Pierre Niney, who played the iconic French fashion designer in Yves Saint Laurent, has signed with UTA. The biopic debuted at Cannes and is distributed in the U.S. by The Weinstein Company. Niney was nominated for Cesar awards in 2012 and 2013 as most promising actor for his work in J’aime Regarder les Filles and Comme des Freres, the latter also earning him a Lumiere Award nomination as most promising young actor. Other acting credits include It Boy, and the TV series Casting(s), which he also directed. Niney, repped in France by Brigitte Descormiers, has been announced to play Philippe Cousteau in the upcoming The Odyssey.
EXCLUSIVE: Former UTA and ICM talent agent Steven Fisher has joined management and production company Underground as a manager. Fisher exited UTA last month after working out of the agency’s NYC office for three years. Before that he was at ICM for seven years. Fisher’s making the move cross-country with his family to L.A., where he’ll work with Underground’s Trevor Engelson, Evan Silverberg, Chris Dennis, and Josh Turner McGuire while Noah Rothman works out of Underground’s NYC offices. “I wanted to get back to L.A. and roll up my sleeves, and most of my clients are writer-performers in L.A.,” said Fisher. He joins Underground with clients Desi Lydic (MTV’s Awkward), Jamey Sheridan (Homeland), John Phillips (Pittsburgh Heat, Dirty Grandpa), Liz Carey (Chelsea Lately, Walk Of Shame), Mike Zegen (Frances Ha, Boardwalk Empire, Girls), Miles Fisher (Bad Advice, J. Edgar, Final Destination 5), Rus Blackwell (Banshee), and Jessie Ennis (G.B.F., Shards).
After two-plus years at Verve, lit agent Aaron Hart is moving to UTA. We hear he’s not taking any clients with him. Before joining Verve in March 2012, Hart was in ICM’s motion picture lit department. He began his career at WMA.
Looks like another agency has had to go after another star in court over the latter not paying the former what they allegedly owe. In this case it is UTA, that today slammed Unforgettable star Poppy Montgomery with a breach of contract complaint in LA Superior Court. The agency wants the more than $248,222 they say they are due in unpaid commissions for the actress’ work on the CBS series. In the 16-page jury-demanding filing, UTA also says it wants general damages, interest and legal fees from Montgomery, who now is with ICM Partners.
“Montgomery paid commissions due to UTA through and including season one of [Unforgettable], and then, for no reason whatsoever, suddenly stopped making payments,” says the complaint (read it here). “Montgomery has not only turned her back on the people who helped her career, but on her contractual obligations to those people.” According to filing, UTA and Montgomery entered into an oral agreement in August 2010 that the agency would rep the actress. The Unforgettable deal was negotiated in February 2011. The crime drama debuted in September of that year on CBS. Montgomery exited UTA not long after her agent Ruthanne Secunda joined ICM in December 2012. (UPDATE, 8:05 PM: A statement I received from Montgomery’s reps says in part that “Poppy categorically disputes UTA’s claim, which is nothing more than an over-reaching claim by a talent agency which has done nothing for Poppy over the past several years.”)
EXCLUSIVE: Joshua Henry, a Broadway star currently playing Sutton Foster’s love interest in Violet, has signed with UTA. One of the theater’s most sought-after young actors, Henry was a standout in Susan Stroman’s production of The Scottsboro Boys, a serious musical by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb. Henry earned Tony nominations for his performances in both shows. He also appeared in major roles in Diane Paulus’ production of Porgy And Bess and in Green Day’s American Idiot. He will continue to be managed by Station 3.
Producers of the Tony-winning revival of A Raisin In The Sun, starring Denzel Washington, said the show — the highest-grossing play on Broadway — has recouped. Though no figures were released, the New York Times put the price tag at $4.25 million. The production, staged by Tony winner Kenny Leon, began previews on March 8 at the Barrymore Theatre and shutters this weekend.
EXCLUSIVE: After racking up more than 32 million views with his series of Action Movie Kid YouTube shorts, visual effects animator Daniel “Hashi” Hashimoto has signed with UTA with an eye toward moving into feature film directing. The longtime DreamWorks Animation VFX pro went viral only a few months ago with special effects-enhanced homemade shorts starring his 3-year-old son James, which he edited in Adobe After Effects to transform the tyke’s daily life into super-powered adventures. They landed the How To Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda 2 animator on Good Morning America and snagged him a deal creating branded content around several toy lines. He’s still got his DWA day job but will work with the agency on finding directorial opportunities and on expanding the Action Movie Kid IP into books, products, and feature spinoffs. He is also repped by attorney Phil Daniels. Here’s a compilation of Action Movie Kid‘s “adventures” so far:
EXCLUSIVE: Fargo actress Allison Tolman has signed with UTA. The breakout star of FX’s new series, based on the 1996 Coen brothers dark comedy, plays Deputy Molly Solverson on the show opposite Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, and Colin Hanks. Chicago-based Tolman won the role after submitting herself on tape and has drawn acclaim for her performance since Fargo debuted in April under showrunner Noah Hawley. Tolman will next be seen in HBO’s upcoming Hello Ladies special. She’s repped by Odenkirk Provissiero Entertainment and Stewart Talent Agency.
