Ari Emanuel Ensnared in Joel Silver’s Feud with Canadian Billionaire

Ari Emanuel 48th Anniversary Gala Vanguard
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In 2019, Ari Emanuel tried to play peacemaker between producer Joel Silver and Silver’s financial backer, Daryl Katz.

It did not work, and now Emanuel finds himself dragged into the bitter feud between the ex-partners.

Silver, producer of “The Matrix” and “Lethal Weapon,” went into business with Katz, the pharmaceutical billionaire who owns the Edmonton Oilers, in 2015. But the relationship soured, and by 2019 Katz was accusing Silver of failing to meet his financial projections in part due to Silver’s colossal debts.

Silver has accused Katz of reneging on their agreement, and of making “extortionate threats” and threatening to slash Silver’s salary from $7 million a year to $1 million.

Enter Ari Emanuel, the consummate Hollywood dealmaker. In March 2019, Emanuel held a meeting in his office with Silver and with Katz’s lawyers in an effort to hash things out. He floated the idea of bringing in fresh financing — from Genesis Media Capital — to pay for some new films as well as some ongoing projects. He also threw out the possibility of working a deal with Sony.

None of that came to fruition, but Emanuel kept talking to Silver and Katz through May 2019 in order to try to reach a deal.

“They did not come to any type of resolution, as Mr. Katz repeatedly expressed extreme hostility and personal dislike toward Silver,” according to a document recently filed on Emanuel’s behalf.

In September 2020, Emanuel got a subpoena from Katz’s lawyers. Emanuel was asked to sit for a deposition and provide business records dating back to 2014, which were supposed to shed light on Emanuel’s knowledge of the dispute. Emanuel’s lawyers fought the subpoena, but an arbitrator ruled that he had to comply.

Emanuel has now gone to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in an effort to overturn the arbitrator’s ruling. Katz and Silver are due for an arbitration hearing on their long-running dispute on March 1.

Unless he can get a judge to stop it, Emanuel will be forced to testify. Emanuel’s attorneys argue that he is not a party to the arbitration agreement between Silver and Katz, and therefore he should not have to testify.

Meanwhile, Silver has retained the services of convicted felon Anthony Pellicano to help him resolve the dispute. Perhaps Pellicano can succeed where Emanuel did not.