Entertainment Industry

Category: Ari Emanuel

The Morning Fix: Emmy loves broadcast. Disney may really have sold Miramax! ESPN-LeBron backlash

After the coffee. Before avoiding all the reviews of "Inception."

Is it really over? Walt Disney Co. has struck a deal to sell Miramax to an investor group led by construction executive Ron Tutor with backing from Colony Capital, a private equity firm, and James Robinson, chief executive of production company Morgan Creek. If this deal actually closes, it will bring to an end to months of high-stakes negotiations and a battle among three potential suitors, including Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein. Former Disney executive Richard Nanula, now with Colony, is expected to oversee operations at Miramax for its new owners. More on what may be the final chapter from the Los Angeles Times and the Wrap.

Explaining Emmy. When hundreds are nominated for awards, it can make finding a trend difficult. But try we must, and with some new shows on broadcast television -- "Glee," "Modern Family," and "The Good Wife" -- doing very well, the verdict seems to be that network television is back. Well, certainly it was a good season, but it's not like HBO, Showtime, AMC and other cable channels were overlooked by Emmy voters. I'm still wondering how the voters could snub Khandi Alexander of HBO's "Treme." And why do they keep ignoring FX's "Rescue Me." Analysis on the nominations from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Variety and Hollywood Reporter.

Fleeing Sun Valley. Friday is when the media stalkers exit Allen & Co.'s Sun Valley mogul gathering after three days of chasing executives and being escorted by security to the bathroom. So here are the wrap-up stories from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal that, quite frankly, could have been written before the conference started. No digs at my media pals intended; I've been there and know the drill. You do the best you can with what few morsels you can get. At least the Idaho setting is beautiful and there are some good restaurants in town.

The 10% factor. The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni takes a look at the verdict against Walt Disney Co. in its battle over profits from the game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" with the show's creator, Celador Productions, and the role that agents played in the relationship between the two companies. William Morris agents were put in an awkward position throughout the trial, and the verdict may have some rethinking the way packaging fees for shows are doled out to agencies.

ESPN and LeBron: The Aftermath. ESPN's deal with LeBron James, in which the basketball superstar got to handpick his interviewer and sell the network's ad time (for charity) in return for telling the cable channel where he was signing, has been heavily criticized in the media. Here's our Thursday story and a take from Friday's New York Times. Ex-ESPN analyst Dan Patrick said on his radio show Friday that the Thursday night program was "an infomercial" and that the network covered this "like it's 'American Idol.'" Not everyone is ganging up on Disney's ESPN though. Here's a defense from the Daily Beast. Meanwhile, super-agent Ari Emanuel is taking credit for helping put together the show, which, given the reviews, may not be something to boast about.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: "Eclipse" is expected to rule the weekend again at the box office, but its pacing is trailing its predecessor, "New Moon." More bad news for Mel Gibson.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter and I won't abandon you for Miami: Twitter.com/JBFlint

Former William Morris Endeavor TV agent John Ferriter sues firm for $25 million

EmanuelMoore 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.

Endeavor and William Morris tango toward finish line

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The mating dance between rival agencies William Morris and Endeavor continues with the William Morris board set to discuss the potential marriage at a board meeting scheduled for tomorrow, and Endeavor's partners expect to follow suit shortly after, according to people close to the situation.

Though the ongoing talks have generated lots of attention and media scrutiny, a merger of the two competing talent shops is hardly Microsoft marrying Apple: Combined, the agencies would have estimated annual revenue of about $300 million.

But by joining forces, William Morris and Endeavor would create a talent juggernaut positioned to challenge Hollywood's top-seeded Creative Artists Agency. The combined entity would also, in theory, have more leverage in negotiating with the television and movie studios.

Driving the merger is a punishing economic climate in which fewer jobs for actors, directors and writers and a contracting market for TV shows mean lower commissions and fees for the agencies that depend upon them for their bread and butter.

AriAlthough talks are progressing and some Hollywood insiders think a deal is all but a fait accompli, there are still myriad unresolved issues that could scuttle or at least further delay a merger. However, with William Morris chief Jim Wiatt and Endeavor partner Ari Emanuel aggressively pushing for the deal, it seems to be more a matter of when rather than if.

How a merged William Morris/Endeavor would be structured is one of the biggest sticking points. Both have upper levels of management -- William Morris has 20 directors and Endeavor has 28 partners stocked with heavy egos and pocketing hefty paychecks. A merger could mean a thinning of the ranks from top to bottom and a bake-off among suits, which would no doubt result in many agents at the two firms looking to jump ship.

-- Joe Flint and Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo Credits: Wiatt (top right) by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images; Emanuel (lower left) by Eric Charbonneau/WireImage.com 

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