Lit partners split

Sanford ankles, breaking up Gross agency

HOLLYWOOD — Sanford-Gross Agency partners Geoffrey Sanford and Brad Gross are ending their two-decade alliance, and Sanford has joined forces with lit boutique the Rabineau Wachter Literary Agency.

Sanford-Gross has long been one of the industry’s best known small agencies. Since its inception in 1982, the shop has represented an eclectic array of well-known feature clients, including Ron Shelton, Richard Price and Neil LaBute.

Sanford’s merger with Rabineau Wachter will bring a new measure of feature clout to a young Santa Monica lit boutique primarily known as a book agency.

Founded three years ago by former Sanford-Gross and ICM agent Sylvie Rabineau and former Birch Lane Press editor Liza Wachter, Rabineau Wachter repped 45 writers before Sanford came on board.

Along with Shelton and Price, Sanford brings to Rabineau Wachter’s list such screenwriting, directing and novelist clients as Nick Kazan, Gerald Di Pego, Scott Spencer, Frederic Raphael, Rick Moody, Lorrie Moore and Susanna Moore.

The company will change its name to Rabineau Wachter and Sanford.

“Geoff has been my mentor and friend in the creation of my business, and it’s exciting to be working together again,” Rabineau told Daily Variety. “Jeff’s reputation in the business, his excellent taste and his style of business are a perfect match for Rabineau Wachter.”

Like Sanford-Gross, Rabineau Wachter has amassed a distinctively literary list, with a number of newly prominent clients such as Philip Pullman, Tom Perrotta and Louis Begley. The agency has sought to distinguish itself from Hollywood’s corporate book offices by focusing less on packaging than on strategic deals for filmmaker-driven material. Among its other clients are Anthony Bourdain, Melissa Bank and Gigi Levangie Grazer.

“At our first meeting, it seemed like just the right fit for both me and my clients,” Sanford told Daily Variety. He and Rabineau and Wachter “have similar taste,” he said, as well as “a similar style of doing business, hoping to carve out a niche by being tasteful, really believing in the quality of your clients and still making a living.”

Sanford, who has been a partner at the Artists Agency and an exec at Warner Bros., spent his early years in Hollywood working for Otto Preminger in the 1960s.

Gross, who is expected to form his own agency, was unavailable for comment.