Top Business Managers in the Entertainment Industry
Hollywood turns here to manage affairs, retain wealth and recently, minimize the sting of President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Scroll through to learn more about the business managers who protect the rich and famous.
Profiles by Robert Marich and Todd Longwell
Principal, Clifton Larson Allen
In January, Altman’s firm of more than three decades, NSBN, merged with Clifton Larsen Allen (CLA), the nation’s eighth-largest accounting firm, giving her arm’s reach access to a wealth of added expertise. “CLA has whole team specializing in international tax,” says Altman, whose roster includes longtime clients Brent Spiner (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) and Jordan Peele (“Get Out”), along with his wife, Chelsea Peretti (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), and newer arrivals such as YouTuber Gigi Gorgeous.
Trump Tax Cut: Don’t act in haste. “Many angry clients have said, ‘I don’t get to deduct my property taxes anymore, I’m moving out of California.’”
Founder and CEO, Wealth Management LAB
Barajas’ shop is the only Latino-owned firm that helps Latin-American talents maximize their money in the U.S. “There’s a lot of education when it comes to something as simple as banking and entity structure,” says the 28-year vet. He services clients who include actors Omar Chaparro, Adrian Uribe and Luis Gerardo Mendez, and music stars Nicky Jam, Yandel and Kali Uchis from offices in L.A. and Miami.
Trump Tax Cut: Beginning in 2019 alimony will no longer need to be reported as part of the recipient’s gross income, “so if a client is divorcing and will be paying alimony payments, we are getting them to complete the divorce before the end of this year.”
Evan R. Bell and Liza De Leon
Bell: Managing Partner, Bell & Co.
De Leon: Administrative Partner, Bell & Co.
Bell feels the days of smallish firms are gone because a business manager needs scale to support a full-time tax researcher, which requires a shop size of 10-15 professionals. That tax specialist is singularly focused on “tax compliance, research and information, and implementation of tax law for the clients,” Bell notes. Besides managing the firm, Bell works with Steven Soderbergh, writer-director Robert Eggers, and Gavin O’Connor. De Leon supervises the firm’s account executives, who handle day-to-day expenses, income and projections for clients. They founded the firm in 1985.
Trump Tax Cut: For a media executive such as a newscaster who earns $5 million a year, normal professional expenses for lawyers, agents and others is 30%, which amounts to $1.5 million. “Last year this was deductible,” Bell laments. “This year it’s not.”
Partner, Bills & Stoll
Bills handles a mix of high-profile actors, producers, directors, writers, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth families with longtime partner Peter Stoll, helping them with everything from investments and auto leasing to, in one instance, hiring a debt collector. “It’s the people who appreciate what you do for them that really makes it fun,” says Bills, who was the CFO of Disney Imagineering before getting into business management.
Trump Tax Cut: Expect your taxes to go up. “They’re going to get a slightly lower individual tax rate in most cases, but they’re going to lose the big state tax deduction.”
After Hollywood was “disrupted in a positive way by streaming platforms, some would say, and I would probably agree, next big disrupter will be 5G” wireless broadband, Bolno says. Besides supercharging speeds for mobile devices, Bolno says granular data available from 5G networks will provide Hollywood with keen insights on consumers. He works with internationally known entertainers, musicians, artists and athletes, and also advises record companies, recording studios and high net-worth individuals. Clients include Drake, Pharrell Williams and Will.i.am. NKSFB was purchased by Focus Financial in April.
Trump Tax Cut: Bolno is intrigued by tax breaks for investing in designated opportunity zones in real estate, which is an element of the federal tax overhaul.
Altman, Greenfield & Selvaggi
Clients starting careers arrive as small earners, but as more money flows in, Bonsignore says, the challenge remains the same, though on a grander scale. “You want clients to stick to their original goals no matter how much they are making,” he says. His clients are primarily actors, writers and directors, including Noah Baumbach, Sterling K. Brown, Greta Gerwig, David Harbour, Dakota Johnson, John McEnroe, and Chris Terrio.
Trump Tax Cut: Because homeowners get reduced write-offs from local real estate taxes due to federal tax reform, Bonsignore believes a ripple effect will be “a softening the real estate market.”
