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Boutique bouquet

CNA, Premiere unite for new talent agency

Boutique agencies CNA Associates and Premiere Artists Agency are merging to form Diverse Talent Group.

CNA founder and prexy Christopher Nassif and Premiere’s talent topper, Michael Packenham, and its literary head, Susan Sussman, will all serve as co-equal partners in the venture.

The entity creates a mid-sized shop that its partners say will seek to keep “boutique-level attention” on clients with the heft of larger-boned talent and literary shops.

“If we didn’t start getting bigger, we’d be each be one of those little guys fighting for our lives,” Nassif said.

A necessity

Sussman also noted that the merger was essential given the burgeoning quantity of media outlets that require creative talent.

“The landscape in this town is changing,” Sussman said. “Ten years ago there were four networks and a handful of cable channels. Now there’s six networks, 57 cable channels, indie film is bigger than ever, overseas financing is exploding, and of course, there’s the Internet.”

Part of the attraction for the two shops, which now total more than 40 employees, Packenham said, was the “complementary qualities” that each brought to the other: CNA was founded in 1982 as primarily a motion picture and talent shop. Premiere, which handles talent, also has a strong lit department.

Diverse reps above-the-line talent such as pop star Ricky Martin and thesp Alicia Silverstone as well as literary clients like musicvid and feature film helmer Nigel Dick and longtime editor Patrick Lussier, who’ll soon make his helming debut on Dimension pic “Dracula 2000,” having cut his teeth editing Dimension’s “Scream” franchise.

Ad dept.

CNA has a successful commercials department, as well as a below-the-line talent division that reps editors, directors of photography and production designers for TV and motion pictures.

The merger comes on the heels of CNA’s acquisition of print modeling agency Empire Models in February, and will not be the last for Diverse, according to Sussman.

As part of their merger, Diverse has hired agents Tom Harrisson and Leland LaBarre from the Paul Kohner Agency. And with a seven-figure discretionary fund supplied by a recent capital investor, Diverse Talent Group plans to continue to “go out and acquire more boutiques shops, or some of their agents,” Sussman said.

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