Newspaper article International New York Times

Fight Ensues over Talent as Hollywood Agents Defect ; Creative Artists Accuses a Smaller Rival of a Raid on Its Comedy Operation

Newspaper article International New York Times

Fight Ensues over Talent as Hollywood Agents Defect ; Creative Artists Accuses a Smaller Rival of a Raid on Its Comedy Operation

Article excerpt

Creative Artists filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday against United Talent, a smaller rival, for recruiting 10 of its agents.

United Talent Agency poked a bear this past week, stealing movie star clients like Will Ferrell and Chris Pratt from the powerful Creative Artists Agency. And now the bear has struck back.

Escalating an insider spat into a full-scale fight, Creative Artists filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday against United Talent, a smaller rival, for recruiting 10 of its agents in what it called a "lawless, midnight raid."

The surprise defection, one of the largest in Hollywood history, robbed Creative Artists of a lucrative comedy operation and, perhaps just as bad, made it look weak.

The suit accuses United Talent and two defectors of organizing an "illegal and unethical conspiracy" that started in January and resulted in 10 agents' leaving. Named in the suit as ringleaders are Gregory Cavic and Gregory McKnight, who left Creative Artists on Tuesday and later that day joined United Talent as partners. Creative Artists stopped short of suing the seven other defectors but named several in the body of the complaint as having breached contracts.

Creative Artists said in the suit that Mr. Cavic and Mr. McKnight not only caused the group to "brazenly and abruptly" breach their employment contracts but that they "delayed meetings and deals with existing and potential C.A.A. clients" so they could "divert as much of C.A.A.'s business to U.T.A. as possible."

Along with damages to be determined at the trial, the suit seeks a temporary restraining order prohibiting the departed agents from serving clients they had while working at Creative Artists.

A spokesman for United Talent declined to comment. Mr. Cavic and Mr. McKnight also declined to comment.

The rapid legal response may have been aimed at complicating the decision of any Creative Artists client who may be tempted to leave with the agents. Mr. Ferrell and Mr. Pratt, the fast-rising star of films like "Guardians of the Galaxy" and the forthcoming "Jurassic World," have both already left for United Talent. …

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