Ryan Kavanaugh's Attempt to Join L.A.'s Jonathan Club Sparks Member Outrage

The ex-Relativity chief’s application to the exclusive beachside club is dividing the membership and focusing attention on the man who seconded his nomination, ex-William Morris CEO Jim Wiatt.
JB Lacroix/WireImage; Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic
Will Ryan Kavanaugh be blocked from paying around $45,000 a year to join the Jonathan Club?

Tongues are wagging on the Westside over Ryan Kavanaugh’s application to join Santa Monica’s tony, members-only Jonathan Club.

According to multiple sources, some members are said to be upset over the possibility that they could run into the former Relativity honcho — who steered the company ship into Chapter 11 bankruptcy twice, leaving many employees, filmmakers and vendors out in the cold — in the dining room or by the pool.

But he’s been receiving positive support from current member Jim Wiatt, who seconded Kavanaugh's nomination for admission. Beau Rani is sponsoring his nomination. Wiatt and Kavanaugh are known to be close (the former WME honcho served as a Relativity board member and reportedly joined Kavanaugh on his private jet to Harvey Weinstein's Connecticut wedding), and Wiatt is a huge fan of the Jonathan Club.

THR reported that he’s an avid tennis player, and insiders say he's there on a daily basis. Other industry insiders who are members include UTA’s Theresa Peters, Chris Hart and Matt Rice; Management 360’s Guymon Casady; and producer Marty Bowen. Final vote rests in the hands of the Jonathan Club's membership committee and is expected to happen later this month.

In a statement to THR, Kavanugh's spokesperson said: “This is nothing more than an attempt by Michael Sitrick and two of his acquaintances to attempt to make Mr. Kavanaugh look bad — both by filing objections to Mr. Kavanaugh joining (3 of 3000 members or .01 percent of the members, and all non-industry. Hard to see .01% as an outrage) and failing to disclose to the committee it was because Mr. Sitrick lost a legal dispute Mr. Kavanaugh filed against him and made the public aware of Mr. Sitrick’s litigious history in the process. There are no industry people complaining and there is no one from the industry who is claiming Mr. Kavanaugh 'burnt them,' rather the opposite. Those industry members have come to his defense and made very [clear] they stand behind Mr. Kavanaugh and his character. It is also a misstatement to imply Mr. Kavanaugh was involved in Relativity's second reorganization. He had long since departed."

Sitrick denied the above claims and has issued a statement of his own. "Ryan’s statements are false. The first I learned of his application for membership to the Jonathan Club was when I read it in THR. Thus, his statement about that could not be true. With respect to the litigation, in 2002 I was awarded a $7.6 million judgement, plus interest in an arbitration I brought against Ryan for negligence and breach of duty on an investment I made in his fund. He claimed he was broke and threatened to file bankruptcy. Instead, we signed a Covenant Not to Execute which stated that unless I could prove he had total assets of $100,000 at the time of the judgement, I could not collect. In 2008, I sued him to collect. I was unable to prove he had $100,000 in 2002 and lost that case. There was no money awarded. His remedy was that I was not able to execute on that agreement."

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.