Former Disney star and recording artist Selena Gomez has exited as a client of CAA and has signed with WME. The 21-year-old singer and ex-Wizards of Waverly Place actress has also signed with Brillstein Entertainment Partners as she restructures her team and transitions from teen star to more adult projects. I hear the change has been long in the works as Gomez has taken meetings around town with various management firms. Last year she made a bold leap playing a partying coed in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. Gomez has a huge social media following, with 57.9M Facebook fans and 19.3M Twitter followers. She’ll next be seen in William H. Macy’s directorial debut, Rudderless, which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival. Gomez continues to be repped by attorney P.J. Shapiro.
Ben Curtis moves to Brillstein Entertainment Partners after more than four years as manager at Untitled. He’ll be working in the management/production company’s Los Angeles office. “We respect Ben’s intense focus, unstoppable drive, and total commitment to clients,” said Jon Liebman, Brillstein’s CEO. “Ben has a great reputation among his peers and he has clients and relationships all over the world that will be a major asset for us.” The addition of Curtis to Brillstein’s management ranks follows the recent hire of former CAA agent Shawna Kornberg and the promotion of Zack Morgenroth to manager. “It’s an honor to join this bad ass group and its rich history. I can’t wait to get to work,” said Curtis. Before becoming a manager, Curtis worked as an assistant at Endeavor.
Shawna Kornberg is leaving CAA and agenting to join Brillstein Entertainment Partners as a manager, effective January 6. Kornberg spent the past eight years at CAA in the Comedy Department. During her stint at the agency, where she started as a trainee, Kornberg worked closely with many of the managers at Brillstein and developed close relationships with the company. In addition to the hire of Kornberg, Brillstein also promoted Zack Morgenroth to manager earlier this year. He first joined Brillstein as an intern in the fall of 2008 and was hired as a full-time employee at the beginning of 2009, after he graduated from USC. He started in the mailroom and then worked for Brillstein partner Aleen Keshishian. Morgenroth works with several Brillstein clients including Jennifer Aniston, Sky Ferreira, Miranda Kerr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman and Justin Theroux.
James Maslow has signed with Brillstein Entertainment Partners. He starred on the Nickelodeon series Big Time Rush for four seasons and toured as a member of the band. Maslow’s other TV credits include iCarly, See Dad Run and Marvin Marvin. He also is repped by CAA.
Tate Stevens, the 2012 winner of Fox’s The X Factor, has signed with APA. His debut album reached No. 18 on the Billboard 200 and made the top five on the country chart. He is additionally repped by RPME.
Management and production firm Brillstein Entertainment Partners has come aboard a duo of entertainment-tech startups in pre-market stages of development. They’ll collaborate with Rocket Science Labs and consultants KB Collective on apps Fan Fare and Me2Media, two tech projects aimed at making the consumer experience interactive. Fan Fare is a mobile app that changes the way audiences experience concerts and pro sporting events. Me2Media employs face replacement technology to allow fans to act out their favorite movie scenes. Rocket Science is raising a seed round of financing for final testing before their big reveal. “The technology has multiple entertainment use cases so we’re excited to explore the possibilities with studios, networks, and venues,” said KB Collective Managing Partners Lisa Nicole Bell and Evan Kirkpatrick.
EXCLUSIVE: Brillstein Entertainment Partners has kicked off its selling season with three deals at ABC — for comedies from writers Ali Rushfield and Kristin Newman and a drama from Jordon Nardino. All three are executive produced by Robin Schwartz, who joined the company as TV president in June, and hail from ABC Studios where Brillstein is under a deal.
