Agency Merger Turns Ari Emanuel Into Hollywood’s Newest Heavy

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Photo: Patrick McMullan

Unless you have some sort of a serious stake in the entertainment industry, you probably didn't notice all of the drama that went down a few weeks ago when Endeavor took over merged with the William Morris Agency. And with good reason, too; as an outsider, it's kind of difficult to get emotionally invested in a business whose most famous product is a fictional character on an HBO show that's nearing its expiration date. Of course, we're talking about Jeremy Piven's sushi-addled portrayal of Ari Gold on Entourage, a character who, as just about everyone knows, is based on the real-life antics of Mark Wahlberg's agent, Ari Emanuel. However, as Kim Masters reports over on the Daily Beast, now that Ari is calling the shots as the head of the new William Morris Endeavor Entertainment group (WME), he's put himself in a position to become one of the agency world's most powerful figures since the days when Michael Ovitz ran CAA in the late eighties.

So what does this all mean, exactly? Well, to be blunt, it means that everyone in town is afraid of him. Not only does he control the careers of a number of Hollywood's best and brightest talents, but the fact that his older brother Rahm is Barack Obama's chief of staff gives Ari an added aura of power and mystique that rivals some of Hollywood's all-time biggest power brokers. One thing that Masters does not make clear in her piece is exactly how Emanuel will begin wielding his power to shape the agency entertainment company in his image. As long as we're writing about it, though, we'd like to offer up a suggestion for Ari: how about starting off by ensuring that Andy Samberg stops making fun of one of your most prized clients? Let's see if he has the clout to pull that off.

Hollywood's New Don [Daily Beast]