Gersh making change

Agency adds 10 new partners, plans new HQ

In a major change for the 56-year-old family-owned boutique, the Gersh Agency will break ground next year on its Wilshire Boulevard HQ, which will open its doors in early 2007. And for the first time, the agency has bestowed partnerships upon 10 key agents.

Moves were made by co-presidents and principal owners David and Bob Gersh, who ran the agency with their father, founder Phil Gersh, who died last year. The brothers will head the core management committee along with Leslie Siebert, who nine years ago became the sole employee not named Gersh to be a partner. Siebert has risen to senior managing partner status.

Elevated to partner level are L.A.-based film and TV agents Lorrie Bartlett, David DeCamillo, Chuck James and Ken Kaplan; Rick Greenstein, who launched and runs Gersh’s comedy/personal appearance division; feature lit division head Richard Arlook; and Gary Loder, who heads Gersh’s TV lit division.

Gersh also made partners of Gotham-based Bill Butler, who runs its New York outpost; and Gotham-based talent agents Stephen Hirsh and Rhonda Price.

The Gersh brothers wouldn’t divulge the exact location of the Wilshire Boulevard parcel on which they are about to close a deal, or the firm that will erect the headquarters. They said their new haunt will put them right in the center of the agency action in Beverly Hills.

They’ll have 40,000 square feet and state-of-the-art screening and conference rooms. Agency currently is housed in 15,000 square feet of space on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills, with their comedy department located in a satellite office across the street. Gersh, which has 65 agents on both coasts, will remain in its existing Gotham office but will expand that space.

Just as important as a glitzy headquarters, the ability to offer partnerships to incoming agents or its own fast-rising stars will allow the agency to be more competitive with other percenteries, the Gersh brothers said.

“We’ve had tremendous growth for the past five or so years in all areas of this company and wanted to both reward the people who’ve been a big part and ensure for future success with the people we’ve cultivated,” Bob Gersh said. “We wanted to give them a sense of ownership, to get away from the notion this is just a job.”

David Gersh said, “This helps us get away from the notion this is simply a family business, and it is valuable to be able to go out in the community and offer someone a stake in the company.” It is, he added, “a perception-changing move for us.”

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