×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Abrams Artists Agency Welcomes Outliers and Media Disrupters

There’s a famous section of sociologist Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 bestseller, “Outliers,” which maintains that those with natural ability and skill for a subject can become masters if they have the time to devote to a craft, particularly if no one is looking because they’re all concentrating on other, more mainstream, facets of that industry. Abrams Artists Agency may be staffed with outliers. Or, at least, with people who know where to find them.

Alec Shankman had been at the company barely a year when he approached founder Harry Abrams with the notion that they should be paying attention to the people on reality series. It was the early 2000s, a pre-Kardashian era when such shows as “American Idol” and “Big Brother” captivated viewers. “It was this new wave of content that was slightly different than ‘Star Search’ and some of the others that have been around forever,” Shankman says. “It was interesting because it felt like a fad to a lot of people. To me, it seemed like there was something very real happening and so I just decided to stake at least the next few years of my life on it and see how it played out.”

The gamble paid off, with Shankman eventually launching Abrams’ alternative programming and digital media department. He is now the senior VP of the alternative programming, unscripted/reality, digital branding and licensing division. He and his New York-based division partner, Mark Turner, have become known for their rosters of broadcasters and docu-soap stars as well as digital personalities.

The pair have an innate ability to know what makes a show or personality stick. Recent successes in the division include such shows as Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures,” National Geographic’s “Wicked Tuna” and Discovery’s “Gold Rush.” Turner recently sold a series to Facebook, which has begun exploring original content.

The pair also work with other departments to bring digital stars into more traditional spaces. Pamela Fisher, Abrams’ VP of the youth talent division in Los Angeles, says this is how she became aware of YouTube personality Daniella Perkins, and “within months we had her starring in her own Nickelodeon show.” (An added bonus for talent: Abrams has a digital media studio on its premises.)

Turner says he’s looking for influencers who have “great content,” are “brand-friendly” and have “great engagement” with their fans on social media.

Of course, Abrams agents have long embraced influencers and disruptors in many mediums. Neal Altman, now the company’s co-COO and co-managing director with Robert Attermann in New York, has steered talented theater actors who might be squeamish about putting their faces on camera to sell products into lucrative voiceover commercial careers.

Sarah Douglas and Charles Kopelman’s theater-focused literary department in New York represents some of the most provocative and inquisitive playwrights, directors and other luminaries of the era.

“We get a real kick out of our weekly staff meetings and the agents who represent [David] Mamet, who come in with a list and say, ‘Mamet: all over the world,’ ” Douglas says, referring to the playwright’s wide reach of productions. “We have
fun knowing that there’s an impact all over the world.”

More Biz

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Seeks to Throw Out Gender Pay Gap Lawsuit

    The Walt Disney Co. is seeking to throw out a lawsuit alleging that women employees are paid less than men, arguing that the suit is too sprawling and unwieldy to handle as a class action. Andrus Anderson LLP filed the suit in April, alleging that Disney’s hiring and pay practices have a discriminatory effect on [...]

  • Cuba Gooding Jr

    Cuba Gooding Jr. Sued for Allegedly Pinching Nightclub Server

    A Tao nightclub server who alleges that Cuba Gooding Jr., pinched her rear-end last year has sued the Oscar-winning actor for sexual battery. Natasha Ashworth had previously come forward to New York law enforcement, though her name had not been released publicly. Gooding was indicted last week on four misdemeanor counts, including two counts stemming [...]

  • A still from Leaving Neverland by

    HBO Appeals Arbitration Order in 'Leaving Neverland' Fight

    HBO is appealing a judge’s decision last month that sided with the Michael Jackson estate in its battle against the documentary “Leaving Neverland.” The four-hour documentary details the allegations of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege that Jackson sexually abused them when they were young boys. The film won the Emmy for best documentary [...]

  • Firefighters Respond to Brush Fire in

    Brush Fire Threatens Homes in Los Angeles' Pacific Palisades

    Firefighters contained a 40-acre brush fire that threatened homes on Monday morning in Pacific Palisades, Calif., a wealthy neighborhood on the city’s Westside. The fire was first reported at 10:39 a.m., and was running uphill from 800 N. Palisades Drive. The fire threatened several homes on Charmel Lane and Vista Grande Drive, north of Sunset [...]

  • Warner Chappell Names Shani Gonzales Head of

    Warner Chappell Names Shani Gonzales Head of International, Executive VP of A&R

    Warner Chappell Music today announced the appointment of Shani Gonzales as Head of International, Executive Vice President of U.S., A&R. Based in New York, she will report to the company’s co-chair & CEO Guy Moot. Gonzales was most recently co-head of A&R at BMG U.S. and U.K., following stints at Epic Records and Def Jam. She [...]

  • Sony/ATV Names Dana Baxter Senior VP

    Sony/ATV Music Publishing Names Dana Baxter Senior VP of Corporate Communications

    Sony/ATV Music Publishing today announced the appointment of Dana Baxter as Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, effective November 1.  According to the announcement, in this role, she will lead all global communications strategies to further advance Sony/ATV’s evolution and mission of putting songwriters first.  She will report to Jon Platt, Chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV and will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content