Veteran songsmiths Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman have hooked up with Creative Artists Agency, which will will be looking for projects in theater, film and television. CAA will work with Kraft-Engel, Shaiman’s rep in film and TV, on projects in those domains.
Kraft-Engel Management continue to be an integral part of the Marc Shaiman team and will also manage him in his theatre business.
Duo won Tony, Grammy and Olivier prizes for their score to the 2002 Broadway and London blockbuster tuner Hairspray, which went on to become a Top Ten-grossing movie musical. The pro- and private team also scored the NBC backstage Broadway melodrama Smash, for which they received Emmy, Grammy and Golden Globe noms. They were Tony-nominated for their underrated score for the stage adaptation of Catch Me If You Can, and Olivier nominated for Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, currently running on the West End.
On his own, Shaiman has Oscar nods for work on South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut; Patch Adams; Sleepless In Seattle and other work. He won an Emmy as co-writer of Billy Crystal‘s Oscar hosting and received the 2007 Henry Mancini Award. Wittman’s credits include multiple collaborations with Bette Midler, Dame Edna and others. He was the creative force behind Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me. Shaiman and Wittman’s attorney is Mark Sendroff of Sendroff & Baruch.
EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed Jason Robert Brown, the composer and lyricist just nominated for the 2014 Tony Award for Best Score and Best Orchestrations for The Bridges Of Madison County. He’s also up for Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Awards honors.
Related: ‘Bridges Of Madison County’ To Close May 18
Brown is also the composer, lyricist, and book writer of the musical The Last Five Years, adapted into the Richard LaGravanese-directed film that stars Anna Kendrick, and won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Score for Parade. While four Tony noms couldn’t save Bridges from posting a closing notice, Brown’s next up with the Broadway musical version of Honeymoon In Vegas which will star Tony Danza. He had been repped by WME, which proves that while most of the ferocious competition for clients between the two agencies takes place in Hollywood, New York is also a battleground. Brown continues to be lawyered by Mark Sendroff of Sendroff & Baruch, LLP.
British actor Tom Ellis has inked with CAA. The Wales native will topline USA Network’s new medical drama series Rush from writer-director Jonathan Levine and Fox 21, set to premiere in July. Ellis has worked extensively in the UK, starring in the BBC2/BBC1 comedy Miranda and BBC’s EastEnders. He also has appeared on Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Once Upon A Time. On the feature side, his credits include Buffalo Soldiers, Vera Drake and Miss Conception. Ellis continues to be managed by Anonymous Content and repped by Christopher Farrar at Hamilton Hodell in the UK.
Related: Hot TV Promo: USA Network’s ‘Rush’
Two years after signing with WME alongside sister Elle Fanning, Dakota Fanning has moved to CAA. The 20-year-old actress who first broke out as a child star in films like I Am Sam, Man On Fire, and War Of The Worlds has been building her next chapter as an adult and next stars in period biopic The Last Of Robin Hood as the young girlfriend to Kevin Kline’s Errol Flynn. She’s also got Franny with Theo James and Richard Gere, Night Moves with Jesse Eisenberg, and Gerard Naranjo’s untitled English language debut feature on the horizon. Recent films include Summit’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Very Good Girls, Now Is Good, and The Runaways. Fanning became the youngest actor to earn a Screen Actors Guild nomination at age 8, for her work in I Am Sam. She continues to be repped by Echo Lake Entertainment and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, and Hoberman.
Hot off her Best Supporting Actress Oscar win, Lupita Nyong’o has signed with CAA. The 2012 Yale School of Drama grad made her feature debut in the Steve McQueen-helmed Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave playing cotton plantation slave Patsey opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender. Nyong’o was a darling of Oscar season, storming red carpets and media appearances in what marked her breakthrough year during which she racked up numerous critics’ awards, a SAG Award, and Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. The Kenyan-Mexican actress also appeared in Universal’s airborne thriller Non-Stop with Liam Neeson. She’s also repped by D2 Management and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano.
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.
CAA has promoted eight members of its its trainee program to agent or executive status, boosting the ranks in four cities. In Los Angeles, Jordan Harnsberger has been promoted to executive in CAA’s Sports department, Carey Schwartz has been promoted to executive in Marketing, and Jacquie Katz and Andrea Weintraub are now agents in the Television department. In New York, Shelby Kelleher has been upped to executive in the Property Sales department and Zack Stone has been promoted to agent in Music Sponsorship. Additionally, CAA’s music department has promoted Kylen Sharpe to agent based in Nashville and Rebecca Nichols to agent based in London.
