William Morris Endeavor
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|Industry||Talent and Literary Agencies|
|Founded||1898 (in New York City)|
|Headquarters||Beverly Hills, California, United States|
Ari Emanuel, Co-CEO
William Morris Endeavor (also known as WME) is a talent agency, with offices in Beverly Hills, New York City, Nashville, London, and Miami. The company was founded as the William Morris Agency in 1898 representing vaudeville artists. Now, WME represents artists from all facets of the entertainment industry, including motion pictures, television, music, theatre, digital, publishing, lifestyle, and physical production. WME is the result of the 2009 merger of the William Morris Agency with the Endeavor Agency. WME and its co-CEO, Ari Emanuel, is the basis for the character Ari Gold, and his Miller Gold Agency, on HBO's Entourage.
In 1898, William Morris (born Zelman Moses), a German Jewish immigrant to the US, posted a cross-hatch trademark above an office door in New York City – four "X's," representing a W superimposed on an M – and went into business as William Morris, Vaudeville Agent. By the time WMA formally incorporated in New York State on January 31, 1918, Morris's son William, Jr. and an office boy named Abraham Lastfogel, who, after becoming a talent agent in his own right entered into a business partnership with Morris Sr., had joined him as fellow directors of his company.
As silent film grew into widely viewed entertainment, Morris encouraged his clients to experiment in the new medium. Stars such as Al Jolson, the Marx Brothers, Mae West and Charlie Chaplin were represented by the company.
By 1930, Morris had turned over leadership of the agency to his son and Lastfogel. In 1932, five years after his retirement, William Morris Sr. died from heart failure. In the 1930s, the Agency moved from Hollywood and Vine to Canon Drive in Beverly Hills.
1945 to 2000 
The William Morris Agency attained further industry dominance with the December 1949 acquisition of the Berg-Allenberg Agency. The senior agent in the motion picture department during the 1950s was Mike Zimring. New clients included Frank Capra, Clark Gable and Judy Garland, joining a roster that already included Sammy Davis, Jr., Milton Berle and Rita Hayworth.
With the arrival of television, WMA recognized a new business paradigm that would eventually make it possible to package stars, producers, writers and show concepts for sale to corporate sponsors, which controlled television's early days. The following decades brought success to scores of WMA clients, including Steve McQueen, Frank Sinatra, Andy Griffith, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Katharine Hepburn, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Kim Novak, Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cosby.
By 1965, WMA's Music Department had emerged as an industry powerhouse, representing, among others, the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, the Beach Boys and Sonny & Cher. Less than 10 years later, in 1973, the Agency's newly established Nashville office provided another significant boost to the operations of William Morris, extending the Agency's reach into country music and beyond.
In the early 1980s, WMA built the William Morris Plaza located at 150 El Camino Drive, directly across the street from its main building at 151 El Camino. In 1989 WMA acquired the Jim Halsey Company, adding performers such as The Oak Ridge Boys, Waylon Jennings and Tammy Wynette.
In 1992, the agency acquired Triad Artists, marking the largest acquisition of a talent agency in show business history. Some fifty Triad agents joined WMA's corps of talent and literary agents worldwide.
A year after the Triad acquisition, WMA created a Corporate Advisory/New Media Department which evolved into William Morris Consulting (WMC). WMC operated in a broad spectrum of industry segments, including telecommunications, technology, lodging, gaming, publishing, retail, and consumer products.
In the early 1990s, WMA's Literary Department announced the largest book-to-screen deal ever inked when it sold the television rights for "Scarlett," the sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. In 2000, WMA acquired The Writers Shop.
WMA's Miami Beach office opened in 2003, and WMA's Shanghai office opened in 2004. In 2007, the Agency expanded its London music operation, underscoring WMA's continued commitment to the international marketplace. Along with the addition of new personnel, the London office moved into the iconic Centre Point Tower.
In 2003, a seismic shift occurred in the agency landscape when WMA's SVP and Theatre topper, George Lane, and fellow agent in charge of foreign rights, Michael Cardonick, ankled WMA to open Creative Artists Agency's Gotham office and Theatrical Department.
History of the Endeavor Agency 
In addition to its California headquarters, Endeavor also maintained an office in New York City. In addition to the core areas of film, TV and talent, Endeavor built businesses in publishing, marketing, commercials, licensing, and below-the-line representation.
Endeavor was formed in 1995 by four former ICM agents: Ari Emanuel, David Greenblatt, Rick Rosen and Tom Strickler. The agency began operations March 30, 1995 (after a midnight departure from ICM) working from an office above the former Islands Restaurant in South Beverly Hills.
In 1996, Endeavor moved to a new high rise building on Wilshire Boulevard. Three new partners from CAA joined the company: David Lonner, Doug Robinson, and Adam Venit. Lonner's clientele included the feature directors that Endeavor needed to solidify its standing as a full service agency. Robinson and Venit were the first actors' agents; their clients still populate the Endeavor roster: Hank Azaria, Adam Sandler, and David Spade.
