Magazine article The New Yorker

Representation

Magazine article The New Yorker

Representation

Article excerpt

Representation

Three weeks before the Academy Awards, Jeremy Zimmer, the C.E.O. of United Talent Agency, set about reviewing a guest list for the firm's annual pre-Oscar party. He paused when he got to the name Asghar Farhadi. The Oscar-winning Iranian director, whom U.T.A. represents, had said that he would not attend this year's ceremony--where his movie, "The Salesman," was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film--to protest President Trump's travel ban. "Suddenly, it all coalesced," Zimmer said. He fired off an e-mail to the agency's board of directors, proposing that they scrap the bash and donate the two hundred and fifty thousand dollars allotted for champagne and canapes to the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee. (The agency's clients and supporters chipped in another seventy thousand dollars online.) Instead of a party, the firm would organize a pro-immigration, pro-free-speech rally for its agents, its clients, and Hollywood at large. "The truth is I just couldn't take the typical nonsense anymore," Zimmer said. "It's, like, Nero's fiddling and we're all eating grapes."

At 3 p.m. on the Friday before the Oscars, hundreds of people milled in the street in front of U.T.A.'s Beverly Hills office. Many held signs, some directed at the President: "Immigrants: We Get the Job Done"; "Dude . . . Your Skin Looks Terrible." "I'm a talent manager, but I'm a human first," Andy Corren, whose sign read, "No Es Mi Presidente," said. Corren is not of Hispanic origin, but he spent Inauguration week on vacation in Oaxaca and participated in a women's march there. He nodded approvingly at the U.T.A. crowd. "This might be the biggest protest in the history of Beverly Hills," he said. "Think about it. It's not a hotbed of activism--unless you count, like, 'Free Zsa Zsa.' "

The rally had a name, United Voices, and a United Nations of food trucks--Caribbean, Korean, Mexican, Italian--were parked in a line, dispensing free lunch. Timothy Simons, who plays the smarmy White House aide Jonah Ryan on "Veep," swigged from a bottle of water. "On November 9th, nothing was funny," he said. "It's all still terrible, but I feel like I'm able to make jokes about it more." He was interrupted when DJ Cassidy--he played at Beyonce and Jay Z's wedding--bounded onto a stage placed, curiously, beneath the bunny logo of Playboy Enterprises (the agency's neighbor) and started blasting soul music. …

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