You can forgive Laura Engel for feeling conflicted on Oscar night. This year she had three clients up for Academy Awards, including two going head-to-head for original score.
As partner in Kraft-Engel Management for the past 15 years, Engel represents many of the top composers working today, including Alexandre Desplat, who received his fourth Oscar nomination in five years for “The King’s Speech”; John Powell, who received a score nod for “How to Train Your Dragon”; and eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken, who was nominated for original song.
Also this year, client Angelo Badalamenti received ASCAP’s prestigious Henry Mancini Award, presented by David Lynch, for his contributions to the world of film and television music.
Engel got her start in the biz as tour manager for Oingo Boingo, beginning an affiliation with lead singer Danny Elfman that continues to this day as his agent.
“A career highlight for me this year was co-producing the recently released epic, 16-CD ‘Danny Elfman & Tim Burton 25th Anniversary Music Box’ with Warner Bros. Records,” she says. Elfman, who worked on a number of upcoming releases including “Men in Black 3,” “The Hunger Games” (with T Bone Burnett) and “Dark Shadows,” moved into new territory by composing the music for Cirque du Soleil’s “Iris.”
Going forward, Engel says her focus continues on matching her composers with choice blockbusters and indie gems, as well as “expanding further into the world of Broadway and other music-driven projects.”
While she’s always eager to make the best possible deal for her clients, part of her success lies in her ability to look at the totality of their lives and careers. That’s something she learned from her 96-year-old father-in-law, Louis Blau, who, as senior partner at law firm Loeb & Loeb, represented Stanley Kubrick and Walter Matthau for decades.
“He put quality of life, family and friendship over just making the best deal of the moment, and I always wanted to do it like him,” Engel says.
Job title: Partner, Kraft-Engel Management
Role models: Katherine Hepburn, John Lennon, Sherri Lansing, Jill Sinclair and father-in-law Louis Blau
Career mantra: “Let me try one more thing to make this happen…”
Leisure pursuits: “Raising my two teenage daughters, my blues harmonica/singer husband and my Disney-obsessed partner. Hiking with friends and my dog and going to movies.”
Philanthropic passion: The Scleroderma Foundation