Julie Boos, Jamie Cheek, Duane Clark, Carmen Romano, and Trey Dunaway
Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy
Earlier this year, this quintet was moved into leadership roles at the venerable Nashville-based firm, which has a strong presence on the country music scene and also handles a wide variety of artists from the worlds of rock, pop and EDM. Chairman Boos, president Cheek and vice chairman Clark now pilot the company from Music City, alongside CFO Dunaway, while VP Romano, who leads FBMM’s learning and teaching academy, runs the New York office. This marks a passing of the baton from fellow co-owners Chuck Flood, Frank Bumstead and Mary Ann McCready, who founded the company in 1986 with now-retired John McCarthy. “We want to make sure this a place where any client working with us can feel secure and that they’ll always have this be a place through their life and beyond,” says Cheek, who, like Boos, has been with FBMM for more than two decades.
Trump Tax Cut: Look at the big picture and think long-term. “We don’t want them to rush into a strategy with just one or two pieces of the tax law that they’re hearing about because there could be offsetting things in the law that help them,” Dunaway says.
Managing Partner, Singer Burke
Burke’s client base is built around TV writers, producers and showrunners of TV series past (“Cheers,” “Married … With Children,” “ER”) and present (“Shameless,” “The Walking Dead,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Neighborhood”), as well as composers such as Michael Giacchino (“Incredibles 2”). But he’s also handling an increasing number of non-traditional, multi-platform media companies including Skybound Entertainment.
Trump Tax Cut: “There’s a lot of opportunity with corporate clients to segregate out, if possible, the business lines that might qualify for the QBI [qualified business income] deduction,” such as merchandise, publishing and electronic games.
Partner, Tanner Mainstain Glynn & Johnson
Coronel finds face-to-face planning sessions endure but clients expect day-to-day transactions to now be a snap with their personal digital devices. “They are very tech savvy, and they want quick turnaround and interaction,” he says. His clientele encompasses writers, producers, directors, music artists, talent agents, production companies and startup digital media companies. Coronel also specializes in tax issues.
Trump Tax Cut: Regarding federal tax reform, Coronel says it’s increasingly critical whether to select a regular corporation, S-corporation or LLC as the structure in order to nail down benefits, of which the most significant is the pass-through deduction.
For talent clients hitting a financial jackpot for the first time, Crow says it’s important to “ask the right questions” to determine what to do next. Queries should cover risk tolerance, time-horizon for tapping funds and anticipated spending. Crow handles actors, writers, directors, producers, executives, high-net-worth individual and family offices. Clients are songwriters Tor Hermansen and Mikkel Eriksen, Judith Light, Storm Reid and Cailee Spaeny.
Trump Tax Cut: Younger clients who are on their way to being big earners will probably create personal services corporations sooner to qualify for business deductions lost for individuals in the federal tax code overhaul, Crow says.
Brandy Davis, Adam Yorkshire, John Blakeman, and Anna Levin
Since 2015, MGO’s business management practice has more than tripled to seven partners. Yorkshire specializes in artists, producers and managers working in rock, rap and EDM, and athletes from the four major leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL), while the others focus on film and TV talents, with Davis handling TV writer-producers such as Peter Lenkov (“Hawaii Five-0”) and Shonda Rhimes, prolific producer Roberto Orci (“Star Trek”) and director F. Gary Gray. The firm also boasts a division focused on the cannabis industry. “For the most part, we all have our own clients and our own teams,” says Davis, “but we’re also really collaborative and we talk to each other all the time.”
Trump Tax Cut: “We’re always going to optimize your tax situation for you,” says Yorkshire, “so you never have to worry that you’re going to pay one dollar more than you should, regardless of where the tax laws go.”
Anna DerParseghian, John Power, Jason Brown, and Leo Jenkins
DerParseghian: Managing Partner, PTD Business Management
Power, Brown, Jenkins: Partners, PTD Business Management
PTD represents talent in front of and behind the camera, as well as several personal management firms, but its specialty is comedy, and its partners handle the business with the complementary skills of a veteran improv troupe. “With different clients, different personalities click and sometimes it takes a couple of us to fit their needs,” says Jenkins, who, like Brown, has been with PTD for 10 years. As managing partner, DerParseghian handles big name female clients and keeps an eye on the big picture, with a special focus on international tax, while Power takes charge of the biggest transactions for the biggest clients. Brown is the social media and merchandising guru, and Jenkins is the point person for live appearance tours.
