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THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100

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    83. Debbee Klein
    Debbee Klein
    Co-head, Literary Department, Paradigm

    Klein didn't start her career in the agency mailroom like many of her peers. Instead, at just 19, she was a receptionist at Norman Lear's company, and then, at 21, she landed a gig as a literary agent at Irv Schecter Co., where she'd later run the TV department. "When your feet are to the fire on day one, you have to start, and start well," she says. And things haven't slowed down a bit since for Klein, who is now co-head of Paradigm's literary department and a member of the Beverly Hills agency's six-person management committee.

    This year, Paradigm has sold 42 television projects that were either fully or co-packaged by the agency. Klein, 49, has closed several deals for her clients, including projects for showrunners Jaime Paglia (Eureka), Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives) and Shane Brennan (NCIS: Los Angeles) and writer Bert Royal (Easy A), while also continuing to rep Emmy-nominated showrunners like Robert and Michelle King (The Good Wife).

    PHOTOS: THR's 2011 Women in Entertainment Power 100

    Among her recent biggest deals is Cherry's next project: developing Devious Maids, which producer David Lonner brought to Klein, who brought it to Cherry. Based on a Televisa format, the hourlong drama is set up at ABC. For Brennan, Klein sold to CBS the tentatively titled King & Maxwell, which Brennan will write. The project is based on a series of novels written by another Paradigm client, David Baldacci. "What I am trying to accomplish," Klein says, "is giving the client something that they themselves may not necessarily come up with."

    The married mother of two is also passionate about charity work: She sits on the executive board of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and also works with Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, among other organizations. Looking back now on her almost 30 years in the business, she still doesn't regret her early lack of agency mailroom experience: "I'm still not so sure that driving mail around Hollywood is enough to give someone the backbone to be an agent."

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