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CAA rides laff wave, adding to client list

Cawley, Long join roster

With TV and Internet program development execs desperately hunting for new comedy hits, Creative Artists Agency is expanding its roster of yuksters-for-hire.

Over the past four weeks, the tenpercentery — which already repped comedy heavyweights such as “King of the Hill” exec producer Mike Judge, “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal and “Late Show with David Letterman” exec producer Rob Burnett — has quietly recruited nearly a dozen new comedy writer-producers.

Among the new additions: “Everybody Loves Raymond” supervising producer Tucker Cawley, “The Simpsons” producer Tim Long, “Steve Harvey Show” creator-exec producer Winifred Hervey and comic Jeff Ross.

CAA execs say the expansion is being fueled by the ever-increasing demand for quality laffmakers.

“The need is great because everyone’s looking for a big comedy success,” said CAA TV lit department head Sonya Rosenfeld. “Drama has been the big winner (this season) … but people know that it’s always a cycle. And as the cycle turns back over to comedy, everyone wants to be the person charging ahead of the pack.”

Among the other new comedy clients brought in by CAA in recent weeks:

  • Chris Kelly, the head writer of “Politically Incorrect.” He had been repped by UTA.

  • Eric and Justin Stangel, staff writers on “Late Show with David Letterman.” Pair is managed by David Minor of 3 Arts.

  • “Sports Night” staff writer Joan Weiss, managed by Larry Shuman of the Shuman Co.

  • Vernon Chatman, staff writer on “The Chris Rock Show.” Chatman, managed by David Rath of 3 Arts, won an Emmy for his contributions to the show.

  • Michael Shipley and Jim Bernstein, exec story editors on “Family Guy.” Pair is managed by Larry Schuman and Innovative Artists.

Cawley had been with ICM, Long had been with William Morris and Hervey had been at Major Clients Agency. Ross is managed by Barry Katz.

According to Rosenfeld, CAA has been seeking clients who will end up producing more than just sitcoms. “We’re interested in representing people who are talented in a lot of different ways … and who have different goals and aspirations,” she said.

Indeed, adds CAA partner Lee Gable, “I don’t think programming in the future is going to be pigeonholed. Who’s to say there won’t be a 15-minute comedy?”

Rosenfeld believes the Web in particular “is a place that’s ripe for comedy. There are a lot of avenues for writers opening up.”

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