Both single-camera comedy juxtapose women in their 30s and their 20s. The Ali Rushfield half-hour centers on a 36-year-old woman/child who finally begins to grow up when she moves in with two 21-year-old girls. Rushfield serves as an executive producer, with Leslie Grossman, who was involved in the project’s inception, serving as consultant. It has been a busy development season for Parks & Recreation co-executive producer Rushfield, repped by UTA. She also is writing comedy Stuck, which has a put pilot commitment at Fox, though I hear the ABC comedy has her in first position. Coincidentally, Stuck too centers on women of different ages, a mother and daughter working together. The Kristin Newman comedy, titled Women & Girls, centers on a woman from the Sex And The City age and her half-sister from the Girls era who navigate life together at home and work. UTA-repped Newman is a co-executive producer on ABC’s The Neighbors.
EXCLUSIVE: Caliber Media has added Chris Contopulos to its talent division as a manager, bringing with him clients Abigail Klein (Transformers 4), Nolan North (Star Trek Into Darkness), Josh Margolin (New Girl), and recording artist Kelsy Karter. Contopulos comes to Dallas Sonnier and Jack Heller’s firm from Brillstein Entertainment Partners after coming up through ICM and Gersh. “With Chris, we have found a smart and savvy new manager willing to work hard and fight to protect his clients,” said Sonnier and Heller in a statement. “We are confident he is going to be very successful at Caliber.”
EXCLUSIVE: Brillstein Entertainment Partners has named former Regency TV president Robin Schwartz as president of its television division. She will replace JoAnn Alfano, who is departing after serving as TV head for the past two years. Alfano will continue to executive produce the new Brillstein/Plan B drama series for ABC, Resurrection.
Brillstein’s TV unit has signed a new two-year overall deal with ABC Studios where it has been based for the past decade. The new pact has a first-look component. “We are grateful for the continued support of our friends at ABC Studios and excited about our new first-look arrangement,” Brillstein Entertainment CEO Jon Liebman said. “Robin Schwartz is a terrific executive and her broad experience and talent relationships make her an excellent choice to lead and build our television group. We are happy for JoAnn, who is a great friend, and we are looking forward to working with her in the next chapter of her career.”
Schwartz has a background as a network and studio executive and a writer. She started off as VP Primetime Series and Children’s Programming for NBC and also served as VP Programming at ABC Family, where she played a key role in the rebranding of the cable channel following its purchase by Disney. Schwartz was named president of Regency TV in 2004 and ran the studio until it closed in 2007. She went on to become the first president of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, which she departed in one of a series of executive shake-ups during the network’s uncertain early years. At OWN, she established the structure for the start-up cable network.
Downton Abbey co-star Amy Nuttall has signed with Brillstein Entertainment Partners. This marks the first U.S. representation for the British actress who has played housemaid Ethel since Season 2 of the hit ITV period drama. Later this month she will be attending the SAG Awards as part of the Best Drama Ensemble-nominated cast of Downton Abbey. Nuttall, repped in the UK by Oriana Elia at The Rights House, previously spent five years on the long-running ITV soap Emmerdale and has an extensive musical theater resume.
Brillstein Entertainment Partners has brought in Jake Labow as a manager. The Toronto native, 29, who will move to Los Angeles, comes from Canadian entertainment conglomerate Bell Media where he most recently served as a production executive in comedy, overseeing development and production across all Bell Media networks including flagship CTV and The Comedy Network, Canada’s first 24-hour comedy-focused net.
EXCLUSIVE: American Idol judge Randy Jackson has signed with Brillstein Entertainment Partners, where Marc Gurvitz and Jon Liebman will manage him and his Dream Merchant 21 and Randy Jackson Prods. for future film and television projects. Jackson continues to be repped by CAA and attorney Lee Phillips. Additionally, manager Harriet Sternberg will continue to work with Jackson’s new management team at Brillstein on branding and licensing opportunities. Original American Idol judge Jackson, who was previously with A Management, is in negotiations to continue on the Fox reality series next season after helping to broker a deal for new Idol judge Mariah Carey, whom he co-manages. Jackson’s successful reality series America’s Best Dance Crew just wrapped its seventh season on MTV. The Grammy winner also recently sold a siblings show to MTV and is co-producing the Sony/ATV film about country star Charley Pride.
