Updated on Friday afternoon:
The new agency is meant to be a William Morris spin-off, by agents furious at Jim Wiatt and Dave Wirtschafter for considering letting go of the Morris name in the pending merger with Endeavor.
The original call to arms went out in an email which I’ve been given,which reflects the aforesaid anger and floats the notion of buying the name from Wiatt and Wirtschafter and starting a spin-off agency. Again, now that the name is not for sale, these agents still plan to set up shop.
I hope to find out soon who wrote the thing:
"I was amused by Patrick Goldstein’s LA Times story in which he claimed Wiatt would attempt to ‘preserve the WMA legacy’ by fighting to keep the William Morris name. This was the same guy who unloaded the El Camino Drive lobby paintings of William Morris and Abe Lastfogel into storage.
"Of course it’s all about the money. Should the name William Morris Agency be ended today, I believe it is an intrinsically valuable commodity that could be successfully secured from the present owners for a financial incentive. Once secured, a new WMA can be established.
"A new lean, relocated and newly-branded William Morris can emerge from this chaos … I believe there would be a Mount Vesuvius-sized egress of working clients amassing at your new doors.
"Let’s preserve the legacy by securing the Morris name before it’s buried forever by the usurpers who stole, misused, then abandoned the heritage."
This story is just unfolding: 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.
But I do know from one person involved that they have been negotiating to buy the name and the logo William Morris, and that they had been text-messaging one another furiously to figure out whether they could raise a seven-figure sum to buy it.
But it turns out the logo is not for sale. During the latest negotiations to merge WMA and Endeavor, it had seemed that the 111-year-old branded title was going to disappear. Now it looks like the merger is moving forward, and that the name, William Morris, will remain with the agency after all.
Nonetheless, the group of agents looking to hang out a shingle are still moving forward, no doubt anticipating the opportunity that may come from the turmoil in the talent agency business created by a merger. The group has been looking at space to set up shop and scouted the former ICM building on Wilshire as one possibility. Not exactly small, start-up real estate.
Final thing I’m hearing is that this new company will not be ready for a public announcement until the middle of May.