UPDATED Notes from the Rep Biz - 03-23-2020
UPDATED Notes from the Rep Biz - 03-23-2020
UPDATE: 03/27/2020 Here at week's end, at least two more agencies have announced plans to take significant action to combat coronavirus-related losses. Verve will follow a plan similar to what UTA laid out, cutting salaries from the top down in hopes of being able to preserve its staff. APA will use a combination of salary slashing and furloughs to stay afloat. APA is similar to Paradigm in being a mid-major with a strong touring business. Verve, however, deals only with writers and directors, meaning their move suggests they foresee the physical production business remaining dormant for some time.
UPDATE: 03/26/2020 Endeavor, which owns WME, has announced that it is cutting as many as 250 employees out of its 7,000 total staff. The cuts will not include agents, instead mostly affecting employees who cannot work remotely. Additionally, Endeavor said that CEO Ari Emanuel and Chairman Patrick Whitesell will not be taking salaries for the rest of the year, and the company is weighing additional actions to further cut costs.
UPDATE: 03/24/2020 UTA has announced its own plan to manage resources during this difficult time; the agency will reduce salaries across the board, with those at the top taking the biggest hit. The upshot of this could mean CEO Jeremy Zimmer taking no salary at all for the rest of the year. He could well be joined by David Kramer and Jay Sures in that sacrifice, but all partners will be slashing their salaries between now and the end of 2020. This will be true of lower-ranking employees, as well, but the idea is to lessen the blow for those with smaller salaries.
The WME version of this scenario is more complicated. In addition to the prospect of lower salaries, WME's partners have also lost the opportunity to cash out 20% of their equity against the company's pre-crisis valuation. That option was meant to become available to the partners as of April 5, and is no longer on the table — at least not as originally planned. At this time, there is no formal statement on what other measures will be taken.
What can we say?
The impact of the coronavirus is being felt in every quarter of Hollywood, from exhibitors to freelance crew and everyone in between. While each sector of the industry is vulnerable in its way, the representation business is especially hamstrung by the combination of live events being canceled and film and tv projects being postponed or shelved. With each domino that falls causing a new disruption, only the most diversified companies with the deepest pockets will survive. To wit, Paradigm, a mid-major company that has relied heavily on music touring to keep the lights on, is the first agency to announce mass layoffs in the post-COVID-19 world.
All the same, we do have a few new signings to announce, and will keep you posted as things develop ...
Documentary filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, directors of the controversial Russell-Simmons-sexual-abuse doc On the Record, have signed with Maggie Pisacane.
Booksmart actor Nico Hiraga and busy Mexican director Pitipol Ybarra are both new signs for the agency.
Actor Jack O'Connell ('71, Unbroken) has left CAA to sign with a team that includes Billy Lazarus, Tara Jones and Brian Swardstrom.
Diane Paragas, director of the award-winning indie Yellow Rose, is now with Abby Glusker.
UTA has also signed Migos member (and Mr. Cardi B) Offset.
Gamers are already being signed by agencies left and right, but we could see even more of them snapped up in the near future, as creators working from home will become invaluable clients. As it happens, CAA has recently signed gaming group The Krew, who are good for more than 200m monthly YouTube views.
Continuing the trend, two of the biggest names in gaming content on YouTube and Twitch, respectively, Jesse Cox and Bruce Greene, are also new signs at CAA.
CAA has signed a pair of British directors, Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie) and Remi Weekes (His House).
At ICM Partners:
The multi-talented Alan Cumming has signed with Adam Schweitzer and Toni Howard.
The agency has also signed on to rep the entire roster of digital management firm TalentX, which includes multiple TikTokers with followers in the millions (another relatively safe bet at this unusual moment in Hollywood history).
Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, Variety