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Next Generation Class of 2006: Agents & managers

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Julie Bloom
literary manager,  Art/Work Entertainment
BORN: June 18, 1974
St. Louis native Julie Bloom moved to Southern California to attend USC film school and never left. After internships with casting agencies, Bloom went into the training program at WMA, working alongside legendary agents such as Ann Blanchard, who Bloom credits as the person who helped her "switch to writers." She was then promoted to agent in the literary department, but after a little more than five years, Bloom not only left WMA but the life of an agent in a big corporation. In between jobs, industry heavies such as Craig Perry and Bernie Brillstein told Bloom that she should start her own company. Bloom took that advice and started up a management company alongside Felicia Sager, adding on David Brownstein in 2004 and becoming Art/Work Entertainment. Today, Art/Work is a two-person operation, with Bloom managing writers and directors and Brownstein handling talent. Periodically, still, she will call Perry to "say it's all thanks to you." At Art/Work, Bloom's client list includes Heather Ash, Michael Greenspan, Eric Heisserer and Erin Cressida Wilson.
"HOFF" TO A GOOD START: Bloom's first internship in Hollywood had many (male) tongues wagging. "I worked at 'Baywatch.' It was an internship during my sophomore year in college, and I was a casting assistant for them. For me, it was a tremendous experience to be on the set." And her peers didn't let an opportunity pass. "Girls at school were saying, 'You work for "Breast"watch?'"
HOW TO BE YOUR OWN BOSS: Bloom describes the ups and downs of owning her own business. "We don't have staff meetings because I am my staff. I make my own hours, but that means I end up working late a lot, on the weekends."
HAND ME DOWNS: Every day, Bloom sits at a desk that has more than just a practical use. "My dad had several businesses when I was young, and he had a green granite desk. When I was 3 years old, I would go to his office and make paper-clip chains on this desk. That desk is now my desk, and it's sort of my inspiration."
Cal Boyington
head of alternative television, Paradigm
BORN: March 3, 1971
How's this for a reality show: Agent with steely determination and boyish charm finds himself at a new agency. He's ready to establish the firm in the area of his specialty -- ironically enough, unscripted programming. No need to fictionalize: Cal Boyington is doing the real thing at Paradigm as head of alternative television. He has helped put the agency on the map in that genre by packaging reality series for everyone from Wyclef Jean to Bobby Knight. "You come across someone who is incredibly driven and has a story to tell," Boyington says. "You have to take that person's vision and figure out the best way to position it, and it will sell, God willing."
CLIENT TELL: In the case of musician Jean, Boyington's positioning resulted in a pilot at HBO this year. For collegiate basketball coach Knight, it was an ESPN reality series set at his Texas Tech University. Boyington's clients have created a wide range of series, including cable hits such as A&E's "Intervention," ESPN's "U.S. Poker Championship" and TLC's "Trading Spaces." He also has a roster of top unscripted executive producers and directors in his pocket, including Jay Bienstock (NBC's "The Apprentice"), C.B. Harding (Comedy Central's "Blue Collar Comedy Tour") George Moll (VH1's "Behind the Music") and Peter Engel and Barry Katz (NBC's "Last Comic Standing"), who he recently reteamed and packaged for "The Imposter," a series set to launch in the summer on ABC.
BIG BREAK: It wasn't long before Boyington got his break, catching the eye of agent Sean Perry at Abrams Rubaloff & Lawrence. (Perry is now head of alternative TV at Endeavor, and Abrams is now Rebel Entertainment). From there, Boyington followed Perry to King World Prods., but it wasn't until he returned to the agency world at ICM that he put it all together. Boyington sold AMC's "Sunday Morning Shootout," which hit 100 episodes this year. At ICM he also began representing producers and talent who worked on MTV's "The Real World." Says Boyington, "I've always wanted to make my focus spotting the next hot spot for talent."
John Buzzetti
partner, Gersh Agency
BORN: April 8, 1971
John Buzzetti was in college when he realized he had a problem: He loved the theater but had "absolutely zero creative ambition," he says. He tried his hand at stage managing while at the State University of New York at Binghamton, which he parlayed into working on an off-off Broadway production after graduation. "But I realized immediately I hated it," he says. Buzzetti was waiting tables when a group of agents at WMA told him he was so funny they wanted to hire him. "I can't remember whether it didn't work because I didn't get the job or I said, 'No, I don't want to work in your mailroom,' having no idea what it was about," he remembers with a laugh. "But it made me think about being an agent." Buzzetti worked at a theatrical agency for a year before moving over to help launch Gersh's theatrical division. Six years later, he now counts such theater writers and composers as David Lindsay-Abaire, Marsha Norman, Adam Rapp and the Tony Award-winning team behind "Avenue Q" as his clients.
