Endeavoring For A WMA Merger

The much-gossiped-about but unconfirmed merger talks between Endeavor and William Morris Agency have sparked some entertaining, if distracting to hapless agents of each, reporting from the local trades and competing bloggers.

One of the few points of agreement between the two major daily trades, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, and blogs Deadline Hollywood Daily and The Wrap, is that the deal is as good as done and could be announced at any moment.

Some of them have been saying that for weeks, however, and at least at Pollstar’s press time, no announcement was forthcoming.

Although it is widely understood there will be redundancies if the two major agencies merged, the WMA music department is not likely to be impacted, considering Endeavor does not have one.

Variety reports that WMA honchos Jim Wiatt and Dave Wirtschafter have already briefed their staff on a merger as they continue to meet with Endeavor toppers Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.

The Hollywood Reporter opines that the merged companies will move into a new six-story complex in Beverly Hills sometime next year, noting that WMA sold its headquarter buildings in another 90210 location and that the 10-percenter has committed to a 20-year lease for more than 150,000 square feet in the new building.

Nikki Finke, in her Deadline Hollywood Daily blog, reported April 21 that the merger’s finalization is “a scant three weeks away” and the WMA board has already been given a formal presentation about the merger’s details. She updated April 23 to add a presentation to Endeavor’s 28 partners to the company’s calendar two days later.

And Finke rival Sharon Waxman of the Wrap reports that WMA agents “furious” with Wiatt, for reportedly considering dumping the 110-year-old William Morris name, are floating the idea of spinning off a new agency under that name themselves.

But that was after reporting that “I am hearing that a group of agents and former agents from Creative Artists, William Morris, ICM and Paradigm are banding together to create a new agency. I don’t yet know the names of the agents.”

In theory, at least, the rebel agents would consider the William Morris name to have plenty of intrinsic value (ya think?) and “have been negotiating to buy the name and the logo William Morris” and trying to round up pledges for the “seven-figure sum to buy it.”In the meantime, tongues wag, speculators speculate and, for at least one agency chief on the outside looking in, the upheaval over the negotiations is nothing to get worked up over.

“The state of the business has challenged everybody since the writers’ strike,” Paradigm CEO Sam Gores told Variety. “The better defined you are, the better off you’ll be,” adding he felt no pressure to find a merger partner of his own.

Two days later, while all eyes continued to be elsewhere, the company announced it had acquired Third Coast Artists Agency, possibly the strongest Christian boutique music agency in the industry.