EXCLUSIVE: In his first sale under the 3-year overall deal with ABC Studios he signed in July, CSI creator Anthony Zuiker has set up a drama project at ABC from World Trade Center writer Andrea Berloff. Titled Chameleon, the project centers on a female undercover FBI agent who is a master of disguise. Per the terms of his ABC Studios deal, Zuiker developed the project with studio-based Brillstein Entertainment Partners, which will co-produce it with Zuiker’s Dare to Pass banner and ABC Studios. In addition to writing, Berloff will executive produce Chameleon with Zuiker, Brillstein’s TV president JoAnn Alfano and Zuiker’s manager, Brillstein’s Margaret Riley, while Dare to Pass’ president of production Matthew Weinberg is expected to get some sort of producing credit. Chameleon reunites Berloff, repped by UTA and Management 360, with ABC and ABC Studios, where she developed a Romeo & Juliet reboot last season.
ABC has closed a deal for a comedy project from Murphy Brown creator Diane English starring Jim Belushi. The project, titled You Won’t Even Know I’m Here, has received a put pilot commitment from the network. ABC Studios and studio-based Brillstein Entertainment Partners are producing. The multi-camera comedy, written by English, stars Belushi as a co-dependent father whose relationship with his teenage daughter is turned upside down when they are put together in a unique situation. English and Belushi are executive producing with Brillstein Entertainment. The project drew multiple studio bids when it hit the market last month, ultimately landing at ABC Studios/Brillstein, the companies that also produced Belushi’s long-running ABC sitcom According to Jim. ABC, which has new comedy Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen launching next week, continues to load up on comedy projects fronted by veteran comedy stars this development season. The network last week gave a put pilot commitment to Malibu Country, starring Reba McEntire, and also has a pilot starring Kristie Alley in the hopper.
EXCLUSIVE: After taking a stab at light drama with CBS’ The Defenders, former According to Jim star Jim Belushi is returning to comedy with a new half-hour project from Murphy Brown creator Diane English. The pairing of Belushi and English, who will co-write the story together, sparked bidding among studios before ultimately landing at ABC Studios, which also produced According to Jim. The deals are still being finalized, but ABC Studios is expected to re-team with According to Jim co-producer Brillstein Entertainment Partners on the show, about a single father with a teen offspring. Belushi’s and English’s companies will also produce, with the two executive produing alongside Brillstein Entertainment. With ABC Studios as the studio, it is considered likely that the comedy will end up at ABC, the network where According to Jim ran for eight seasons, but that is not a given as the project is expected to be taken out to other networks. Belushi is the latest sitcom star to be eying a return to primetime. Tim Allen is headlining a new series for ABC this fall, Kirstie Alley is set to star in an ABC comedy pilot, and Roseanne Barr is developing a new starring vehicle for herself at 20th Century Fox TV. Belushi and English are with ICM.
Topher Grade, the That ’70s Show actor from In Good Company and Spider-Man 3, had been repped by WME. He’s presently starring in Lionsgate’s The Big Wedding with Amanda Seyfried and Katherine Heigl and recently wrapped The Giant Mechanical Man and The Double. He is managed by Aleen Keshishian and Scott Wexler of Brillstein Entertainment Partners. His attorney is Michael Gendler.
Josh Gad, the star of Broadway smash The Book of Mormon, has signed with Brillstein Entertainment Partners for management. He continues to be represented by ICM and the law firm of Ziffren Brittenham. Gad, who first rose to prominence in 2008 with his co-starring roles on Fox’s sitcom Back to You and in the Sony feature 21, recently received a lead actor Tony Award nomination for his role in the Tony-winning musical The Book of Mormon. Additionally, he is a correspondent on The Daily Show and voices the lead character on the upcoming MTV animated series Good Vibes. Gad also is developing a half-hour comedy for NBC that he will write.
