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The Best-Laid Plans of Ari and Bryan

Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel and CAA’s Bryan Lourd.
Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel and CAA’s Bryan Lourd. Photos: David Livingston/Getty Images, Jeff Bottari/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
October 27, 2023

Earlier this week, I was chatting with a pretty veteran CAA agent who was trying to convince me how disgusting it was that rivals WME and UTA had been calling clients to ask if they were still comfortable with their representatives. He was referring, of course, to the fallout from CAA motion picture co-head Maha Dakhil’s online posts suggesting Israel’s response to the Hamas attack was “genocide,” which drew outrage around town and led to her demotion. By Tuesday, Aaron Sorkin had defected from CAA to WME, citing Dakhil’s comments, and the chum was officially in the water, with sharks attempting to execute that time-honored Hollywood tradition of leveraging a rival’s perceived weakness. The Dakhil crisis, after all, is CAA’s first truly vulnerable moment since the “lawless midnight raid” of 2015, when a big chunk of its comedy group bailed for UTA. And the controversy has come on the heels of Julia Ormond’s bombshell lawsuit claiming that the agency’s leaders had “enabled’ sexual abuse by Harvey Weinstein, an allegation they deny.

Bryan Lourd, Richard Lovett, and Kevin Huvane assured their many eye-rolling employees at a town hall on Wednesday that things are great and oh, by the way, don’t post offensive stuff online. But they’ve also been working hard to methodically reassure upset clients and head off other potential defectors. One lost piece of business is a blip; two, three, four is a potential exodus. I’m told they also quietly parted ways this week with an assistant in the music department who spouted antisemitic comments on her social feeds. Still, my CAA contact continued, apparently clutching his pearls, “it’s embarrassing, taking advantage of a war to win business.”