ICM Objects to Abate’s Exit

Powerhouse New York literary agent Richard Abate is leaving ICM and moving to the Endeavor Talent Agency – but not without a bit of drama.

ICM has filed a lawsuit against Abate, alleging that he violated the terms of his contract, which extends through the end of the year, by going to work for a rival company before his contract was up, according to the Los Angeles Times. The suit asks that Abate not be allowed to work for Endeavor until after December.

Agencies, which are notoriously protective, never enjoy seeing agents leave, but this is one of the most bitter fights since Ari Emmanuel left ICM to form Endeavor. "Entourage" character Ari Gold is supposedly based on Emmanuel. Abate also has an extensive Rolodex and an enviable roster, according to the Times.

Abate’s list includes such heavy hitters as Dale Peck, Evan Wright, Yiyun Li and Lisi Harrison. ICM charges Abate’s move to Endeavor could do the company irreparable harm by seriously depleting its book division.

The lawsuit also gets personal, pointing out that prior to joining ICM, Abate was a relative nobody, earning $20,500 a year as an assistant at a book publisher. Abate’s rise to a salary in excess of $200,000 "is in large measure the result of the business training and confidential contacts provided to Abate by ICM," the lawsuit said.