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Ari Emanuel isn’t a “lunatic,” he is “unbelievably loyal,” according to his WME partner Patrick Whitesell.
Whitesell, who, along with Emanuel, is co-CEO of WME, was put in the position of defending his agency partner Monday while speaking at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2013 conference in Aspen, Colo.
“You have a co-CEO that kind of has a high profile,” Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer said about six minutes into a 31-minute recorded interview. “I’m sure everyone wants to know: What the hell is that like, working with Ari? You know, I mean Ari would probably be the first person to describe himself as a lunatic.”
Serwer goes on to suggest that Ari “runs around like crazy” and asks Whitesell: “How do you put up with that?”
Whitesell chuckled at the question, reminisced about how he and Emanuel met, and then said: “The thing about Ari is, he does get a lot of press for his tenacity, and he may be outspoken at times, but what’s interesting to me about Ari is that he’s a phenomenal partner, super-creative, unbelievably loyal and not afraid of failure.”
The bulk of the Whitesell’s presentation, though, consisted of praise for Hollywood’s content creators – many of whom are WME clients – and for Silver Lake Partners, which bought 30 percent of WME last year. “We just needed more capital to do things faster,” Whitesell explained.
Pressed to describe Hollywood’s relationship with technology and companies that operate in Silicon Valley, Whitesell said WME chose Silver Lake as an investor because of exactly those relationships. WME knows content creation, but Silver Lake represented “help in this complicated world of how things were changing,” Whitesell said.
“I don’t think Hollywood will be the place that innovates great technology, but if people underestimate how they monetize content, they’re sorely mistaken,” said Whitesell.
Whitesell was scheduled to appear at the conference with Egon Durban, a Silver Lake partner, but Durban canceled because Silver Lake is in the midst of an attempted buyout of computer-maker Dell.
See the entire video below.
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