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WMA lit agent Contardi exits

Rep's work had included deals for Gordimer, Cabot

HOLLYWOOD — Gotham-based William Morris lit agent Bill Contardi is ankling after 11 years to become an independent agent.

For the last five years, Contardi has occupied a unique role at the agency, brokering TV and film rights for writers who weren’t WMA clients.

Co-agenting Hollywood deals with outside lit agents, he set up projects for Nadine Gordimer, Meg Cabot (“The Princess Diaries”), Ursula Le Guin, Dava Sobel, Bill Bryson, the Nancy Drew and “Roswell” book series, among others.

But Contardi’s job became less important to the agency as it rebuilt in the wake of lit division co-topper Robert Gottlieb’s 2000 departure.

Though Gottlieb’s exit depleted the agency of some of its top-selling writers, the agency has added a handful of new agents, including department co-heads Jennifer Rudolph Walsh and Suzanne Gluck, as well as former Random House editor Manny Baron, increasing the volume of books WMA has funneled through its Hollywood office.

Walsh and Gluck said Contardi’s exit is not a prologue to further staff cuts. “The William Morris (literary office) had a banner year,” they said. “Downsizing is the last thing in the world on our mind.”

Contardi’s plans for leaving the agency are still taking shape, but he intends to rep both publishing and dramatic rights.

“What appeals to me at this point in my life and career is to focus on the core business of developing a client list of book writers and finding the best publishers for their books,” he told Daily Variety. “Additionally, I’ll be continuing to work with certain independent literary agents for film and TV representation.”