Debbee Klein, co-head of Paradigm’s most profitable arm, its TV lit department, didn’t hesitate to lay out her ground rules when she first met agency chair Sam Gores.
“I just told him, ‘This is how I roll,'” she recalls. “I will sign more clients in the car-pool line than (doing traditional networking) in a year. I’m not having cocktails at 10:30 at night. He understood that and appreciated it.”
While being a mother of two factored into her priorities, Klein’s personal life hasn’t affected the agency’s bottom line. Klein represents Shane Brennan and Don Reo, two of the five show runners who have two series on the air this season, as well as Neal Bear and Marc Cherry.
“I think we had more development at CBS this year than any other agency,” Klein says. “And we landed two big shows.”
Those shows, “The Good Wife” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” are two of the four series sold this season, with “Brothers” on Fox and “Failure to Fly” on Starz rounding out the roster. Her department has also packaged and sold “Desperate Housewives,” “24” and “Dexter.”
“Scripted television is so hard,” Klein says. “It’s not like it used to be, but I believe TV is here to stay. I’m a firm believer that the next ‘Seinfeld’ is just around the corner, and not just on the Web.”
Klein also is one of three agents on the Paradigm Management Committee, charged with running the business on a day-to-day basis — an accomplishment made even more noteworthy in a field where men generally run the show.
“I never felt I was trailblazing a path for women,” she says. “I was just confident that this was my calling … and I was blessed that I never had to fight or claw to make myself visible.”
IN A NUTSHELL
Job title: Co-head of Paradigm’s TV lit department
Mentor: Paradigm chairman Sam Gores
Career mantra: “Taste, persistence and compassion.”
Leisure pursuits: “Hanging out with my boys (sons Carey, 23, and Casey, 19, husband Robert Schwartz), but right up there is shopping.”
Philanthropic passions: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Jewish Federation