EXCLUSIVE: UTA has signed writer-director Lee Toland Krieger, who just wrapped directing The Age Of Adaline, the Lakeshore/Anonymous Content production that stars Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michael Huisman and Ellen Burstyn. Krieger had been at ICM Partners. He got an Independent Spirit Award nom for his script for The Vicious Kind, which he directed, and he also helmed Celeste And Jesse Forever with Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg. Lee also directed the pilot for the MTV comedy Happyland which has been picked up to series. Lee is managed by Michael Sugar and Bard Dorros at Anonymous Content and lawyered by George M. Davis.
EXCLUSIVE: YouTube darling Joey Graceffa has signed with UTA for representation in all areas as the agency continues to cultivate a client list of online personalities and new media stars. Graceffa has built himself a YouTube audience of over 4M subscribers and 300M views across his channels and parlayed his Internet presence into numerous brand ambassador deals and a national live tour. The 22-year-old vlogger, gamer, and musician competed on CBS’ The Amazing Race last year with fellow Internet personality Meghan Camarena, taking 5th place in the competition’s 22nd season. He returned for The Amazing Race All-Star Edition and launched a successful Kickstarter to fund his own supernatural webseries Storytellers, which debuted last December. With UTA Graceffa will work to capitalize on his massive online following to create opportunities in film and television acting, publishing, touring, and music — all while maintaining his relationship with his 1.2M Twitter fans and YouTube following.
Top TV lit agent, UTA partner and TV department head Matt Rice has been named a member of the agency’s Board of Directors. He joins fellow Board members Peter Benedek, chairman Jim Berkus, Tracey Jacobs, managing director David Kramer, managing director Jay Sures and chief executive officer Jeremy Zimmer. As a member of the board, Rice will have increased management responsibilities. He also will continue to run UTA’s scripted television department alongside Sures. “Matt’s contributions are everything we hope for from a partner and a board member,” the UTA Board of Directors said in a joint statement. “He is a wildly productive agent, a concerned and supportive mentor, and a terrific leader.” Rice has been at UTA for more than a decade, since November, 2002, when he joined as a TV lit agent. He was promoted to partner two years later, in 2004, and named head of the TV department in 2008. Before UTA, Rice spent six years at Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann.
After a three-year stint at Paradigm, Fred Hashagen has joined UTA as an agent in the talent department. He’ll be working out of the agency’s NYC offices. Hashagen’s clients include Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), John Milhiser (SNL), Jordan Klepper (The Daily Show With Jon Stewart), Drew Tarver (How I Met Your Dad), Chris Smith (We Are Men) and Britt Lower (Man Seeking Woman). “Fred is a great advocate for artists and someone we know will be a great addition to our culture,” said UTA partner and television department head Matt Rice. “We’re really pleased he is joining the UTA team.” Prior to Paradigm, Hashagen was a talent agent at the KSR Agency.
UTA has signed The Walking Dead‘s David Morrissey. The British thesp plays The Governor on the hit AMC series The Walking Dead and recently wrapped BBC1 series The Driver, from UTA-repped screenwriter Danny Brocklehurst, in which Morrissey stars and also produced. Morrissey’s other TV credits include The Field Of Blood, Cape Wrath and miniseries Sense & Sensibility. On the feature side Morrissey’s credits include Welcome To The Punch, The Reaping, The Other Boleyn Girl and Blitz. Morrissey continues to be repped by Silver Lining and Conor McCaughan at Troika in the UK.
EXCLUSIVE: UTA has signed actor William Fichtner. The thesp next appears in the Tommy Lee Jones-helmed The Homesman, opposite Jones and Hilary Swank. The period pic is set to premiere at Cannes. Fichtner also has a role in Michael Bay‘s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot for Paramount, which rolls into theaters August 8. Recent film appearances by the Armageddon, Contact, and Black Hawk Down character actor include Elysium with Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and Disney’s The Lone Ranger. Fichtner leads the cast of NBC’s crime drama Crossing Lines, which debuted last summer. He continues to be repped by Intellectual Artists Management.
