Ari Emanuel - Biography
Ariel "Ari" Zev Emanuel (born March 29, 1961) is an American talent agent, founder of the Endeavor Talent Agency in Beverly Hills, California, and now co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, Endeavor's successor by merger. As of December 4, 2009, he was purportedly representing Martin Scorsese, Larry David, Michael Moore, Matt Damon, Sacha Baron Cohen, Conan O'Brien, Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron, among others. His special relationship with his clients coupled with his stature in the industry has led to various homages and parodies over the years, including Bob Odenkirk's character, Stevie Grant, on The Larry Sanders Show, and Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven on the HBO television show Entourage. He also currently serves on the board of Live Nation.
Born in Chicago, Emanuel was raised in suburban Wilmette, Illinois. Emanuel is the brother of former White House Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, National Institutes of Health bioethicist Ezekiel J. Emanuel, and adopted sister Shoshana Emanuel. His father, the Jerusalem-born Dr. Benjamin M. Emanuel is a pediatrician who was active in the Irgun, a hardline group that fought for Israeli independence until 1948 and was branded as a terrorist organization by the British colonial authorities. His mother, Marsha Emanuel (née Smulevitz), was a civil rights activist, and the one-time owner of a Chicago-area rock and roll club. As a child, Ari was diagnosed as both hyperactive and dyslexic, and his mother spent hours helping him to learn to read. She also took him to anti-war protests. He is a graduate of New Trier West High School and of Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota where he was roommates with director Peter Berg. He is married to Sarah Addington and they have three sons.
After graduation from Macalester College in 1983, Emanuel played professional racquetball, and lived for a time in Paris and New York City. Emanuel then worked at the Hollywood agencies Creative Artists Agency, Inter Talent, and International Creative Management (ICM). By 1995, Emanuel had established himself as a senior agent at ICM but was abruptly fired that year when he and three other agents were caught sneaking files out of the company's offices in the middle of the night. He then co-founded Endeavor Talent Agency with "his fellow late night vigilantes", who included Rick Rosen, Tom Strickler and David Greenblatt. In June 2009, Endeavor merged with the William Morris Agency creating William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.
Emanuel gained widespread media attention in July 2006 when he called on Hollywood to blacklist Mel Gibson because of Gibson’s "anti-Semitic remarks" during his DUI arrest. Emanuel wrote, "People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or Gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line."
Emanuel's name was in an August 17, 2006. advertisement in the Los Angeles Times that condemned Hamas and Hezbollah and supported Israel in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.
In 2007, Emanuel publicly backed Chris Albrecht after Albrecht was fired from HBO for a domestic violence arrest, preceded by rumors of three earlier incidents of violence against women. Emanuel wrote, "If Hollywood is going to give Mel Gibson a second chance, and sports fans are going to cheer on stars like Jason Kidd, Latrell Sprewell, and Stephen Jackson who have made similar mistakes, why not Chris Albrecht?" Emanuel later helped Albrecht land his next job at IMG.
Emanuel has hosted fundraisers for the Democratic Party.
An April 2002 lawsuit by agent Sandra Epstein against Endeavor Agency brought accusations by Epstein and other Endeavor employees against Emanuel. In the court filings, Emanuel is alleged to have allowed a friend to operate a pornographic website out of Endeavor's offices.
According to Epstein, Emanuel made racist and anti-gay remarks and prevented her from sending a script about Navy SEALs to actor Wesley Snipes, saying, "That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Everyone knows that blacks don’t swim." Emanuel disputed these accusations at the time. Epstein's claims were settled for $2.25 million.