Trump Tax Cut: In today’s new tax environment, the PTD team advises clients to take a close look at their real estate portfolios. “If the interest is non-deductible, you have to compare the market cost versus the market gain you can pick up [by selling],” says Power. Adds DerParseghian: “It’s an education process for each client. Everyone is impacted differently, depending on where they stand income-wise, so we make sure it’s a plan that fits their needs.”
Partner, Dunn, Pariser & Peyrot
Dunn likes to build investments from scratch for his clients, who include artists and execs in film, TV and music, plus athletes, entrepreneurs, high-net-worth individuals and families, and their businesses. Among them are director James Cameron, “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner and actor Randall Park (“Fresh Off the Boat”), as well as producers, production companies, screenwriters, and tech companies. The partner in the 30-year-old firm has recently directed efforts toward a legume-processing plant, an associated retail food line, and a gaming company rollup merger. “They’re utilizing their capital, but I’m putting the whole package together and finding the right people,” he says.
Trump Tax Cut: Watch out for foreign income and ownership rules. “They changed some reporting requirements, so our clients have to be aware, because they have large penalties.”
Arty Erk, Arnie Herrmann, Errol Wander, and Victor Wlodinguer
Partners, Entertainment & Business Management, Citrin Cooperman
Erk sees income for music talent snowballing from touring, which offsets weak recording revenue that is slowly rebounding, while income for songwriters and music publishers remains robust. For concert work, “our goal as a business manager is to get touring costs incurred by our clients under control so this way they can put money in their pockets,” Erk says. He handles music clientele for traditional business management, and is in charge of the royalty compliance group, working audits for the late Michael Jackson, KISS, Meat Loaf and Bruce Springsteen. Herrmann leads the firm’s entertainment management group with clients who are actors, writers and directors. Wander covers musicians, songwriters, producers, Hollywood talent, production companies, talent agencies, and stylists, including singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw and stylist Micaela Erlanger. Wlodinguer leads the firm’s music business management and touring practice. Clients include Ben Folds, Interpol, Q Prime (personal managers), Snow Patrol, the Strokes and Thievery Corporation.
Trump Tax Cut: The lifetime exclusion for gift and estate as tax-free grants was doubled to nearly $11 million, so Herrmann advises making such next-generation gifts “sooner rather than later.”
As Hollywood personalities increasingly push into side ventures, “it expands our role to watch over these business interests,” Feldstein says. These can be products such as fashion lines or beverages with a personal identification, either as a celebrity endorser, financial investor or both. Feldstein, who happens to be father to actors Jonah Hill and Beanie Feldstein, reps individuals in music, film, TV and executive suites, and specializes in bi-coastal service. His clients include Tyra Banks, Dr. Dre, Kate Hudson, Lenny Kravitz and Madonna. NKSFB is a division of Focus Financial Partners.
Trump Tax Cut: Feldstein knocks federal tax reform because it denies business deductions to Hollywood that are available to other industries. “It’s unfair.”
Partner, Tanner Mainstain Glynn & Johnson
Talent paychecks from video streamers are more front-loaded than income from traditional media, which Fouladi says makes income and expense planning more important. With downstream income less certain, “you have to be careful about longer-term projections of cash flows.” Fouladi’s clients are showrunners, actors, directors, writers, producers and execs. They include producer Ian Brennan and actor Matthew Gubler.
Trump Tax Cut: Fouladi says his high-income California clients who pay significant state and local taxes find the federal tax code overhaul is mostly negative because they lose tax deductions on their federal taxes.
Co-Founder, Level Four Business Management
Friedman’s career in business management began when he answered an ad on the Cal State Northridge job board for an internship at Jess S. Morgan & Co. Today, he has more than a quarter century of experience under his belt and a client list of actors, writers and directors that includes Quentin Tarantino, with whom he’s been working since his “Pulp Fiction” days.
Trump Tax Cut: Expect to pay more taxes, not less. “The cost of living in California has just gone up, because the tax rates are very high [here] and you can no longer deduct your state taxes or your property taxes.”
