EXCLUSIVE: Ally McBeal and Brothers & Sisters star Calista Flockhart has signed with Gersh. This marks Flockhart’s return to the agency where she was a client until 2004, when she left for ICM. Flockhart’s former Gersh agent Bill Butler, who helped her book her breakout role on Fox’s Ally McBeal, is now her manager. Flockhart had been among several actors in play after veteran ICM agent Carol Bodie departed the company in October.
With Desperate Housewives‘ renewal assured after the series’ stars have have been re-signed, Brothers and Sisters remains the only veteran ABC series not picked up for next season. Being on the bubble is a familiar territory for the family soap, which was also there last season until getting an eleventh-hour reprieve with a 18-episode order. I hear that this year, ABC and sister studio ABC Studios, which produces Brothers and Sisters, have been proactive in exploring ways to bring the show back for an abbreviated sixth and final season that may feature less of Calista Flockhart’s Kitty Walker aka Kitty McCallister.
Because of its soft ratings and expensive large cast, the issues for renewal are economical, and I hear several months ago ABC created budget targets that would allow for the series to come back for a final foray. Brothers and Sisters‘ budget was reduced going into the current fifth season, and it will have to go down again for Season 6. The per-episode price increases by reducing the number of episodes because of less cost amortization, so I hear that ABC is exploring scenarios for a final season that could range from 6 to 18 episodes. Last year, the holdup in getting the renewal was getting the actors to agree to do fewer episodes, which they eventually did, and ABC gave the series a 18-episode pickup at the last minute. (That order was subsequently raised to a full-season 22 after the series started …
Bill Butler, a longtime fixture at Gersh’s New York headquarters before leaving to become manager, has landed at Industry Entertainment as a partner. He’ll continue to be Gotham-based, and starts off with the following clients, most long timers from Gersh: Chris Meloni, Melina Kanakaredes, Jane Krakowski, Calista Flockhart, Victor Garber, Cindi Lauper, Mario Cantone, Dagmar Dominczyk, Elena Rogers, Lee Tergesen and Dean Winters, the latter of whom he’ll manage with Industry’s Sandra Chang.