The head of Hollywood’s most powerful talent agency said he is “really concerned” and “upset” about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi amid reports Tuesday, October 16, 2018 that it jeopardises a $400 million deal with the kingdom.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund negotiated a minority stake in Endeavor worth 345 million euros in March as powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pushed for a foothold in the entertainment industry.
But Ari Emanuel, the CEO of the giant, which includes the William Morris Agency, told television executives in Cannes on Monday that Khashoggi’s case was “very, very concerning”, although he stopped short of saying whether the deal was dead.
“I personally am really concerned about it. But all I can say is that we are monitoring the situation. That’s legally all I can say right now,” he told delegates at MIPCOM, the world’s top entertainment market in the French Riviera resort.
“It is very, very concerning. Really concerning, it’s upsetting,” he added.
Saudi Arabia is apparently considering an admission that Khashoggi died during an interrogation that went wrong, US media reported Monday.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national and US resident who became increasingly critical of Prince Mohammed in columns for the Washington Post, has not been seen since he walked into the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate to sort out marriage paperwork on October 2.
Turkish officials have said they believe he was killed, a claim Saudi Arabia denies.
Since Khashoggi’s disappearance, Western business leaders have pulled out of a major investment summit next week in Riyadh organised by the prince, who has wanted to present himself as a moderniser.