Magazine article Variety

So That's What It Takes to Get an Agent to Return a Call

Magazine article Variety

So That's What It Takes to Get an Agent to Return a Call

Article excerpt

It has been a surreal couple of weeks in Hollywood. Actors who haven't heard from their agents in weeks are suddenly fielding calls. Directors who haven't worked for months are being pitched by rival agencies. And agents who are not directly involved in the recent CAA defections are taking some serious stock of their careers.

Yes, there has been soul-searching - and there rarely is time for that in Hollywood.

The cause of all this, of course, is the abrupt departure of 11 agents and 150 clients (at last count) from CAA to UTA - the biggest chain reaction of defections in recent memory. On a business level, the repercussions are profound: litigation against some of the wayward agents and intense negotiations with representatives of their clients. Every star is surrounded by a thicket of lawyers, accountants, publicists and assorted hangers-on who want to weigh in on changes of this magnitude. Reps have become more self-protective, phoning existing clients with reassurances of love and support.

Aside from the business machinations, however, the events of the past two weeks also have had an impact on a personal level. Hyper-caffeinated, mega-testosteroned, over-compensated agents are asking themselves: Why am I in this line of work? Given the existing climate, are alternative careers more intriguing? Would it even be more rewarding to be a manager rather than an agent?

Paul Young, who runs Principato Young, reminded me this week that managers don't wear suits, don't have to cope with complicated bureaucracies or adjust budgets to placate private equity investors. They can be more involved with the creative process, and serve as executive producers on projects they develop with clients. In short, they can have a stake in the game.

Managers also present themselves as allies of their clients, not simply as their deal makers. …

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