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William Morris axes staff

There’s a lot less William Morris Agency left to merge with Endeavor.

The 111-year-old talent agency Monday laid off more than 120 people, or about 15% of its staff, in preparation for its pending merger with competitor Endeavor. About 40 of the affected employees were agents, and the rest were support staff.

The layoffs, which have been expected since the two companies agreed to join forces late last month, hit the motion picture and television talent and literary departments the hardest. Those departments have been significantly downsized in anticipation of Endeavor’s more successful groups taking control.

Also affected by the cuts was William Morris’ two-person video game department, which has been eliminated.

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The music and books departments were largely spared from cutbacks, however, and will continue to be led by William Morris agents after the merger.

Over the weekend, Aaron Kaplan, William Morris’ head of scripted television, finalized a deal to leave and start his own management/production company. Endeavor is said by people close to the situation to be losing only about 10 agents and a small number of support staff in preparation for the merger.

Though Monday’s cuts represent the bulk of William Morris’ merger-related layoffs, some others are expected to come once the two companies officially combine and assess their needs, said people familiar with the situation.

William Morris could not go through with layoffs until the merger was officially sanctioned by the Federal Trade Commission, which occurred Friday.

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With that approval in place, the two agencies will quickly finalize their deal to form William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.

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ben.fritz@latimes.com


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