October 23, 2021


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What does the CAA-ICM agreement mean for the future of talent representation

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September 2: At 1117 a.m., an earthquake shakes Hollywood, but it is not registered on the Richter scale.

Leaders of the CAA and ICM Partners spent the weekend in a marathon discussion session, until early Monday, the moment when the CAA reached an agreement to acquire its smaller rival. The acquisition promises to bring Hollywood’s Big Four Talent Agency Landscape to the Big Three, if regulators approve it.

The news surprised agency insiders and rocked staff meetings across the city on Monday morning. There was an immediate acceptance that no corner of entertainment is free from integration media and entertainment.

More specifically, the bond between CAA and ICM promises to give aftershocks in the realm of talent representation. Industry insiders notice how deeply the talent representative market has become dominant in recent years (CAA and WME), with UTA lagging just behind at number 3 – and busy boutiques (Verve and Innovative). Large ish agencies such as Geresh, APA or Paradigm seem to be an endangered species. The next step of the UTA will definitely be monitored.

On the condition of anonymity, the leader of one talent organization said, “Over the years, you have been the three main players in CAA, WME and UTA. “ICM was far behind but not in the same category. Now there is no runner up. This is what consolidation does to any business in this country এটি it eliminates runner-ups.

According to another top dealmaker, disruption will occur as the CAA gets “even a little bigger”. It could force small companies to acquire their own acquisitions or bands to run exclusive competition efforts such as the exclusive CAA or WME parent company Endeavor, which has rejected suspects since the IPO in April and has acted respectfully as a public entity.

As predicted by many, small firms are sending CAA transactions as an opportunity for them to become flawed agents and prey on their clients. Any merger of this size would result in significant pruning, said Brian Lord, managing director of CAA Diversity Now under “caution and measurement” review. In the long run, while some doubt that small talent stores will be able to survive as an individual, boutiques are responding optimistically.

“We’re thrilled with the opportunities we create for our friends and the opportunities we create for ourselves,” said Brian Besser, head of Verve Talent and Literature. “We’re on the same path that we’re on, which is working for us, which is to go to the left if you go the most to the right.”

ICM Partners has been on the block for years, pointing out some of the suspects in the deal and specifically ordering the Writers Guild of America to stop packaging fees around series and movies starring its clients, a major source of income. The acquisition of the company’s CAA can be a universal exercise in proving that it can conduct a significant M&A transaction on the way to an IPO. Yet, says the Lord Diversity The larger agency that is being taken public is “not in front of our brains right now.”

At the heart of any agency is client service, which means the days of finding and landing jobs for actors, writers, directors and other artists responsible for creating content. Over the past decade, though, those three large firms have pursued private equity funds and aggressive diversification. They are spread across areas such as sports, live entertainment, music and comedy touring and corporate brand exploitation. Excluding sports, both CAA and ICM partners have lagged behind in these outdoor activities in recent years. The CAA will insist that it has purchased ICMs in areas such as MTV and lighting and publishing. But CAA’s rivals will also make the agency so big that such big stars demand to pay TLC.

CAA President Richard Lovette said the group “sees our business as a very close issue. It’s true how we feel about it. Which is undeniable, though, because working together has more resources for our clients. We’ve had our agenda for a long time.” To be very clear – which is serving clients and realizing this moment of huge change and transformation in the business environment. Clients really need strong, committed advocacy. “

Lord, who this summer became a vocal advocate in his legal battle with Disney over “Black Widow” compensation for his client Scarlett Johansson, hinted that the dispute was just the beginning of a new-world challenge for talent. As content producers and distributors enter a new level of combined energy, CAA wants to send the message that it can flex its muscles by entering many big names in the industry.

“We are optimistic; We’re not negative from a distance, ”Lord says.“ It’s incredibly difficult right now, because people on both sides of the financiers, distributors, marketing companies analyze what they can do and it doesn’t matter. As we work together, they are much more important than ever. And, “he added,” we’re doing it so we can be great and be a new entity for the future. “

Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.

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