“Basically, agents get fired a lot. But they take comfort from the fact that their careers are usually much longer than those of departing clients,” explained New Yorker writer Tad Friend. He made the comments in a piece published on the magazine’s website days before his article would cause subject William Morris president David Wirtschafter to be fired by clients Halle Berry and Sarah Michelle Gelllar in the past few days.
Calling agents “the moths of Hollywood, drawn to the town’s brightest lights,” Friend focues primarily on Wirtschafter in the 11,000 word article (“Secret Agent Man”, 3/21/05). The unconventional agent’s candid comments — saying that Gellar was “nothing at all” prior to “The Grudge” or detailing how and why Berry would lower her acting fee — has had insiders buzzing all week.
“Give [a journalist] that much access and they are bound to get something,” an editor at a popular weekly magazine told me this week, adding, “William Morris should fire their publicist.”
Tad Friend apparently spent two weeks at the WMA offices for the profile in a publication for which Wirtschafter reportedly has a longstanding fondess. No doubt he is employing a personal philosophy these days, as depicted in the article, “Doing this job is about removing emotion, about creating calm — calm creates order, and order allows you to solve problems.”
Wirtschafter personally responded later in the week, in an email documented by the LA Times today in a piece entitled, “This Is Why Candor Is Rare in Hollywood”:
“I had personal reasons for doing the article and I recognize that these became blurred with my professional life.
I never intended to harm any of our colleagues or our clients by participating in this story,” he continued. “While I can elaborate on the fine points of how I was portrayed and what I said, I did participate in this and want to apologize for any hurt that has stemmed from it.”
As for the author he was branded a troublemaker by Hollywood bible, Variety. “Friend’s Hollywood track record has turned his surname into an oxymoron, according to one of his previous subjects.” Continuing in the piece by Dana Harris, one subject said:
“Based on my experience, no one in Hollywood should ever say a word to (Friend) in their whole lives,” said Benderspink’s JC Spink, who was part of an unflattering Letter From Hollywood profile on “The Ring” producer Roy Lee. “It’s a ridiculous business, but there are real people in it and he tries to make everyone look like an idiot.”