Barney Frank signs with WME

But the retiring congressman says he won't host a TV show

As Democratic congressman Barney Frank transitions into retirement, he’s joining a small group of pols who have enlisted WME to represent him across all platforms.

Just don’t ask the veteran Mass-achusetts representative to host a TV show.

“I hope to write a book. It depends on how sentient I remain as I get older,” Frank told Variety. “And give lectures and do media commentary and teach some … I plan to essentially run my mouth for money.”

WME doesn’t have a specific division to handle political clients (Frank will be repped by a team). Other agency clients include minority speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Al Franken and former govern-or Ed Rendell, the last of whom serves as an MSNBC contributor.

Both current and former politicians often turn to agencies to arrange television gigs, public-speaking engagements, book deals and other lucrative media and communication agreements. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, for example, signed with the William Morris Agency in 2009 in a move the tenpercentery dubbed as a “reinvention and evolution” of her career; she’s published three books since.

“Former members of Congress and former secretaries of state don’t have organizations around them to field these offers (and) try to create opportunities and assess them. The agencies are perfectly positioned,” said Lindsay Conner, a partner at Manatt Phelps & Phillips who represents many of the clients hiring pols.

Speaking engagements alone can often be very lucrative: Bill Clinton has earned more than $75 million from such appearances since leaving office in 2001, according to a CNN analysis. Current and former pols can often earn between $100,000 and $200,000 per speaking engagement, not to mention lucrative deals to host network shows.

Frank, known for his candor and distinction as arguably the most prominent openly gay politician, has served 16 terms in Congress. He’s championed gay rights on both the policy and personal level.

Frank told Variety that those experiences will help inform the books he hopes to write: one about advocacy and the other about gay rights issues in the U.S. Frank said he also hopes to do TV work, although no discussions have yet begun due to conflict-of-interest issues. Frank’s retirement takes effect at the end of the year.

But the congressman has made one definite decision: “I’ve been working very hard for 45 years, and I would not take on the daily responsibility of a show,” Frank said, in part because he and his husband plan to split their time between Maine and greater Boston.

But the congressman says he’s open to many forms of entertainment, including film. “I don’t have a very high bar where dignity is concerned,” joked Frank, who laughingly pointed out that he is related by marriage to Shemp Horwitz, one of the Three Stooges.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Selected for AFI's Life Achievement Award

    The American Film Institute Board of Trustees has selected Julie Andrews as the recipient of the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award. The award will be presented to Andrews on April 25 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will be telecast on TNT. “Julie Andrews is practically perfect in every way,” said Kathleen Kennedy, chair of the [...]

  • 4127_D001_00007_RC Phyllis Logan stars as Mrs.

    'Downton Abbey' to Dominate Box Office Weekend With $30 Million

    The feature film version of “Downton Abbey” is heading for an impressive $30 million opening weekend at 3,079 sites for an easy victory at the North American box office, early estimates showed Friday. The launch of Brad Pitt’s space drama “Ad Astra” will land in second with about $20 million, while Sylvester Stallone’s action-thriller “Rambo: [...]

  • BETWEEN TWO FERNS, 2019, PH_0027.RAF

    Film Review: 'Between Two Ferns: The Movie'

    If you’re a fan of “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” the fake public-access talk show that Zach Galifianakis has been hosting online, for three to six minutes a pop, over the last 10 years, then you’ll probably like “Between Two Ferns: The Movie,” the snark-lite 82-minute road movie that Galifianakis and his director and [...]

  • The Irishman

    Martin Scorsese, Frances McDormand, Donald Sutherland Join Lineup of France's Lumiere Festival

    Martin Scorsese’s eagerly awaited Netflix movie “The Irishman” wasn’t completed on time to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival, but Thierry Fremaux, Cannes’s topper, managed to pin down the high-profile movie and Scorsese himself for the upcoming Lumiere festival in Lyon next month. Dedicated to heritage movies, the Lumiere festival was created 10 years [...]

  • 'Aladdin' Star Mena Massoud Calls for

    'Aladdin' Star Mena Massoud Calls for a Broader Diversity of Storytelling in Movies and TV

    The star of “Aladdin,” Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud, called for a greater diversity of storytelling in movies and television when he spoke at the glamorous opening ceremony Thursday of the 3rd edition of Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival. Massoud, whose credits include Amazon’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” and Hulu’s “Reprisal,” lauded “the power of art” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content