×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

UTA TV focus the real deal

Greystone, Brass Ring, Mess Media, Diplomatic among new clients

The primetime reality boom may have gone bust, but UTA still thinks there’s plenty of coin left in nontraditional programming: Tenpercentery has tapped veteran agent Chris Coelen to head up its newly expanded alternative television department.

Coelen takes charge of a 2-year-old division that’s been beefed up to include three agents dedicated to alternative: Sara Chazen, Lee Horvitz and Hayden Meyer.

In recent weeks and months, Coelen and his staff have been busy signing a slew of new clients to UTA’s alternative department, including Craig Haffner’s Greystone (“Biography”); Rick Telles and Cris Abrego’s Brass Ring Prods. (“Fear”); and Scott Messick’s Mess Media (“Boot Camp”).

UTA also lured away Michael Davies and his Diplomatic Prods. from William Morris (though WMA retains package credit for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”). Tenpercentery has also signed “Survivor” co-exec producer Craig Piligian.

“Now that the hype has passed, the bigger picture of alternative programming is coming into sharper focus,” Coelen said. “The traditional buyers of alternative — cable and firstrun markets — have become even more competitive (with license fees), so we’re very bullish on the long-term prospects in this area.”

While the frenzy of reality-based projects (think “Temptation Island” or “Lost”) in primetime has cooled, networks are still very interested in alternative programming, Coelen said. What’s more, the reality explosion of the past two years has driven up license fees for cable and syndie unscripted product — meaning more potential coin for alternative programs.

There are also still plenty of opportunities in primetime, according to Coelen.

“If you look at the numbers CBS did with ‘Carol Burnett’ — that falls under the category of alternative,” he said. “There are a lot of people who want to reinvent variety, to do more feel-good, upbeat programming. Alternative is bigger than it’s ever been.”

Indeed, in addition to format-driven properties, Coelen and his agents will cover a slew of nontraditional programming, including scripted and unscripted programs for syndie and cable outlets; children’s programming; and news/talk skeins and talent.

Creative chase

Coelen said UTA’s alternative department — which does battle daily with nonfiction vets William Morris, CAA and ICM — will try to follow the same formula the agency’s lit and talent departments have emphasized: finding people with strong creative visions.

“We want to find as many original voices as possible,” he said. “We want trailblazers. We don’t want people who are copycats.”

In addition to UTA’s newer alternative clients, the agency’s roster has long included such nonfiction heavyweights as R.J. Cutler (“American High”), Gay Rosenthal (“Behind the Music”), Joel Gallen (“A Tribute to Heroes”) and Bill Guttentag (“Crime and Punishment”).

UTA co-founder and board member Peter Benedek said Coelen has been “enormously effective” within the agency’s alternative department.

“He’s the right person to lead our continued expansion,” Benedek said.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Atmosphere71st Primetime Emmy Awards Nominations Announcement,

    How to Watch the 2019 Emmy Awards Online

    The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards won’t be one to miss. Whether you’re a “Killing Eve” fan eager to see co-stars Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer face off in the same category, a “Veep” enthusiast excited to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus potentially nab the honor of most Emmy wins of any performer in history, or a “Game [...]

  • Actor Aron Eisenberg during the Creation

    'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' Actor Aron Eisenberg Dies at 50

    “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” actor Aron Eisenberg, who played Nog in the 1990s series, died Saturday. He was 50. His character Nog, who appeared for all seven seasons, was a member of the alien race Ferengi, and joined Starfleet after a recommendation from Captain Sisko. Eisenberg returned for a guest spot on “Star Trek: [...]

  • ALL RISE -- A drama that

    TV Review: 'All Rise' Starring Simone Missick

    Finding a new way to do a legal procedural is such a difficult prospect at this point that it would be hard to blame TV for giving up entirely and just going on autopilot. “All Rise,” however, both indulges the basics of the genre and finds some refreshing ways to twist them into slightly new, [...]

  • An Emmy statue stands outside the

    Expect High Heat and Traffic for Emmys Sunday

    If you work in TV, are a fan of TV, or are in fact a TV yourself, the 71st Primetime Emmys promise to be a treat. Television’s biggest awards show takes place in Los Angeles on Sunday night, with some of Hollywood’s brightest stars set to appear as the entertainment community honors the best of [...]

  • Roma Cinematography

    'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' and 'Roma' Win LMGI Awards for Motion Pictures

    Two major 2018 releases – actioner “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and critics’ darling “Roma” – were honored for film location work by the Location Managers Guild International at a ceremony this evening at the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The 6th Annual LMGI Awards also recognized “Chernobyl” and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” [...]

  • Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun

    Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun Rights

    Viacom has sealed a deal with Sony Pictures Television for the cable rights to “Seinfeld” starting in October 2021. The deal comes on the heels of a blockbuster new deal between Sony and Netflix for the streaming rights to the beloved NBC sitcom that also begins in 2021. “Seinfeld” reruns have been a staple of [...]

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content