Josh Getlin had a short piece in this weekend’s Los Angeles Times about last week’s lawsuit slapped upon former ICM agent Richard Abate, rehashing many of the details already reported on his exit for new digs at Endeavor and ICM’s alleging that he violated the terms of his contract – which runs through the end of this year â€” by moving to an arch-competitor ahead of time. Though no one spoke to Getlin publicly by name, one anonymous agent’s comment reflected the industry’s fascination with the impending lawsuit and its implications. “This kind of lawsuit normally doesn’t happen in the publishing world unless you’re playing at a very high level in the business,” said one veteran agent. “Usually these disputes get settled quietly. But when you’re a big agency and you’re threatened by the loss of clients, you don’t just take it sitting down. You have to make a statement â€” and that’s what this is really all about.”
Meanwhile, for those like me who wondered why Gawker kept inserting throwaway insults about Abate’s reputation and character, current La Jolla University doctoral student Ted Gideonse offers his own perspective. He interviewed with Abate in 2002 when looking for work as an agent’s assistant, and knowing of Abate’s penchant for attending “every thesis reading at Columbia and Iowa and pouncing on the best writers” thought it couldn’t hurt to mention the upcoming readings at Gideonse’s then-graduate program, the New School. “I was trying to be nice and proud of my school and I thought it couldn’t hurt the school’s reputation if a major agent came, listened, and signed some folks. Also, I was hoping this little gift would help get my a job,” Gideonse explained.
Except things didn’t work out as planned. “First, he told me he’d hired someone else, and then he asked me who was good, and who he should sign. My jaw dropped. I muttered something and then he went and started pouncing.” But Gideonse had the last word, telling those Abate approached of his rep and “that if they were looking for a good agent, I could suggest some better people.” Gideonse’s quest landed him with Ann Rittenberg, and Abate found the assistant he needed in Kate Lee, who hasn’t fared too badly since landing at ICM.