• Jon Stewart's smackdown of Jim Cramer last week generated some of the biggest ratings The Daily Show has ever seen, not surprisingly. [MediaPost]
• Portfolio editor Joanne Lipman has once again defied logic (and some of her Condé colleagues) by putting Sarah Palin on the cover of the new issue. [WWD]
• Condé Nast is expected to trim Richard Beckman's ad sales group. [AdAge]
• Liberal activists have launched a petition drive targeted at CNBC. [AP]
• ICM's Esther Newberg has sold a memoir by Paul Allen to Penguin. [Crains]
• More on Eric Siminoff's split from Lynn Nesbit and Mort Janklow. [NYO]
• Mel Karmazin sounds off on his fight to redeem Sirius and his rep. [Fortune]
• Ratings for Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice continue to slide. [AdAge]
• 60 Minutes is the "hottest show on TV." Who knew? [Newsweek]
A quick survey of informants drunkenly furloughed next door at the Pink Taco have confirmed that MGM Tower was not — we repeat, not — blown to bits after a reported bomb threat earlier this morning. In fact, we hear that work resumed on site within the last hour after a building search turned up nothing. One tipster sends word that "the receptionist who took the call couldn't tell whether it was a young boy or young girl," instantly suggesting a relatively tame prank that nevertheless shook the very souls (or whatever amounts to the ICM equivalent) of the tower's tenants. Follow the jump for the official all-clear, plus a brief anthology of survivor stories from the front.
And we don't mean Valkyrie: Word into Defamer HQ reveals that a bomb threat has been received by multiple tenants at MGM Tower, indicating that "the device would be activated at noon." The LAPD has been notified, evidently, but with the threat having yet to be verified, the building superintendents are reportedly evacuating the building from 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. We hear ICM is out already. Follow the jump for the full memo, and best wishes to those affected in Century City. Developing...
Cash money, not equity, is what powers the entertainment industry. Especially when it comes to talent. In a possibly apocryphal but illustrative anecdote, legendary bluesman Albert King reportedly refused to leave the stage until he had cash in hand from the concert promoter, presumably because he'd been cheated out of so many deals in the past. Studio accounting has an only slightly better reputation than that of the music industry when it comes to being, ahem, creative. Hence it's no surprise that when negotiating venture funding for Funny Or Die, Will Ferrell reportedly wanted to know what his upfront payout would be, according to Sequoia Capital's Mark Kvamme in comments to the New York Times. Which is one reason why private equity efforts to fund traditional film and television production have yet to pan out. Better to get your money upfront and walk away in case the project is a disaster. So how is Valley money changing Hollywood business models?
Guy McElwaine, a founding partner of International Creative Management and one of Hollywood's more respected prototypes for the modern agent-turned-studio boss, died Wednesday after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 71. A former MGM publicist, McElwaine joined ICM in 1975 after his original agency, CMA, merged with Famous Artists; it was his second turn repping talent after handling the likes of a young Steven Spielberg and eventually overseeing worldwide production at Warner Brothers in the early 1970s.
Claire Danes "feels extremely violated" by this week's 4,000-word New York Press cover story, in which the actress is "stalked" by reporter Rebecca Tucker, according to her agents. So distressed was she, it was conveyed, that ICM chairman Jeff Berg, whose company represents her, called up the Press this afternoon to tell editor David Blum to "redact" online a reference to the street where Danes lives. Blum declined.
Richard Abate—the literary agent who would be, nay, will be Ari Gold—had his lawyers smack back his former employers at ICM the other day in their pre-hearing wranglings. ICM's lawyers flipped out on him after Abate sent himself all his contacts and work docs from the office. Now we'll give this latest round to Abate and his new employers at Endeavor—the production of cheery emails between Abate and his boss, Sloan Harris (click excerpt at right for the exchange) seems fairly damning to ICM's claims. Also hilarious. Like two very manly gals text-messaging!
What's the best thing an agent can do before ditching out of his contract with ICM to jump ship to Endeavor? Email all those confidential work documents to his wife—which is what Richard Abate did, according to a letter sent yesterday to the judge in the suit ICM is bringing against the brash lit agent.
Variety may think that lit agent Richard Abate's track record is "classy," but his old bosses at ICM probably wouldn't characterize his exit as such. In fact, they're suing him, claiming that his departure for Endeavor violates his contract with them, which stipulated that he couldn't work for a competitor before 2008. They also claim that Abate "was making $20,500 a year as an assistant book publisher when it hired him in 1996. Thanks to ICM's contacts, Abate increased his earnings more than tenfold." Perhaps 'thanks to ICM's contacts' is a bit of an exaggeration, though? He did also, like, yell at a lot of people all on his own!
We hear that near-universally reviled ICM mega-agent Richard Abate is leaving that agency in order to set up his own shop, which we hear will be called Endeavor. (Abate is perhaps best known to Gawker readers as the former mentor — okay, bossman — of agent to the blogsuperstars Kate Lee.) "Endeavor" strikes us as an odd choice of nomenclature, since there's already an Endeavor agency — albeit an LA-based one that doesn't solely represent literary clients. In fact, ICM was recently rumored to be buying that Endeavor, which probably has nothing to do with this. Anyway, weird.
Related (tangentially, maybe): The Agent Dance: ICM Denies Endeavor Rumor [Defamer]