Nate Silver on His Hollywood Future and 'Moneyball'-ing Box Office
This story first appeared in the Nov. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Statistician Nate Silver was called the breakout star of the Nov. 6 election when his New York Times-based FiveThirtyEight blog accurately predicted the voting outcome in all 50 states. Now Silver soon could be called something else: a Hollywood player.
One high-level talent agency source says that Silver, who does not have entertainment representation, is attracting strong interest from the industry. This person believes Silver could try his hand at everything from box-office analysis to a correspondent gig on a television news program, not to mention radio shows and public speaking. Silver, 34, tells THR he has been approached with offers from TV producers, is pondering a follow-up to his best-selling book The Signal and the Noise (which hit No. 2 on Amazon post-election) and has been courted by Los Angeles-based talent agencies. He hasn't made any major new commitments since the election and says his literary agent -- Sydelle Kramer of New York's Susan Rabiner Agency -- is fielding the inquiries.
"I have to make sure that I make good choices and that if I put my name on it, it's a high-quality endeavor and that I have time to be a human being," says Silver. "Between now and the end of the year, I am going to try to do some planning. Everything is on the table. I have to think about how to not spread myself too thin. It's a really great problem to have."
Silver says he's been pitched TV programs that would look at "how statistics are shaping society and how they can solve problems." He declines to say who has contacted him.
The statistician has worked in Hollywood in the past -- he says he once did a consulting project for an undisclosed studio -- and seems open to the possibilities of applying his methods to the realm of box-office data. "It's a fascinating little world," he says. "It's a place where maybe some people are doing things in a very sophisticated way and some people are doing things in a nonsophisticated way, so I feel like it's a place where you could have a Moneyball-style appraising."
The Brooklyn-based Silver is under contract with the Times through the middle of 2013 and says the work he does for the paper could go beyond politics. "I prefer to go broader," he says. He isn't sure that he'd want to write a book about the 2012 election and his role in it, so for now he has remained noncommittal, instead focusing on a possible trip to Argentina. "It's summer down there," he notes. "I love South American food, and I haven't really been down there. I really need a vacation."