ICM books Bernstein for L.A. lit VP post

Gorden may ankle agency

Looks like ICM is doing the book beat shuffle.

Veteran lit agent Ron Bernstein is ankling the Gersh Agency for ICM, where he will serve as vice president specializing in the sale of lit rights to film and TV, and represent screenwriters and publishing companies. The appointment is effective Jan. 18.

At the same time, Alicia Gordon, an agent who has been with ICM’s book department for four years and handled it since Rosalie Swedlin ankled the agency a year and a half ago, is said to be leaving the company imminently, according to several sources. They contend Gordon chose not to renew her contract last December, prompting ICM brass to look elsewhere for a serious heavyweight to run the L.A. book side.

Bernstein’s hire is a coup for ICM, which will be getting someone with 20 years of experience and whose client list at Gersh included Susan Faludi (“Stiffed,”) Joyce Carol Oates (“Blonde,”) Don DeLillo (“Underworld,”) Barbara Kingsolver (“The Poisonwood Bible,”) Francine Du Plessix Gray, Joe McGinniss (“Cruel Doubt,”) and Paul Auster, all of whom will be joining him in the new digs, according to ICM.

Bernstein also reps screenwriters Morgan Ward, Robert Gordon and Horton Foote (“The Young Man From Atlanta”). In addition, Bernstein was instrumental in packaging novelist Alex Garland’s “The Beach” into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio.

ICM chairman and CEO Jeff Berg characterized Bernstein as a talented executive whose long experience with writers would serve his agency well, since “that’s the backbone of our business.”

Based in L.A.

Bernstein, who will be based in L.A., will work closely with ICM’s Gotham-based publishing department co-heads Esther Newberg and Amanda Urban.

“New channels of distribution require new material and broader coverage,” Urban said. “Ron will play a key role in providing our authors with greater opportunity in these commercial markets.”

“Our published material is a key agency asset, and we are thrilled that someone with Ron’s experience and taste will be responsible for the sale of these valuable film properties,” Newberg added.

Explanation offered

A Gotham ICM staffer circulated a companywide e-mail in that office on Tuesday, the same day ICM officially announced Bernstein’s appointment, which explained to the troops that although the company tried to keep Gordon, she had chosen to leave in order to pursue other endeavors.

Though ICM says no final decision has been made yet about Gordon, sources said the most likely endeavor for her is the William Morris Agency, where she would be the perfect fit to re-invigorate that agency’s book department, which was left without a chieftain after the departure of Amy Schiffman.

According to several sources, Gordon is expected to surface at WMA very shortly in a similar capacity to the one she’s about to leave behind.

Bernstein’s varied resume includes his start with New York agency Lantz-Donadio, the Clients Agency, and Gersh. He also was creative affairs director at Paramount during the reign of Robert Evans and Peter Bart (now Variety VP and editor-in-chief), and produced several telepics with Robert Stigwood during a stint at RSO Films.

“Ron is a very filmmaker-driven agent who has always had an end-game about what was best for his client’s work,” commented one top insider.

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