New Book: Ari Emanuel Took Commissions in Grade School

Ari Emanuel

The Tom Sawyer-style lawn-mowing business netted the WME superagent-to-be $2 per customer, according to brother Ezekiel Emanuel's new tome.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Ari Emanuel appears to have been born an agent.

The WME co-chair’s brother Ezekiel Emanuel, an accomplished doctor, bioethicist and former Obama administration health policy adviser, has written a memoir set for release March 26 about the childhood he shared in Illinois and Israel with his two famous brothers (middle child Rahm, 53, is the mayor of Chicago and former White House chief of staff to President Obama).

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The Hollywood Reporter scored an early copy of Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family, which reveals that as a grade-schooler, Ari ran a Tom Sawyer-style lawn-mowing service where he’d charge $5 a lawn, pay his friends $3 to do the work and pocket the remaining $2 as his commission. The young Ari would sell the slices of his mother’s homemade cheesecake she packed in his lunchbox to the highest bidder. (Mom Marsha discovered the scheme when a parent called to order one for a party and asked, “How much do you charge?”)

In high school, Ari, now 51, hawked bootleg concert T-shirts outside arenas, and if he over-ordered a size, he’d simply rip out the tag and sell them “as is.”

According to the book, Ari was pugnacious, hyperactive and occasionally annoying (father Benjamin once got so mad at him for changing the TV channel that he chased him around the house with a knife). But the future superagent always managed to wiggle out of trouble.

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“Even when he was little, he had this glibness, a way of talking that helped him get away with things,” Ezekiel, 55, quotes a family friend as saying.

The memoir is getting an unusually heavy rollout campaign from publisher Random House, complete with an upcoming morning-show appearance for the brothers and a Vanity Fair photo spread shot by Annie Leibovitz.

Might the book be fodder for a movie or television show adaptation? If so, WME is handling rights, naturally.

twiter: andyblewis