Brillstein Entertainment Partners has tapped former Lifetime head of development JoAnn Alfano as new President of Television. She will succeed Peter Traugott, who is leaving after 15 years at Brillstein to launch his own production company, which will be based at NBC. Alfano stars next week. “JoAnn has impressed all of us with her experience and drive, and we are very fortunate that she will be leading the television company,” Brillstein CEO Jon Liebman said.
Alfano’s hire is part of a reorganization of Brillstein’s TV unit, which just renewed its overall deal with ABC Studios for 2 more years. Alfano’s resume makes her a perfect candidate to run a TV production company like Brillstien, whose main focus has been on comedy series, most recently According to Jim, which airs in syndication, and Samantha Who?. Alfano served as president of another top production company specializing in comedy, Lorne Michaels’ NBC-based Broadway Video. There, she developed 30 Rock and served as an executive producer for the first 2 seasons, sharing the best comedy series Emmy with the rest of the producing team in 2007. Before that, she served as SVP comedy development and SVP drama development at NBC, heading both departments and developing such series as dramedy Ed and comedy Scrubs, after a stint as VP primetime series at NBC Studios. Alfano most recently spent 3 years at Lifetime, where she served as EVP entertainment and launched comedic drama Drop Dead Diva. …
EXCLUSIVE: Brillstein Entertainment Partners has signed a new two-year deal with ABC Studios, which will bring the company’s current tenure at ABC to eight years. Under the new pact, Brillstein Entertainment is reorganizing its TV division. Peter Traugott, who has run the TV unit for the past five years, will leave to form his own production company, which I hear will be based at NBC. Brillstein is coming off one of its strongest development seasons since setting up shop at ABC Studios in 2005. (Brillstein Entertainment’s predecessor, Brillstein-Grey, also had a TV financing deal with ABC in the mid-1990s). The company landed three pilot orders, for comedies My Freakin’ Family and Other People’s Kids at ABC and drama Ringer at CBS, which stars Brillstein client Sarah Michelle Gellar. Ringer went to series at the CW, with ABC Studios pulling out as an active co-producer but retaining passive interest. “We’ve enjoyed a long and close relationship with ABC Studios,” said Brillstein Entertainment Partners CEO Jon Liebman. “We love working with the people there and appreciate the studio’s continued commitment to building our television company.” Brillstein’s most recent series were ABC’s According to Jim, which continues to air in syndication, and Samantha Who?, both of which ended their runs in 2009. While known mainly as a comedy series producer, Brillstein has been looking to branch out, and Ringer marks its second drama series after HBO’s The Sopranos.
As for the ongoing reorganization of Brillstein’s TV division, the decision for TV president Traugott to leave was amicable. “Peter has been part of our company for many years,” Liebman said. “He is a talented producer and our good friend, and we genuinely wish him the best.”
Alex Murray has ended his partnership with John MacDonald in MacDonald-Murray Management and has become a manager at Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Murray reps standup comics, personalities and comedy writers, and is bringing clients that include Jim Gaffigan, G4′s Web Soup host Chris Hardwick, Dan Finnerty and The Dan Band, NASCAR fixture-turned-comic Michael Waltrip and comedy writers/performers Brandon McMillan, Todd Glass, Jonah Ray, Daniel Kinno and David Feldman. Murray said that he has wanted to join BEP since leaving ICM in 2000. He hopes to build his comedy business in the model of Gaffigan, who’s also repped by CAA. Gaffigan has grown to become one of the top 5 touring comics in the country, and the millions he makes allows him to call the shots. He’s now branching into acting and next stars on Broadway in That Championship Season alongside Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, Chris Noth and Brian Cox. Murray has helped Waltrip branch into hosting a comedy show, a reality series, and he’s writing a book on the Daytona 500. He’s also booking gigs for Finnerty and The Dan Band, best known for memorable appearances in Todd Phillips comedies like The Hangover, where Finnerty peppers his tunes with cuss words and overt sexual references.