Adam Venit, the longtime head of WME’s motion picture group, is on leave from the agency as it probes an allegation of sexual harassment involving actor Terry Crews.
Crews disclosed via social media on Oct. 10 that he was groped last year at a “Hollywood function” by a “high-level Hollywood executive.” Sources close to the situation said Crews in recent days has been preparing to cite Venit as the unnamed executive. Crews is a client of WME.
Reps for WME and Venit declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Crews.
Details about the incident, including the setting of the event, remain sketchy. It’s unclear if Venit’s alleged intent was overtly sexual or if it was aggressive horseplay that crossed a line. Crews said the groping occurred in full view of his wife.
“Jumping back I said What are you doing?! My wife saw everything n we looked at him like he was crazy. He just grinned like a jerk,” Crews wrote on Twitter.
Crews’ disclosure via Twitter came a few days after the New York Times and New Yorker reported explosive revelations of sexual harassment and assault allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein dating back decades.
Venit represents an extensive client list that includes Dustin Hoffman and Brett Ratner, both of whom have been accused of sexual harassment over the past week. He also reps such top talent as Golden Globe and Oscar winner Emma Stone, as well as Adam Sandler, Diane Keaton, Shawn Levy, Vince Vaughn, Marc Forster, and Eddie Murphy.
The agent has negotiated a number of groundbreaking deals for his clients, including Sandler’s pact with Netflix and Kevin James’ agreement on “Kevin Can Wait.” He is working on putting together “Creed 2” for clients Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan. Venit also struck a deal for M. Night Shyamalan on “Split” and helped build out his writer-director client’s TV business with “Wayward Pines.”
Venit worked at Endeavor from 1996 to 2009, when the company merged with the William Morris Agency. He began his career in the mailroom of Creative Artists Agency, where he worked for 11 years and became a leader in the talent department.
The news comes amid heightened scrutiny at Hollywood’s talent agencies, where a sexually charged working environment has long been a fact of life for many women. Over the past six months, ICM and CAA have forced out male agents accused of sexual harassing co-workers. Last month, APA talent agent Tyler Grasham was fired for alleged sexual misconduct involving some clients.