The talent department grew dramatically during the next eight years, mainly with the addition of Patrick Whitesell. Whitesell led the development of the agency's list of leading men that includes Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jude Law, Hugh Jackman, and Christian Bale. On the comedy side, that group helped develop the business including Sacha Baron Cohen, Kevin James, and Charlie Sheen.
In 2003, the agency moved down Wilshire Boulevard. The Beverly Hills Endeavor office was designed by UCLA professor and architect Neil Denari with wall graphics by 2x4 of New York. For this project NMDA Inc., the company of Neil Denari, and associate architect Interior Architects received the 2007 Institute Honor Award for Interior Architecture from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
In 2006, Nancy Josephson left ICM after the company went through an ownership change. Endeavor quickly brought in Josephson and her clients – Friends creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, Craig Ferguson, Tyra Banks, and director David Frankel. Soon after, ICM agents Matt Solo and Robert Newman joined as well. Solo's roster includes The Shield creator Shawn Ryan. Robert Newman's director list is among the most respected in Hollywood, including: Guillermo Del Toro, Baz Luhrman, Danny Boyle and Robert Rodriguez.
2008 brought four key additions from UTA including talent agents Sharon Jackson and Nick Stevens. Their clients Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler and more bolstered the agency's comedy department.
William Morris merges with Endeavor 
On April 27, 2009, WMA and Endeavor Talent Agency announced their merger, forming William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, or WME. The merger has been widely seen as a takeover by Ari Emanuel and his partners at Endeavor. Following the official announcement of the merger, nearly 100 WMA employees and former board members were let go. One of those leaving was Jim Wiatt, who came to WMA in 1999 from International Creative Management, where he was Vice-Chairman, in 1999. He had joined WMA as President and Co-Chief Executive Officer, and had risen to Board Chairman. The co-CEOs of the new William Morris Endeavor company are Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, from Endeavor.
In 2010, Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell were named to Fortune's Businessperson of the Year list, honoring the top-50 business leaders in all industries. In 2011, Emanuel was quoted in a Financial Times profile about the company, saying "We built a culture where people are rewarded for taking risks."
WME headquarters 
The merged company (with the exception of the Music business and some back-office functions) moved into the old Endeavor headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The company takes up several floors at 9601 Wilshire Boulevard, both above ground and below.
In 2009 the partners of William Morris Endeavor founded the WME Foundation, which promotes arts and education to disadvantaged children. The Foundation has partnered with several schools throughout the country and regularly organizes events and meet and greets with WME clients. In 2011, the company created Camp Summer Eagle, which provides donations and activities for schoolchildren in Compton, California.
The WME Agent Training Program 
The WME Agent Training Program, often referred to as the "mailroom", was established in the 1940s and is well known for its roster of successful alumni. Since the 1970s the program has been replicated at other talent agencies and studios, many of which were headed by former mailroom trainees. Once accepted, trainees rotate through different departments, starting with the mailroom, before becoming a full-time assistant or coordinator. WME's main competitor, Creative Artists Agency, was founded in 1975 by Michael Ovitz, Ron Meyer, William Haber, Michael Rosenfeld, and Rowland Perkins, all former WMA agent trainees. David Geffen once called the WME Agent Training Program "The Harvard School of Show Business - only better: no grades, no exams, a small stipend and great placement opportunities." Graduates from the Training Program are perceived at a high level of prestige within the entertainment industry, because of the caliber of notable alums that have graduated from the program.
Former WME Chairman Norman Brokaw became the first mailboy in the Beverly Hills Mailroom at age 15.
WME represents clients across many musical genres, including rock, pop, urban, contemporary, comedy, Latin, Christian/gospel, and adult contemporary. Some of these clients include Adele, Deadmau5, The Eagles, Foo Fighters, Lady Gaga, Charlotte Church, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, The Killers, Bruno Mars, Brad Paisley, Pearl Jam, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Usher and Hans Zimmer. WME booked the most clients of any agency from Billboard's "200Makers List" and was named Agency of the Year by Billboard in 2011. WME was a pioneer in the electronic music space, launching an electronic music department in 2008. Clients in this group include Deadmau5, Avicii, AfroJack, Swedish House Mafia, Kaskade, Calvin Harris, The Chemical Brothers and The Crystal Method. In addition to brokering Las Vegas Residency deals for its electronic music clients and booking them into major festivals such as the Electric Daisy Carnival, HARD Tours and Ultra Music Festival, WME launched the Identity Tour, a traveling electronic music festival that plays major venues across the country. Identity is the first-ever attempt at mounting a full electronic music experience in the U.S.
WME's Book Department is co-headed by Suzanne Gluck and Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. In 2009, top literary agent Eric Simonoff joined legacy William Morris Agency from Janklow & Nesbit Associates, bringing with him three Pulitzer Prize-winners, 17 New York Times bestselling authors, and 14 New Yorker contributors. Additionally, Simonoff represents The New Yorker itself. The UK Literary Department is headed by Simon Trewin.
