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NEAR TRUTHS: WASS
UP WITH PARADIGM?

Paradigm appears to be on the cusp of a new chapter, with a deal believed to be nearly in place—for its music division only—with sports-entertainment mogul Casey Wasserman, grandson of Last Mogul Lew Wasserman. The consensus among top players in the space is that such a deal—and Wasserman’s stewardship—would be most welcome.

The value of the music division is of course depressed, due to the shutdown—the halo effect of which will almost certainly extend into 2021—and debt. Could this deal be worth $75m? Would it be structured as a cash deal or as a new equity arrangement between the Goreses and top agents? Insiders close to the situation say Platinum Equity’s billionaire financier Tom Gores has written a big check to help rescue his brother’s operation—and, after finally grasping that Paradigm’s top agents were its key assets, helped make them whole after those pay cuts. Sam Gores, it’s said, will stay and become Chairman Emeritus. (Insiders relate that Yucaipa founder and grocery magnate Ron Burkle wanted in on the deal but was denied.)

Top agents have all the leverage. But some observers feel that ship has sailed and there’s simply too much acrimony to make a rapprochement feasible; losing Matt Galle (Shawn Mendes, Halsey, My Chemical Romance) or Marty Diamond (Ed Sheeran, Coldplay) would be a blow to the agency, but losing both would be ruinous to their music division. Tom Windish’s value seems to have been complicated because it’s believed that Billie Eilish is loyal to Sara Bollwinkel. Windish and Diamond are repped for legal by Elliot Groffman; Deb White and Farrah Usmani represent Bollwinkel.

Could Wasserman’s Paradigm retain the top agents with the right-sized offers? Will extending their contracts be the key to this deal closing? Windish, Diamond, Galle, top EDM agent Lee Anderson (Skrillex, Zedd, Disclosure; repped for legal by Leslie Frank) and other upper-tier agents have several options. Some suggest they’ve been contemplating boutique start-ups alongside some of the younger agents whose loyalty they command. They could opt to leave at the end of their contractual commitments—or ankle even sooner and face litigation. Since the agency might’ve been in breach when it peremptorily cut their pay, it’s conceivable they could prevail in court.

ICM scooped up Paradigm agents Dave Kaplan (who has a score of alternative clients including The Black Keys and Father John Misty) and Randall Uritzsky (who boasts a cache of hip-hop acts such as Dave East and De La Soul); is ICM at last becoming more aggressive on the music side? Could UTA make a play for some other agents in the WME and Paradigm fallout? For its part, CAA is understandably said to be laying in wait to scoop up more strong agents who might be shaken loose by all this tumult.

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