Throwback Thursday: 20 Years Ago, a Midnight Break-In Launched Endeavor
In 1995, long before the exit of 12 agents from CAA to UTA, David Greenblatt, Tom Strickler, Ari Emanuel and Rick Rosen left ICM to launch their own agency in "a move that sent shock waves through the Hollywood community."
This story first appeared in the May 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
The recent exit of 12 agents from CAA to UTA might arguably affect more clients and billings than the 1995 departure of David Greenblatt, Tom Strickler, Ari Emanuel and Rick Rosen from ICM, but it lacked the Watergate-burglars-caught-red-handed element that the founders of Endeavor brought to their decampment. In a front-page story on March 30, 1995, THR described the foursome's decision to launch their own agency as "a move that sent shock waves through the Hollywood community."
The drama had begun two days earlier, when a security guard got a message to then-chairman Jeff Berg saying there was a break-in at ICM and that an SUV was backed up to a freight elevator. In fact, Greenblatt's assistant was captured on security footage removing files from the building. (Greenblatt had made news the year before when he'd sold screenwriter Shane Black's The Long Kiss Goodnight to New Line for a record $4 million.) When Berg and then-president Jim Wiatt drove to the agency's Beverly Hills headquarters around midnight, they found the offices of the defectors completely cleaned out.
Calls threatening legal action were made, and between 12:30 a.m. and 7 a.m., the files the four had removed, plus their office keys, were returned. Hours later, ICM management sent their employees an email calling the actions "an act of trespass and in furtherance of a concerted and illegal plan" and saying the group had "engaged in behavior reminiscent of the avarice and greed of the late 1980s." There were threats of future legal action, but little came of it.
"The thing about agents is if they don't want to be there, they don't want to be there," says attorney Patty Glaser, who has represented clients in similar cases. "The only way to prevent them from leaving is either negotiation for more money or an enforceable contract." The latter issue is at the heart of the arbitration begun April 3 by CAA against the two defectors who were under contract. So far they've been joined at UTA by clients including Chris Pratt and Will Ferrell.