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UPDATE: Limato Scores Arbitration Victory – Lands At WMA

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — A legally-binding arbitration has determined that Ed Limato, formerly a long-time agent with ICM can take his clients with him as he departs the agency, the New York Times reported.

Limato, a former co-president at the agency and an agent with a strong roster of talent such as Mel Gibson and Denzel Washington announced his departure from the agency after being demoted last month. Limato had renewed his contract with ICM last year but the arbiter, a retired federal judge, agreed with Limato's lawyers' contention that the continuance of a contract that remains unchanged is in essence, a long-term contract and thus governed by a California state labor law that states that a personal service contract may not be enforced for more than 7 years – Limato joined ICM in 1988.

"The arbitrator’s decision to allow Ed to end his contractual obligations was based solely on an overly technical interpretation of California’s labor code" said Richard Levy, ICM's legal counsel in a statement.

Limato's departure at ICM was predicated by the acquisition by Merrill Lynch in 2006 of a majority stake in the agency. According to the Times, the financial firm implemented a regime of cost-cutting measures which conflicted with Limato's style of doing business. The 71-year-old Limato, known for his lavish parties and debonair style would likely have been free to operate how he pleased in the Hollywood of yore but tighter budgets have made that style of business increasingly rare. Limato, according to the Times, declined a role which would cast him as an eminence grise at the agency, removing him from day-to-day management and consolidate control of the Film division under Silbermann.

It also remains to be seen as to how this will affect ICM. Already on the defensive in the Motion Picture industry, ICM has had trouble attracting major motion picture actors in recent years and it seems unlikely that Limato's departure will help them on that front. They still remain a dominant force in the television side of the fence and the addition of Chris Silbermann when ICM acquired the television-focused Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann Agency (who's arrival precipitate Limato's departure, according to some accounts) will serve to strengthen their hand.

According to ICM's press release, Limato's demotion was to allow "restructuring of I.C.M.’s motion picture department to deliver long-term growth." Mr. Silbermann seems to have his work cut out for him.

Limato Lands At WMA

Ed Limato, is in the process of finalizing a contract to be an agent at the William Morris Agency, Variety is reporting. Most of his clients will make the jump with him as he transitions from ICM as well. A press release is expected once the final details have been sorted out.

Limato's post-ICM destination has a subject of some speculation since his break with ICM with most observers conceding that WMA was the most likely candidate as Limato has has worked with a number of WMA vets in the past, including Jim Wiatt (the current CEO) and Dave Wirtschafter (The current president of WMA.)

According to Variety, clients that will join Limato at WMA include Director Adrian Lyne, Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Steve Martin, Michael Biehn, Thomas Jane, Derek Luke and Sam Neill. Less certain is the disposition of other clients such as Jim Caviezel, Billy Crystal, Liam Neeson and Doris Roberts.

Limato has reportedly been asking for a deal that included a seven-figure salary and a home for his three assistants but details of agreement he made with WMA have not been made public. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers