Friday, May 17, 2024

Rumor: Hollywood Reporter, Billboard Purchase by WME Talent Agency Would Create Chaos


The New York Post’s Keith Kelly and Claire Atkinson suggest today that Billboard, the Hollywood Reporter, and Dick Clark Productions– all owned now by Todd Boehly formerly of Guggenheim Partners– could be sold to the William Morris Endeavor Agency., Billboard’s rival, say it’s not true. And anyway, the Hollywood Reporter is bleeding $20 million a year. And Billboard? Who knows? Dick Clark Productions produces the Golden Globes, American Music Awards, and a variety of awards shows.

Kelly and Atkinson usually smell smoke where there’s a fire. But this idea seems half baked. It’s not like THR has great journalistic standards. And they did feature the owners of WME on a recent cover. But if Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell et al actually owned THR, the already compromised publication would be a house organ for the agents and their clients. And they’d play it like a Wurlitzer.

The agents would certainly have trouble with the concept of church and state. Not only would The Reporter be featuring exclusives on WME deals and clients, but Billboard too would be used for that purpose on the music front. And imagine the awards shows. The Golden Globes are fighting to improve their image. This move wouldn’t help them. Dick Clark Productions’ other awards shows– like American Music Awards or their new People magazine awards–would become a WME fest. And you couldn’t blame WME agents for hinting to prospective clients that they could get awards more easily by signing with the agency.

A WME takeover of the former Guggenheim properties– a bad idea. And in Hollywood, that means it could happen. Like “Ben Hur.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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