EXCLUSIVE: China’s top action star Donnie Yen has signed with CAA, and his new reps just closed his deal to star in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny, which Woo-ping Yuen is directing from a John Fusco script for The Weinstein Company.
That deal was started by Paradigm, where Yen recently left. His role in the film isn’t a surprise; he appeared at a Cannes panel on the film that I moderated last May. The film begins production in New Zealand in June and Michelle Yeoh reprises her role from the original. Though new to the U.S., Yen has been acting, producing, directing and serving as action choreographer since 1982. He was named the top earning artist in Forbes Asia, and this film will be his first as a leading man in an English language film. Yen is coming off the 3D epic Monkey King, which set a single day record at the China box office with $41 million in ticket sales, and is has grossed over $165 million in China and is spawning a sequel. Yen starred and choreographed and directing the realistic and unconventional fight scenes. Yen continues to be repped by Hong Kong attorney John McLellan.
EXCLUSIVE: Ernest Cline, the scribe behind the Black List script Fanboys and author of the bestselling cult novel Ready Player One, has signed with CAA.
Cline broke in with Fanboys, which reflected his own obsession with Star Wars. He became branded in geek lore by following with the futuristic Ready Player One, whose premise was reflected in the deal Facebook made buying virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion. In the novel, most of the world escapes the real world on a daily basis by logging into the Oasis, a globally networked and fully immersive virtual utopia. Once they put on the virtual reality goggles and gloves, users lead idyllic lives. It changes society, to the point where many abandon the real world. Warner Brothers acquired the screen rights to Ready Player One, with Donald De Line and Dan Farah producing.
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We had heard this was happening when we broke last week that Paradigm lit agent Ida Ziniti was leaving for CAA. Now fellow Paradigm lit agent Trevor Astbury is joining her in CAA‘s Motion Picture Literary group, and is expected to join the agency as early as Thursday. He had worked at Paradigm for the past 12 years. We’re hearing he’s already lined up clients Jon Spaihts and Bill Dubuque to come over with him, with others possibly in the works.
Creative Artists Agency has signed Eugenio Derbez, one of the top Latino filmmakers/actors in the business and certainly one of the most recognizable Latino actors in the world. Derbez is the creator and star of one of Mexico’s most popular sitcoms La Familia P. Luche (The Plush Family) which ran fot 10 years on Univision and also created the Televisa produced sketch-show XHDRbZ which ran for two seasons. Both programs not only appeared in the U.S. but also ran in Europe and, of course, Latin America. He had very recognizeable names in the Latino market on his sketch show, including the president of Mexico Vincente Fox. He also wrote, directed and starred in last year’s Instructions Not Included, which is touted as the highest-grossing Spanish-language film in the U.S., earning $44.4M in the U.S. and $41M internationally for a total of $85.5 million worldwide. He was also the voice of Donkey in the Spanish-language version of Shrek and also played a character voice in Guillermo Del Toro’s animated comedy Book of Life. U.S. audiences may remember him from Liongate’s Girl in Progress starring opposite Eva Mendes (2012) or in Fox Searchlights Under the Same Moon from 2008. He was previously with WME. His attorney is Howard Abramson of Behr & Abramson, LLP.
EXCLUSIVE: Stuart Manashil has just joined WME as a literary agent in the Motion Picture Department. Manashil spent the last 6 1/2 years at CAA and before that spent six years at UTA. Now, the question is which of the clients Manashil worked with will make the move with him. WME did very well when it hired Dan Aloni after he left CAA and also when Warren Zavala made the move. Both took nearly all of their clients.
Related: Who’s Who Of NSA And Tech Heavyweights Brought Together At WME Annual Retreat
The clients Manashil worked with includes Oliver Stone, Ed Zwick, Tommy Lee Jones, Larry Kasdan, Olivier Assayas, Alejandro Amenabar, Juan Campanella, Fede Alvarez, Ariel Vromen, Brad Furman, Jose Padilha, Max Winkler, Alex Graves, and Adam Wingard. He also works with Matt Aldrich, Skip Woods, Matteo Garrone, Eugenio Derbez, and James Patterson and producers Art Linson, Irwin Winkler, Fernando Bovaira and Steven Schneider. A number of clients are expected to go with Manashil, but we’ll see how that plays out. A Fulbright Scholar, Manashil graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with a degree in philosophy and comparative literature, and holds a master’s degree in international relations.
EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed Eric Stonestreet, who after winning two Emmy Awards playing Cam Tucker in ABC’s Modern Family, is looking to branch into features. Stonestreet, who had been at ICM Partners, has already started that process. He has a memorable supporting role in the Melissa McCarthy-Jason Bateman comedy Identity Thief, and did Bad Teacher with Cameron Diaz, Jason Segal and Justin Timberlake. Next up for him is Loft, a thriller that will be released this summer. He continues to be managed by Thruline Entertainment’s Steve Kavovit and his attorney is Patti Felker.
EXCLUSIVE: While Paradigm is in the process of importing ex-CAA agents Adam Kanter and Martin Spencer from Resolution, I’m told that CAA is adding sharp lit agent Ida Ziniti from Paradigm. This is all just happening, and I’m told that she is under contract until June and might not be going CAA until then.
EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed actor Taylor Kitsch. Here’s the guy who – after playing one of the great recent TV characters in fullback Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights and then a small but showy role as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine – seemed like he was going to be the next big leading man. That was before he suffered a hellacious summer when the two big movies he starred in, John Carter and Battleship, both flopped. But Kitsch has put himself back on the track with a good showing in the Oliver Stone-directed Savages and most recently playing the Medal of Honor-winning Long Island-bred Navy SEAL Michael Murphy in the Peter Berg-directed Lone Survivor. Kitsch was last repped by WME but has been agent-less this year until now. He continues to be managed by Untitled Entertainment, and he next stars in the ensemble of HBO’s adaptation of the Larry Kramer play The Normal Heart, directed by Ryan Murphy.
EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed actress, recording artist and author Zendaya, whose single “Replay” recently went platinum. She was star of the Disney Channel series Shake It Up and next toplines the Disney Channel original telepic Zapped. She just wrapped an untitled pilot for the network which she is co-producing, and was runner-up on Dancing With The Stars last year. She has also also written her first book, Between You And Me, sharing advice on fashion, friendships and family with her core youth demo. CAA, along with Monster Talent Management and attorney Bill Skrzyniarz, will seek to broaden her base to feature film and other platforms. Disney Channel has been a strong launch point for everyone from Zac Efron to Shia LaBeouf and Selena Gomez. Here’s her video:
CAA has signed actor, writer, and comedian Aziz Ansari, who co-stars in NBC’s Parks And Recreation. The actor, who had been at UTA, just opened his third Netflix hourlong stand-up special Buried Alive, and resumes touring next month. Anzari most recently voiced the Fox animated film Epic and made a short cameo until he fell into the pits of hell in This is The End. Before that he appeared in 30 Minutes Or Less and Funny People. Ansari separately is writing a book for Penguin Press about how modern dating has been complicated by the Internet and other technological innovations. The book comes out next year. Ansari continues to be repped by APA for books and comedy touring, managed by APA Dave Becky and David Miner of 3 Arts Entertainment, and lawyered by Jared Levine.
Aaron Katz, who co-wrote and co-directed the road trip comedy Land Ho! with Martha Stephens that premiered at Sundance this year, has inked with CAA. Sony Pictures Classics picked up the pic, which follows a pair of retirees who set off to Iceland in an attempt to reclaim their youth through Reykjavik nightclubs, trendy spas, and rugged campsites. A release this year is planned. Katz, formerly with UTA, made his feature debut with Dance Party USA, which premiered at the 2006 SXSW. His sophomore feature, Quiet City, earned a Spirit Award nomination in 2007, and IFC Films released his third film 2010′s Cold Weather.
EXCLUSIVE: The Londoner who starred opposite Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher has inked with CAA. Lucy Punch, who starred on the 2012-13 Fox comedy Ben And Kate, next appears in the upcoming musical Into The Woods, with Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep, and director Peter Bogdanovich’s 2015 pic Squirrels To The Nuts. Her big-screen credits also include Hot Fuzz, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger and Dinner For Schmucks. Her TV gigs have included Vexed and The Class. Punch continues to be managed by the Schiff Company and repped by United Agents in the UK.