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WMA snags Mr. Freeze

Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed with the William Morris Agency to be repped by a team of agents headed by senior VP Robert Stein. The move had been anticipated since he left International Creative Management a month ago (Daily Variety, Feb. 12).

Word spread like wildfire throughout WMA when, about 1 p.m. Thursday, Stein e-mailed his colleagues with a surprisingly understated note: “Please add Arnold Schwarzenegger to the client list.”

The signing comes at a welcome time for the agency, only a month after Sylvester Stallone left WMA to join CAA. Schwarzenegger, who stars as Batman’s arch-enemy in Warner Bros.’ summer franchise film “Batman and Robin,” pulls in $20 million per picture (and in the case of “Batman,” $20 million-plus).

Coup for Stein

The move elevates Stein, the former UTA partner who joined WMA a year ago. The agent represents many directors, such as Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption”) Roger Spottiswoode (the new James Bond film, “Tomorrow Never Dies”), Stuart Baird, John Landis, Charles Sturridge, John Badham and Martha Coolidge. He also represents Chuck Russell, who directed Schwarzenegger in “Eraser” for Warner Bros. last year.

Also on the Schwarzenegger WMA team will be senior VP Michael Gruber, president Jerry Katzman, West Coast motion picture head Mike Simpson, corporate advisory head John Mass and West Coast chief operating officer Steven Kram.

Bets on WMA

After Schwarzenegger exited ICM, bets were on that he would sign with Stein, who has had a close relationship with the star for some time. During the past two weeks, however, word circulated that Schwarzenegger was thinking about being repped only by his lawyer, Jake Bloom.

“After careful consideration over a number of weeks, I determined that William Morris is best equipped to handle my many areas of involvement, not only in the motion picture arena, but also in business, sports-related and charitable activities. I am delighted to be working with the agency and with my longtime friend Robert Stein.”

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