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Among the many legacies of the late talent manager J.C. Spink was a recurring dinner for his peers to trade tips and quips: The Hangover producer and former Benderspink partner, who died April 18 at 45, started the tradition in the early 2000s and for more than a decade, as many as 20 to 50 managers gathered several times a year at steakhouses around town.
“The dinners took a form of f—ing with each other and breaking each other’s balls,” Brillstein’s George Heller tells THR. And true to Spink’s spirit, every dinner involved a prank on an agent or executive, too. Agent Rich Cook was once the hapless recipient of 15 or so simultaneous emails from managers/dinner guests, each saying that a different client was planning to drop him.
“J.C. had a fun hit list and a game plan for each victim,” DMG president Chris Fenton tells THR. “But the real genius of J.C. was his ability to push the prank to the limit, and then rein the person in for a good laugh by the end of it. I swear it only made his ‘marks’ love him more.”
As the reps grew busier in their personal and professional lives, the ritual faded. Shortly after Spink’s death, Fenton came across an old email from Spink to the group, congratulating list member Michael Sugar for Spotlight‘s best picture Oscar. (In true Spink fashion, the email was equal parts sincerity and snark: “Go, Catholic Church,” he wrote.) Fenton resurrected the email to the group and plans were soon made to reconvene in celebration of their friend’s life.
At the May 11 gathering at The Palm, 20 managers (plus lawyer Jeff Frankel) shared their favorite Spink stories. “Everyone said that in some way, they got their start in the business because of J.C.,” Heller says, adding that the group hopes to keep up the tradition annually in Spink’s honor.
A version of this story first appeared in the May 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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