sonenfeld and also oversees. Rosen is Mr. Food Network with clients Rachel Ray, Giada Di Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, etc. Shipp has all those country music acts like Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flats, etc. Snyder reps Herbie Hancock, Kenny G, Natalie Cole, Julio Inglesias.
What many don’t realize is that while Morris in the old days was a TV cash cow on the one-time strength of the syndication market, its influence in television (especially scripted network shows) has waned in recent years. Its motion picture department boasting a small cadre of Triple-A list directors/writers/actors has always been an insignificant profit center. So the agency is now relying on the powerhouse music division to bring in the big bucks what with clients like Kanye West, Foo Fighters, The Eagles, The Killers, Amy Winehouse, Weezer, Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, Rihanna. (WMA booked over 22,000 dates last year alone…) Meanwhile, chairman and CEO Jim Wiatt likes to joke how he now finds himself among the oldest guys on the board versus a lot of the newcomers who are only in their 30s and 40s. Interestingly, there hasn’t been a board shake-up since I wrote about The Big One back in 2004. (See All Shook Up in LA Weekly.)