Board members from William Morris Agency and Endeavor have agreed to merge the companies in a move that ends months of speculation and creates a super-agency to rival CAA.
The new entity will be called William Morris Endeavor (WME) Entertainment once the transaction is completed in the second quarter subject to customary closing conditions.
Former William Morris Agency CEO Jim Wiatt is named chairman while Endeavor chiefs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell are named co-CEOs along with William Morris Agency president Dave Wirtschafter.
Wiatt, Emanuel, Whitesell and Wirtschafter join company directors John Fogelman, Peter Grosslight, Rick Rosen, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh and Adam Venit on WME Entertainment’s nine-member board.
The move combines the cash-rich William Morris Agency’s noted music department with Endeavor’s more robust film, TV and talent roster.
Redundancies will inevitably follow. There are roughly 300 agents at the 111-year-old William Morris Agency, almost four times as many as there are at Endeavor, which shot to prominence since it was founded 14 years ago.
Earlier today Endeavor co-founder Tom Strickler announced his departure, as did William Morris Agency’s David Lonner, who represents J J Abrams.
It remained unclear how the merger would affect both agencies’ independent film packaging divisions, although it is understood that at this stage each division will go to Cannes with its separate projects.
WME Entertainment will move into its new digs currently under construction in Beverly Hills in 2010.