UPDATE: ICM investor Suhail Rizvi and the ICM Board today blew off yesterday’s demands by ICM President Chris Silbermann for a decision and board meeting about the management buyout. The reason cited is that Silbermann has yet to put anything in writing. “I think there’s a lot of concern as to whether his plan is deliverable or executable. There’s nothing to consider until it exists,” one insider tells me. “He’s been told to put it in writing.” Another of my sources details, “There was this morning an informal board conversation so early and fractious and ill-informed that we’re not calling it a board meeting because there’s not enough information from Silbermann to call it a board meeting.”
So now the onus is on Silbermann. Until then, no one will know whether Rizvi Traverse Management will accept a buyout of its 40% stake in ICM. Or whether the ICM Board will agree to it as well. This all begs the question why Silbermann acted so prematurely. “Chris went to NY Thursday because he felt he was not getting a serious enough consideration by Suhail. So Chris tried to goose the issue,” one of my sources explains. That, after Silbermann has been threatening for months that he and his clique would leave the agency if he doesn’t get what he wants.
Meanwhile, Silbermann’s management buyout plan remains so ill-formed that he can’t even explain it in detail yet to ICM’s agents. At one recent point, Silbermann confessed to several agents in his camp that they might have to expect a significant pay cut — even a halving of their salaries — if financial backing or an asset-based loan can’t be obtained. That took the agents by surprise, to say the least. Also, Silbermann claimed that ICM Chairman Jeff Berg was on board with this management buyout when, in fact, Berg is neither for or against it since his camp hasn’t been given any details about it yet.
As for Silbermann asking for Michael Ovitz’s advice and help to raise money, it’s well-known in Hollywood that Silbermann and his family have had many personal and professional ties to Ovitz. Also, Wall Street investment bankers involved in studio slate financial deals are confirming that they’ve been approached by Ovitz on Silbermann’s behalf. “Ovitz has been running all over the place trying to raise money for Chris to take over the company,” one sources tells me. But without success, I’m told.
“No one thinks Ovitz can raise $50 million let alone the $200 million necessary to buy out Rizvi. The view of that is ‘good luck’,” one source tells me. That Ovitz is involved at all has even put ICM’s reputation in jeopardy and led to consternation in many Hollywood circles. As one major player whose phone has been ringing off the hook about it summed up the reaction for me, “They think that Mike Ovitz is the biggest doofus on the planet, and Chris Silbermann is the second biggest doofus.”
Another latest development is that Bob Broder and Ted Chervin are no longer solidly in Silbermann’s camp because of the ongoing divisiveness and destabilization of the agency since I first broke this story. (ICM Imploding! Chris Silbermann & Jeff Berg Battle For Control: Rizvi Sits On Sidelines; How Long Will Warring Last?) Clients and their managers and agents are calling daily to ask questions and express fears whether ICM is imploding. Had Silbermann presented a well thought-out plan and kept his unhappiness private (instead of talking about it openly with Hollywood in a succession of bars, for example), all this could have stayed behind closed doors. Instead, his handling of this situation has raised questions about onetime heir apparent Silbermann’s maturity level to take over the agency now.