Show Starring Avenatti and Scaramucci Is Being Pitched to Television Executives

Show Starring Avenatti and Scaramucci Is Being Pitched to Television Executives


A television show featuring Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who is suing President Trump on behalf of a pornographic film actress, and the former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was pitched to two cable networks in recent weeks, people briefed on the matter said on Thursday.

The prominent television agent Jay Sures discussed with executives at CNN and MSNBC the concept of a program where the two men would square off, according to three people briefed on the issue. Both have become frequent cable network guests — Mr. Avenatti as one of Mr. Trump’s greatest antagonists, and Mr. Scaramucci as a loyalist to the president even after flaming out after less than two weeks at the White House.

Representatives for MSNBC and CNN declined to comment, as did Mr. Sures and Mr. Scaramucci. Mr. Avenatti did not immediately respond to an email requesting a comment.

Mr. Avenatti has appeared on both CNN and MSNBC repeatedly in recent weeks, often several times a day on both networks. The appearances are one part of an aggressive public relations campaign he has waged on behalf of the actress, Stephanie Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, earning him criticism that he is leveraging his position to both undermine Mr. Trump and promote himself.

He has set off news media frenzies by sending Ms. Clifford into the courtroom where the president’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, was appearing to fight the F.B.I.’s seizure of documents in a raid. Mr. Cohen paid $130,000 to keep Ms. Clifford from going public before the 2016 election about an affair she says she had with the president, who denies her claim.

And this month, Mr. Avenatti took the unusual step of posting leaked financial records that he said showed that Mr. Cohen received money from a firm linked to a Russian oligarch. The posting fueled speculation about Mr. Cohen’s financial dealings, but Mr. Avenatti also made an embarrassing mistake: One of the documents he published was about a different man named Michael Cohen, not the one who represented Mr. Trump.

Mr. Avenatti has not yet hired Mr. Sures, according to two of the people, but it is not unusual for Hollywood agents to work informally with potential clients. Mr. Sures, who is based primarily out of California, has represented Dr. Phil; the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd; and the co-host of “CBS This Morning,” Norah O’Donnell. Both Mr. Avenatti and Mr. Scaramucci attended a party thrown by Mr. Sures during the White House Correspondents Dinner weekend last month in Washington.

Mr. Scaramucci is one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters on television. He became one of the most recognizable personalities to come out of the Trump administration last summer after his stint at the White House. Before that, Mr. Scaramucci was a financial investor who put his company up for sale in anticipation of joining the White House in a top role. But leaks about the sale snarled his plans, and he was later brought on as Mr. Trump shook up his top aides. Since leaving the White House, he has told people he is returning to his financial firm, SkyBridge Capital.

Mr. Scaramucci was fired shortly after John F. Kelly took over as White House chief of staff and pledged to instill more discipline in the West Wing. He is now writing a book titled “The Blue Collar President: How Trump Is Reinventing the Aspirational Working Class.”

Before becoming a fixture on cable news as counsel to Ms. Clifford, Mr. Avenatti had made a name for himself in California legal circles by mixing serious cases — like a $454 million verdict he won against Kimberly-Clark and Halyard Health for claims they were selling defective surgical gowns — with more tabloid-friendly suits against the celebrities Paris Hilton and Jim Carrey.

His own website boasts, “Michael often works closely with the press and media in connection with his legal practice — an area in which most lawyers falter and underutilize.” In pressing his earlier cases, he was equally at home before a “60 Minutes” camera or working the gossip channels of People magazine and TMZ.

He had an early mentor in the aggressive use of media in Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, a veteran of the Clinton and Obama administrations. Mr. Avenatti worked during college and law school at Mr. Emanuel’s political communications firm, the Research Group. The firm specialized in so-called opposition research, or digging up potentially embarrassing information on opponents for future use in the press.



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