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Inside Move: Topper feels sting of the press

New Yorker profile irks WMA, Gellar

In the current issue of the New Yorker, William Morris Agency prexy David Wirtschafter described Sarah Michelle Gellar as “nothing at all” before her performance in horror pic “The Grudge.”

As of Tuesday morning, Gellar was no longer an agency client.

The quote appeared on the last page of a 12-page Wirtschafter profile, “Secret Agent Man.” It also appeared in the Tuesday edition of the New York Post’s Page Six, which mistakenly credited the article as inspiring Lucy Liu to dismiss the agency; she actually left last week.

The article’s writer was Tad Friend, who made Wirtschafter the subject of his annual Letter From California.

Friend, who first approached WMA about the piece two years ago, had enormous access to the usually press-averse Wirtschafter; he even spent two weeks in the agent’s offices.

However, Friend’s Hollywood track record has turned his surname into an oxymoron, according to one of his previous subjects.

“Based on my experience, no one in Hollywood should ever say a word to (Friend) in their whole lives,” said Benderspink’s JC Spink, who was part of an unflattering Letter From Hollywood profile on “The Ring” producer Roy Lee. “It’s a ridiculous business, but there are real people in it and he tries to make everyone look like an idiot.”

The agency, however, is more sanguine about the piece.

“As an agency, we are deeply sorry if any remarks in the New Yorker story have caused any hurt feelings or ill will,” said a WMA spokesperson. “It was never our intention to hurt anyone.”

Insiders acknowledge there are a few things the voluble Wirtschafter might wish he hadn’t said, including the Gellar remark (which, as Friend tells it, the agent made back in October, at home after a long day that included Hylda Queally ankling WMA for CAA).

At the same time, the article positions WMA as an aggressive agency, one that isn’t above poaching Rob Bowman or making someone as unconventional as Wirtschafter its leader.

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