High-flying former Hollywood agent Jim Wiatt‘s publicized plans to move to the Big Apple never materialized because he hates high-rises and, according to sources, has a phobia of elevators.
“[Wiatt] is packing up and moving to New York,” said a profile on the former William Morris Agency chairman after he’d taken a gig as an adviser for New York-based AOL last year. But sources said Wiatt — who repped Eddie Murphy, Nora Ephron and Lorne Michaels — made it to town “for just 24 hours” before turning around and heading back to Tinseltown last year.
One factor, sources said, was Wiatt’s legendary disdain for elevators. “He’s claustrophobic,” said a Hollywood insider. “[His wife] has been trying to get Jim to get a place in New York forever . . . and that’s how long it may take her.”
Another source told us, “You would have thought he’d have considered elevators before deciding to move. They were coming in the fall to get their kids into schools, then did a total 180 about eight months ago.”
“Jim will not take an elevator,” says another ex-WMA staffer. “He would walk up 10 or 12 flights, do whatever he had to do, then leave for the day so he would not have to come back up.”
But a friend of Wiatt insisted that elevators “had zero” to do with it: “He thought about New York, they looked at a couple of places, then they decided not to buy. He had the opportunity to work at AOL in Beverly Hills. He deals with the entertainment business, so there was no need to move. He comes here as needed and didn’t have to relocate. He stays at hotels with elevators.”
AOL is using Wiatt’s Rolodex to connect with talent, and he also remains a key behind-the-scenes dealmaker for studios.
A source who worked at William Morris in LA said when Wiatt joined the agency to replace Arnold Rifkin, “Instead of taking Arnold’s office, he chose an office on the first floor. Everyone then started scrambling to be on the first floor, near the power.” [Page Six]