Talent Merger Spawns WME

logo_wma_smTop Hollywood talent shops William Morris Agency and Endeavor Agency agreed yesterday (4/27) to join forces. The newly combined entity would be called William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME). WM’s Jim Wiatt would serve as Chairman with three co-chiefs— Endeavor’s founder, Ari Emanuel; Endeavor managing partner Patrick Whitesell; and William Morris President Dave Wirtschafter. According to insiders, the move is more about consolidation and cost-reduction than about creating industry dominance.

WME is expected to have over 400 agents and more than 800 employees and will likely trim about 200 positions. According to the WSJ, the deal is still subject to approval by several Hollywood unions and government antitrust officials.

endeavorWMA represents artists such as Kanye West, Britney Spears and Russell Crowe; Endeavor claims Matt Damon, Adam Sandler and Robert DeNiro. Rival agencies which are likely to be carefully watching this deal include Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and International Creative Management (ICM). According to Billboard, motion picture agent and Endeavor co-founder  Tom Strickler has announced his resignation. WMA agent David Lonner has also announced plans to head for the door.

Nashville’s William Morris Agency office is co-headed by Rick Shipp and Paul Moore. Nashville artists represented include Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn, John Rich, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift and many more. The merger is not expected to have much effect in Nashville since Endeavor does not have a stand-alone Music City office, although it  has been affiliated with Buddy Lee Attractions and represents BLA for TV & Film projects.

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David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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