John Ferriter, the former powerhouse William Morris Agency EVP/Worldwide Head of Non-Scripted TV and the only WMA board member to vote against the merger with Endeavor, died Thursday, according to sources. He was 59. A former close associate of his shared the news with some of Ferriter’s former colleagues today. We are still trying to confirm cause of death and specific details.
Also a television producer and a singer whose bands The Tearaways and Stingray opened for bands including The Bangles, REM and Guns & Roses, Ferriter is probably best remembered for his career at WMA, where he spent nearly two decades and rose to the level of executive vice president. He also became a WMA board member, one who was very critical of the merger between WMA and Endeavor that left the latter smaller agency in control, and many of the braintrust of the colossus out, including WMA chief Jim Wiatt.
In his dealmaking career, Ferriter repped talent and packaged shows that included Project Runway, The Biggest Loser, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, On Air With Ryan Seacrest, The Donny & Marie Show, the late-night comedy talk show Chelsea Lately and numerous Garth Brooks specials. He helped in radio-to-TV transformations for clients that included Seacrest, Carson Daly, Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew Pinsky. Among an eclectic list of clients was Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia.
For the 10th anniversary of the WMA-Endeavor deal May 31, Ferriter wrote for Deadline a compelling look back at the twists and turns of the merger. In looking back, he wrote: “I wonder how many of those William Morris board members realize how badly they got played when they gave the company away in a merger that didn’t need to be done that was also the worst deal in the history of the company. William Morris survived planned trips on the Titanic and the RMS Lusitania. The William Morris Agency survived two world wars, several smaller wars, the Great Depression, a couple recessions and several strikes, but it couldn’t survive the greed of a few people who drove it into the ground like a new Boeing 737.”
Upon his exit from WME post-merger, Ferriter filed a $25 million lawsuit against the agency, which was eventually settled.
He moved on from that agency to become the founding managing director of Octagon, before leaving in 2015 to launch the management/production company The Alternative, partnering with Jaime Gruttenmeyer. Clients he repped at that concern included Piers Morgan, Nancy O’Dell, 11-time Emmy-winning director-producer Glenn Weiss, Holly Robinson Peete, Mike Love and The Beach Boys, Mike Wolfe from American Pickers, Jake Paul, The Empty Hearts and others.