2ND UPDATE: Jay Baker, the longtime CAA lit agent who was let go by the agency yesterday for sending a shocking clip from the film Menace 2 Society to manager Jewerl Keats Ross, has responded to the controversy. Basically, he has fallen on his sword and owned his actions.
“I deeply regret my actions and the pain I have caused Jewerl Ross,” Baker told Deadline in a statement. “I have apologized to him, and I also want to apologize to anyone else whom my behavior has offended. I have no excuse and I take full responsibility. I am a work in progress and I’ve embarked on a journey to fully understand what it means to be truly anti-racist. I promise that my actions going forward will reflect that learning.”
1ST UPDATE, Friday, March 26, 5:59 PM PST: After revealing earlier today that veteran CAA lit agent Jay Baker was abruptly let go by the agency after an insensitive joke, Deadline has gotten to the bottom of what happened. The events of today had to do with an exchange Baker had with manager Jewerl Keats Ross, with whom Baker repped Moonlight director Barry Jenkins. I got hold of an email that Ross wrote to Baker, and it explains the entire thing. Here is that email:
From: Jewerl Keats Ross
Date: Thu, Mar 11, 2021 at 2:57 PM
Subject: Menace 2 Society
To: Jay Baker
Only because we have worked together so many years and because we have experienced so much together that I am going to take the risk and be really honest with you.
I called you yesterday and asked you to attempt to get me an early look at your client’s film Voyagers because I am casting a film where we want to consider the main actress of Voyagers. This is a favor and I made an impassioned plea for your assistance. You then told me that my request reminds you of the crack addict scene from Menace 2 Society. And then you texted me a link to the scene. On the call, I laughed off your comments and made a joke at my own expense and then we moved on to other topics. I didn’t think about that conversation again until later that night when I went through my text messages and actually watched the link you sent.
After watching the link I am horrified.
I want you to watch the scene you sent me again. Here it is:
I am a black man in America. No black man in America wants to think that a white person thinks that asking for a favor is like asking for crack. The first thing that crossed my mind is that if I were white and asked for a favor, would you ever have thought of this scene? And would you ever have sent it me?
I am a black man in Hollywood. No black man in Hollywood wants to think that his professional relationships would ever in a million years compare him to this scene.
You are a white man in a position of power. Viewing this scene from the seat of your power makes my heart ache!
Talking about this with my boyfriend last night actually brought me to tears. The last time I truly cried is when my sister died in 2019.
I wish I knew what else to say.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, Friday, March 26, 3:08 PST: Deadline has learned that longtime CAA lit agent Jay Baker parted with the agency abruptly today. CAA was not commenting.
The clients that Baker was part of the rep teams, are impressive. It included Oscar-nominated Minari writer/director Lee Isaac Chung, Oliver Stone, Duncan Jones, J Blakeson, Rupert Sanders, Nimrod Antal, Wong Kar-Wai, Yann Demange, Pablo Larrain, Neil Burger, Joby Harold, Christina Hodson, Rupert Sanders and Davis Guggenheim. The word we’re hearing is that this was over an inappropriate joke. Deadline will tell you more when we know it.