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Kai Ryssdal: In Hollywood today there’s talk of another big deal. The mega-talent agencies William Morris and Endeavor are expected to announce a get-together. A deal could create a star chamber big enough to let agents take back some of their power from the industry’s big studios. Marketplace’s Jennifer Collins reports.
JENNIFER COLLINS: First, the players: The William Morris agency started more than a century ago. Endeavor is more of an upstart. Together, the two would have 300 agents, $300 million in revenue, and clout.
LARRY GERBRANDT: The leverage that the stars — and in particular the agents — have had have been substantially eroded by just the sheer weight of the recession.
That’s entertainment industry analyst Larry Gerbrandt. He says in the past, agencies have called the shots on projects, salaries and scripts. But these days the big movie studios make the deals. The merger would bring together lots of star power under one roof — Travolta, De Niro, Kate Hudson.
GERBRANDT: It makes far less sense to constantly compete against each other for clients and for projects.
So long as the agencies’ cultures don’t clash. The head of Endeavor, Ari Emanuel, is the model for Ari Gold, the abrasive agent on HBO’s “Entourage.”
ARI GOLD: I’m going to take everyone. Your B-level sitcom stars, your reality TV writers. When I’m done with you, you’re going to be reping side-show freaks.
Nelson Gayton teaches entertainment management at UCLA.
NELSON GAYTON: If Ari Emmanuel is representative of the culture of Endeavor, will Endeavor as an organization fit with the culture of William Morris?
You can be sure Hollywood will be watching.
I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.
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