Former William Morris Endeavor TV agent John Ferriter sues firm for $25 million
John Ferriter, the former head of reality television at William Morris Agency and the only board member to vote against its merger with rival Endeavor, has sued the merged agency and its principals -- including top agents Ari Emanuel, Richard Rosen and Mark Itkin -- for unlawful termination, fraud, defamation and slander. He is asking for damages of $25 million.
In a civil suit filed Nov. 17 in California Superior Court in Santa Monica, Ferriter claims that he was unjustly pushed out of the agency after the combination. In addition, he accuses five William Morris board members -- former Chairman Jim Wiatt, President Dave Wirtschafter, Chief Operating Officer Irv Weintraub, co-head of motion pictures John Fogelman and co-head of literary Jennifer Rudolph Walsh -- of "working out sweetheart deals for themselves to the detriment of shareholders and other employees" during merger talks.
Ferriter said that when William Morris Agency signed a new contract with him last December that guaranteed him compensation of at least $2 million a year, it didn't tell him that merger talks were taking place or that he was in jeopardy of losing his spot running the non-scripted television department.
Despite his vote against the deal, Ferriter claimed he was told by Emanuel and Rosen, then two of the three top agents at Endeavor, that there would be no changes to his job. After a two-month hospitalization, Ferriter said in the suit that he returned to work in July and learned that he was not on the new agency's board, was no longer a department head and was an "employee" rather than a "partner."
That prompted a public dispute between the two sides that played out in the press and ultimately led to a November town hall meeting at which the agency allegedly announced it had terminated Ferriter "for cause," namely insubordination. Ferriter claimed that throughout the more than three-month dispute, the agency engaged in "fraud and misrepresentations, unlawful harassment, retaliation and reprisals" that damaged him personally and professionally.
A William Morris Endeavor spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski and Ben Fritz
Photo: Ari Emanuel with client Michael Moore at the September premiere of Moore's film "Capitalism: A Love Story." Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images.