CAA may pursue legal action after Steve Cohen-backed firm poached top agents
It’s war, Hollywood style.
CAA is exploring legal action against the new Steve Cohen-backed management firm that last month poached some of CAA’s top agents, sources exclusively told Page Six over the weekend.
The potential move would come after the Cohen-backed Range Media Partners lured away CAA agents including David Bugliari, Michael Cooper, Mick Sullivan and Jack Whigham, plus further names from the CAA Global Brands Group and CAA Foundation.
The new Range Media is led by former CAA agent Peter Micelli. It also recruited agents from UTA and WME. But an agency vet told us of a potential legal challenge from CAA: “I’m not surprised… CAA had the stronger, bigger names [exit]. They have no choice but to send a response.” (The source said of the names from the other agencies, “I had never heard of some of those people.”)
While non-compete agreements are generally not enforceable in California, the source said, “They could be saying, ‘Let’s make this as uncomfortable and difficult as possible.’”
CAA last year settled a bitter four-year-long legal battle with UTA after CAA accused the rival of poaching several agents in 2015. In that case, CAA reportedly asked a court for damages, injunctive relief and restitution for “malicious corporate raiding,” among other claims.
The bombshell move by Range Media to raid the competition came at a time when the agency biz has been hobbled by the pandemic, production shutdowns, and a battle with the Writers Guild of America.
The Post reported that a pitch deck to investors from Range Media (previously under the name Moxie Media) pointed out that the agency business is in “free fall,” and, “there has never been a better time to recruit high-end representatives away from their current incumbent. We have never seen more high-end representatives ready to leave these institutions.” The undated deck boasted that the upstart firm’s focus will be “on the top 1% of celebrities.”
The deck also described the standoff between the agencies and WGA as the “worst rift in the history of the entertainment business.” The Post previously reported that there has been buzz in Hollywood that Range Media could aim to “eventually” become an agency. For now it’s a management and production outfit.
Reports have said that controversial billionaire Cohen, through his Point72 hedge fund, is a “leading investor with a substantial minority investment” in the firm, while other backers include ex-Knicks coach David Fizdale, plus a former Microsoft CMO, and the founder of Grubhub.
With the competition in Tinseltown heating up, entertainment insiders have been painting Cohen as an unwelcome presence in town — from his former firm, SAC Capital Advisors, to his financial support of Donald Trump.
But one jaded exec told us of the ongoing agency wars: “Everyone is saying, ‘Can you believe they did that?’ But no one around here has the moral high ground.”
Reps did not comment.
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