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CAA explores buying Paradigm Talent Agency, but CEO says it’s not for sale

Creative Artists Agency in Century City.
Creative Artists Agency in Century City.
(Benny Chan / Fotoworks)

One of Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies may become even bigger.

Creative Artists Agency has had exploratory discussions to buy Paradigm Talent Agency, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.

The discussions began after Paradigm had shut down an acquisition effort last year by United Talent Agency, one of the sources said.

At the time, Paradigm Chief Executive Sam Gores was not interested in selling his Beverly Hills agency.

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Representatives of CAA and Paradigm declined to comment.

But in an email to staff Thursday, Gores denied he had any plans to sell the agency. “Let me state emphatically — we are not for sale, nor are we selling the agency,” according to the email first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.

He added: “As I have said before, we like the independent and successful path we’re on. Our focus continues to be growing Paradigm and providing the best possible opportunities for our colleagues, our artists and the art that they create.”

Paradigm is said to be considering acquisitions of its own.

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Although it’s unclear whether or when a deal might occur, buying Paradigm would give CAA an additional roster of high-profile music clients.

Paradigm, which has more than 700 employees, is known for its music representation business, with such clients as Ed Sheeran, Fergie and Idina Menzel. Paradigm represents Sheeran in the U.S. and Canada, while CAA represents Sheeran in other countries.

CAA already represents artists including Beyonce, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber.

Like other agencies, CAA has moved to expand and diversify its business. Last year, for example, its sports division acquired Base Soccer Agency to boost its representation of athletes.

CAA announced a major overhaul of its operations last week, with a newly created board to handle day-to-day management of the Century City business.

Paradigm has been under pressure to adapt to a changing media industry. The rise of streaming and the expected decline of TV packaging — in which agencies collect fees for packaging talent on shows — combined with the effects of the long-standing writers boycott, have squeezed talent agencies, some of which have laid off workers.

Paradigm in January laid off 30 employees, including agents in its music division and people who worked in the reality TV department, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.

The layoffs were part of the company’s effort to reduce redundancies caused by the agency’s acquisitions in the music space.

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Agencies also are evaluating how many writers they will represent in the future because of the months-long dispute between the Writers Guild of America and the Assn. of Talent Agents over a new code of conduct. The guild has stopped negotiating with the ATA and instead is making deals with individual agencies.

So far, more than 80 small and mid-tier agencies have agreements with the WGA, including eight agencies that have broken ranks with the ATA. But none of the larger agencies, including Paradigm, have signed an agreement with the WGA.


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