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Agencies Overseas Keep Local Focus

U.S. talent reps establishing more outposts around the world

As showbiz gets increasingly global, U.S. talent reps are establishing more outposts around the world. But a cross-section of key markets shows that the tenpercenters in each country retain their own business style while they cooperate with the American invasion.


U.S. agencies don’t have offices in France but have signed locals looking for an international career. Michel Hazanavicius and Berenice Bejo are repped by CAA, while WME signed Jean Dujardin, left, (who is represented by his brother and a lawyer on local projects).

Gaumont Intl. topper Cecile Gaget says talent increasingly hires American representatives and works with lawyers on French dealmaking, since the role of local percenters is often limited to negotiating contracts, unlike Hollywood representatives who develop material and help drum up funding. But, like U.S. counterparts, French agents are limited by a law that bans them from producing their content.

France has 60 talent agencies, but only a handful of key players. Bertrand de Labbey owns the two biggest, Artmedia and VMA, with 17 percenters repping 900 clients. Two fast-rising percenteries are UBBA and Adequat.

— Elsa Keslassy


CAA established a beachhead via its joint venture with India’s Kwan. The combo reps up-and-comers like Aditya Roy Kapoor and Chitrangda Singh.

Older-generation stars traditionally employ a functionary known variously as a manager, secretary or a public relations officer, or a family member. Exceptions are Kareena Kapoor, Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt, whose negotiations are handled by independent uber agent Reshma Shetty. The Gersh Agency reps Irrfan Khan (“Life of Pi”), with Talent Mantra managing his local work.

Local agencies like Carving Dreams and Bling! Entertainment rep younger talent for commercials bookings, but not film work. Tulsea, India’s only agency for writers, handles A-listers, while Tarsame Mittal Talent Management reps musicians. Helmers operate as lone wolves and usually do not have representation.

— Naman Ramachandran


In November, Li Bingbing signed with UTA to represent her overseas. The move is indicative of how Chinese talent perceives overseas agencies — as
a way to build a profile internationally.

In China, the agency biz can be divided into big U.S. players (such as CAA, which has a Beijing office) and the domestic players, in a sector that’s in its relative infancy.

Many large domestic producers, such as Huayi Bros., have agencies, which function more as managers. Others, including Stellar Megamedia and Beijing Chengtian 18, rep some rising stars of the Chinese cinema.

The market remains locally focused, because talent resents such innovations as paying commissions. The trend for stars is to start at a place like CAA or Huayi, and then have a trusted associate look after their business. That model may work in the short-term, but could reduce a star’s leverage.

— Clifford Coonan

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