An Uninvited Resolution

A common theme drives through Hollywood among its notorious talent agencies.  In the 80s, Michael Ovitz and his team deflected from their home at William Morris to begin a venture all their own.  While all partners struggled together, it was clear Ovitz led the pack.  Their youthful ambition, energy, and drive led them to revolutionize the talent agency business as the world had known it.

The next groundbreaking agent is Ari Emanuel.  In 1995, at only thirty-four years old, Emanuel and three partners escaped from ICM after-hours to form Endeavor Agency.  After raising his boutique agency to higher prestige over the years, Emanuel merged his company with the oldest talent agency in history, William Morris, in 2009.  As Co-CEO alongside Patrick Whitesell (Former Partner of Endeavor), Emanuel and his team implemented changes to reward risk-takers, and revolution the agency world again.

These two instances are arguably the most notorious events in talent agent history.  The commonality lies in the young, hungry leadership.  While both had strong teams to back them (Ari recommends surrounding yourself with people smarter than you), one individual arose as the principal director of the operation.

Now, right at the end of 2012, Hollywood saw a new agency emerging.  Some speculate this agency to compete with the “Big Four”.
However, there are two items to note:
1) Boutique agencies are becoming stronger as the talent pool is further spread out.
2) The leadership of this new agency himself stated the firm wouldn’t expand to the size of current leaders, such as CAA, WME, UTA and ICM.

In October 2012, ICM’s Jeff Berg vacated from his home of 27 years, where he served as CEO and Chairman.  Berg had plans from his office without anyone outside himself and the investors knowing of them.  With that, Resolution was born.

Doors opening just over a month ago leaves the highly experienced agent heading Hollywood’s next big shock.  As of the date of publication, a specialized set of experienced agents have been hand-selected by Berg from rivalry affiliations:
CAA: Steve Alexander, Adam Kanter, Martin Spencer, Isabella Brewster, Rich Green, Shari Smiley.
ICM: Marc Helwig, David Unger, Robert Lazar, Terry Rhodes.
Others: Everly Lee (APA), Abram Nalibotsky (Gersh), Steve Schenck (Paradise Artists), Jeff Franklin (ATI).

With such prominent figures behind Resolution, how can it not quickly fill its roster with top-tier talent?  How much of the talent list will it redistribute from the “Big Four”?

There is something in the leadership that is different from those who made historical moves in the talent agency business.  Jeff Berg is coming in at the standard retirement age, as opposed to Emanuel and Ovitz who made major moves at roughly half Berg’s age. Berg absolutely has experience, but does he have the youthful fervor that has driven success?

Another questioning factor of Resolution is that despite the many prominent talent agents drafted from various, leading agencies, some are returning after years away from the business.  This means no clients, and as we all know, Hollywood is a market that changes every day.  How quickly can these aging former agents get back into the routine?

Regardless of any concerns, Jeff Berg is making headlines week after week with his continued development.  He does not seem shy of the press in making his point that Resolution is a success in the making.

So ask yourself:
1) Is age going to play a factor?
2) Will there be backlash from agencies that lost their agents?
3) Will clients begin to shift between agencies and test the waters?
4) Are we witnessing Hollywood’s next big story?


About David Bradley

David Bradley is an MBA student currently on the East Coast, but will be venturing to Los Angeles in 2015. Visit him on Twitter @DBradleyRI
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