EXCLUSIVE: It has been a rough couple of weeks for Paradigm since chairman/CEO Sam Gores initiated “temporary layoffs” of up to 200 staffers in the wake of the Hollywood shutdown by the coronavirus pandemic, followed by a salacious lawsuit against the agency by vet agent Debbee Klein, who was among those laid off. Tonight, Gores sent an internal email that sought to reassure remaining staff about what the future held for the agency. Among the proclamations was that Gores set up an undisclosed amount of “interim financing” to keep the agency afloat for the foreseeable future, set a $1.1 million fund to help those employees on temporary layoff and extended their health coverage through June. Gores also disclosed that he will not take a paycheck for the rest of the year and possibly longer, until the music touring revenue-based agency rebounds in the future.
Deadline heard rumors that Gores was going to send missives to rival agencies asking they not hire those laid off agents, who still technically are tethered to Paradigm for 90 days. While Paradigm wouldn’t comment on the internal email Deadline got hold of, a spokesman for Paradigm denied that any laid off agent would be held in place. The correspondence to rivals was specifically about agents that were not laid off and therefore had enforceable contracts. “The information you have is wrong,” a spokeman said. “Neither Sam, nor Paradigm, would ever stand in the way of someone wanting to hire an employee who had been temporarily laid off, whether covered by a contract or not. Sam did send an email to a few of his counterparts at other agencies saying he had heard they were trying to hire his agents and that was not cool. The information he had was his active agents had been approached who were covered by contracts, as opposed to those who had been temporarily laid off. If you checked you would find this is in violation of California law.”
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Here is the internal email sent by Gores this evening:
I am committed to improving our flow of communication as we weather this uncertain time. The
difficult and urgent actions we took on March 20th were the hardest of my 37-year career. Paradigm’s great strength is its enormously talented staff. It always has been and always will be. The vital and significant actions we took, though necessary for the health of the company, were hard and painful. And while immmediate action was required, I realize that the way the message was conveyed to you lacked compassion and made you feel alienated from Paradigm.
You are part of this team because we believe in your talent, and we hope that you will be the
people who will help build Paradigm’s future after the COVID crisis. From the beginning, we have
considered these layoffs temporary and it bears repeating that our intention is to bring as many
of you back as possible.
Over the past weeks, we have been working to mitigate the effects of these temporary layoffs and
provide extended benefits, comfort, and assistance as we prepare for this pandemic to end and
go back to work as a community at the agency I’m proud to call my home.
• Paradigm has established a $1.1M Employee Relief Fund to provide additional support of
our temporarily laid off employees. We will have further details regarding this fund on or
before Friday, April 10.
• Your health care coverage has been extended through the end of June and we will
continue to monitor the situation closely.
• Our intention is to support you as a member of the Paradigm family. Our desire is to help
our teams and help you maintain your books of business. If you have any questions regarding the structure that has been put in place to support agents and their team members who have been temporarily laid off, please contact your office leader or department head.
The coronavirus has affected almost every business in the world and certainly our industry. When
months of film and television productions, concerts, tours, and festivals were cancelled or postponed overnight, every aspect of our business was dramatically impacted. I thought you’d like to know about several actions Paradigm has taken to ensure that the company remains on solid ground.
• Paradigm has secured interim financing that will provide a bridge through this global crisis.
• Paradigm has signed a new franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America, allowing the agency to resume representation of its WGA-represented film and TV writer clients. Paradigm is the first major talent agency engaged in television packaging to sign a new franchise agreement with the WGA. This is a huge step forward in a situation that stretches back almost two years. In signing the agreement, it enables our literary agents to re-sign our writer clients and get them back to work.
• I have forgone my salary for the remainder of 2020, and beyond if necessary.
• Like all other agencies industry wide, staff above Coordinator level are working at reduced
wages until business picks up again.
I am deeply sorry about the financial impact this crisis has had on so many of our colleagues,
friends, and families as we confront one of the most urgent health and economic challenges of
the modern era.
I’ll contact you again on or before Friday with more information about the Employee Relief Fund.
Stay safe, stay well, and we’ll continue to be in touch and keep you informed regarding our efforts
on your behalf.
Warmly and with great respect,
Sam Gores, Chairman & CEO
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