Founder and Managing Partner, Fulton Management
Fulton’s specialty is up-and-comers, but he also handles big names in music (Hall & Oates), film and TV (actors Channing Tatum, Colin Farrell, Michael B. Jordan, Shailene Woodley and Liam and Chris Hemsworth), sports (UFC champion Conor McGregor) and the digital influencer space (Jenna Marbles, Rhett & Link).
Trump Tax Cut: For big earners, “it is what it is. They can take a little different approach to their investment strategy, but for the elimination of things like the state income tax being deductible on their federal return, there’s not much they can do other than to move to another state.”
Todd Gelfand, Ronald E. Nash, Rick Mozenter, Melissa Morton, and Stan Lim
Nash says a growing challenge is security as financial transactions go digital. “The cyberthieves have become much more sophisticated so you need to be really diligent in setting up your protocols and establish procedures to stay ahead of them,” he says. Los Angeles-based Gelfand handles clients and also day-to-day operations of the firm. New York-based Nash is in charge of the New York and Nashville offices, and works business management for clients; Nash joined as an intern in 1979. Los Angeles-based Mozenter has global clientele including music talent, actors, directors and social media personalities, and handles music tours. Los Angeles-based Morton handles music artists, actors, directors, writers, commercial directors, and, increasingly, online social media personalities. Lim is based in New York. Gelfand Rennert is an independent operating unit of Focus Financial Partners.
Trump Tax Cut: While the federal tax code overhaul resulted in some simplification, Gelfand says what remains still requires professionals to help clients navigate the process.
W. Shane Glass, Paul W. Glass, Pam Malek, and Amir Malek
Partners, Glass Malek
The firm is led by a father-son duo (the Glasses) and a husband-wife team (the Maleks), but the non-family staff has increased markedly in the past year as it added additional account managers and bookkeepers to handle its growing client list. These include an increasing number of digital influencers among its core base of musicians, actors, writers, TV personalities, studio executives and high-net-worth individuals. Nonetheless, it’s still the family ties among the main players that power this smooth-running operation. “We know each other very well, so we can speak freely and candidly and get more things done at all hours of the day,” says the junior Glass, Shane, who serves as managing partner.
Trump Tax Cut: “The first thing we did was preach patience to our clients, because there was a lot of ambiguity, and [tell them to] not restructure until the IRS came out with regulations and further guidance, which they did a month or two ago,” says Shane Glass.
Warren Grant, Jane Tani, Corey Barash, Howard Altman
Partners, Grant, Tani, Barash & Altman
The principals at Grant, Tani, Barash & Altman don’t like to reveal their roster, but in the past they’ve been tied to big names such as Tom Hanks, Dwayne Johnson and Brad Pitt. along with Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who’s been with the firm for more than 30 years. In addition to their film, television and music talent, as well as their entertainment executive roster, they have a family office practice that works with entrepreneurs and families with multiple generations of wealth, anda lso handle a handful of athletes. Tani’s client list is notable for the presence of singer/songwriters, actors and comedians such as Eric Idle and Joni Mitchell. “I don’t think there’s any strength to one over the other, but we’re always there if someone needs to consult on a matter,” says Barash. “We have a likeminded approach to the business and we all get along really well.” Altman is also in charge of the company’s administration, with an assist from Tani.
Trump Tax Cut: In the new environment, individuals may now have to incorporate sooner, even if they’re just starting out in the bisiness. “Folks are having to incorporate a lot sooner than they have in the past,” says Barash. “The incorporation questions are coming a lot more just from people we’re friendly with within the industry, because of all the employee business deductions that are now being lost.”
Co-Founding Partner, WG&S
With music estates, Grossman assembles marketing programs for playlists, social-media buzz and ancillary initiatives. “The record companies simply don’t do this anymore,” he says. For example, a five-person team stokes interest in Nat King Cole’s 100th birthday next year developing documentaries, movies, publishing initiatives, museum tours, and Grammy tie-ins. Grossman specializes in music, estates and high-net worth individuals. Clients include the estates of Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole and John Denver; music producer David Foster; and Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne.
Trump Tax Cut: Grossman uses strategies related to defined-benefit pension plans to lower taxable income for clients to benefit from the federal tax code overhaul.
