UTA Becomes First Agency To Reinstate Salaries But Furloughs An Additional 50 Staff

Jeremy Zimmer
– Jeremy Zimmer
United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer

UTA Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Zimmer notified his company Sept. 2 that it will restore full salaries to employees who took pay cuts in March because of the COVID pandemic, but would also furlough an additional 50 staffers.

Zimmer, along with co-presidents David Kramer and Jay Sures, will continue to forego salaries through the end of the year, Pollstar has learned.

According to a person with knowledge of the moves, the company is also exploring increasing pay for hourly employees including assistants, and the memo from Zimmer said UTA will extend half-day “Summer Fridays” through Sept. 25. The agency is the first to restore salaries after the onslaught of the COVID crisis.

The company is believed to be in a somewhat improved position in part to an agreement with the Writers Guild of America in a longstanding dispute between the WGA and the “Big Four” agencies over TV and film “packaging” deals. UTA is the also the first to come to terms with the WGA.

UTA furloughed what’s believed to be a significant number of its 1,200 employees in May. The action just announced will affect some of those furloughed as well as current employees across divisions. The company is providing a “generous” severance package including covering COBRA payments for an unspecified period of time.

Zimmer in his memo cites “the good news” first: that he believes the industry is “showing increasing signs of recovery and stability.” But he followed that with the more “sobering” news.  

“Our business is recovering, but the need remains to take a hard and honest look at the size and makeup of UTA — and make decisions that reflect what our business requires not just short term but for the foreseeable future,” Zimmer wrote to employees, adding that more information would be forthcoming in a companywide meeting Sept. 3.

As for our other furloughed colleagues, we are not able to reinstate them at this time and, given the continued uncertainty, we can’t yet set any expectations about when that might happen. The most important thing we can do right now is continue to manage UTA carefully, deliberately and day-by-day,” Zimmer wrote.

“Although there are still uncertain times ahead, I am grateful for all we have accomplished together to bring us to this point. The successes we continue to achieve for clients are truly amazing. We have packaged, innovated, dreamed and sometimes simply willed into existence great and unique opportunities for artists across UTA.”