Aug 17, 2007

Limato lands at William Morris:Agency finalizes three-year deal

In a move that significantly bolsters its talent roster, the William Morris Agency is finalizing a three-year deal that brings Ed Limato and most of his clients to the agency.

Limato, who’ll join WMA as an agent, and not in a management role, had been expected to land there since he was stripped of his co-president’s title last month by ICM, and had his lawyers set an Aug. 1 arbitration date to end a 32-year association with the agency. On Monday, an arbitrator freed him from an ICM contract that ran through 2010.

Though both Limato and WMA have for days been denying rumors that a deal had been made, they’re wrapping up the pact right now. Sources spotted Limato at WMA’s El Camino headquarters late this morning, and said that by the time he leaves, final details of a deal will be hammered out, along with a formal press announcement.

Limato will bring from ICM actors Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Steve Martin, Michael Biehn, Thomas Jane, Derek Luke and Sam Neill, along with Limato’s sole director client, Adrian Lyne, sources said. Still unclear was whether clients Jim Caviezel, Billy Crystal, Liam Neeson and Doris Roberts will join him or stay at ICM.

Since Monday, Limato has been shopping a deal that includes a seven-figure salary and his three assistants. WMA was always the most likely landing spot, because of his long association with toppers Jim Wiatt and Dave Wirtschafter, who worked with him before they left ICM. UTA was also in the mix, while CAA and Endeavor were not serious contenders.

The dark horse was Paradigm, whose chief, Sam Gores, made a serious run at Limato. Landing the dealmaker would have been a coup that could have transformed Gores’s solid boutique into a major.

Ultimately, Limato made the choice that gives him a big salary and provides a comfortable haven from which to operate. He’s expected to hit the ground running, as agents try to book their clients into pre-strike pictures.

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