CAA Leaders Talk Industry Drama, WGA and TPG’s Influence


What makes CAA tick? How do high brokers see the dealmaking setting? How deep are the injuries from the WGA battle? What has it meant to have personal fairness in the home for the previous decade?

9 senior CAA brokers and executives and the co-CEO of father or mother firm TPG opened as much as Selection on these questions and extra. Listed below are highlights from these conversations.

On CAA’s aggressive benefit:

Maha Dakhil (co-head of worldwide movie group and co-head of movement image expertise): I didn’t assume I may presumably slot in by all that I had examine (businesses). I didn’t see myself as a pure match, however what’s true is that this isn’t a monolithic place. The communication and the best way we share info make individuals on the surface really feel that we’re all so linked, and that we’re of the identical thoughts — however we’re actually a rambunctious, individualized group of individuals.

Joe Cohen (scripted TV head): What’s saved me inside the corporate was the basic tradition. The corporate was arrange in such a means that it’s about one thing larger than anybody particular person. It’s a collective of disparate, quirky individuals who have the identical sort of targets. We’re fascinated with serving to artists.

Tiffany Ward (board member): The chance for us is that we’re capable of match the patrons’ scope and scale as a result of we’re a world firm. The crucial factor is matching that scope and scale with private relationships. That’s what retains the ethos of this firm sturdy.

Jim Burtson (chief monetary officer): The fluidity that you just see throughout all areas of the company and the power for individuals to seamlessly deliver different colleagues into the dialog about shoppers is wonderful. More and more the alternatives that our shoppers have should not slender — they’re vast. We’ve the brokers and the experience that helps will get shoppers snug to do this. I feel we do this higher than anyone when it comes to activating shoppers throughout our platform. I didn’t perceive till I got here right here how highly effective that was.

Risa Gertner (co-head, movement image group): One thing that was most vital and particular to me. I had solely been an agent for seven years and I had solely been at CAA for a month. I went to Richard (Lovett) and mentioned I although there have been some issues that we did higher in workers conferences at UTA that we should always do right here. Relatively than get the slightest bit defensive, he was instantly open to analyzing it. They’re consistently re-examine the way to make this the most effective place to work.

Rob Gentle (head of music): There’s not a gathering I’ve ever taken the place I wanted a accomplice, one of many three guys on the cellphone, that if I known as Kevin, he says, sure. He has by no means mentioned no, by no means mentioned I’m too busy, proper? After I want to select somebody’s mind, after I’m type of at that wall of ‘I don’t know what to do right here’ — and you’d assume, ‘Nicely, geez, Rob, you’ve been there 40 years’ — I can name Bryan and simply have that actually cerebral ‘let’s pull all of the threads aside and put ‘em again collectively.’ … I’ve received to say, I don’t assume I’ve ever been on a name with Kevin attempting to signal a consumer that we didn’t shut, as a result of when he’s on the cellphone, we are able to shut! He’s that good. However he’s by no means mentioned no. Ever. It didn’t matter if it was a model new artist or a famous person. And so the three of them type of add this dimension– we’ll use the phrase humanity — that lets you do your job even higher. And that passes down. And also you study from the individuals you’re employed with to do the identical factor for the following era. And it’s handed on for 25 years.

Roeg Sutherland (co-head, media finance): A tradition must be so ingrained for it to nonetheless proceed to operate (amid the pandemic). It’s not miraculous however a serious a part of what we’ve been taught for 19 years. In that means, we felt nearly ready for the pandemic.

CAA Next in Line


Ward: Each day we now have individuals bringing again info on what each purchaser and each streamer desires. We all know what each alternative is for artists. A part of what distinguishes (CAA) is that we’re encourage and rewarded for reciprocal info. We’re higher knowledgeable and higher capable of be sturdy advocates for our shoppers due to that info.

Burston: This enterprise mannequin evolves in actual time with {the marketplace}. It was astounding to me to see how we are able to look across the nook and see the place the (leisure) enterprise goes.

On the broader enterprise panorama for movie and TV offers:

Cohen: We’re in a consolidated setting. Promoting exhibits and how issues get made has gotten extra and more difficult with all of the rapid-fire modifications. The dearth of transparency in any respect these streaming firms and how individuals receives a commission is a problem. That is right down to us to guard and to serve our shoppers and assist them curate nice materials that turns into indelible. 

Joel Lubin (co head, movement image group): The distinction between then and now could be that now we take a look at it as — the place do artists need to lend their voice? Persons are consuming issues in numerous methods. We had been in all probability extra segregated previously in relation to movie and tv. It’s far more holistic now. We take a look at the voice, and the most effective place to lend that voice. It might be within the context of a 90-minute movie, it might be a restricted sequence, or it might be on-stage, briefly type, and that’s a part of the curation we do. To assist decide the place we information our shoppers on this altering panorama.

On working within the pandemic-battered market:

Dakhil: In that second the place we didn’t know if this might be two weeks or two months, as none of us had the creativeness it might go longer. At first it felt like college burned down, it was sort of enjoyable, however (Lubin) led with this grace and humility and energy. … Roeg couldn’t stand that Cannes was cancelled, so he went out and made a digital market. It was a very shiny spot. There are numerous examples of areas we’ve aligned ourselves. We by no means stopped working. We refocused our efforts on all people. Particularly and strategically to assist these individuals we care tremendously about see their future past the pandemic.

