In the immediate wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Terry Crews shared a story about being groped at a party by a “high level Hollywood executive”. That executive turned out to be WME power broker Adam Venit, who was subsequently suspended from work. Well guess what? After a thirty-day suspension, Adam Venit is back at work. As Crews says, someone got a pass. (Which echoes the words of Russell Simmons, also shared by Crews, asking that he “give the agent a pass”. Simmons has since been embroiled in his own scandal.)
The only ding on Venit is that he’s lost his seat as the head of WME’s motion picture group. But he is still at his agent’s desk, and he retains his portfolio of powerful A-list clients, which includes Emma Stone, Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, William H. Macy, Adam Sandler—he got Sandler that lucrative Netflix deal—Liam Hemsworth, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, and Dustin Hoffman. Those are some big names. And not one of them left Venit after Crews’s story was told.
So he’s not running a department anymore, but Venit still controls the careers of—and access to—some of the highest profile, in demand actors working today. What then has he really lost? With that talent at his disposal, and all the deals he can make for them—he packaged Creed 2—how long before he’s right back where he was before? Surely they wouldn’t put him back in charge of the motion picture group, after all this? After what? A thirty-day inconvenience? Because that is all this amounted to. Venit got his wrist slapped, but there is nothing stopping him from reclaiming that seat in six months, maybe a year.
There has been a persistent question throughout all this mess about what qualifies as a satisfactory punishment for those whose bad behavior has been dragged into the light. There are police departments and district attorneys looking into any criminal charges that can be laid, mostly against Harvey Weinstein, where the statute of limitations hasn’t lapsed. Lawsuits are being filed, again, pretty much just against Harvey Weinstein and his cohort. But most of these cases are not going to play out in court. Adam Venit isn’t going to be arrested. Louis CK won’t face jail time. So what do we do with these people?
Send them to the back of the line. If WME wants to keep Venit on as an agent, that’s their call, but a one-step demotion isn’t enough. Pull his portfolio and send him down to the juniors’ pool and make him work his way back up, proving every step that he deserves the second chance he has been given. Because this? This loss of title but nothing else? It’s nothing. It’s a pass.