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. Read More »
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. Read More »
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 … Read More »
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 … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: UTA has signed British helmer Simon West and his producing partner Jib Polhemus. West is in post-production on Wild Card, William Goldman’s adaptation of his book that stars Jason Statham and Sofia Vergara, with Sierra/Affinity financing. This comes … Read More »
TV and film director Allen Coulter has signed with UTA. Coulter, probably best known for his work as director-producer on HBO’s The Sopranos, has helmed the pilots for such series as Damages and Nurse Jackie. He recently has directed … Read More »
Alex Fragen, Summit Entertainment’s former president of TV distribution who oversaw the company’s free and pay TV and VOD and PPV, has joined UTA as a strategist to help agents and clients maximize various delivery platforms. He also previously worked for 14 years at Paramount Pictures where he was responsible for all aspects of television distribution for the studio library in North America. Most recently he worked at multi-media consultancy firm Question Media Group helping such companies as EPIX, Colony Capital and AwesomenessTV to maximize their multi-platform efforts. So basically, Fragen was hired to help the agency negotiate deals and get the best terms for their clients throughout various platforms. The business model for content distribution (with the various windows) has changed so much over the years that all agencies should probably be doing this, if they aren’t already, for their clients. The move to bring in Fragen and his expertise is smart, considering that there is so much content — for instance at Sundance or other film festivals — that might not get picked up but will be able to find new life outside mainstream theatrical distribution.
This is an area UTA has been very involved with in the past. For instance, the agency helped established a distribution model for writer-producer Tom Fontana’s series Borgia on VOD and one of the first scripted series exclusivity deals for Netflix. They also assisted their client Brian Robbins create the digital network AwesomenessTV, a web-based multi-channel network (or MCN, which means it works with YouTube to facilitate the programming, cross-promotion, and monetization, in exchange for a percentage of the ad revenues from the channel). AwesomenessTV distributes content both theatrically and on cable television networks using social media platforms to brand-build. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Gillian Robespierre made a splash at this year’s Sundance Film Festival with the comedy Obvious Child. Her directorial debut about a Brooklyn comedian (Jenny Slate) who gets dumped, fired and pregnant just in time for the most chaotic Valentine’s … Read More »
Nick Damici has signed with ICM Partners for film and TV lit. He wrote and co-stars in the Sundance competition drama Cold In July, which also stars Michael C. Hall in his first post-Dexter role. IFC acquired the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: UTA has just signed Liev Schreiber. Maybe it’s because I love that Showtime series Ray Donovan and especially Schreiber’s hard-edged title protagonist, but this feels like a real coup for UTA. You can tell that even … Read More »
In his new Digital Media Agent post at UTA, online media veteran Greg Goodfried will focus on growing the agency’s digital practice and creating new digital revenue streams for UTA clients. Prior to joining UTA the veteran digital … Read More »
Distribution/production outfit Small World IFT has signed with UTA. Founded by husband-and-wife team Tim and Colleen Crescenti, Small World specializes in bringing global formats to the U.S., including ABC’s I Survived A Japanese Game Show (aka Big in Japan) … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: UTA has just signed Michael Douglas, who won the Emmy, the Golden Globe and the SAG Award for his turn as Liberace opposite Matt Damon in the Steven Soderbergh-directed HBO pic Behind The Candelabra. Douglas just … Read More »
UTA apparently sees big business opportunities ahead for TV news personalities after picking up an agency whose client list includes Bill O’Reilly, Anderson Cooper, Robin Roberts, Megyn Kelly, Bob Scheiffer, Norah O’Donnell, and Glenn Beck. The changes at the operations will mostly be felt internally for now: N.S. Bienstock will keep its name and, as the companies put it, its “corporate identity, location and corporate ethos with the entire leadership team and agents remaining in place.” Founders Richard Leibner and Carole Cooper will continue to manage it as co-presidents, and will also become special advisers to UTA. Jonathan Leibner and Adam Leibner are now partners at UTA, but will continue to work at Bienstock. UTA Managing Director Jay Sures will oversee the relationship. “As the entertainment, media, news and technology industries comingle in new and exciting ways, we see tremendous potential for broadcast news talent across every conceivable media platform.” says UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer, whose company has been looking for opportunities to expand in the Big Apple. Richard Leibner says the alliance “is a significant step forward in the growth and evolution of N.S. Bienstock.” The companies say that Bienstock clients “will now have access to UTA’s full breadth of resources, including new opportunities across digital content platforms, motion pictures, scripted television, online entertainment, video gaming, books, theatre, touring, branding, licensing, endorsements, voiceovers and speaking engagements.” Read More »
Will Packer Productions, coming off the opening-weekend box office success of the producer’s Universal Pictures action comedy Ride Along, has hired UTA motion picture literary agent Barbara Dreyfus as head of motion pictures. She is one of the first key hires for Packer’s new shingle, which launched in October when he inked a three-year, first-look producing deal with the studio and set up operations on the lot. Dreyfus spent the past 13 years at UTA repping writers, directors and producers, and before that was an agent at ICM where she spent eight years in the motion picture literary department. She began her agent career at the InterTalent. “I’m thrilled to have Barbara on my team,” Packer said. “Her impeccable taste in material and great relationships across the creative community will be key assets as we establish and expand our Will Packer Productions brand. Additionally, she shares my passion for quality commercial material.”
As part of the deal, Dreyfus’ clients will remain in the UTA fold repped by their UTA agent teams. Read More »
There are plenty of people working on more than one movie at the Sundance Film Festival this year, but only one musical act pulled double duty Sunday. On a packed party night in Park City, Damon Albarn played a 5-song set at the Sundance Channel HQ in the evening in front of Maggie Gyllenhaal and more. He then hustled down the block to the YouTube On Main Street storefront for a slightly longer show in front of 150 guests at 11 PM. At the two invite-only SRO events, the Blur and Gorillaz frontman performed ballads from both his bands and his upcoming solo album. In both gigs, a string quartet and a keyboardist backed up Albarn, who played acoustic guitar.
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One day before Hellion has its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, its star has gotten some big new friends through his onscreen father. Josh Wiggins has signed with UTA and Leverage Management. Playing Jacob, Wiggins co-stars … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Susan Sarandon has signed with UTA only about a month after leaving ICM Partners where she had been for about 25 years. The Oscar-winning actress next stars in the upcoming Melissa McCarthy road comedy Tammy at New Line … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Actor-comedian Billy Gardell, the male lead of CBS’ comedy Mike & Molly, has signed with UTA after a two-year stint at CAA. The Chuck Lorre comedy, now in its … Read More »