Lubin: There was a pause within the exhibition enterprise, and then a pause in manufacturing as a result of the protocols didn’t exist initially. On the identical time, there was intense demand for content material. These are main opposing forces. For us, who signify storytellers and artists, what we do was truly intensified. We had all of the streamers along with studios, who had been nonetheless energetic, wanting extra content material. We’re naturally optimistic however the world didn’t cease for us. We may really feel {the marketplace} was increasing, however we had this pause for exhibition that may take a while to get by way of, and the artists are nonetheless creating and producing. There’s a timeless want for that. The adjustment was actually working from house, as a result of we’d by no means performed that earlier than.

Emma Banks (co-head, music internationa): Firstly of lockdown, or inside a month of lockdown, there was a poet within the U.Ok. known as Tom Roberts who wrote a poem known as “The Nice Realization.” He did a video for it. It went viral globally. And by the beginning of September, our e book division had gotten e book offers for him. And the hardback e book of the poem had been launched and was promoting scorching potatoes. And that’s how briskly… and possibly it doesn’t sound quick to you, I don’t know. However when it comes to how the trade goes, it’s unprecedented, actually, to get e book offers performed that quick and flip them round. However the breadth of relationships that the workforce has can do issues like that. So it’s been so related and private. And to have the ability to do these issues at a time the place companies are just about shut down in some sector I feel is phenomenal.

On the cut up the battle with the Writers Guild of America:

Cohen: This was utterly avoidable. We’re within the enterprise as representatives who care to be a part of writers’ lives and develop careers for the long run. I’d by no means have imagined that there was such little understanding of the sort of relationship that we now have with artists the place they all the time have the chance to fireplace us in the event that they don’t assume we’re clear or don’t assume we’re doing the job. We’re within the enterprise of battle decision. It’s been extremely disappointing. I basically consider there ought to have been a deal to be made. I feel you’re all the time going to need to be managing some sort of perceived battle. That’s managed by what sort of character you may have. In the end you reside and die by that — your character.

Gertner: There’s no different strategy to describe it however painful and extremely irritating. I don’t consider it needed to come to this. I’ve been doing this for greater than 30 years. I’ve ever seen something like this. There have been all the time fights with studios and offers that couldn’t make. Nevertheless it’s all the time labored out. This has been terrible. And it’s hurting the shoppers’ enterprise far more than it hurts our enterprise.

Dakhil: We all know the distinction between the flickering heartbeat of a film truly taking off after many, many occasions stalled — and what the position of an company is in holding the items collectively. As a result of we aren’t producers, we truly get extra credibility to carry these collectively as a result of we’re invisibly behind the scenes gluing each piece. We’re behind the scenes bringing each get together to the desk, who won’t in any other case have frequent floor to execute a imaginative and prescient on behalf of our consumer. That’s due to the fixed, 24/7 nurturing and caregiving we apply to every of those tasks. We all know for a reality, a whole lot of these motion pictures wouldn’t have an opportunity in any other case as a result of we’re going in opposition to the present to get them made. It begins with the consumer having a narrative, an thought, a script and then piecing collectively the way to get there may be very a lot on our shoulders.

On how TPG’s funding modified CAA:

Cohen: It’s solely been good. They’re there after we want them. It’s been useful however there hasn’t been something noticeable about how the corporate has modified. Having skilled each aspect of administration at this firm, I can say that (the TPG relationship) has been terrific.

Ward: The typical agent doesn’t really feel it on a day-to-day foundation.

Cohen: They belief us to run our enterprise. That’s been our mantra from the start.

Michael Levine (co-head, CAA Sports activities): We’ve had interplay at excessive ranges with TPG from the start. We had been only some years outdated (in 2010 when TPG first invested) and they understood the expansion potential that sports activities had for the corporate. They received to know us whereas they had been doing their analysis and diligence on the enterprise. It’s been the identical management group the entire means by way of that has watched us for over a decade now.

Howard Nuchow (co-head, CAA Sports activities): They had been actually useful in creating progressive compensation packages for workers so we may retain our greatest staff. The truth that capital is all the time accessible could be very motivating. Something that comes throughout our desk we are able to take a look at and have all the time been inspired to take action. We by no means felt there was a chance we couldn’t chunk off.

Levine: (TPG’s) David Bonderman and Jim Coulter are each sports activities followers. David’s a minority proprietor of the Boston Celtics. We’d labored with them on media rights. Our funding banking group has been a sounding board  and an advisor to them on all kinds of fronts. We’re right here as sources for them and they’ve been sources for us.

Jim Coulter (TPG co-CEO and founding accomplice): What some individuals have missed from the start is that we invested in CAA to not make it into one thing completely different however due to what it was. It’s fairly a particular place.

(Pictured, high row: Emma Banks, Joe Cohen, Maha Dakhil and Paul Danforth. Center row: Risa Gertner, Lisa Joseph Metelus, Michelle Kydd Lee and Michael Levine. Backside row: Joel Lubin, Sonya Rosenfeld, Rick Roskin and Tiffany Ward)


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