Endeavor Agency founding partner Marty Adelstein — whose client list includes big-name producers such as David E. Kelley and “3rd Rock From the Sun” creators Bonnie and Terry Turner — is ankling to set up his own management firm.
As part of his exit from the agency, Adelstein will share all of his current clients with Endeavor in his new role as a manager. While he’ll formally sever his partnership within a few days, Adelstein will remain at the tenpercentery in a transitional role through the end of pilot season in May.
In addition to Kelley and the Turners, Adelstein’s client roster includes helmers Simon West and Jan De Bont, the writing team of Glen Morgan and James Wong and grappler-thesp Dwayne Johnson (aka the Rock).
News of Adelstein’s departure was announced Monday at an Endeavor staff meeting.
Both Adelstein and his soon-to-be ex-partners painted the parting as sad but amicable. Adelstein said that after more than a decade as an agent, he simply wanted to try a new way of doing business.
“I’ve been thinking about my life and the state of the business for the last six months,” Adelstein said. “I woke up two weeks ago and said to my wife, ‘I think I have a structure that will let me extend further what I’m doing now.’ I love the agency business, but at some point, I have other ideas. I have to see what else I can do.”
While expressing optimism that the current SAG-ATA talks will yield results, Adelstein said that being a manager offers him freedoms the agency world will never allow.
As happens any time a major exec ankles a company, Adelstein’s exit kicked up the predictable cloud of schadenfreude and suspicion — somewhat understandably, as Adelstein had attracted more than his fair share of controversy as a tenpercenter, taunting rival agency heads with boasts of imminent client poaching and, most famously, sending his clients’ spec script for a remake of 1971’s rodent horror pic “Willard” to studio execs in cages replete with live lab rats.
Both sides, however, went to great lengths to paint the departure as nothing more than what Endeavor partner Ariel Emmanuel dubbed “a life change for Marty.”
“I’m in business with these guys for life,” Adelstein said, remembering the early days of the tenpercentery when “we were above a hamburger stand in Beverly Hills. I love all these people. This is my legacy.”
Emmanuel dubbed the past few days “the saddest weekend ever” and called Adelstein “my other wife.”
Emmanuel, however, downplayed any financial impact of Adelstein’s exit and refused to go into specifics of what will inevitably lead to a new commissioning arrangement with high-profile TV clients like Kelley.
“I don’t know what the loss will be — you would have to articulate that,” he said. “Endeavor is bigger than any one of us now. It’s always been about the clients. There is no negative financial impact on the company.”
Still, it’s unlikely many of Adelstein’s biggest clients will take on an additional manager’s fee, despite Adelstein’s new status. Since Adelstein and Endeavor will co-represent clients, it would seem that Endeavor may suffer some loss of coin to Adelstein.
Whether a new partner may replace Adelstein, Emmanuel said, “We’ve grown based on need; there’s never been ‘a spot’ open.”
Adelstein left CAA in 1995 to help form Endeavor with several former associates, including TV packaging veterans Emmanuel and Rick Rosen. He previously had been at UTA, having started his career at the William Morris Agency’s mailroom.