The agency also helps many of its authors' work make the transition from print to television and film, with such films as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Secret Life of Bees, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and the television series, Bones.
WME's literary clients publish over 200 books a year in 40 languages. WME has the largest presence of any agency on The New York Times Best Seller list with 117 titles on the list in 2011. In 2012, six WME fiction writers were named to The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" list – twice the amount of any other agency. WME also helps dozens of clients' work make the transition from print to television and film every year.
Independent films 
WME's independent film division, "WME Global Finance and Distribution Group", focuses on identifying, packaging and financing feature films derived from and targeted to the worldwide independent community. WME Global, and its predecessor WMA Independent, have been involved in obtaining, financing and distributinn for more than 100 films since it was established in 1998, including Away from Her, Drive, Frozen River, The Good Girl, Monster's Ball, Half Nelson, the LCD Soundsystem documentary, Shut Up and Play the Hits, Thank You for Smoking and Undefeated.
WME's Theatre Department represents actors, directors, writers and choreographers of such shows as The Book of Mormon, In the Heights, Avenue Q, Hair, Jersey Boys, Next to Normal, and the revivals of Fences, La Cage aux Folles, Guys & Dolls and West Side Story. In 2011, WME clients won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
WME also represents a number of athletes for off-field deals. WME's clients include Tim Tebow, Dwight Howard, Jason Taylor, Serena Williams, Kevin Garnett and Ray Lewis. The Agency also represents sports leagues such as the NFL, WWE and UFC.
Commercials and endorsements 
WME's Commercials Division is comprehensive, covering commercials, animation, non-performing personal appearances, direct marketing, home shopping, and tour sponsorships. WME has helped its clients partner with[clarification needed] such notable brands as Visa, AT&T, Trident Gum, Samsung, Gatorade, Gucci, Mercedes, and Absolut Vodka. In addition, WME's voice-over division is the leading agency for high-profile animation and commercials voice-over work.
WME's Lecture Division represents a selection of lecturers in a variety of areas, including national and global affairs, the media, business and economics, health and science, humor, and sports and motivation. The Speakers' division also handles lecture opportunities for all of WME's clients across all its divisions.
Branded lifestyle 
In 2007, Board Member and Television Agent Jon Rosen launched the agency's Branded Lifestyle Group, which aims to build multiplatform businesses for personalities and brands in all areas of lifestyle entertainment. The group takes a holistic approach to representation, providing opportunities and strategies for clients across all areas of the company, including television, merchandising, licensing, publishing, and digital distribution. Clients of the Group include Rachael Ray, Tom Colicchio, Bethenny Frankel, Rachel Zoe, Giada de Laurentiis, Andrew Zimmern, Neville C Bardoli, John Varvatos, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Alton Brown and other personalities and brands in the food/health & wellness/design/lifestyle world.
Partner Companies & Subsidiaries 
The Raine Group 
The Raine Group is an investment bank specializing in media and entertainment ventures. Raine's investments include VICE, Zumba Fitness and Jagex Gamer Studio. Raine advises all manners of corporate clients, both buyers and sellers, in entertainment and media. WME is an owner of Raine, and a strategic investor in the firm's $500 million private equity vehicle.
Chaotic Moon 
In March 2013, WME partnered with the mobile house, Chaotic Moon Studios. Known for their work with companies like Disney, Microsoft and CBS, Chaotic Moon gives WME the capabilities to design and build customized apps for their clients.
RED Interactive Agency 
WME is a majority owner of RED Interactive Agency, an interactive agency based in Santa Monica, California that focuses on digital media, social media, online content, web design, and grassroots marketing.
Grab Games 
WME is a partner and investor in Grab.com, a creator and distributor of social games for the web and mobile platforms. WME led the company's Series A round of fundraising, which netted the company $5 million. " WME Co-CEO Patrick Whitesell sits on the board of Grab.
WME is an investor in the e-commerce platform OpenSky. Utilized by clients such as Guy Fieri and Serena Williams, it integrates shopping functionality into the websites of celebrities and bloggers, allowing them to share products with their fans. Forbes named OpenSky one of America's "Most Promising Companies."
WME Co-CEO Ari Emanuel, entrepreneur Sean Parker and Oliver Luckett co-founded theAudience to manage artists' social personas and maximize their value across mediums like Facebook and Twitter. theAudience has been able to successfully build social media traction for WME clients via films like Ted and events like the Coachella music festival
WME and Silver Lake 
On May 2, 2012, WME and Silver Lake, a technology-focused private equity firm based in Silicon Valley, announced a strategic partnership and signed an agreement for Silver Lake to acquire a 31% minority stake in the Agency. WME's Management Board will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Agency's core businesses. A new Executive committee, consisting of co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, and Silver Lake Partners Managing Director Egon Durban, will lead the corporation's growth strategy and investment activities.
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Further reading 
- The Agency: William Morris and the Hidden History of Show Business by Frank Rose, ISBN 978-0887307492
- The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up by David Rensin, ISBN 978-0345442345
- Promises I Made My Mother by Sam Haskell, ISBN 978-0345506559