Agent Layoffs in Hollywood Shuffle

26th May 2009 by Maura McHugh

An article on The Independent discusses the latest shake-up in Hollywood, with the merger between two agencies — William Morris and Endeavour — to create a new “super-agency” called WME Entertainment.

The agents were the first casualty of this change, with over 100 employees at William Morris being made redundant.

“Tenpercenters”, as agents are known, are notoriously sharp-elbowed, and many small firms such as Gersh now hope to convince former Endeavour clients that the new firm, WME Entertainment, will no longer offer the “boutique” service they had enjoyed.

Kevin Spacey was among the first casualties of the new era. He announced this month that, after years with William Morris, he was joining CAA. This week, by way of response, WME announced its first new signing, stealing the Lost star Matthew Fox, inset below, from ICM.

The turmoil comes as agencies weigh the cost of the recession. Box-office revenues remain robust but DVD sales have slumped and fewer films and TV shows are getting the green light. Owing to difficulties securing finance, the once extortionate salaries offered to actors and writers are being slashed. “All you ever need, to do to know what’s happening in Hollywood, is to follow the money,” said an agent at a leading Beverly Hills firm, who was not authorised to speak publicly. “Look at this year’s box office: fewer hit films are star driven. People are buying into concept movies like Terminator and Transformers. The days when $20m-a-film deals happened each week are gone. Bluntly, that means fewer jobs for agents.”

Write a Comment