spike1 2008EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed director Spike Lee. The Gotham-based filmmaker had been repped at WME. This gives CAA its third recent filmmaker signing, after Joe Carnahan and Paul Thomas Anderson made the move over from WME. There has been significant back and forth between the two powerhouses, with WME signing Steven Spielberg’s television business last weekend.

It’s the second move for Lee in two years, after a 15 year run with Dave Wirtschafter. He signed with Endeavor in 2008, which then merged with WMA. Lee, who last directed Miracle at St. Anna, has found the market narrowing for his indie-spirit films. The superb directing job he did on Inside Man should have given him a second wind, or at least a shot at another mainstream film, but it hasn’t happened. Maybe studios fear the outspoken and seemingly inflexible filmmaker he was years ago, or perhaps he had the bad luck to spend a long time developing LA Riots at Universal, a studio that had a rough run on adult-themed projects and just got scorched on the politically charged thriller Green Zone. It is a shame to see one of New York’s quintessential directors struggle.

Lee recently played a major role in the Dan Klores-directed ESPN docu Winning Time, a performance that is so hilarious his agents might consider booking him in comedies. A highlight of an excellent docu is Lee explaining what it felt like to suddenly become the most hated man in New York, after his courtside taunting of Reggie Miller incited the Pacers star to score 25 points in the fourth quarter of an infamous New York Knicks game.