Hollywood talent agency CAA cuts ties with Kanye West after antisemitic tirade

Kanye West wearing sunglasses and a gold necklace
CAA has stopped representing the artist formerly known as Kanye West, shown here in February 2020. (Evan Agostini / Invision / AP)
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For the record:
11:22 a.m. Oct. 24, 2022: An earlier version of this article said Adidas ended its relationship with Ye. The company said it is under review.

The fallout facing the rapper formerly known as Kanye West has continued to grow as one of Hollywood's biggest agencies has stopped representing him.

CAA ended its relationship with Ye this month following his recent antisemitic outbursts in various interviews, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly.

CAA is the latest business to scrap or suspend its relationship with the rapper over his remarks. Other leading entertainment industry figures, including Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, called on all companies that work with the musician to cut ties with him after Ye tweeted that he wanted to go "death con 3" on Jewish people.

“Those who continue to do business with West are giving his misguided hate an audience,” Emanuel wrote in a recent opinion piece in the Financial Times. “There should be no tolerance anywhere for West’s anti-Semitism.”

Emanuel called for Apple and Spotify to stop streaming Ye’s music and for Parler not to sell to him. The right-wing social media platform recently announced that it had entered into an agreement to sell the company to West.

Emanuel noted in his opinion piece that WME clients LeBron James and Maverick Carter canceled an episode of “The Shop: Uninterrupted” because Ye “continued to repeat dangerous stereotypes during filming.”

Emanuel's position drew support from colleagues. On Sunday, United Talent Agency Chief Executive Jeremy Zimmer sent a note to staff asking them to “please support the boycott of Kanye West.”

“As a company we stand for a wide diversity of voices and ideas,” Zimmer wrote. “But we can’t support hate speech, bigotry or anti-semitism.”

Other Hollywood companies were also ending their business ties with the musician.

On Monday, film and TV producer MRC said it is not proceeding with distribution of its documentary about Ye.

“We cannot support any content that amplifies his platform,” MRC executives said in a statement. “The silence from leaders and corporations when it comes to Kanye or antisemitism in general is dismaying but not surprising. What is new and sad, is the fear Jews have about speaking out in their own defense.”

Citing a Los Angeles Times story on a local hate group demonstration in support of Ye's antisemitic remarks, the White House chimed in.

".@POTUS ran to heal the soul of the nation after years of hate and division," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wrote in a tweet. "As part of this healing, we need to call out antisemitism everywhere it rears its ugly head. These actions in LA are disgusting and should be condemned."

Ye's ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, on Monday morning called on the antisemitic rhetoric to end without calling out her former husband directly.

"Hate speech is never OK or excusable," the reality star said in a tweet. "I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end."

Ye has remained in demand in recent years despite flirting with extreme right-wing politics and engaging in verbal attacks on performers like Pete Davidson. His recent appearances with Candace Owens and Tucker Carlson, and provocations such as wearing a “White Lives Matter” shirt, have proved too controversial for some firms to bear.

Ye’s outbursts in the past have often been excused, in part, because of his struggle with what he has said is a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

But his airing of antisemitic views in a string of interviews has made it nearly impossible for companies to defend working with him, causing some brands such as Adidas to review their relationship with the rapper. Ye was suspended from Instagram and Twitter earlier this month.Adidas did not respond to a request for comment.

Balenciaga, a close fashion collaborator with Ye, has ended business relationships with the artist, who previously cut ties with J.P. Morgan and the Gap.

His record deal with longtime label Def Jam has come to a close as well, after Ye fulfilled the terms of his contract, leaving him a free agent.

Ye had been with CAA since 2016, after leaving the agency for a year in 2015 for UTA.

A representative for Ye could not be immediately reached for comment.

NYU professor and former music industry executive Dan Charnas, author of “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop” and a bestselling biography on producer J Dilla, remains unconvinced about the motivations of companies now severing ties with West.

"Corporations and brands are about looking good, which is not always in alignment with actually being good,” Charnas said. “Though Kanye may be a liability for brands now, and there will be more and more folks who refuse to do business with him, I don’t have great confidence that any celebrity in this business and information environment will remain a pariah simply for ethical or moral reasons."

Times staff writer August Brown contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.