Motion picture and television talent agent/manager J.J. Harris died of what is believed to be natural causes on Friday afternoon and was found today in her Beverly Hills home by her staff. She was 62. Always classy and funny but never a pushover, she at one time was among the top women talent agents and sole practitioner managers in Hollywood, representing such notable clients over the course of her decades-long career including Kevin Costner, Charlize Theron, Dakota and Elle Fanning, Kate Bosworth, Drew Barrymore, and Scott Bakula. After starting her career at the old William Morris Agency and jumping to UTA as a partner, she started her own management company more than a decade ago. Harris ran One Talent Management until recently deciding to wind down her business. Until her death, she was spending almost all her time on the career of her longtime confidante and client Costner. It was because of him that her office became worried. “She wasn’t returning my calls or texts. Then Kevin called her,” her assistant and co-manager Sharon Vitro tells me. “It’s one thing for her to ignore me. But she doesn’t ignore Kevin ever.” Her staff went to her home and discovered her body. Through the years, Harris was an outspoken feminist who challenged mano-a-mano the Hollywood men’s club that long ruled actor representation. Bluffing her way into the William Morris accounting department as a secretary, Harris rose through the ranks to become a young but powerful agent best known as fiercely loyal to her clients – even if they weren’t always as loyal to her. (“Every time we’d bring someone up, she’d go, ‘Oh, I used to represent them,’” Vitro recalled.) For instance, Harris had repped the Fanning sisters practically since they were babies, but they followed their other day-to-day One Talent manager out the door at the start of this year. But there was no acrimony when Harris and longtime client Theron parted ways in 2012. (“We had a great run, but Charlize simply doesn’t need a manager right now,” Harris said at the time. ”She wants to focus on her production company. We remain friends.” Harris in the mid-1990s signed Theron after the model-actress spilled a Diet Coke on her in a meeting and went on to win an Oscar. Perhaps Harris’ greatest achievement as an agent/ manager was her close personal and professional relationship with the Oscar-winning Costner. She inherited Costner from WME’s Garry Lucchese, fought off WME/ICM’s Ed Limato to keep him, then lost him during the filming of his Dances With Wolves to CAA’s Mike Ovitz, only to represent him again when Ovitz left the agency biz. Meanwhile Costner’s career over the years toggled frequently between hot and cold: with Harris’ help, he scored key recent roles in TV’s Hatfield & McCoys and motion pictures Man Of Steel and the upcoming Jack Ryan and Three Days To Kill. ”Nothing made her happier than negotiating a deal,” Vitro recalled. I knew Harris and adored her because she was one tough babe – and proud of it.
Brian Bunnin went from being an ICM talent agent to SVP of development and production at Streamline Television And Film a year ago. This month he joins bicoastal Station 3 Management & Production as SVP and Head of Talent.
Keanu Reeves And Longtime Manager Erwin Stoff Hit Bumpy Road: Actor Almost Left 3 Arts But Instead Others There Repping Him
EXCLUSIVE: This is a cautionary tale for every Hollywood manager who’s spending a lot of time producing. Such is the case with Erwin Stoff. The 3 Arts Entertainment president has repped Keanu Reeves for something like 32 years (ever since the actor was 16 years old). The Stoff-Reeves relationship has long been considered one of Hollywood’s most enduring. Until recently. I’ve learned it’s now very much on the rocks. ”Keanu Reeves very quietly left 3 Arts. Then he was recently convinced to stay at 3 Arts but with different reps,” says one of my sources. “Handling him now are Tom Lasally, Nick Frenkel, and David Miner. It’s an attempt to save the client.” I’ve confirmed this with several other insiders, too, even though Stoff denied any rift to me. I am told independently that ”there’s no rancor”.
Stoff of course has been a producer or executive producer on many of Reeves’ films dating back to 1991 — including Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Feeling Minnesota, The Devil’s Advocate, The Matrix, The Replacements, Sweet November, Constantine, A Scanner Darkly, The Lake House, Street Kings, The Day The Earth Stood Still, and most recently as exec producer of Universal’s troubled 47 Ronin. That Keanu starrer from first-time feature director Carl Rinsch has been plagued by a swelling budget, a reshoot, two release date delays, and bad publicity — prompting the studio to work side by side with Rinsch in the editing room which is highly unusual these days.
But increasingly Stoff is producing a lot of films not starring Reeves – credits and paychecks Stoff probably never would have enjoyed without Keanu as leverage over the years. Right now, for instance, he’s in London producing All You Need Is Kill and that’s where I reached the manager. I’m told that Reeves’ principal problem stemmed from Stoff’s producing time commitments. “Keanu for 20 years was so used to talking to Erwin all the time. But Erwin is very busy producing now,” one insider explains. But another source also tells me, “Keanu has been frustrated with Erwin for a while, with the massive 47 Ronin problems and lack of material for him. Also Reeves’ sister is now in the actor’s life in a big way, and she did not like Stoff.”
The result is that, according to one insider,
EXCLUSIVE: Director and actress and producer Penny Marshall has signed with Shelter Entertainment Group President Alan Iezman for management, and with APA for agency representation in all area. The helmer of such classics as Big, Awakenings (an Oscar Best Picture contender), and A League Of Their Own was the first female director to gross …
EXCLUSIVE: Jill McElroy is joining Management 360 as a literary manager from Benderspink where she was a manager and producer for over a decade. Joining her are writing clients including John Hlavin, Karl Gajdusek, Andrea Berloff, Kyle Ward, Stacey Harman, Marc Haimes, Tom Smuts, among others. Many of …