Ari Emanuel Sheds Light on Fierce Competition Among Talent Agencies

Attorney Howard Rubinroit questions agent over WME’s decision not to move into new Beverly Hills digs

Ari Emanuel

On Sept. 21, 2010, attorney Howard Rubinroit, representing developer George Comfort & Sons, questioned Ari Emanuel in the dispute over WME’s
decision not to move into new Beverly Hills digs that had been commissioned by WMA prior to its 2009 merger with Endeavor. Variety obtained a transcript of the deposition, which offers a glimpse into the competitive instincts of uber-agents.

WME’s position was that the developer’s decision to allow the Gersh Agency to lease adjacent space violated the contract. Why? Let Emanuel explain.


Rubinroit: How does the fact that they’re there affect what WME’s operations would be if it took possession pursuant to the lease?
Emanuel: They’re a direct competitor to me.
R: Anything more than that?
E: I know you don’t think it’s a big deal. They’re a direct competitor to me.
R: OK.
E: That is a big deal.
R: And why is it a big deal?
E: Because they’re a direct competitor to me.
R: OK. How can it hurt your business?
E: They could take clients from me.
R: OK. How is it that their location there would allow them to take clients from you?
E: In the agency business, people go to vast extremes to get close to clients and to steal clients. If they’re in the same building configuration with me, it makes it a lot easier.
R: Why is that?
E: Because they have access to my clients as they come into the building, or they’re in the area of it.
R: OK. They would have access to your clients at a restaurant, would they not?
E: Not this way. They’re a direct competitor to me and they’re in my same building.
R: How is that?
E: You need to learn about the agency business then, before you ask that question, sir.
R: Well, explain to me how in the agency business the fact that —
E: I can give you many books to read about the agency business and about people stealing clients.
R: No. I just want your testimony.
E: I just gave it to you. They’re a direct competitor to me.