Michael Jackson has left Creative Artists Agency in all areas of representation and is moon walking down Wilshire Boulevard to United Talent Agency, where the self-styled King of Pop has signed for representation as an actor only.
CAA is losing the artists’ lucrative concert bookings. The agency had repped him for what is believed to have been 10 years and had repped the Jackson Five.
It’s not clear what will happen with any potential future billings, however it is believed that he will keep hold of them for the time being. Sandy Gallin, who did not return calls, remains Jackson’s manager.
Jackson’s agency change follows quick on the heels of the “HIStory” scandal – in which the singer came under fire for his use of anti-semitic language in one song – as well as the return of recording artist-turned-actor Mark Wahlberg (“The Basketball Diaries”) to agent David Schiff at UTA after a six month sojourn at CAA.
A team of agents at UTA headed by Nick Stevens will try and jump start Jackson’s career in front of the camera. Building a TV and/or movie career for Jackson will be a true agenting challenge.
Jackson has a large and loyal following around the world. He has sold out 30,000 seat arenas, 13-nights in a row with tickets retailing for $100 a pop. His appearance on “PrimeTime Live” last month drove that broadcast to become the highest-rated outing for an ABC newsmagazine ever. Yet the performer has a hard time translating his music and concert prowess into a career as a feature film performer.
Neither his Nation Films production company at Sony Pictures Entertainment nor his Michael Jackson Prods, has ever developed a feature film that resulted in a theatrical release. The Hollywood Pictures fantasy “Hot Rod” (in which Jackson was slated to play a race car that morphed into a man) was developed for Jackson but never made it past the script stage.
Part of the problem, note production execs who have worked with the performer, is that Jackson’s persona is so singular and so fantastic that it is much harder for him to play a Regular Joe or standard romantic lead than most actors. “Midknight” was the closest any of his projects ever got to being greenlit. And that SPE project was a futuristic action piece in which Jackson would have appeared in heavy armor a la “Batman.”
But then again, some feature-length musical could prove the right crossover vehicle for Jackson. And UTA has enjoyed tremendous success steering singular talents like Jim Carrey and Wahlberg into the proper crossover vehicles. Now all that remains for them to do is find Jackson his “Mask” or “Basketball Diaries.”