Each year Variety’s New Leaders feature profiles the most prominent up-and-comers in the entertainment business. To determine this year’s worthies, Variety looked across disciplines, from television, digital, music and film, to law and finance, as well as content creators. They were proposed by their bosses and peers who have worked with them and seen their rise. All are age 40 or under, and Variety has measured them by the progress of their career trajectories: do they take calculated risks? How fast have they risen in their companies? Are they innovative and employ solutions to problems that are creative? As part of the salute to the qualities that keep the town humming, filmmaker/producer Travis Knight, who founded Laika Studios and is finishing up the anticipated “Bumblebee” for Paramount, as well as Variety‘s 10 Assistants to Watch along with the New Leaders will be recognized Oct. 17, at the Jeremy Hotel rooftop in West Hollywood.
Co-Head, Theatrical Dept., ICM Partners, 34
The youngest female department head in company history, Glazer has aggressively expanded ICM’s theater footprint and crossed clients over into film and television. Shepherded the collaboration
between Spike Lee and Antoinette Nwandu, with Lee directing-producing the filming of
the Steppenwolf production of her play “Pass Over” for Amazon Prime. Facilitated Theresa Rebeck’s
film deal for “355,” a spy thriller starring Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Lupita Nyong’o
and Penelope Cruz. Also represents writer-director Cory Finley, Broadway director Rachel Chavkin, Tony winner Justin Peck and writer Sarah Delappe. “I prioritize building trust as an agent and manager. That
trust is a privilege and comes with a responsibility that I honor through advocacy, candor and care.”
Alternative Television Agent, CAA, 34
Kenner reps BBC Worldwide Prods., All3Media, Smokehouse, among others. Helped lead CAA’s move into documentary series, repping Oscar winners T.J. Martin and Dan Lindsay and Ezra Edelman. Brokered deals for Team Downey’s “Age of AI” YouTube series and Lightbox/Scott Rudin’s “Diagnosis” for Netflix. Signed and reps producers including Will Packer, Jermaine Dupri, Queen Latifah/Flavor Unit. Has packaged several franchise series. “It’s never been a more challenging or exciting time to work in the non-scripted TV business. New buyers and mergers keep us on our toes as sellers and the amazing work being done in the premium documentary space invites the highest caliber filmmakers and producers to our side of the business.”
Talent agent, WME, 35
Kovacevic helped Jessica Biel land a starring and executive producing role in USA’s “The Sinner,” for which she received both Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominations for actress in a drama. She also recently helped close a deal for Biel to star and executive produce the highly anticipated series “Limetown” for Facebook Watch, based on the original podcast. In addition, Kovacevic renegotiated Dominic West’s final two seasons of Showtime’s hit series “The Affair,” and negotiated Amber Heard’s “Aquaman” deal. She also works with Rebel Wilson, Dakota Fanning and Sienna Miller, in addition to counting KiKi Layne, Jodie Comer and Haley Bennett among her new clients. “Genuine belief in a client’s ability fosters an understanding of not just who they are, but who they want to be. That’s the key to helping craft a great career,” she says.
Manager, Grandview, 35
Specializes in transitioning filmmakers from independent, documentary, and short format into long-form. Guided director Hiro Murai from music videos into television, where he scored two Emmy noms this year for his work on “Atlanta,” and is also helping Murai put together a slate of projects through his new FX first-look deal. Represents filmmakers David Bruckner (“The Ritual”), Craig Macneill (“Lizzie”), and writers Ibra Ake (“Atlanta”) Sonny Lee (“Singularity”), Imran Zaidi (“Where I End”) and Ashley Lyle & Bart Nickerson (“Narcos”). “With the increasingly condensing media landscape and our current cultural anxieties, protecting artists and storytellers feels more important than ever. I’m grateful that I get to do that every day.”
Jeff Portnoy, John Zaozirny
Literary Managers, Bellevue Prods., 39
Focused on discovering/breaking a diverse roster of writers and directors, with clients including Elyse Hollander, whose “Blonde Ambition” is set at Universal with Michael De Luca/Bellevue producing; writers Roxanne Paredes (AMC’s “Mr. Robot”); Pornsak Pichetshote (sold comic book “Infidel” in a bidding war to TriStar); Jimmy Mosqueda (ABC’s “Schooled”); Marque Franklin-Williams (Amazon’s “Just Add Magic”); Maryam Myika Day (her “Mountain High” stars Kat Graham as Motown singer-songwriter Tammi Terrell); Suzanne Keilly (the first woman to write a “Leprechaun” film); and Savion Einstein (sold a spec to Sony Screen Gems with Elizabeth Banks’ Brownstone Entertainment producing). Paramount Players will release “Eli” in January. Says Portnoy, “I love helping writers realize their visions on the page, introducing them to the town and watching their careers blossom.” Adds Zaozirny, “It’s really all about trusting your instincts and signing clients that you believe in.”
Talent agent, UTA, 34
The agent represents an impressive roster (Emily Mortimer, Cynthia Nixon, Diane Lane, among many), and has an unerring eye for spotting/cultivating emerging talent. Signed Timothée Chalamet when he still in high school, and helped guide his turbo-charged career (Oscar nom for “Call Me by Your Name,” “Lady Bird,” “Beautiful Boy,” “The King”). Streisand closed the deal for Thomasin McKenzie (“Leave No Trace”) to co-star in Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit.” Reps Mackenzie Davis, the lead in Spielberg/Amblin’s “The Turning,” set for a February release, and Julia Garner (“Ozark” and “Maniac”). “While attention to detail is essential, it’s even more important to keep your focus on the big picture. That’s often when the most exciting work gets done,” she says.