EXCLUSIVE: Actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach (The Lake House, Mona Lisa Smile, Stealth) has signed with UTA. He stars on the current season of HBO’s Girls as Desi Harperin and starred in Simon Helberg’s SXSW directorial debut We’ll Never Have Paris. His recent screen credits include Vera Farmiga’s Higher Ground, Lola Versus with Greta Gerwig, the horror pic Come Out And Play, FX’s Damages, and HBO’s John Adams. Moss-Bachrach is also repped by Sue Leibman and Peikoff Mahan Law Office.
EXCLUSIVE: UTA has signed the Nashville-based TNA Entertainment. That is the company behind IMPACT Wrestling, which has become one of Spike TV’s top-rated shows, and which is broadcast in 120 countries worldwide. TNA also produced more than 100 live IMPACT Wrestling shows and monthly pay-per-view events anchored by a stable of spandex stars that includes Jeff Hardy, Bobby Roode, Kurt Angle, Eric Young, Magnus, James Storm, MVP, Gail Kim and the lovely and lethal Knockouts. UTA will help the 12-year-old company broaden its TV reach and expand its licensing programs, arena shows and social media. “UTA’s diverse range of capabilities make them an ideal partner to help TNA add tremendous visibility and value to the global IMPACT Wrestling brand,” said TNA president Dixie Carter. “We are confident that by working with the UTA team, we will not only expand our wrestling business in exciting ways, but we will also build new entertainment ventures and properties.”
EXCLUSIVE: UTA has signed to represent screen rights for After, a serialized story by Anna Todd that has become the most followed literary property published by Wattpad, an online community in which writers tell stories chapter by chapter. According to Wattpad general manager Candice Faktor, the three-part series After has been clicked on by more than 500 million.
Factor described the site as “a writer and reader community to collaborate and share nonfiction, fiction and fan fiction. It is a mobile experience that is very social and where writers establish a personal connection with their audience.” The site launched seven years ago and has built to 22 million monthly users, 80% of whom access the site on mobile devices. The company recently raised $46 million in Series C funding.
Agencies usually rep works from traditional publishers, but the priority in Hollywood is to find rabid followings that warrant screen adaptations. For Wattpad, After is the closest thing the site has experienced to Fifty Shades Of Grey, which began in similar fashion as fan fiction before it became a massive global bestseller and an upcoming Universal/Focus feature for author E.L. James. The way Faktor describes it, After sounds like a close cousin, without the S&M. “A happy, optimistic young girl falls in love with a guy with a dark side that is addictive, and their relationship is a rollercoaster ride,” Faktor said.
EXCLUSIVE: Writer-director Martha Stephens, whose road-trip comedy Land Ho! premiered at Sundance and was picked up by Sony Classics before the fest closed, has signed with UTA. Stephens (Pilgrim Song, Passenger Pigeons) collaborated with Aaron Katz (Cold Weather) to co-direct and co-write the film about two former brothers-in-law who go traveling on a youthful adventure through Iceland. Land Ho! is slated to be released July 11 and also screens at Tribeca this month and LA Film Fest in June. David Gordon Green is an exec producer alongside Julie Parker Benello, Dan Cogan, Geralyn Dreyfous, and Wendy Ettinger of Gamechanger Films on the pic, which was produced by Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy, and Christina Jennings.
EXCLUSIVE: If you are a major agency and you wait for an actor to be discovered before signing him, it’s too late. UTA emerged from a competitive situation to sign Lorenzo Richelmy, who is playing the title character in the massive Netflix/Weinstein Company TV limited-run series Marco Polo. Richelmy is a 23-year-old Italian actor who’ll play the 13th century merchant traveler who was among the first to establish ties with Asia. The first two episodes, which I am told are among the priciest ever, will be helmed by Kon-Tiki directors Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, who take this on before doing the next Pirates Of The Caribbean. The 10-hour series is executive produced by creator-writer John Fusco and showrunner Daniel Minahan. It’s Netflix’s attempt to build on original programming successes House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. Richelmy, who is bilingual, starred in the Italian-produced drama Il Terzo Tempo (The Third Half), which premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival, and the comedy La Terra e Il Vento (The Earth And The Wind). UTA becomes the actor’s first American agency. Richelmy continues to be represented in Rome by Daniele Orazi at Consorzio Officine Artistiche.
Mindy Kaling, creator, executive producer and star of Fox’s The Mindy Project, has departed UTA. She is going agent-less for the time being and has not set up meetings with other agencies but continues to be manged by 3 Arts Entertainment. Kaling was a breakout on NBC’s The Office, where was a writer and co-star, before segueing to creating her own show. Sophomore Mindy Project, which has been well received but has struggled to attract wide audiences, already has been renewed for a third season.