CAA, Bienstock pact

Creative Artists Agency and N.S. Bienstock, a premier talent agency for TV news talent, have formed a joint venture. The agreement gives the New York-based Bienstock, whose clients include Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer and Mike Wallace among others, access to CAA’s resources to package programming, as well as the agency’s writer and producer roster.

For CAA, it opens up a pool of news talent and helps them leap into the burgeoning reality-TV business.

With nine hours of newsmags on network primetime, plus the syndication marketplace and cable networks awash in a sea of tabmags, chat shows and Oprah-esque programming, for both parties this is a potential way to cash in.

“It’s a natural marriage — one of those special cases where two plus two equals five,” said Bienstock topper Richard Liebner, who heads the agency with his wife Carole Cooper. “This alliance lets us offer the full range of services to our clients.”

In part, the CAA/Beinstock deal was one born of necessity. Prime CAA competitors, such as the William Morris Agency and International Creative Management, both with active New York offices, have been much more active in packaging news talent.

In addition, Bienstock, while an extremely successful boutique operation, was vulnerable to losing on-air talent and a growing list of writers and producers to full-service agencies.

“Two years ago we saw how fast (the reality-TV) business was growing,” said Lee Gabler, who runs CAA’s TV department. “Now we’ve got an excellent relationship where we can get to work on specific projects. This is going to be an increasingly important part of our business.”

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