CAA Plots Next Moves in Wake of UTA Defections

CAA Offices
Paul Turang

CAA is considering its next moves, following the earth-shattering upheaval of 10 agents defecting for UTA, which depleted its comedy department of talent.

CAA appears in damage-control mode and is putting on a good face that it’s business as usual. But sources say the managing partners held a meeting Wednesday morning to address employees’ concerns about the state of the agency and discuss how to proceed.

Sources who work with the agents characterized the gathering as a major pep rally to keep spirits high, with no one dwelling on any anxiety or worry in the marble hallways of the Century City agency.

While there was no talk about any immediate retaliatory recourse, several sources say they sense that aggressive actions could be taken in response to those who left. CAA has already promised to pursue legal action based on the employment contracts that the agency claims are in place.

Some people believe CAA could deploy other punitive tactics. For example, the agency could try to recruit high-ranking agents from UTA who are not name partners. Five of the departing CAA agents were given partner status at UTA, so the opportunity to strike back at UTA could prove tempting.

And, there’s always the possibility that CAA would attempt to poach top UTA clients whom they view as vulnerable. After “Mortdecai” flopped at the box office, there was speculation that Johnny Depp was talking to LBI Entertainment co-founder Rick Yorn about possibly coming on as a manager and help UTA with his representation, but those talks faded away and Depp decided to stick with just his longtime United Talent agent Tracy Jacobs.

However, some observers caution that aggressive poaching of top stars and agents would only make CAA appear desperate. “They just had a whole department gutted. If they go and poach one piece of talent or a couple agents it’s going to look like a weak response to everyone in town,” said one studio insider. “They are still the big dogs on the block — just take your punches and move on.”

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  1. John says:

    Actually, Johnny Depp definitely needs a new agent. Regardless of agency…

  2. Julienne says:

    CAA needs to change it’s attitude. They’re arrogant, hard to communicate with…and downright nasty with Producers.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So some of their employees left and took their clients with them – it happens all the time in professional services firms. What you do is move on an try to get new clients – audiences are clamoring for fresh faces anyway.

  4. 1favored says:

    This is an opportunity for CAA to put the pedal to the metal, dig deep, develop an atmosphere of loyalty, and build a strong talent pool. The stars today are C-listers tomorrow. I say look forward. Looking back while moving forward always leads to a collision course.

  5. EK says:

    Yeah, and the mixed metaphor about big dogs taking punches in the unattributed quote.

  6. SF says:

    CAA should just buy UTA and let the agents who left stay in the UTA building. That’ll show ’em.

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