SONG AND DANCE: While Buzzetti began his career focusing on developing writers, he now is embracing composers: "Musicals are the other half of my passion, and in the theater, to be honest, that's where the money is." He's currently working with the teams behind the upcoming musical adaptations of "High Fidelity" and "Shrek," as well as a hip-hop musical called "In the Heights." "It's groundbreaking," he says of "Heights." "It's the first use of hip-hop in the theater -- well, the first use of hip-hop in the theater that's actually going to work."
WELL SUITED: "I can't believe I do this every day," Buzzetti says. "I just stumbled into what I was meant to do. I'm the furthest thing from an 'agent' possible. I wear jeans and sneakers, even as a partner. But I love to argue, and I have great taste -- and those are the two things that make me good at this."
David Gardner
manager , Principato-Young Entertainment
BORN: April 15, 1972
The next time somebody brings up paying dues, expect to hear David Gardner's name. While he was working toward his master's in business administration from the University of Miami, Gardner decided to forgo the usual spring break rituals and instead tried to get a head start on his future career. "Like a nerd, I came out to L.A.," he says. "I had never been here before -- I stayed with my friend's cousin's uncle and literally pounded the pavement during that week." With a creative directory in hand, Gardner went to 66 different companies, including CAA, Imagine Entertainment and WMA, sitting in the lobby at each firm until someone agreed to take a look at his resume. While Gardner's perseverance paid off -- he nabbed offers to work in the mailroom at more than one agency -- he decided against accepting the jobs once he researched the pay scale.
MONEY MATTERS: "When I found out how much money I would make in the mailroom -- $225 a week -- and the cheapest apartment I could find was $798.25 a month, I called my parents," he says. But Gardner didn't exactly get the answer he thought he might. "I had told them this is what I wanted to do and that I would be starting in the mailroom," he says. "They couldn't believe I had my M.B.A. and would be delivering people's mail. My parents never went to college -- they were all blue collar. I asked them for money, and they wouldn't help me. They said, 'You have your M.B.A., now go find a job. The entertainment business will be there when you're done."
MOM AND DAD KNOW BEST: Turns out, they were right, and after working in corporate America for several years, Gardner decided the mailroom didn't seem so bad after all. He started his career at Paradigm, then went through the training program at ICM, becoming an agent and breaking into management with the Talent Entertainment Group. He moved to Principato-Young in 2003. His clients include Judy Greer, Jonathan Liebesman, Ann Peacock, Nathan Phillips, Henry Simmons and Rick Yune.
GOOD ADVICE: "When I worked at ICM, Ed Limato said to me, 'Find a hobby,'" Gardner says. "That's the best thing you could do because it's important to be able to talk about things outside of the business."
Craig Gartner
agent, talent, Endeavor
BORN: Sept. 19, 1975
Craig Gartner's path to Hollywood was not unlike that of many of his clients. He pursued acting from an early age and won acceptance to both Carnegie Mellon and the Boston Conservatory. Choosing the latter led him from summer agency internships to assisting Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas in New York to eventually moving to Los Angeles and landing on the desk of ICM's Bob Levinson. For Gartner, relocating to the West Coast happened at a pivotal moment, just as he found himself up for a role in Broadway's venerable production of "Les Miserables." The casting agent for the hit show told Gartner to give L.A. a try, and if it "didn't work out, you could be a boy in a barricade," he recalls. Unfortunately for "Les Miz," it worked out just fine. Gartner moved over to Endeavor in 2001 and was promoted to agent more than three years ago. Today, his clients include Amy Adams, Alice Braga, Matthew Bomer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, America Ferrera, Gale Harold, Idina Menzel, Brittany Murphy, Dax Shepard, Lili Taylor and Michael Vartan.
THE GREAT WHITE WAY: Gartner cites one particular incident where his love and knowledge of Broadway made all the difference. "While I was still Patrick (Whitesell's) assistant, he took me to New York to see Hugh Jackman's workshop presentation of 'The Boy From Oz.' Patrick knew my background in musical theater and wanted my opinion. It's amazing to watch this guy, who, I think, is probably the most brilliant person out here doing what he does say, 'This isn't an area I'm familiar with. Can you help me with this?' We went to the workshop and then went back to Hugh's apartment, where Patrick got up from the table and went to the other room, and I ended up sitting there with Hugh talking about my notes. And, kind of, in that moment, I thought, 'I can do this.'"
