TalentWorks Los Angeles has acquired the adult commercial and dance departments of Acme Talent, with CEO Harry Gold completing a deal with Acme owner Adam Lieblein.
That deal spells the end for Acme, a 16-year-old boutique agency that once had 22 agents in L.A. and New York.
The move marks the fifth recent transaction for Lieblein, who just sold his literary department to Diverse, the voiceover department to Coast to Coast, a youth talent division to Michael Greene and Associates and a print division that reps models to the Jack Lippman Agency. Lieblein said he will close his doors by year’s end, intent on returning to the producing biz.
“I started this agency with my ex-wife, but it was her dream, not mine, and I missed producing,” said Lieblein, who added that he won’t miss the changing economics and the guild problems that have crushed boutique agencies.
“I should have gotten out five years ago, when things started to get horrible with a six-month-long commercial strike and the threat of a theatrical strike that caused a surge in reality TV that eliminated hundreds of series roles that were the life blood of mid-level agencies. The current SAG thing is terrible, and the commercials contract is going to be revamped and the residual structure changed. Clients could book a commercial and count on $50,000, but now it’s $10,000-$15,000. A lot of agencies are going to go away, consolidate or specialize. There is still money to be made in commercials if you keep your costs low, something that Harry realizes.”
Gold said the commercial division will continue to be run by Emily Hope Webster, a former child actress whom he repped when she appeared in more than 200 commercials and starred in films including 1989’s “Troop Beverly Hills.” Webster has run Acme’s commercial operation for the past decade and brings with her associate Brian Duensing.
The division has a volume of familiar faces from commercials, including some that cross over like Kyle Bornheimer, who transitioned from T-Mobile ads to be the star of the CBS sitcom “Worst Week.”
Mandy Rice will continue to run the dance department, which books dancers in theater productions across the country.
“In these trying times, it’s important to diversify our businesses as much as possible,” Gold said.TalentWorks clients include William Shatner, Martin Landau, Mario Lopez and Ashanti.