Why Ari Emanuel Banned Amy Pascal

Hollywood movie producer Amy Pascal.
Hollywood movie producer Amy Pascal. Photo: Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
November 4, 2022

Now that he’s the C.E.O. of a publicly traded company, it’s been awhile since Ari Emanuel has pulled an Ari Emanuel-ish stunt. But from a good Endeavor source comes word that Ari has forbidden his company from doing business with producer Amy Pascal, and the kibosh is being enforced by the troops at the WME agency. What caused this declaration of war against an in-demand producer and former Sony studio chief?

Well, Pascal is currently finishing up Challengers, an MGM love-triangle dramedy set in the world of pro tennis, starring Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist. The director is Luca Guadagnino, the Italian auteur behind Call Me By Your Name and the current Bones and All. During the Challengers shoot earlier this year, Guadagnino apparently expressed some frustration with Mike Simpson and his WME agents. Pascal, instead of calling Simpson or someone else to tip the agency about its disgruntled client, tipped off Bryan Lourd at CAA. Guadanino soon departed WME for CAA. Ouch.

Pretty quickly after the exit, Emanuel found out about the Pascal call, confronted her, and declared the fatwa to his staff. This was a few months ago, and since then, WME agents have diligently avoided Pascal or her projects. (WME and Pascal declined to comment. Disclosure: WME represents Puck.)

Seems silly, of course, but this kind of stuff does happen in the agency world. Remember back in 2013 when UTA publicly declared it wouldn’t work with manager Shelley Browning after she pulled some shady stunts with shared clients? And CAA over the years has decreed shadow bans on various companies over perceived wrongs. It’s currently waging a silent war, if not a total ban, on Range Media Partners, the Steve Cohen-backed management production firm started by some CAA defectors.

My guess is the Pascal ban ends when she’s involved in a hot new project that a WME client really wants to make. And there’s at least one sign Ari is already warming to that possibility: According to one source, they’ve agreed to have lunch.