ACTING CLASS: Knowing what it's like in front of an audience gives Gartner a perspective that is different from some of his peers: "When you study as a theater major, you're only reading the best writers, you're studying these great works, you get a barometer for taste. You know when a script you're reading is good, you know what a good role is. I think it's given me good instincts."
Aron Giannini
manager, The Collective
BORN: Aug. 5, 1972
Aron Giannini was living his childhood dream of playing football for the Arizona State Sun Devils when an injury forced him to focus on his other passion -- broadcast journalism. Five days after graduation, he left for Los Angeles to do an internship on CNN's "Showbiz Today," and he was on track for a career in entertainment TV news. However, four months into his internship, he was at the taping of an interview with Leila Kenzle, co-star of NBC's comedy "Mad About You," when the actress asked him if he'd be willing to help out on the set of the independent movie she was doing. He agreed and wound up landing a job as a production assistant on the NBC series.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: Giannini had been working as a P.A. for two years when one day in 1997, star Paul Reiser pulled him aside and asked him what he wanted to do with his life. "I said, I don't have any interest in production or writing, I love being around actors," Giannini remembers. "He said, 'Go work at an agency.'" Giannini took the advice and landed a job at the Gersh Agency, then moved to Banner Entertainment. But it wasn't until he landed an assistant job for 3 Arts Entertainment's Michael Rotenberg that he says he found his calling. "I felt in my heart of hearts that being a manager was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life," he says.
CLIMBING THE LADDER: Giannini's big break came last year, when he was an agent at Paradigm. He got a call from former 3 Arts manager Jeff Golenberg, who invited him to join the Collective, a new management company he was launching with three other partners. Giannini accepted. Today, he oversees TV castings, and under his watch, the company placed 17 actors on pilots in its first pilot season. Among the deals he orchestrated were getting Forest Whitaker on FX Network's "The Shield," John Leguizamo on NBC's "ER" and Roselyn Sanchez on CBS' "Without a Trace."
NOW THAT'S DEDICATION: Giannini remains a news junkie. He sleeps only a few hours a night, usually spending the very early morning watching news, catching up on his clients' work via TiVo or reading scripts. "My biggest satisfaction is finding that perfect pilot script and then cut to May -- being with my clients at the upfronts, watching them onstage enjoying the fruits of their labor," he says.
Michael Jelline
talent agent, ICM
BORN: July 22, 1974
It's difficult to find a primetime TV series currently on the air that hasn't cast a client belonging to ICM talent agent Michael Jelline. A nine-year veteran of the agency, Jelline is coming off a banner year that included high-profile placements such as Ali Larter on NBC's "Heroes," Jeremy Sisto on NBC's "Kidnapped" and Oliver Hudson on CBS' midseason replacement "Rules of Engagement." His growing roster of returning performers includes Kelly Rowan on Fox's "The O.C." and Peter MacNicol on Fox's "24" and CBS' "Numbers." Jelline also was involved in James Woods' first foray into series television this year with CBS' "Shark."
JUGGLING ACT: The Portland, Ore., native learned the art of keeping multiple balls in the air when he started at ICM as an assistant under veteran agents Nancy Josephson and Risa Shapiro. "They are both spectacular at what they do," Jelline says. "Nancy is a force of nature and the best multitasker, to this day, I have ever witnessed. Risa takes a very holistic approach to representing talent -- she's like their agent, publicist, manager and mother all rolled into one." He follows Shapiro's approach, "Only I'm not their mother, I'm their crazy uncle," he says.
CAST AWAY: Jelline learned he could put up big numbers in the casting game. He placed 11 clients in pilots during his second season as a full-fledged agent, only to watch just one pilot get picked up to series. "It gave me a hard, early lesson as far as the brutal numbers game that is the TV business," he says. "It taught me not to get too high with the highs or too low with the lows, and that -- most importantly -- the only deal that anyone cares about is the next one."
ONES TO WATCH: Two more Jelline clients to keep an eye on are Jason O'Mara, for whom Jelline scored a substantial deal to develop a show at ABC this season, and Eddie Griffin, who is currently developing a comedy at NBC. Says Jelline, "I don't know how good of an agent I am, as much as I know I am fortunate to be working with some very good and viable actors."
Tony Lipp
motion picture talent agent,