UPDATE: UTA’s party cancellation has certainly pleased one client. Per the agency, Iranian helmer Asghar Farhadi, who in the wake of President Donald Trump’s travel ban said he won’t be coming to see if his film The Salesman wins the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, texted the agency his reaction from Tehran after UTA scrapped its party in favor of a pro-immigration rally. Per the agency, Farhadi said that he is “honored and in tears.”
PREVIOUS: UTA, which like fellow agencies WME and CAA holds a lavish party for its clients and industry heavyweights the Friday night before Oscars, has announced it is scrapping the bash usually held at the home of Jim Berkus. Instead, the agency will host a rally at its Los Angeles headquarters that Friday afternoon.
The gathering – “United Voices” – will counter the anti-immigration sentiment fomented by the extreme vetting program instituted by President Donald Trump — and temporarily blocked by a federal judge. UTA said it wants to express the creative community’s growing concern with anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. and its potential chilling effect on the global exchange of ideas and freedom of expression. UTA also announced it will donate $250,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee.
Per UTA: “The agency is witnessing the current controversy firsthand through the experiences of Academy Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, a UTA client. Although nominated for an Oscar again this year in the best foreign language film category for The Salesman, Farhadi has announced he will forgo the trip to the United States for the ceremony due, in his words, to “the unjust circumstances” of the proposed U.S. travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries.”
Said UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer in a letter to agency employees just now: “This is a moment that demands our generosity, awareness and restlessness. Our world is a better place for the free exchange of artists, ideas and creative expression. If our nation ceases to be the place where artists the world over can come to express themselves freely, then we cease, in my opinion, to be America.”
The agency announced it has simultaneously launched a CrowdRise fundraising campaign to accept further contributions to the two groups from the broader creative community.
Zimmer again: “When fear and division get the better of a society, artists are among the first to feel the impact—and to denounce the ill winds. With our words and our actions, the UTA family is speaking up for so many, including all artists and the vital global conversations they help lead.”
Here is the specific information on the event:
UNITED VOICES RALLY
TIME: 3-5 PM on Friday, February 24 (Oscar Weekend)
LOCATION: Outside UTA Headquarters
9336 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, CA
PARTICIPANTS: Members of the creative community and other leading voices