Limato Becomes Free Agent

Hollywood über-agent Ed Limato won his arbitration case with International Creative Management August 13th, paving the way for the former agency chief to quickly join William Morris Agency and take his glittering client roster with him.

Limato had been serving as co-president of ICM when he was abruptly stripped of his title July 13th. Negotiations intended to avoid arbitration over his exit fell apart and the acrimonious split quickly became public fodder.

His client roster reads like a Hollywood A-list of stars, including Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Liam Neeson and Adrian Lyne.

Limato’s departure from ICM after an association spanning 32 years, according to Variety, had been watched closely by more than just the ten-percentery.

Entertainment journalist Nikki Finke posted an "exclusive" on her Deadline Hollywood blog August 14th that the deal was done and Limato was headed to WMA. An especially intriguing plot line had Paradigm, which acquired and recently renamed two of music’s best-known agencies, making its own bold move for Limato’s services.

ICM can still claim a stake in commissions for deals Limato may already have in the works, according to Variety. His lawyers told the trade paper that he doesn’t have to share commissions on fresh deals once he moves on.

In granting Limato his freedom, arbitrator Diane Wayne cited the landmark DeHavilland decision enshrined in California’s Labor code to immediately end his obligation to ICM because his contract renewals exceeded seven years.

"I’m a free man. I’m already out of there," Limato told Finke. "It means that I can entertain what I want to do with the rest of my life with another agency. I can’t begin to tell you how gratified I’ve been by the outpouring of support and a lot of love.

"People felt I wasn’t being treated right after all the service I’ve given to ICM. On the other hand, I’ve loved this company and spent many happy, happy years there. … But now I can finally look forward to a new life doing what I do best, which is being an agent for my talent," Limato was quoted as saying.

In a statement, ICM general counsel Richard Levy said, "The arbitrator’s decision to allow Ed to end his contractual obligations was based solely on a technical interpretation of Section 2855 of the California labor Code, commonly referred to as the seven-year rule. Ed is now able to accept new employment opportunities. We wish Ed continued success in the next phase of his career."