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Coronavirus crisis hits talent agencies as Paradigm lays off 100 staff

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Sam Gores, founder of Paradigm Talent Agency
(Annie Shak)

The coronavirus pandemic that has shut down Hollywood is now bringing layoffs to Hollywood talent agents.

Paradigm Talent Agency Chief Executive Sam Gores told his staff on Friday morning his Beverly Hills-based business would temporarily cut more than 100 people, or at least 14% of its staff, in response to the health crisis, according to two people familiar with the matter who declined to be named because they were not authorized to comment.

Gores, who addressed his staff via video conference, said layoffs were temporary and the company hopes they will last for no more than six months, the person said.

A Paradigm spokesman declined to comment.

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With Hollywood on hold, so are the livelihoods of thousands of workers who depend on the film and TV business that has halted during the coronavirus pandemic.

The layoffs underscore the devastating financial impact caused by the pandemic, which has led to a near global shut down of television and film production as well as music events and concerts. More than 100,000 workers in the entertainment industry have lost their jobs.

Even before the outbreak, Hollywood agencies were facing financial pressures exacerbated by a months-long standoff with the Writers Guild of America over packaging fees and other practices deemed harmful to writers.

Last year, thousands of writers fired their agents after major agencies balked at signing a new code of conduct proposed by the WGA. Additionally, moves by various agencies to diversify income streams have had mixed results.

Confronting such challenges, Paradigm already laid off 30 people earlier this year, including agents in its music division which has been hammered by concert closings.

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The latest layoffs will happen “fairly quickly” and affect positions across the company, while remaining staff, including the most senior members, will face salary reductions, one source said.

Paradigm, which has offices in New York, Chicago, Toronto, was almost sold to UTA last year, but the deal fell through. CAA also has explored buying the company, but Gores has said the business is not for sale. It employs more than 700 people.


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