Wall Street Goes Hollywood : The Journal: `We're Ready for Our Close-Up, Mr. DeMille'

By Noack, David | Editor & Publisher, June 26, 1999 | Go to article overview

Wall Street Goes Hollywood : The Journal: `We're Ready for Our Close-Up, Mr. DeMille'


Noack, David, Editor & Publisher


The newspaper that used to advertise itself as "The Daily Diary of the American Dream" is now teaming up with dream-makers in Hollywood.

The Wall Street Journal has hired one of Tinseltown's top talent agencies, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), to represent the newspaper when it comes to pitching and fielding story ideas for TV and motion pictures.

The deal opens the door for the possibility that the Journal's financial tales of power, intrigue, compelling characters, and dealmaking will be working their way to the silver screen.

Officials at the Journal downplayed the move to hire CAA, saying it was done to better manage the process when calls come in regarding stories that have appeared in the newspaper. While inquires have been made in the past about Journal stories, no deals have come to pass.

Richard J. Tofel, a spokesman for Dow Jones & Co. Inc., which owns the Journal, says the newspaper periodically gets calls from producers and agents about a particular story but, until recently, lacked a method of dealing with the request.

All the CAA arrangement is doing, Tofel says, is providing a process and point man to handle the details. The agent handling calls to the Journal is Bob Bookman.

"The Journal news department has fielded expressions of interest for years in film and television rights, and they concluded that it would be more sensible to have a professional in that business to field those calls and that if one were going to go, you might occasionally have that person pitch stories affirmatively to producers, studios, [etc.]" says Tofel.

He says the company interviewed a number of agencies and individuals before settling on CAA. The agency will not handle book deals. Reporters who strike book deals can do so, in exchange for the newspaper having first serial rights.

Tofel says reporters who write a story that is eventually made into a TV show or movie would also share in the money. How much money they would get remains to be seen.

He says CAA will not get stories in advance, but will see them when they are published.

For years, movies and TV series have created story plots from news headlines. Stephen J. Adler, an assistant managing editor who is handling the effort, says the uniqueness of the Journal stories make them attractive.

"Our front-page stories are often narrative accounts with strong characters and strong plot lines, and so sometimes they bear resemblance to movie plots." says Adler. "These would be our front-page enterprise story where we would introduce a character that the reader previously didn't know about, or we tell a story exclusively, which is what most of our Page-One stories are. …

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