Paradigm: No Deal With UTA

Paradigm chief Sam Gores told employees of the agency on Sunday that he has shut down acquisition talks with UTA. Gores said in his note that UTA offered to buy the music and literary divisions of Paradigm but he opted not to sell, and with it a client roster that includes author Stephen King, and musical acts such as Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Halsey, and Shawn Mendes.

“There are reasons why a combination like this would have made sense for both agencies,” Gores wrote. “But in the end, what is more compelling for us is how unique the culture at Paradigm is and how powerful our independent path can be.”

Rumors have been swirling around Hollywood in recent weeks that a merger between the two agencies was in the works. The acquisition talks unfolded at a tumultuous time for the agency business. Endeavor, which owns WME, one of the Big Four agencies along with CAA, UTA and ICM Partners, has filed to go public, a move that could inject capital into its operations and leave its rivals punching up.

But there are other storm clouds on the horizon. The agencies are locked in a fierce standoff with the Writers Guild of America over packaging fee, industry-speak for the money that agencies make for bundling talent for television programs. That fight has led to mass-firings of agents by writers. They argue that agents are incentivized under the current structure to put their own financial interest over those of their writer clients.

In a statement, UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said, “We admire Sam and the business he and his colleagues have built. We are disappointed we didn’t come to an agreement. But we wish him and everyone at Paradigm the best.”

Gores called off the talks with UTA because he believed it was causing instability inside Paradigm, especially among rank and file agents, according to insiders.

The two companies have flirted with joining forces on and off for more than a decade — in 2008 there were a flurry of rumors about Paradigm buying UTA — but talks intensified a few weeks ago. At that point, UTA presented an offer for Paradigm’s lucrative music division and its literary units. Gores was open to the idea, including the option of selling UTA a controlling interest without surrendering the entire agency and its film and television businesses.

One big consideration was how Paradigm and UTA’s corporate cultures would mesh, a source close to the situation said. In 2008 talks broke down over the issue of post-merger leadership, but that was not a stumbling block this time.

Gores and UTA brass met as late as Sunday, according to a source, and ended the discussions on good terms. It’s unclear of what kinds of figures were discussed, but in his note to staff, Gores wrote that, “UTA made an offer to acquire Paradigm that would have represented one of the largest talent agency transactions in the history of our business.”

UTA’s clients include Judd Apatow, Kevin Hart, Jake Tapper, DJ Khaled, and Elizabeth Banks.

Read the staff memo below:

Dear Colleagues:

I want to address the events of the past week and the press reports surrounding a potential transaction between Paradigm and UTA.

The fact is that our industry is in an era of significant change and also unprecedented opportunity.

The complexion of what the agency business will look like has led all of the major agencies including ourselves to look at ways to strengthen their platforms and provide more resources to clients.

UTA made an offer to acquire Paradigm that would have represented one of the largest talent agency transactions in the history of our business.

The offer was made for both the Talent/Literary and Music divisions. This offer is a tribute to the work that all of us have done and the quality of the asset we have created together.

After careful consideration and in consultation with leaders of both the Music and Talent/Literary executive groups, I have made the decision to shut down discussions and not make this deal.

There are reasons why a combination like this would have made sense for both agencies, but in the end, what is more compelling for us is how unique the culture at Paradigm is and how powerful our independent path can be.

For obvious reasons, it is not possible to communicate with the entire company when a conversation like this occurs. Those who know me and the history of how we have built Paradigm know that I always make decisions regarding the future of the business by considering what is ultimately in the best interest of our agency as a whole and all of our clients.

The past week has given us the opportunity to make us stronger both internally and externally. We should be proud of what we have built and be proud of our courage to bet on ourselves.

Let’s all get back to work and continue to do what we do so well.

For the Art For the Artist.


Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Thomas Golubic8th Annual Guild of Music

    Guild of Music Supervisors President: 'The Economics of the Job Don't Work Anymore'

    The Guild of Music Supervisors (GMS) hosted its 5th annual “State of Music in Media” conference on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Los Angeles Film School. Featuring a wide array of panel discussions on all manner of issues related to music in film, television and advertising, the confab drew top composers, music supervisors, licensing and [...]

  • Ric Ocasek'The Imitation Game' film premiere,

    Ric Ocasek’s Cause of Death Revealed, Paulina Porizkova Posts Touching Note

    Cars frontman Ric Ocasek died of cardiovascular disease, according to an autopsy report released Monday by the New York City medical examiner’s office cited by Yahoo News and other outlets. More specifically, the cause was hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, also called atherosclerosis, which is an accumulation of plaque in the arteries that can weaken [...]

  • Megan Thee StallionMegan Thee Stallion in

    Megan Thee Stallion Confirms She's Collaborating With Kehlani on Next Album (EXCLUSIVE)

    Hip-hop’s It Girl of the summer, Megan Thee Stallion, has exclusively told Variety that she’s collaborating with Kehlani and a few other famous ladies on her next album. The rapper, who dropped a video for her song of the season “Hot Girl Summer” earlier this month, was asked by Variety on the red carpet at Rihanna’s annual [...]

  • Schoolboy Q

    ScHoolboy Q Reveals ‘CrasH’ Tour Dates

    Top Dawg Entertainment recording artist ScHoolboy Q today announced dates for his next jaunt across the country, the CrasH Tour 2019. Special guest NAV will join on select dates; dates appear in full below Produced by Live Nation, the 19-city tour will kick off November 4 in Houston and make stops in Atlanta, Brooklyn, Toronto, Chicago, and more [...]

  • United Talent Agency Reveals New Logo

    UTA Unveils New Logo, Corporate Image

    UTA raised the curtain Monday on a new corporate logo. The three-dimensional image is meant to emphasize the talent agency’s focus on uniting ideas, opportunities and talent. Building signage with the new logo will go up next month at UTA’s headquarters in Beverly Hills. “Our new identity captures the multiple facets and intersections of our [...]

  • Taylor SwiftMTV Video Music Awards, Arrivals,

    Taylor Swift Joins 'The Voice' Season 17 as a Mentor

    Taylor Swift is returning to “The Voice” as a mega mentor in the upcoming 17th season of the NBC singing competition series. The “Blank Space” singer will offer advice to each team of artists as they prepare for the knockout rounds in the show. Coaches John Legend and Blake Shelton took to Instagram to share [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content