EXCLUSIVE: CAA has announced its plans to weather the coronavirus pandemic that brought Hollywood to a screeching halt. The agency announced this to staff this morning. The broad strokes: no layoffs, but companywide paycuts up to 50%, on a progressive scale. CAA toppers Richard Lovett, Bryan Lourd & Kevin Huvane will take no salary for the year. The agency’s top earners will be subjected to the high end of the percentage pay cut scale.
I’ve confirmed this, and gotten this statement, per a spokesman:
“In this time of tremendous uncertainty for individuals, businesses, governments and communities, it is incumbent upon us to look closely at what measures help ensure CAA always remains the strongest company for our employees and clients. Making cost reduction decisions is always a thoughtful and deliberate process for us, never more so than under these extraordinary circumstances. We are implementing, among other actions, a reduction in pay among employees across all levels of the agency, with our highest compensated colleagues shouldering a greater responsibility. We deeply appreciate not only the understanding that employees across the company have demonstrated since this unprecedented global crisis began, but also the remarkable support and compassion colleagues have shown one another, clients, and many in the community in need.”
It was expected that the agency would have to do something. Like all segments of Hollywood that rely on the communal experience and revenue from live events, CAA has been figuring out the situation. The agency — which was early in grounding their agents, eliminating visitors and then sending agents home — held back its move. The leaders of other major agencies including UTA, WME, Verve, Gersh and Paradigm agreed to forgo their paychecks for the rest of the year. While UTA, WME and Verve rolled back salaries but did their best to avoid layoffs. Paradigm quickly leveled “temporary layoffs” of between 100 to 200, including some prominent agents there. Latter move created incredible acrimony and a lawsuit and Paradigm chief last Friday set up a $1.1 million fund to help those in limbo, and extended health insurance for those left adrift.
The hope at CAA and other agencies is to restore status quo as quickly as possible, when the world re-opens and revenue streams begin to flow again. That is predicated on things getting better, and everyone of these businesses acknowledge that if the hard times stretch through much of this year, further cost-cutting moves are possible.