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Topper tweaks tenpercentery biz

Gores taking Paradigm to new levels

For an agent raised in the birthplace of all kinds of orthodoxy, Sam Gores is probably one of the most unorthodox agents in Hollywood.

Raised near Nazareth by Israeli Christian parents, Samir Gores came to the United States in 1968 in his early teens, and has been bringing an iconoclastic perspective to the agency business for years.

Gores, 49, is also in the unenviable position of being the underachiever in his family: He has two billionaires for brothers, and both are tied for 126th place on Forbes list of richest people on the planet. As the sibling of Tom Gores, 40, owner of software company Platinum Equities, and of Alec Gores, 51, topper of buyout firm Gores Technology Group, he has managed to make only millions in the talent representation business as president of Paradigm.

Different drummer

But as an agent, Gores has fearlessly staked out maverick opinions on all sorts of previously sacrosanct representation topics: For example, he’s publicly expressed reservations about agencies taking commissions on TV packages, while casting a skeptical eye on the recent rush by management companies to embrace ancillary businesses like sneakers, colas and teddy bears.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have designs on bigger things. Most recently, with brother Tom, Sam Gores purchased the former headquarters of MCA in Beverly Hills. A massive Georgian style mansion that is replete with fountains and white columns, it cost the brothers $50 million. But what to fill it with?

For starters, other boutique agencies. The pending acquisition of Writers and Artists will be Paradigm’s second in as many seasons: This spring, Gores also snapped up Genesis, a boutique lit agency with numerous TV showrunners on its list.

This begs the question: How many boutiques can you eat before you, yourself, are no longer one? Suddenly, with 70 agents, Paradigm is bigger than Endeavor, which has roughly 65 agents. And unlike Endeavor, Paradigm will now have a lucrative music touring business thanks to W&A, which has roughly 40 agents.

Creative deals

As the agent to stars like Andy Garcia and Laurence Fishburne, Gores is always on the hunt for innovative deal structures. Thanks to Sam and Tom Gores, Garcia is currently making his feature directing debut on an adaptation of G. Cabrera Infante’s “The Lost City.” Garcia spent 10 years developing the drama, and Gores recently made good on his promise that his client would direct it. The Lions Gate period piece is now lensing, starring Garcia, Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray. And it’s no accident that Tom Gores helped furnish its $20 million budget.

What’s next for Paradigm remains to be seen. A modest man who shuns the spotlight, Gores is playing his cards closely for now, and will probably continue to do so.

Will Gores next start poaching top agents and their client lists, as Endeavor did with the acquisition of Patrick Whitesell from CAA? Or will he follow the lead of the famous Remington shavers king Victor Kiam, coveting an agency’s clientele so much, he buys the company?

To find out, the town’s agency’s partners will have to watch their phone sheets — and their employees — rather closely.