Emmys: The Politics of the Agency Party

WME, UTA, ICM Partners and Paradigm opt to house their bashes in execs' private homes, while CAA takes over client Thomas Keller's swanky Bouchon. Word of caution: Make sure your rival hasn't invited your client.
Bouchon

This story first appeared in the Sept. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Unlike most other awards-season events, there will be no red carpets and no photocalls at the ultra-exclusive Emmy parties given by the talent agencies on Sept. 20, two nights before the big show.

"It's really about entertaining their nominees," says event planner Tony Schubert, whose company Event Eleven is producing WME's bash. "It's about making sure that their guests are well taken care of in a beautiful space. They don't care about the press, there is no red carpet, and it truly is a private event."

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After several years at Milk Studios, WME is moving its bash closer to the rest of the other agency parties on the Westside. WME partner and head of TV packaging Richard Weitz will welcome around 500 people -- down from 800 to 900 in years past -- to his Beverly Hills home.

At CAA's bash, a shrub wall on the garden level will shield the entrance of power spot Bouchon in Beverly Hills from prying eyes. TV department co-heads Adam Berkowitz, Sonya Rosenfeld, Joe Cohen, Jeff Jacobs and Ted Miller and CAA managing partner Steven Lafferty are hosting the evening. CAA and Bouchon have strong ties: Berkowitz is an investor in the eatery, and chef/owner Thomas Keller is an agency client.

Event producer Yifat Oren and Associates once again will stage UTA's fete on the grounds of the Brentwood home of managing director Jay Sures and his wife, interior designer Molly Isaksen. (The estate was once owned by Fred MacMurray.) This year, UTA will welcome around 500 to the party, catered by Animal and featuring DJ Michelle Pesce.

New to the fray is Paradigm, which will throw down at the Beverly Park home of chairman Sam Gores, while ICM Partners will give a Saturday brunch at partner Chris Silbermann's Santa Monica residence.

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With each agency repping thousands of clients, the guest lists for the parties -- as well as for the agencies' equally private pre-Oscar bashes -- must be carefully pruned. A trio of agents THR spoke to says most clients understand not getting an invite if they aren't in the awards mix, though a few pleas are made. To ruffle fewer feathers, says one agency source, "You make it either very small or make it big. It's hard to make it in between."

Although the agencies insist their parties purely are to honor their clients and be convivial with colleagues and industry friends (studio and network execs are expected to traipse to every bash), business might play a part. Agencies have been known to invite other agencies' clients, who just might be impressed by a rival agent's digs, party prowess and starry roster. Case in point: The Killing's Joel Kinnaman was a UTA client when he swung by CAA's bash on the agency's invitation last year. He signed with CAA in May.

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