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Five of the veteran comedy agents that defected from CAA to UTA this week — Jason Heyman, Martin Lesak, Nick Nuciforo, Greg Cavic and Gregory McKnight — were delivered framed posters with the logo “CAAN’T” at UTA’s Beverly Hills offices on Thursday. UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer also received the CAAN’T gift, according to sources. Rival agency William Morris Endeavor and its co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell are said to be the culprits.
UTA and WME both declined to comment on the gifts but a UTA source says, “The mailroom staff was amused.” It’s unclear whether the framed posters have made it to their intended recipients. Heyman and some of the 10 ex-CAA agents that have so far made the move to UTA were said to be working out of conference rooms at UTA until their offices can be set up. CAA sued UTA and Cavic and McKnight on Thursday alleging a “lawless, midnight raid” on its employees.
For those who don’t follow Hollywood talent agency pranks, the “CAAN’T” posters date back to June 2013 when it was revealed that WME was behind the sudden appearance of posters featuring CAA’s distinct red logo tweaked to read “CAAN’T” along sidewalks from Hollywood to Santa Monica, in addition to 78 display cases at the Westfield Century City shopping center adjacent to CAA’s Century City headquarters.
The idea for the posters originated from a May 13, 2013, blind item that ran in the New York Post detailing the rant of an acclaimed director who was allegedly venting about his talent agency: “Which recently nominated Oscar director loudly grouses in a high-level meeting about being frustrated with his Hollywood agency by yelling: ‘They should be called Caan’t! Caan’t, Caan’t, Caan’ttttttt!”
The quote later was attributed to CAA client David O. Russell, who at the time had just been nominated for his work on Silver Linings Playbook. He has denied that the quote came from him.
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