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Ari Emanuel settles old perceived slight

October 17, 2009 |  9:26 pm


WME Entertainment Co-Chief Executive Ari Emanuel used a staid entertainment law forum sponsored by USC Gould School of Law to launch what attorneys refer to as an "ad hominem" attack.

That's Latin for getting personal.

After responding to a soft-ball question about the future of the combined William Morris Endeavor talent agency, Emanuel concluded with what he described as a "very funny story" about Jim Berkus, chairman and co-founder of United Talent Agency. The two executives were joined on the panel by ICM Chief Executive Jeffrey Berg and CAA Managing Director David O'Connor.

Berkus was interviewing Emanuel for a job, and as the story goes, the talent agency executive asks the job candidate not once but four times whether he was an attorney. "I was very cocky -- not that I'm not now," he quipped, noting in language that we can't print -- even on a blog -- that he was not, in fact, a lawyer.

"If you're not, you're not going to make it in this town," Berkus said in Emanual's recounting of the exchange.

Emanuel, who after orchestrating the creation of one of the biggest talent agencies in the world and presumably has little left to prove in Hollywood, then ribbed Berkus for his judgment. "You were great," he said to his co-panelist.

But if Berkus was nonplussed by Emanuel's comment, he didn't show it. The UTA co-founder remained silent.

-- Dawn Chemielewski

Photo: Endeavor's Ari Emanuel, left, and ICM's Jeffrey Berg after the 2006 Academy Awards. Credit: Eric Charbonneau /