When Jason Richman joined United Talent Agency nearly 12 years ago, his division was commonly referred to as “the book department” or the book-to-film arm.
From those humble beginnings — scouring the publishing landscape for the next hit movie or TV series — the agency has built a team that was rebranded as the “media rights” group at UTA several years ago. It encapsulates the massive field that Richman and media rights department co-head Keya Khayatian play in sourcing content pipelines all over Hollywood.
They represent authors like Celeste Ng (“Little Fires Everywhere,” “Everything I Never Told You”), journalists behind delicious long-form reads, audio creators and individual life rights holders all feeding a content machine only made more prolific by the advent of the streamers.
“We really help guide the lives of authors and journalists and life rights holders, podcasts, any intellectual property we think can be exploited for film and TV adaptation,” Richman said on this week’s Variety podcast “Strictly Business.”
A staple of the old and new show business economy, source material is also what kept the agency landscape afloat in the turbulent early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We saw a major uptick in deals in the first wave of lockdown. People were at home reading manuscripts and listening to podcasts because they couldn’t be out in the field making things,” said Khayatian.
Listen to the full “Strictly Business” podcast to hear Richman and Khayatian discuss finding new commercial voices, the future of comic book IP, and more.
“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud
(Pictured: Jason Richman and Keya Khayatian)