Gudvi is upbeat about music talent diversifying income from endorsements, residencies, creating personal products, partnerships with corporate America and investing in startups. “That’s something happening in the music business more than ever before because of the annihilation of record sales,” he says. Gudvi’s clients are primarily in the music industry and include Katy Perry and the estate of Tom Petty. NKSFB was acquire by Focus Financial Partners in April.
Trump Tax Cut: Because the federal tax reform eliminates the ability of Californians to deduct from federal taxes their up-to-13% state income tax, “it costs our clients money as opposed to providing any savings.”
Partner, Goodfriend & Jacobs
As a young CPA, the Cleveland native answered an ad in the Los Angeles Times for a small business management firm, walked in the door and said, “This is for me.” Today, as a co-founder of his own firm, he prides himself on the “mutual loyalty” he shares with his client list of actors, writers, directors, producers, agents and managers.
Trump Tax Cut: Explore the 20% deduction in new Code Section 199(a). “[It] generally does not apply to high-income earners who provide personal services such as acting, writing, directing, but their ancillary income such as merchandise sales and profit participations may qualify if structured properly.”
Michael Kaplan and Justine Ruffalo
Partners, Miller Kaplan Arase
Kaplan says business managers should keep an eye on a client’s personal brand and not just on their dollars and cents. When clients are offered endorsement deals, he says the business managers should size up partners for suitability to protect the client’s “brand and image.” That means checking out potential partners for their overall reputations, their financial wherewithal, as well as their histories of litigation. Kaplan’s clients work across the entertainment industry, as well as fashion, technology, real estate, and the food and beverages industries. Ruffalo handles music, film and television talent with expertise in tech startups, participations and royalties, music tour accounting, and estate accounting. Miller Kaplan Arase’s roots trace all the way back to 1941.
Trump Tax Cut: Noting one client had “choice words” about lost deductions in the federal tax-code overhaul, Ruffalo says, “we are working on new tax strategies” with beneficial elements including so-called “opportunity zones” and depreciation.
Founding Partner, NKSFB
Karlin is heartened that music-talent incomes are rising — ending the long drought brought on by the slump in records sales as tiny payments from streaming add up — and personal-appearance income remains strong. “There’s been a dramatic shift even though the economics of the music industry are considerably different than a decade ago,” Karlin says. Clients include Bill Maher; Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald; music’s Van Halen; and the late Joan Rivers. NKSFB is a division of Focus Financial Partners.
Trump Tax Cut: Individuals need to incorporate to write-off their professional services expenses, after the federal tax code revamp. “That’s a huge cost if clients can’t deduct those expenses,” Karlin says.
Founder and President, ML Management Partners
With clients pinging requests at all hours via their digital devices, Landesman says, “we’ve become almost a 24/7 firm, as have our competitors.” So staff is trained to know which client requests can wait and which need immediate responses. The New York-based Landesman handles a TV, film and comedy client-base, including Vin Diesel, Tina Fey, Gal Gadot, Eddie Murphy, Ryan Reynolds, and Chris Rock.
Trump Tax Cut: In the wake of the tax reform’s curbing of high-tax-state deductions, some of Landesman’s clients who work internationally are inquiring about advisability of re-locating to lower-tax or no-tax states.
George Savitsky, Steve Savitsky, Gary Satin, Jeffrey Bacon, Chris Bucci, and Rachel Martinez
G. Savitsky: Senior Partner, Savitsky Satin Bacon Bucci
S. Savitsky, Satin, Bacon, Bucci, Martinez: Partners, Savitsky Satin Bacon Bucci
Satin marvels at how tech-savvy clients are, noting that writing paper and pens often aren’t visible when visiting their offices. He adds that business management requires “connecting personally with clients and when done right, you are trusted and almost like family.” George Savitsky co-founded the firm and remains active in company affairs. His son Steve Savitsky has a film and TV clientele in talent, including directors and composers, and also production companies and high-net-worth individuals. Satin handles film and TV clients both in front of the camera and behind the scenes such as executives and music composers. Bacon’s practice covers film and TV actors, writers, producers and executives; and also athletes. In addition to co-managing the firm, Bucci handles athletes, actors, directors, writers, producers, executives and high-net worth individuals. Half of Martinez’s clients are traditional writers and producers, and the other half influencers. Most are in their 20s and 30s
Trump Tax Cut: While the impact of the federal tax overhaul is mostly negative, Satin likes the increase of the lifetime estate, gift and GST tax exemptions that allow clients to “move dollars in what we call ‘over the fence’ to next generations.”
