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Agents book their own gig

Kamins & Block forge shingle

Corrections were made twice to this article on Oct. 30, 2003.

Ken Kamins, one of the town’s top film agents, will exit ICM and create a management and production company with former ICM agent and InterTalent Agency founder Bill Block.

Yet-to-be-named company will be backed by Graham King, the principal of Initial Entertainment Group. This is a personal investment for King, whose involvement will be strategic and not in the daily operations of the company.

Kamins and Block plan to represent a small number of writers, directors, actors, producers and animators. Among them will be the “Lord of the Rings” production team of Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillippa Boyens, as well as director Jonathan Frakes (“Thunderbirds”).

The company will also share many clients with ICM.

Block will serve as chief operating officer. In addition to assisting Kamins in running the business day to day, Block will focus on corporate strategic development and intellectual property acquisition.

“I wanted to set up a company that would represent a small number of high-end clients,” Kamins told Daily Variety. “I wanted to find a way of doing something entrepreneurial and building it brick by brick.”

Last year, Block acquired Barry Taylor’s MCT Music Management, whose principal clients are Moby, Rufus Wainwright and Groove Armada. MCT will form a joint venture with Kamins and will serve as the company’s New York base of operations.

Kamins said that while it’s possible he may take an exec producing credit on a project he helped put together, his interests do not lie in being a full-fledged producer.

Kamins has been a key figure at the agency in finding financing that can make clients’ films happen.

“Ken has been discussing this arrangement over the course of several months with me,” ICM chairman Jeff Berg told Daily Variety. “He has made brilliant, thoughtful contributions in arranging funding for some of the really important pictures of recent years.”

At ICM, Kamins also serves as exec VP of international operations and as the primary rep for filmmakers such as Robert Altman, Christopher McQuarrie, John Boorman, Paul Anderson & Jeremy Bolt, Michael Haussman and Jonathan Lynn.

Block most recently was president of Artisan Entertainment but has largely laid low since his exit from the company in August 2001.

Before that, Block worked at ICM twice, first from 1984-88 and later as head of West Coast operations from 1992-97.

Block and Kamins initially worked together at InterTalent, which Block founded in 1988. Block recruited Kamins into the agency business from RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, where Kamins spent eight years as VP of worldwide acquisitions. He moved to ICM with Block in 1992.

Kamins and King also have been longtime friends and business allies, with Kamins repping Initial in a number of deals, such as those for “The Aviator,” “Gangs of New York” and “Dr. T and the Women,” which was directed by Kamins’ client Altman.

“My interest is mainly financial, but this could benefit me in terms of getting good material,” King said. Kamins is “as honest as they come, and I think it’s going to be great for him and his clients.”

Kamins is credited with helping structure the deal for Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy at New Line Cinema. He also put together films such as Altman’s “Gosford Park” and Norman Jewison’s “The Statement.”

The agent also created Jackson’s groundbreaking deal to receive $20 million against 20% of the gross for writing, directing and producing his next project, Universal Pictures’ “King Kong.”

Initial is owned by Intermedia and operated by King as an autonomous label.

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