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More than 120 William Morris employees laid off ahead of Endeavor merger

May 18, 2009 |  1:25 pm

The long-anticipated layoffs at William Morris in advance of its merger with Endeavor have begun.

Williammorris According to several sources at the two agencies, at least 120 William Morris employees, about 40 of them agents, are being informed today that they are losing their jobs. The television and motion picture departments were both hit particularly hard.

There's no information yet on whether senior agents were included, although scripted TV chief Aaron Kaplan has already left to form his own management/production company.

Insiders said that today's cuts represent the bulk of the expected layoffs before the merger is complete, but some more are still on the way.

William Morris, which has more than 800 employees, was always expected to bear the brunt of the merger-related layoffs, particularly since two of the three CEOs at the new company come from the smaller Endeavor.

The smaller agency is expected to lay off 10 agents, some of whom have already left in recent weeks, as well as some support staff.

A spokesperson for William Morris declined to comment. An Endeavor spokesperson hasn't yet responded.

UPDATE (3:10 PM): Though William Morris' motion picture and TV departments were both hard hit, only one was eliminated entirely: video games. Cody Alexander, who founded the two-person department six years ago, was among those let go today. As Endeavor doesn't have one, that will leave William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, post-merger, without a video game department. While all five major agencies were involved in the space just a few years ago, only CAA and UTA now have full-time agents covering the video game business.

UPDATE (7:02 PM): A person insider William Morris says the layoffs have been rumored internally to be imminent for about a week. The reason? On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission gave official word that it won't stand in the way of the merger (see the official, not-too-exciting document here). That gave the William Morris a clear runway to go ahead with any merger-related cuts.

Now that the government isn't standing in the way, the two agencies are expected to close their transaction and officially form William Morris Endeavor Entertainment very soon.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: William Morris offices in Beverly Hills.

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