Merger fallout begins

Lonner not part of new agency

The vote that will likely turn WMA and Endeavor into WME won’t be held until midday, but the fallout is already starting.

WMA agent David Lonner, who with Steve Rabineau left partnership positions at Endeavor in 2003 to join WMA, has confirmed he will not be part of the new agency.

Lonner would not comment on the specifics. But it’s understood that he was abruptly informed last week that he would not be part of the new agency by WMA chief Jim Wiatt and Endeavor topper Ari Emanuel.

Lonner was informed of his fate just after his biggest client, J.J. Abrams, re-upped his feature deal at Paramount for five years — a lavish, commission-rich pact that encompasses future “Star Trek” installments. As soon as the deal was completed, Lonner was given the harsh news about his future.Lonner has repped Abrams for 20 years, signing the filmmaker right out of Sarah Lawrence. He has been co-repped by John Fogelman, who will be part of the new WME board.

The timing leaves Lonner with a tough decision: he could become a manager and co-rep Abrams with WMA, or become an agent elsewhere who tries to take Abrams, whose commissions on the Par deal will stay withWMA.

The drama has been playing out over the past week, with both parties trying to figure out an amicable resolution.

Lonner also reps Alexander Payne, Brad Silberling, Jon Turteltaub and Audrey Wells. They are expected to join him.

Lonner told Daily Variety that there is no truth to rumors that he is zeroing in on a destination at this point. “I’m not rushing into a decision,” he said. “I am making sure I give my clients what they need, and as the weeks progress I’ll analyze all the opportunities presented to me, and then I’ll figure it out.”

Lonner will hardly be the only prominent tenpercenter to move on as a result of the merger. According to Deadline Hollywood Daily, Endeavor partner Tom Strickler has also tendered his resignation. The respected lit agent was one of the quartet of ICM agents who exited one night in 1995 to form the agency with Ari Emanuel, Rick Rosen and David Greenblatt.

There are also persistent rumors about a move by WMA’s Rabineau, another respected lit agent. Also in play is Mark Itkin, the head of WMA’s reality division who was not invited to join the new nine-member board that will steer the new agency. His exclusion was a surprise to many, aside from the fact that his reality division is such a big revenue-earner for the agency. Rumors have swirled for the past week that Itkin and other members of his department might relocate to CAA.

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