The Hollywood Reporter calls it "one of the biggest agent migrations in years." Nikki Finke screamed "Shocker!" We'll wait until the dust settles before determining exactly how to characterize the moves of UTA talent kingpin and co-owner Nick Stevens and partners Sharon Sheinwold and Lisa Hallerman over to Endeavor, a relocation that has already cost UTA its relationship with Stevens' client Ben Stiller, looks ready to claim Jack Black and could continue to draw a sizable chunk of UTA's deep comedy base — including Judd Apatow, Owen Wilson, Jason Lee and half the cast of Saturday Night Live — in the days and weeks to come.
News of the move broke Friday night, and by Saturday afternoon Stiller was telling the Reporter's Gregg Kilday: "I think Nick Stevens is a unique entity in this business: an agent with integrity, a point of view and most of all humanity. ... I would be with him if he was working out of the Sunglass Hut at the Beverly Center." Of course, Stevens rep was for working out of anywhere but the UTA office, which was a nagging bone of contention with the board that was trying to edge him off while keeping him and his golden geese — whose creative partnerships and overlaps have earned over a billion dollars globally since 2000 — in the talent department fold he'd maintained since 1995.
Obviously, that could have gone better. UTA brass, who had in recent weeks seen high-profile client departures like Kate Bosworth and Vince Vaughn, limped through the weekend telling anyone who would listen that no, it's not merging with Paradigm, and no, it's not for sale. Chairman Jim Berkus went on the defensive to say that UTA allowed as much rope as it could before things became untenable. We don't doubt it, but in any case, Stevens is the Salinger of talent agents and won't be giving his side of the story anytime soon. Watch for the talent defections to continue as Stevens settles in across Wilshire; share your tips if you see any comics jaywalking.