Fired ‘Call of Duty’ developers sign with CAA
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Hollywood’s biggest talent agency is being called to duty.
Signaling their intention to set up a new deal soon, Vince Zampella and Jason West, the recently fired heads of the studio that produced the blockbuster video games Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, have agreed to be represented by the Creative Artists Agency.
West and Zampella, the former president and chief executive, respectively, of Encino-based Infinity Ward, were fired on March 1 due to an undisclosed dispute with their bosses at Activision Blizzard, Inc..
Two days later they filed a $36-million lawsuit against the Santa Monica-based publisher, led by outspoken chief executive Bobby Kotick, claiming wrongful termination and breach of contract. They allege that Activision fired them to avoid paying royalties on their work. November’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was the bestselling game of 2009 in the U.S. and generated more than $1 billion worldwide.
Most video game developers are hired hands for publishers and not represented by talent agents. As such, landing the top game developers behind one of the industry’s biggest franchises marks a coup for CAA.
At least one of the other top Hollywood agencies was looking to sign West and Zampella since they lost their jobs last week, according to a person familiar with the situation.
A CAA spokeswoman declined to discuss what West and Zampella may be looking to do next. Given the commercial and creative pedigree of working on the original Call of Duty and the Modern Warfare spinoffs, however, as well as the attention that their recent fallout with Activision has brought them in the gamer community, they would likely have little trouble setting up shop at another video game publisher.
-- Ben Fritz and Alex Pham