Howdy, partner: UTA boosts seven

Move to spread co.'s ownership among top-level agents

UTA is dramatically expanding its top tier, upping seven agents to partner.

Promotions include TV talent topper Martin Lesak, book department head Howard Sanders and production department chief Wayne Fitterman.

Motion picture agents Blair Belcher, Andrew Cannava and Jason Heyman along with TV agent Matt Rice also received partnerships.

Move, which increases the number of UTA partners to 20, is designed to spread ownership of the agency among more top-level agents as the tenpercentery grows.

Founded in 1991 with 26 agents, UTA now has nearly 100, repping clients in TV, film, books, music, entertainment marketing, commercials, below-the-line and brand endorsement.

Agency will continue to be governed by a six-member board of directors, led by chairman Jim Berkus.

In addition to Berkus, UTA’s board of directors includes partners Peter Benedek, Gary Cosay, Nick Stevens, Jay Sures and Jeremy Zimmer.

“UTA has a strong culture built on helping our colleagues move from the mailroom to (the) highest levels of the agency,” Berkus said. “This expansion of ownership is another indication that the strength and vitality of our agency is based on an environment which encourages longevity and creativity.”

Indeed, all but one of the new partners has been at UTA for at least seven years; Cannava, Heyman and Fitterman each have been at the tenpercentery for more than a decade.

Berkus praised the seven new partners for their consistent and lasting contributions to the agency and said their new status reflects their importance in the growth and future of UTA.

Other partners include Dan Aloni, Tracey Jacobs and Sue Naegle, who are co-heads of the motion picture lit, motion picture talent and TV departments, respectively.

David Schiff, Marty Bowen, David Kramer and David Guillod are also partners.

Fitterman began his agency career in 1992 as an assistant to Benedek. He launched the production department in 1995 and the unit now reps a number of Academy Award-nommed cinematographers and film editors.

TV talent chief Lesak, who joined UTA in 1995 after nine years at Abrams Artists, has been key in building the agency’s TV packaging business by marrying his thesp list with UTA’s writers and showrunners. He also helped broker several headline-making talent renegotiations involving shows such as “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Frasier” and “CSI.”

Sanders, who runs the book department, joined UTA in 1995 after serving as partner at boutique lit agency Pleshette, Green & Sanders.

Heyman, a senior talent agent on the film side, boasts a client list that’s particularly strong on comedic film actors. A former UTA mailroom trainee who was upped to full agent in 1993, Heyman has been key to the agency’s TV packaging biz.

Belcher, who joined UTA in 1997, trained at UTA predecessor Bauer-Benedek before moving into production with posts at Brillstein-Grey, Oliver Stone’s Illusion Entertainment and 20th Century Fox-based Horizon Entertainment.

Cannava joined UTA when it was formed in 1991, starting in the mailroom. Prior to that, he practiced as a civil litigator in Los Angeles. He was promoted to agent in 1992.

Rice, formerly of BWCS, came to UTA’s TV department 15 months ago. He reps top writers, actors, producers and directors in network and cable TV.