THR Next Gen 2008: Agents and managers


Michael Cooper, 33
motion picture talent agent

In 1984, Cooper's father brought the family from Montreal to L.A., where he later became president of HBO Pictures. The move introduced the young Cooper to the entertainment world, but in the beginning it was tough. "I was pale and had a weird accent," he jokes. Today he shares responsibility for clients such as Tommy Lee Jones, Ray Romano, B.J. Novak and Michael Fassbender. His recent work with Josh Brolin, a client for six and a half years, has been one of his most gratifying experiences. Cooper booked the actor in 2007's "No Country for Old Men" and this year's "W." and "Milk." "If I had to pack it up now, I'd be proud," he says. "To see someone who you believed in -- and who believed in himself -- weather the storm of not working, to see it all manifest, is amazing. You wish it happened more."

Nick Frenkel, 35
3 Arts Entertainment

Agents sometimes become TV executives, but Frenkel went the other way. He ran the TV station at Skidmore College, then headed west and met with Skidmore alum 3 Arts' David Miner. "I didn't know what a manager was then, but I walked out of the office thinking that I had found my job," he says. He landed at 3 Arts and soon was sent to New York to build a client list. He signed actor Glenn Howerton while he was still at Juilliard, then introduced him to another client, Rob McElhenney, who went on to create FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." McElhenney then tapped Howerton and another Frenkel client, Charlie Day, to star alongside him in the show, which Frenkel is exec producing. This summer Fox picked up "Boldly Going Nowhere" from the "Sunny" trio. Client Justin Theroux co-wrote DreamWorks/Paramount's "Tropic Thunder" and is penning "Iron Man 2" for Paramount, while clients Robert Pattinson and Lynn Collins star in Summit's "Twilight" and Fox's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," respectively.

Adam Griffin, 27
Kritzer/Levine/Wilkins Entertainment

Griffin didn't let a little thing like college stand in his way of becoming a manager. The Westwood native was almost finished at USC when he interned for "Seven" producer and Willem Dafoe's former manager Phyllis Carlyle and was hooked. "In my senior year I needed a job," he recalls. "I figured, why not try to start up my own company?" He signed about 20 clients out of his dorm room, then parlayed that experience into jobs at Untitled Entertainment and the Collective before landing at his current home two years ago. His roster includes hot up-and-comers Evan Ross (Capitol Films' "Black Water Transit") and Darrin Dewitt Henson (Universal's "The Express"), as well as Jason Mewes (the Weinstein Co.'s "Zack and Miri Make a Porno") and Luis Chavez (Starz's "Crash"). He's also set to exec produce "Once Fallen," starring Ed Harris and client Brian Presley.

Josh Katz, 34
talent agent

Katz was on his way to a career on Wall Street when he read "Working in Hollywood," a book of essays by showbiz professionals. "(UTA partner) Jeremy Zimmer's was by far the most entertaining essay," Katz says. "That set me on a path to becoming an agent." After several months of minimum-wage work at a small New York agency, Katz invested all the money he had -- $500 -- in a plane ticket to L.A. He stayed at a Hollywood youth hostel until he landed a job at UTA. His first client, Bret Harrison, now stars on the CW's "Reaper," and Katz reps "Saturday Night Live" stars Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig and Bobby Moynihan, "Superbad's" Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and "TRL's" Damian Fahey.

Andrew Rogers, 32
motion picture talent agent

Togers began his agenting career in college at the University of Illinois as a basketball recruiter for IMG before making the jump to Hollywood and landing at WMA. He still lives by the sports mantra that you're only as good as your talent: "It's like being a coach: Unless you have the right players, it doesn't matter how good you are." One of those "right players" is Michael Cera, whom Paradigm repped only for television until Rogers gave the actor a copy of the C.D. Payne novel "Youth in Revolt." The Miguel Arteta-helmed adaptation from Dimension is getting ready for a winter 2009 release, with Cera starring.

Nathan Ross, 35
motion picture literary agent

Growing up in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook, Ross caught the movie bug when he realized John Hughes' seminal '80s movies were shot in his hometown. After passing the Illinois bar exam and a brief stint at a startup mortgage company, he moved to L.A. and landed on the desk of Robert Newman, then at ICM. Ross now works with clients Rob Zombie, Neil LaBute, Bret Easton Ellis, and a U. N.-esque bevy of helmers -- the result of ICM sending Ross to film fests to sign indie and foreign filmmakers -- including Indian-Canadian Deepa Mehta, Spain's Nacho Vigalondo and France's Pascal Laugier, who will write and direct the next "Hellraiser" movie for Dimension. "I remember seeing (client) Jean-Marc Vallee's 'C.R.A.Z.Y.' (2005) for the first time in a room in Toronto with maybe eight people, and a colleague and I turned to each other and said, 'This director is a rock star.' That was a cool moment," he says.

Sarah Shyn, 31
talent agent
The Gersh Agency

Shyn likes taking chances. It goes back to when she majored in drama at UC Irvine -- a decision that just about gave her parents a heart attack. "I'm Korean and my family raised me to be a doctor," she says. But having grown up a Valley girl in Encino among friends whose parents were producers and agents and actors, she knew she could make a go at the business. At Gersh she has taken on promising up-and-comers, including Samaire Armstrong (ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money"), Jake Cherry (Fox's "Night at the Museum 2"), Jamie Chung (ABC Family's "Samurai Girl") and Aaron Yoo (Sony's "21"). "It's exciting to be with someone -- even though it's a little more work in the beginning -- and groom them and develop them."

Roeg Sutherland, 34
film finance agent, motion picture literary department

Father donald and older brother Kiefer get most of the attention, but the Paris-raised and Princeton-educated Sutherland is gaining on them. After serving as Dad's stand-in on 1998's "Free Money" and as an assistant to producer Elie Samaha, a job in CAA's mailroom eventually led him to the agency's film finance department. This year Sutherland bucked a severe market downturn by helping nab "Hamlet 2" a $10 million pickup by Focus. He packaged the Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor-toplined "I Love You Phillip Morris" and other star-filled indies, not to mention Darren Aronofsky's awards contender "The Wrestler." After shepherding the project for two years, he sold U.S. rights to Fox Searchlight for almost $4 million during a brutally slow Toronto.

Tom Wellington, 30

The son of Washington attorneys, Wellington was about to enroll in law school when his dad sat him down and asked him if he wanted that job more than anything. Wellington's answer was no, so he took off for Hollywood. After a stint at October Films, he joined Paul Haas in 2001 at AMG and followed him to Endeavor. Promoted to agent in 2003, Wellington has packaged two series, CBS' "Creature Comforts" and USA's "Burn Notice," created and exec produced by client Matt Nix. Two clients, director Greg Yaitanes ("House") and "Mad Men" producer Lisa Albert, won Emmys in September. Still a Washingtonian at heart, he worked for the Obama campaign. After all, politics isn't that different from agenting. "You're trying to convince the nation of something: that this is the person to follow or a show to watch."