Hirshan WMA exit has Clint in tow

Agent becomes Eastwood's exclusive rep

After 50 years at the William Morris Agency, film agent Leonard Hirshan is leaving to form the Los Angeles-based Leonard Hirshan Management, where he will serve as the exclusive rep of longtime client Clint Eastwood.

His exit in mid-October will coincide with the fall production start for Eastwood’s next film, Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Blood Work,” which Eastwood will star in, produce and direct.

“The only person who has agreed to be with me at this point is Clint, and I will be his only rep,” said Hirshan, who has been Eastwood’s agent for more than 35 years. “I have no interest or intention to produce — strictly a manager in the truest sense of the word.”

As yet, it’s unclear whether Hirshan’s other WMA clients, who include Sophia Loren, Angela Lansbury and Stu Rosenberg, will be repped by LHM.

Said WMA CEO Walter Zifkin in a prepared statement: “If the quality of an individual is, indeed, reflected in the standards they set for themselves, then Lenny Hirshan leaves a legacy of honesty, integrity and great agenting that are hallmarks of the William Morris Agency. We are respectful of Lenny’s decision to move into management and of Clint’s to make the move with him. Our gratitude and appreciation for Clint’s loyalty to William Morris over the more than 35 years we’ve been privileged to represent him cannot be overstated.”

Said Hirshan: “I leave William Morris with fond memories, deep appreciation for my past and present associates and look forward to actively continuing in the representation business as a personal manager with great enthusiasm.”

Hirshan plans to take time off over the next two months for vacation and to set up his operation.

Hirshan is a William Morris institution, having started in the agency’s New York mailroom in April 1951. In 1954, he pushed to get his first client, the then-unknown Eva Marie Saint, a role in “On the Waterfront.” That film became her first picture and earned her an Academy Award for supporting actress.

Saint also helped establish Hirshan’s reputation for client loyalty, trust and longevity. Among those he repped for close to four decades were Eastwood, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

Hirshan was part of the team that repped Lemmon, introducing him to the film business and negotiating his seven-year contract with Columbia Pictures. This prompted WMA to transfer Hirshan to Los Angeles in January 1955 to concentrate solely on motion pictures.

Hirshan’s other clients have included Edward G. Robinson, Greer Garson, Sammy Davis Jr. and Bruce Beresford. Hirshan worked on Elvis Presley’s original contract with Hal Wallis and was responsible for finding and negotiating Presley’s first feature, “Love Me Tender.”

Hirshan’s upcoming exit follows the announcement last week that fellow WMA agent Ames Cushing is retiring from the agency after 15 years.