Sunday, September 16, 2007
Caroline Michel: Heseltine's pal grabs PFD
The defection of Caroline Michel from the William Morris Agency to rival agency PFD has shocked British publishing. An Independent on Sunday piece gives a good sense of scale [click here]. Michel's appointment is a clear sign that owners CSS Stellar want PFD turned into an international super agency and that a proposed management buyout by some of its agents is not an option. One consequence is that PFD may lose many of them as it feathers down with Michel.
As the Indy on Sunday says: "PFD represents some of the biggest names in the literary world including Simon Schama, Julian Barnes, Alan Bennett, John Mortimer and Joanna Trollope, as well as stars of stage, screen and comedy, including Kate Winslet, Dawn French and Ricky Gervais. It also holds the copyright to the literary estates of Hilaire Belloc, Nancy Mitford, JB Priestley, Evelyn Waugh and Rebecca West."
Caroline Michel, 48 - known to some as Lady Gush because of her flamboyant charm - is the wife of Matthew (now Lord) Evans, the former chairman of Faber. It is known that she was a close friend of the late, self-confessedly philandering MP Alan Clark. Subsequently, she enjoyed a friendship with the former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine.
Lady Gush is lovely but incredibly expensive to maintain. She got a mega-package from William Morris but Americans demand premium delivery in return. She has an address book better than the Queen's: they expected the names she dropped - Sean Connery et al - to come on board and of course they didn`t.
She jumped ship from HarperCollins seconds before she was pushed and the same has happened again. She lost WM mega-money, HarperCollins likewise - but she manages to go and charm the striped suits in the city who don`t know the bottomlines.
Her appointment as the £400k chief executive of PFD was made over the heads not only of very long-standing and experienced agents like Michael Sisson and Caroline Dawnay - which was just plain rude but these types have no manners - but of Pat Kavanagh (Julian Barnes' wife). Now she's a bisexual lady with a house so anally retentively tidy that I'm surprised it has not drawn the interest of a psychiatrist: she has not enough to do but still has the energy to bear a lifetime grudge - she penned the line: "Vengeance is mine".
She went mad when she heard of Michel's appointment - and they really do dislike each other. Kavanagh refused to attend Michel's first meeting of the senior troops and is planning a coup - she wants to set up on her own agency with others from PFD. These refusenik agents had planned a management buyout and some of them are starting to see that Kavanagh is not of an age to found an agency. Also, they wouldn't have the PFD name behind them - and it IS a name - and second thoughts are dawning generally at the prospect of income and status loss. I suspect lots of secret meetings are taking place with and without Kavanagh.