In August, a dozen high-profile Hollywood agents staged an exodus. In the cutthroat ecosystem of entertainment agencies, it is not uncommon for agents to poach clients or leave to start other firms. But the resignations came suddenly, en masse, and among agents at the height of their power—representing Bradley Cooper, Margot Robbie, Tiffany Haddish, and Zac Efron between them—at a moment of unrelenting furloughs and layoffs. It sounded a warning shot unheard since 1995, when Ari Emanuel and three colleagues raided their own offices at ICM in the middle of the night to launch its competitor, Endeavor.
“This is new,” said entertainment lawyer Lindsey Conner. “It’s the first time a bunch of agents have left a bunch of different agencies all at the same time. I think that’s because the agencies are under a lot of pressure right now.”
The reason for the mass defection soon became clear. In