Eight CAA Agents Resign to Join UTA

Hollywood Sign - H 2014
AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Hollywood Sign - H 2014

The moves represent a major shake-up in the agency world.

Five of CAA's top comedy agents — Jason Heyman, Martin Lesak, Greg Cavic, Nick Nuciforo and Gregory McKnight — resigned this morning in order to join UTA as partners. They were joined in the afternoon by Susie Fox, John Sacks and Joanna Scott, with as many as nine more rumored to follow.

The move, a major shake-up in the agency world, is said to be the biggest defection since Ari Emanuel, Rick Rosen, Tom Strickler and David Greenblatt left ICM to start the Endeavor Talent Agency 20 years ago. That planned defection was discovered by ICM chairman Jeff Berg. It is unclear how long this exodus has been in the works. Heyman's A-list clients Chris Pratt and Will Ferrell are already confirmed to make the leap to UTA's Beverly Hills offices, and more are expected to follow suit.

“Jason, Marty, Gregory, Greg and Nick are among the most respected agents in our industry,” said UTA managing directors David Kramer and Jay Sures and CEO Jeremy Zimmer in a joint statement. “We’re excited to have them join UTA’s collaborative culture, and we know that they and their clients will thrive here.”

The quintuplet of new partners, all leaders in CAA's comedy division, instantly bolster UTA's roster, likely adding a formidable pack of movie stars for which CAA has long been better known. As it happens, Heyman and Lesak are returning to UTA, where they were previously partners. Nuciforo will lead UTA's comedy touring division, while Heyman will be named special advisor to the board of directors.

Nuciforo ran CAA's comedy touring division and plays point on Jeff Foxworthy while also working with comedians ranging from Sarah Silverman to Chelsea Handler. Heyman, who made THR's comedy hot list in 2013, reps heavyweights Handler, Ed Helms, Jason Sudeikis, Jim Parsons, Seth Meyers, Johnny Knoxville and former UTA client Mindy Kaling.

Lesak reps Jim Gaffigan and works with Eric Stonestreet, Chris Hardwick, Sudeikis and Zooey Deschanel. Cavic counts Garry Shandling, Demetri Martin and Hardwick among his clients and also works with Helms and Patton Oswalt. Finally, McKnight comes from motion picture lit and reps Breck Eisner, Garry Marshall, Leslye Headland, Rawson Marshall Thurber and Robert Siegel.

Among Sacks' clients at CAA are Gaby Hoffman, Natasha Leggero and Alexis Knapp. Fox's include Broad City creator/stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, Saturday Night Live newbies Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett and hot stand-up comedian/actor Jerrod Carmichael. Scott worked under Nuciforo in the touring department.

CAA agents Rachel Rusch, Chelsea McKinnies, Mackenzie Condon, Bill Zotti, Ryan Abboushi, Matt Blake, Matt Frost and Andrew Skikne – are also rumored to be making the move.

Mar. 31 4:56 p.m. Updated with this afternoon's agent and client moves.