I told one recently, and they are always crowd pleasers. This is one of my personal favorites.
It’s 1982. My writing partner, David and I are at William Morris. Several years prior we signed on with a young agent at a small tenpercentery (I love that expression), and as she moved on to bigger and better agencies we followed her. She and we were now at William Morris.
When clients get shows on the air their agencies can package them. In other words, William Morris gets a piece of the action. That's really how they make their money in television. It's not off the ten percent commission they collect.
For this package they’re supposed to help you get the show on the air, clear paths for signing talent, etc. We had a pilot the year before that was a William Morris package and it was not a pleasant experience. The only actors we had trouble signing were Morris clients. At this point I should mention that the William Morris Agency of today is completely under new ownership, management, and not even located in the same building. So no one in the current WMA should be held accountable for the deeds from those days.
One thing about mounting a pilot, you get to meet and deal with lots of agents. And you see how they operate. Who calls you back? Who is an asshole? Who never follows up? One agent in particular really impressed us. Bob Broder. Among his clients at the time were James Burrows and the Charles Brothers. Bob was extremely helpful and frankly did more for us than our own “partners.” But we were very loyal to our specific agent so we stayed with her and William Morris. She believed in us when we were nobodies and now that we were successful we didn’t feel it was right to pull a Broadway Danny Rose on her.
But now it’s 1982. We’re on CHEERS and our agent tells us she’s getting out of that end of the business and getting into producing. She was offered a great job running a very successful film director’s production company. We were thrilled for her, but now felt no pull to stay at the agency.
Instead of just taking free expensive lunches and letting agents from all over town court us, we called Bob Broder. He was interested in representing us so we decided to make the switch.
We told the fine folks at William Morris and one of their agents – who we had dealt with from time to time – asked if he could speak with us. Could we give him one last chance to convince us to stay? Although our minds were pretty much made up, we still felt it was the honorable thing to do. And who knows? Maybe there was some reason why we really should stay.
We sit down on his couch, the agent closes the door, crosses to us and yells, “You guys are fucking ASSHOLES!”
“If you leave this fucking agency you’re fucking assholes and fucking idiots!” He goes on for five minutes to call us stupid, immature, ungrateful, dickless, only marginally talented, and how we’re making the biggest mistake of our lives not letting him guide our careers. All of this laced with more expletives than a DEADWOOD episode.
Wow! What a masterful presentation. Who wouldn’t want to re-sign after that declaration of love?
Well, as shocking as it may seem, we did leave and began a long and happy association with Bob Broder.
Meanwhile, this agent left the Morris Agency himself in 1999. So I guess in the end, he too was a “fucking ASSHOLE!” I haven’t seen him in years. I don’t know what he’s doing today. I just hope it’s not eulogies.