The top agent and board member left hastily on Friday, despite having no clear plans
Despite word that WME principal John Fogelman was in no hurry to leave the agency, the board member said hasty goodbyes on Friday, packed up and left, TheWrap has learned.
Fogelman gave a good-bye speech on Friday at a staff meeting in which he said the agency was in the best of hands, and thanked his close colleagues. Agency co-CEO Patrick Whitesell wished him well.
A WME executive confirmed that Fogelman left the main office Friday and would be working from home and a different office.
The departure removes one of the major William Morris figures from the WMA-Endeavor merger, leaving the new agency an even more Endeavor-led endeavor.
Still, none of that explains what seems to have been a messy and unplanned separation for one of the agency’s board members and top performers, whose clients included J.J. Abrams, Michael Bay and Hasbro.
The swift departure underscores what seems to have been a stalemate at the top of the agency. Fogelman, one of the few top-level transplants from the pre-agency William Morris Agency, appeared to want more of a role at WME.
Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell did not seem prepared to give him one.
On Wednesday, Vulture broke a story saying Fogelman was leaving to start a strategic consulting company. Fogelman told TheWrap that night that he wasn’t leaving WME. The agency wouldn’t comment.
Then on Thursday morning, an individual at WME called the situation "fluid," with executives saying Fogelman could stay as long as he wanted. The agency was acting as if nothing has happened.
Fogelman let it be known that he was going to start a strategic consulting firm that would help build his star client J.J. Abrams and Abrams' Bad Robot production company into a media empire. But Abrams' camp denied it, saying the agent "doesn't have a plan yet."
And on Thursday night, Whitesell and Emanuel were seen having dinner with Michael Bay at Katsuya.
By Friday, Fogelman was history.
As one senior agent observed: "In the agency business, when it's over, it's over."
Meanwhile, a former William Morris agent speculated as to how long it would be before other WMA leaders "get the heave-ho." Mark Itkin and Dave Wirtschafter, formerly of William Morris, remain major figures at the new WME.
Joshua L. Weinstein contributed to this story.