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WME, CAA Leaders Address Sexual Harassment Controversies With Staffers

Leaders of WME and CAA have made efforts to address the sexual harassment crisis sweeping through the entertainment industry by encouraging employees at all levels to come forward if they experience or witness such behavior.

On Monday morning, WME CEO Ari Emanuel and executive chairman Patrick Whitesell convened a company-wide meeting of agents to discuss the recent swirl of allegations and the situation that emerged on Friday involving motion picture head Adam Venit and actor Terry Crews, who is a WME client.

On Friday, it was revealed that Venit was the Hollywood executive who Crews accused of groping him at a party. The actor told the story of the incident with an unnamed executive in a Twitter message he sent on Oct. 10, in response to the wave of disclosures from women about past experiences with sexual harassment with producer Harvey Weinstein and others.

It’s understood that Crews had been weighing in recent days whether to publicly name Venit as the executive. Venit went on leave last week while WME investigates the situation that happened more than a year ago. Emanuel and Whitesell acknowledged the situation, first reported by Variety.

Emanuel and Whitesell also held a separate meeting with the agency’s assistants to reinforce that there will be no retaliation or hurdles to advancement for those who report incidents of inappropriate behavior related to work. One participant likened the message to the “if you see something, say something” slogan used in anti-terrorism campaigns.

Meanwhile, sources said CAA last week held a meeting in the TV department to clarify the various responsibilities of senior agents and establishing clear lines of reporting for various duties, all under the direction of TV chief Steve Lafferty. The TV department faced an abrupt change in late September when TV lit head Ryan Ly was let go following allegations of inappropriate behavior from five women in the department. Ly has not responded to Variety‘s requests for comment.

During the meeting, the discussion turned to the general topic of workplace harassment. Department leaders urged younger agents to report any problems early in an effort to ensure a nurturing and productive environment for all.

(Pictured: WME’s Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel)

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