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United Talent Agency (UTA) is a talent and literary agency located in Beverly Hills, Californiamarker. UTA has approximately 100 agents representing actors, writers, director, producers, recording artists, below the line talent, IP rights holders, emerging technology companies and corporate brands in a variety of practice areas including film, television, music, digital media, intellectual property, computer and video games, commercials, voiceovers, endorsements, branding & licensing, corporate consulting and entertainment marketing.

Some of UTA's key clients include actors Johnny Depp, Harrison Ford, Owen Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Dwayne Johnson, Jennifer Lopez, Kirsten Dunst, Seth Rogen, James McAvoy, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Tim Daly, Paul Rudd, Jim Breuer, Elizabeth Banks, Juliette Goglia, Mike White and Liv Tyler; filmmakers and screenwriters Joel and Ethan Coen, Judd Apatow, Andrew Adamson, Wes Anderson, John August, Noah Baumbach, Florian Heckel von Donnersmarck, Julian Fellowes, Curtis Hanson, Charlie Kaufman, Ehren Kruger, Peter Morgan and Richard Price; television writers and creators Dick Wolf, David Chase, Alan Ball, Tom Fontana, Ed Bernero and Steve Levitan, as well as non-fiction television producers Mike Fleiss, Tom Forman, Alison Grodner and Sally Ann Salsano.

Beginnings

UTA was founded in 1991 as the result of a merger between two literary and talent agencies, the Bauer-Benedek Agency, headed by partners Marty Bauer, Peter Benedek and Jeremy Zimmer, and the Leading Artists Agency, formed by partners Jim Berkus and Gary Cosay. UTA seemed well positioned for success by bringing the best agents in from a variety of agencies. Their first packages on shows included hits like The Simpsons, Married...With Children, and The Wonder Years. Others represented by the agency included movie writer/directors Lawrence Kasdan, Brian De Palma, Steven Soderbergh, and brothers Joel and Ethan Coen; Seinfeld creator/writer Larry David; and actors Mike Myers, Bridget Fonda, Alan Alda, and Charles Grodin. As its business grew, the firm soon began to add agents to the 26 it had started with.

Agency Growth

Like most talent agencies, growth is often accompanied with assets and egos. In the spring of 1996 UTA dismissed partner and television department head Gavin Polone, after an agent accused him of sexual harassment and threatened to go public if she was not released from her contract. Polone immediately threatened legal action, and UTA soon issued a public apology and agreed to buy out his contract. He was one of the firm's most powerful agents, and his departure cost UTA Seinfeld's Larry David, among others. A year later the agency sued Polone, alleging that he was guilty of defrauding clients, sexual misconduct, and other unethical behavior. His subsequent cross-complaint included allegations of improprieties by others in the agency and also revealed that UTA had agreed to pay him $6 million over two years to settle the broken contract as well as for libel and defamation. The suits were resolved several years later with Polone (who had by now begun working with former partner Judy Hofflund) receiving an undisclosed settlement.

The fracas with Polone was one of several during 1996, which had also seen UTA sue agent Jay Sures after he, too, threatened to reveal improprieties if he was not let out of his contract. That case was resolved more amicably, however; Sures stayed with the firm and was later named co-head of its television unit and made a partner. The turmoil of the Polone and Sures situations and partner Robert Stein's move to William Morris, along with other departures, reportedly led the agency to consult with a corporate partner therapist.

In June 1996 UTA's partners voted to name Marty Bauer and Jim Berkus co-chairmen, with Bauer also named president. The firm had previously been run by the consensus of its partners. In 1997 Bauer stepped down from his role as president and in the following year left the firm to found the Bauer Company, a management company, leaving UTA to be run by a board of six senior partners led by chairman Jim Berkus.

In 1998, UTA expanded its talent operations with the addition of Tracey Jacobs, a top talent agent from International Creative Management, who joined UTA as a partner and brought with her clients including Johnny Depp, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Vincent D'Onofrio and director Mark Pellington.

In September 2001, UTA made its official foray into the music business, hiring veteran music agent Rob Prinz who had previously spent 11 years as a music agent at Creative Artists Agency and, prior to that, eight years as head of east coast contemporary music operations for the William Morris Agency. The addition of Prinz put the agency into the lucrative music booking and touring business, and also added recording artists, such as Grammy-winner Celine Dion, to the agency's client roster.

In October 2003, partner and television department co-head Jay Sures was promoted to the Board of Directors, joining chairman Jim Berkus and fellow board members Peter Benedek, Gary Cosay, Nick Stevens and Jeremy Zimmer.

In February 2008, UTA hired Michael Camacho, formerly the head of Creative Artists Agency's reality television division, to head UTA's growing alternative television department and to join the UTA partnership. Camacho brought to UTA most of his high profile clients, including Mike Fleiss, creator of ABC's long-running "The Bachelor" franchise; Tom Forman, creator of ABC's "Extreme Home Makeover," Alison Grodner, creator of CBS' "Big Brother;" Jay Blumenthal and Tony Marsh, creators of "Newlyweds;" and R.J. Cutler, creator of series such as "Greatest American Dog."In May 2008, longtime talent partner Tracey Jacobs and longtime motion picture partner David Kramer were elevated to UTA's Board of Directors, making Jacobs among the highest ranking female agents in the industry. The same month saw Mitchell Gossett, one of the industry's top youth agents, depart the Cunningham Escott Slevin Doherty agency to join UTA's talent department and bolster the agency's burgeoning youth representation business. Gossett brought with him clients including Miley Cyrus, Tayler Momsen, Victoria Justice and Chelsea Staub.

The Digital Age

UTA was the first major agency in the broadband era to launch a dedicated online division to identify and represent emerging internet content creators. Clients like Ask a Ninja, Emmy Award winners Andy Dugan & Marc Cittadino, We Need Girlfriends and Big Fantastic are early leaders in the digital space. In July 2007, UTA and the Internet-based advertising agency Spot Runner announced they were launching an independent studio for digital entertainment from professional actors, directors, writers and producers called 60Frames Entertainment. The Coen Brothers, the filmmakers behind movies like “Fargo” and “The Big Lebowski,” are producing programming for the venture and serve on an advisory board. 60frames was later shuttered in May 2009 after burning through millions of dollars in venture funding.

UTA Job List

One of the things UTA is famous for is the elusive "UTA Job List". The list includes many assistant position job listings for agent/publicist/manager hopefuls. UTA will not confirm the existence of such a list, but it does indeed exist and is only available to those with connections to people within Hollywood to be able to obtain it.

People represented by UTA

Jorge E. Gonzalez III Paul Gulyas Patrick F. Beck

References

  1. Hollywood Reporter
  2. Variety
  3. Hollywood Reporter
  4. Variety
  5. Deadline Hollywood
  6. Variety
  7. Variety
  8. http://www.onlinevideowatch.com/60-frames-shuttered/


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