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NBC’s news magazine aired a segment on Friday night that united the three Emanuel brothers — Ari, Chicago mayor Rahm and noted bioethicist Ezekiel — to discuss their upbringing and current jobs.
The conversation with Brian Williams that aired was filled with lighthearted chatting between the siblings and promotion of Ezekiel’s new book. But Ari, co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor, sent a legal letter to the network over the nature of the discussion, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
The New York Post first reported the spat.
A source tells THR that Williams approached the interview in an aggressive fashion, asking the brothers about their connection to Israel and Ari’s reputation as an ultra-aggressive Hollywood agent, among other things. The source says Ari, who is fiercely protective of his brothers, believed the questioning would be lighter and related only to Ezekiel’s book. So the agent’s lawyers sent the letter asking that NBC not air the more confrontational portions of the interview.
The Post reported that Ari later got into a “heated confrontation” with NBC Universal chief executive Steve Burke over the interview, but a source close to WME claims that part of the report is “100 percent wrong.”
An NBC statement to THR read: “We hope viewers saw the interview as a lively conversation with three famously colorful brothers who embody a great American story of success.”
Although the Rock Center segment was framed as conversation between brothers at a New York bar, Williams did get serious with Ari at one point during the interview that aired.
In a narration, Williams explained in the clip (9:07 below), “The Emanuel brothers do not suffer from self-doubt, at least not outwardly, they do not suffer fools gladly and, as we learned, they don’t love being challenged or prodded. Ari’s facial expressions speak volumes when the conversation turned to his scorched earth reputation in Hollywood…”
The WME co-CEO responded to the NBC anchor’s question about what he would have changed about himself by saying, “I would have gotten into therapy a lot earlier and dealt with stuff.”
He added: “But you know something?… I’m actually really comfortable, I’m really happy, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time.”
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