Hollywood super-agents in war of words over clients

Ari Emanuel accuses music mogul Irving Azoff of being 'fundamentally a liar and selfish'

Los Angeles

Having a reputation as Hollywood’s most foul-mouthed super-agent brings with it certain responsibilities. Which may explain why Ari Emanuel, the co-CEO of talent agency William Morris Endeavour, has begun a war of words with his former friend, music mogul Irving Azoff. In an email sent last Friday, Emanuel accused Azoff of being “fundamentally a liar and selfish”. Azoff responded, copying in his PA: “Irene. Please block this psychopath from sending me further emails. Love you tons Ari. I understand your illness. I forgive you.”

Emanuel, 52, was the inspiration for Ari Gold, the volatile agent in the TV series Entourage. He is also the brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, formerly President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff. The third brother, bioethicist Ezekiel, wrote in his recent memoir The Brothers Emanuel that Ari was aggressive from an early age. As a toddler, with a dummy in his mouth, he greeted one of his mother’s friends with the offer: “’Onna fight?”

Azoff, 65, manages acts including The Eagles, Christina Aguilera and Neil Diamond. He was Chairman of Live Nation, the concert promoters, until 2012, when Billboard magazine named him the most powerful person in the music industry. Emanuel is also a Live Nation board member. The feud started when he sent Azoff a Financial Times article reporting that the firm’s stock had risen since Azoff’s departure.

Emanuel was also angry that Azoff’s son, Jeffrey, works for rival talent agency CAA, and blamed both Azoffs for poaching clients such as Britney Spears. In emails first published by The Wrap, Emanuel told Azoff: “I keep grudges for a lifetime, and you’re one of them now.”

The emails were inexplicably copied to several major Hollywood figures, including Brad Grey, chairman of Paramount. Azoff’s wife Shelli has intervened, pleading with Emanuel to “stop it”. But he would not be placated, and replied: “Your husband is a horrible person… Everyone knows he is not to be trusted.”

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