WMA, Endeavor Talking Merger

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Two high-powered agencies, The William Morris Agency and Endeavor Talent are engaged in quiet negotiations over a possible merger, the New York Times reported. The combination of the two agencies would likely put them into a strong position to challenge the dominant player in the motion picture business, the Creative Artists Agency.

A merger of the two would seem on its face to be unlikely as the cultures between the two agencies are a study in stark contrast. The William Morris Agency is known for its staid, hierarchical organization while Endeavor tends towards a more 'free-wheeling' approach. Additionally, there is a personal history between some top figures at the two agencies – in 1995, Ariel Emanuel, along with Tom Strickler and Rick Rosen were all uncerimoniously fired from their posts at ICM in 1995 by Jim Wiatt when their plans to decamp and form Endeavor were discovered. In 1999, Wiatt left ICM For WMA and currently serves at the agency's CEO.

The merger, if it can be completed, would seem to play to both agency's strengths. Endeavor is reckoned by many to have one of the strongest television departments in the business and reps a bevy of hot motion picture actors and directors – both areas where William Morris has waned in recent years. WMA by contrast has a significant music roster, repping a solid cross section of up-and-coming artists and established stars and a number of major corporate clients such as Hasbro.

This isn't the first murmurings of such a merger and in recent years, similar deals between the major agencies have been explored but none to fruition – issues of control and turf have thus far proven to be insurmountable. Those issues would exist for any merger between Endeavor and WMA as well. According to the New York Times, any merger would need to be approved by WMA's board and the seven member board at Endeavor.

Jim Wiatt and agency president David Wirtschafter wield significant, likely dominant influence over the board at WMA while Ariel Emanuel although lacking official title, is in a similar position at Endeavor.

Any deal would also need to be sold to the rank and file and it seems likely that there would be significant staff reductions in redundant positions among the nearly 1,000 people employed at both firms. Insiders have said that they believe that if the deal completed, Jim Wiatt would serve in a roll similar to chairman while Emanuel would handle operations, the Times reported. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers

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