As the grandson of a sharecropper and a kid growing up in Long Beach, Principato-Young partner Brian Dobbins was more than a freeway trip away from Hollywood. “I was the first person in my family to attend university, so a lot of expectations went along with that,” he reflects.
At UCLA during the late ’80s and early ’90s, where he majored in English (“a useful, all-purpose degree”), Dobbins produced some wildly popular on-campus music events that confirmed to him that, first, he could produce, and second, that he wanted nothing to do with a music business that was “too crazy and haphazard.”
After interning with producer Lawrence Gordon’s shingle, Largo, Dobbins learned that if he wanted to be a producer, he should land a gig at an agency and work his way up. After a few life-changing events and an unhappy stint at UTA, Dobbins realized that he had to stop chasing the money, “since it’s not a get-rich-quick business, and that I had to do what made me happy, since the emotional satisfaction would let me work harder and allow me to be closer to financial success.”
Via the agencies, Dobbins also realized that managers were key: They handled and sculpted clients’ complete careers, and enjoyed a highly diversified business. A meeting with Paul Young in 1998 led to joining the now-defunct Pole Star firm, and then eventually to the birth of Principato-Young in 2000.
“I like to work with a diverse roster of talent,” Dobbins says, “and that includes having clients who can jump between media. Talent can do this more and more now since television is so interesting and offers so many more quality opportunities than it used to. I always encourage clients to develop their own cable show, since they can develop their voice and encounter minimal interference.”
“I’m into movies.”
Allen Fischer, a partner in Principato-Young, says this more than once during a conversation. When asked about vivid memories of growing up in Beverly Hills, he’ll immediately remark that the opening of the original AMC 14 complex in Century City was the highlight: “Finally, we could walk over to theaters from my home and watch a bunch of movies back to back.”
A week after taking a degree from Wharton, Fischer was in the CAA mailroom, soon working for such key figures as partner Kevin Huvane and subsequently promoted to the lit department.
“It was a great training, but I decided to switch to talent management since I saw that handling a client’s total career was more stimulating and rewarding,” says Fischer. After a three-year try at running his own boutique company, Fischer acknowledged that he wanted to work with a larger group of people (“It can get lonely running your own little firm”) and met with Paul Young, then with Pole Star.
Fischer brought his clients with him to Pole Star, which in turn led to the merger with Peter Principato that formed Principato-Young.
One of Fischer’s early goals at the firm was to diversify the client roster to expand beyond comedy, into dramatic and action films: “Part of this involved scouting and signing up writers and directors who had the drive to make movies, which adds further dimension to the company’s overall client lineup.”