Emanuel on Wednesday criticized CAA — and specifically Lourd and his colleague Kevin Huvane — over a lawsuit accusing the agency of being complicit in Harvey Weinstein’s crimes. Emanuel said that Lourd should step aside pending an independent investigation.
“Look, we all know Ari Emanuel to be an incredibly performative, erratic, and, in my mind, always self-serving human, I think, much to the detriment of not just his colleagues, but his clients — the few that he’s got left — and, more importantly, his investors,” Lourd said Thursday, speaking to Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw in day two of the news organization’s Screentime conference.
“The idea that he in any way could think that he could hold himself out as morally superior to anyone — but specifically around the issues that are so challenging for women — is odd,” Lourd added.
“We were falsely accused of something that we did not do, and we’re going to address those accusations in court, in a proper forum. That’s all I have to say,” Lourd continued, in response to a lawsuit filed Oct. 4 by actress Julia Ormond that alleges CAA did not “look out for her well-being, to not place her in danger, and to warn her about Weinstein’s predations.”
Lourd also addressed last month’s sale to the French luxury mogul François-Henri Pinault. Lourd says that the idea of selling to Pinault was first discussed two years ago at a conference (he didn’t specify, but the description he gave sounds like Allen & Co.’s annual Sun Valley confab), and that “it took about 14 months to figure it out,” with TPG being “reluctant” to sell.
“I think they liked us being in their portfolio, both for the information we have and the reach that we have, and that we do something that most companies don’t do,” Lourd said.
He added, however, that while the majority sale to Pinault “is such a perfect solution for us now, it rules out nothing.”
“What we want to focus on are our clients and not on a quarter-to-quarter fear of having to add things that don’t fit organically, and that don’t allow us to take advantage of what the opportunities are in the new world,” he added.
Lourd is CEO of CAA under its new ownership, a departure from its partnership past.
“I have a new title, which means I work for a lot more people, I’ve realized,” Lourd said, adding that in his mind there are still some 35 CAA partners and executives working together to run the company. “I do have a feeling if things go wrong, I’m the one who’s staying up late,” he quipped.
And Lourd also weighed in on the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, with talks suspended Wednesday night.
“There’s a massive money gap, massive. And that’s going to be harder to bridge than I think people believe,” Lourd said, before adding that, “Hey both have to take a breath for two days and get back in the room.”
“I think part of what’s been really difficult about these negotiations both with the DGA the WGA, and now SAG is that the companies — for the first time in a pronounced way — have very different agendas,” Lourd added. “And what is difficult about that room is as well-intentioned as all of those people are — I really do believe they are — their businesses are challenged by different things.”
He went on to suggest that as soon as the SAG talks are over, and a new deal has been agreed to, the AMPTP should get to the table with IATSE as soon as possible, and not wait until just before next June’s deadline to begin talks in earnest.
“They have to change how they interact. It can’t be left until two months before a contract expires to try and solve something that might not have year-to-year solutions,” Lourd said. “There might be a decade’s long approach that has to occur, but that’s got to be discussed and negotiated and agreed upon. There’s got to be an apples to apples conversation.”
Though he also said there is an “opportunity” for a company willing to make a bold play for talent: “I don’t know who this magical person is or company is, but I’m going to do my damnedest to try and create them: Someone will have an incredible market advantage if they just realign with artists and just say, ‘if we win you win.’”
And Lourd prognosticated that the future of Hollywood post-strike will look very different than it did pre-strike.
“I do think there’s going to be less made in the middle price range. I think there’s going to be more in the higher price range because when you get to global events like Barbie or Oppenheimer, or you know, Super Mario Bros., it’s worth the investment,” Lourd said, adding that he thinks mid-market movies “will probably be curated better.”
Though Lourd also held out hope that “there’s more inexpensive things that give more people the chance to express themselves and have their work seen.”