Another “web rumor” that Variety‘s Nicole LaPorte dismissed or made light of in her 2.5.06 piece (“Showbiz rumors tapped in web: online gossip goes haywire”) that condemned the willingness of showbiz websites to run unchecked rumors and thereby creating all kinds of havoc…another one of these merit-less rumors appears to have a little merit after all. That is, if today’s L.A. Times story about a possible merger between the ICM and Endeavor talent agencies, written by Claire Hoffman, is to be given any weight. The gist is that Endeavor partner Patrick Whitesell and ICM co-owner Suhail Rizvi — who’ve been close since the early ’80s when they were teenaged tennis-playing pals in Iowa Falls, Iowa — have been talking about following the pattern of recent Hollywood mergers (Paramount buying DreamWorks, Disney buying Pixar, the WB and UPN networks blending to form the CW) and trying to sculpt a deal by which ICM and Endeavor could become one combined super-agency. “In one oft-repeated scenario, the buttoned-down ICM could buy Endeavor, which has cultivated a renegade image that attracts younger and more cutting-edge talent,” Hoffman writes. “Or ICM could buy UTA, which is strong in television. Or William Morris, eager to smack down the A-list powerhouse CAA, could buy Endeavor or UTA. Or Endeavor and UTA could merge.” Spokespersons are denying or clamming up, but “in private, many in Hollywood say that talks are underway and that big changes may be on the horizon” for these firms.
I’m hearing that West Side Story song in my head…”Who knows? Could be…it’s only just out of reach, down the block, on a beach, under a tree.” The non-musical Laporte wrote on 2.5 about a rumor that “ICM was in talks to buy Endeavor…ICM chairman Jeff Berg and Endeavor partner Ari Emmanuel worked hard to tamp the flames…Berg even wrote a staff memo denouncing the rumor…the memo, naturally, wound up on Defamer.”