ICM aims talent at videogames

Silicon Valley came to Hollywood Friday, as Intl. Creative Management hosted a morninglong presentation that brought together seven of the top multimedia designers with moviemaking talent.

Clearly, interactive entertainment — where pictures, sound and text are merged onto compact disc — is the hottest ticket in town.

“The important thing to realize, and why we asked this to be held at the agency, is that all this material has to be driven by content,” said ICM chairman Jeff Berg. Pointing around the room, he added, “The sale of intellectual property and artistic services has a new market.”

The carrot, of course, is the fact that agencies see that videogames and educational interactive software generate $ 10 billion in worldwide sales, eclipsing the box office.

Already, ICM has a small unit to investigate opportunities in multimedia entertainment. The group, led by Steve Stanford, teamed with Dan Kaufman, an attorney with Palo Alto-based Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, a top computer-industry law firm, to come up with the companies that made their pitch at Friday’s presentation.

Other top agencies, including CAA and William Morris, are creating similar groups to investigate the market. But while they have given presentations for individual clients or companies, their attitude is that there are already enough conferences serving the educational function.

Still, ICM attracted a capacity crowd that included the Hudlin brothers, director Reginald and producer Warrington; actor Richard Dreyfuss; music producer Don Was; attorney Richard Thompson from Silverberg, Katz, Thompson & Braun; and Pen Densham, a screenwriter on “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and one of the principals in Trilogy Entertainment.

Showing their wares were software-makers like Spectrum HoloByte Inc., which counts Paramount Communications as an investor, Knowledge Adventure Inc., Activision, Brilliant Media and Crystal Dynamics.

The event raised a number of questions about how Hollywood talent can contribute to the new generation of videogame and education titles.

Roger McNamee, head of venture capital fund Integral Capital Partners, confided that after playing nearly every title that’s available, “Few deserve 10 minutes of your time. We have to figure out how to make this software as interesting as the movies you make here. … We’ll invest millions of dollars before we make millions.”

A number of software companies are trying to lower the learning curve to develop interesting programs by bringing in Hollywood expertise. Crystal Dynamics went so far as to lure Strauss Zelnick away from the presidency of Fox.

Despite the keen interest expressed by the agents, software developers worry that high fees and stiff contracts by talent could be a form of crib death for an industry still in its early stages.

Activision chairman Bobbie Kottick stressed, “This is not a big upfront business, and writers, for one, shouldn’t expect to see the same money they’d see from film productions.”

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