WME launches, few frictions remain

Merging Morris, Endeavor look to blend styles

As of this week, William Morris and Endeavor are officially moving in together.

Fittingly, the new era for the tenpercenteries kicks off with a party –party at Ari’s place! — followed by their first powwow as a combined entity.

The merger agreement struck on April 27 is expected to formally close early this week, after state labor commissioners in California and New York sign off on the union.

But official details are only a small portion of the task involved: The real work is to make the company run as a unified entity.

With that in mind, co-CEOs Ari Emanuel, Patrick Whitesell and Dave Wirtschafter and TV department head Rick Rosen flew in staffers from WMA and Endeavor offices in New York, as well as WMA bureaus in London, Nashville, Miami Beach and Shanghai.

But, as with any family, there are rivalries and hurt feelings. Hollywood was buzzing about the prospect of WME cutting a large number of clients as it streamlines its roster after the recent layoffs of dozens of agents, the vast majority of them from WMA.

But those kind of frictions are inevitable when there’s a merger between companies with divergent styles. Endeavor, with its pizzazz and anti-establishment style, will be dealing with departments — music, sports, corporate clients — that are new to the agents, who had focused on film and TV clients.

The Endeavor alums are particularly focused on the challenge of infusing their much larger entity with the company culture — hard-driving but still close-knit — that they view as being integral to Endeavor’s rise in just 14 years to the top echelon of tenpercenteries.

Film and TV agents from the WMA side will relocate in the near future a few blocks down the road in Beverly Hills to Endeavor’s Wilshire Boulevard offices. Agents from WMA’s music and commercials wing and administrative/backoffice staffers will be consolidated at WMA’s El Camino Drive buildings. WMA chief exec Jim Wiatt, who is segueing to an emeritus role at WME, will keep an office at WMA through January.

By the end of next year, WME’s West Coast troops should be all under one roof and throwing a housewarming party for their new digs in Beverly Hills. That relocation project was set in motion several years ago by WMA, back when Endeavor was a rival, not a relation.

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