Levin tells business managers starting their careers to be straight talkers. If clients fall in love with a home they can’t afford, tell them and back it up with financial analysis. “Always do the right thing even when the right thing is the hardest option to take,” he says. Levin’s clients are in the entertainment business, particularly film production companies and high-net worth individuals.
Trump Tax Cut: Hollywood conducts business amid sporting events, concerts, parties and other entertainment events whose 50% deduction is lost in the overhaul. “In our industry, it’s a key part of doing business.”
Partner, Level Four Business Management
Lichtenberg likes the TV production boom benefitting clients, but wonders whether the good times will last. “The big question is how long will the streaming services continue to spend money on original content at this level?” he says. His clients include Larry David, Will Ferrell, Limp Bizkit, Lewis Black, Adam McKay, and Joe Rogan; Lichtenberg has long handled comedy talent.
Trump Tax Cut: Looking beyond losing various individual deductions in the federal tax-code overhaul, Lichtenberg is focused on gray areas “such as the 20% deduction for qualified business income that we are eagerly waiting to be resolved.”
Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Tanner Mainstain Glynn & Johnson
While there are constantly new wrinkles, Mainstain advises his company’s clients to embrace the principle that “diversification is the holy grail in smart investing. You don’t want all your eggs in one basket.” His entertainment clients are in film, TV, athletics, radio and journalism; they include Tom Patchett, Jay Tarses, and Ron Shelton.
Trump Tax Cut: Mainstain explains that federal tax reform makes personal loan-out corporations useful at lower income levels than they were previously in order to be eligible to write off certain professional expenses ranging from acting lessons to agent fees to legal expenses. “Otherwise you are going to lose those deductions.”
Partner, Freemark Financial
Meyer says digital communication these days keeps clients “as connected to the macro and micro of their activities as they are willing to be.” This ranges from fairly simply online banking capabilities to budgeting apps “that are far more complicated,” Meyer adds. His clients include writer-producer Kenya Barris, director Jon M. Chu, Johnny Galecki, Anna Kendrick, Ellen Pompeo, and Harry Shum.
Trump Tax Cut: While the federal code overhaul is detrimental to clients in high-tax states, there are patches of benefits such as “allowing business owners to deduct up to 20% of their QBI when qualifications are met.”
Founder and CEO, Neuman + Associates
Neuman is encouraged that clients seem less eager to chase risk with their cash balances, seeking above-average returns, than just a year ago. “Short-term investments are paying decent returns because interest rates have been going up,” he says. Clients include Ellen DeGeneres, Scarlett Johansson, TV producer Ryan Murphy, John C. Reilly, Emma Roberts, Zoe Saldana, and Lily Tomlin in Neuman’s entertainment-centric practice.
Trump Tax Cut: On the federal tax revamp, Neuman laments that there’s no tax cut “for anyone in our business who is in a high-tax state or has high earnings,” since tax reduction mostly went to big corporations.
Each month, Oppenheim becomes even more well versed in a few cannabis and cybercurrency ventures because clients constantly ask him about such investments. He feels that business managers need to grasp nontraditional income opportunities, including paid personal appearances for clients. He handles artists and companies in music, film and television, as well as high-net worth individuals in general. Clients include Beyoncé, Eminem, Steve Aoki and Smashing Pumpkins. The industry veteran has been in business management for over 35 years and brings to NKSFB his particular expertise in touring, cash management, insurance and risk management, royalty and contract review, tax planning and record label administration. NKSFB became part of Focus Financial Partners in April.
Trump Tax Cut: Due to reduced federal deductions for residents of high-tax states, clients should consider relocating to lower-tax states, which can be easy for those with extensive work travel.
Hackers are getting more sophisticated, so Oviedo says business management companies need to erect higher walls in both technology and internal procedures. Cyber thieves are becoming “increasingly more sophisticated every day,” requiring implementation of cutting-edge technology, she says. “One of our internal control processes is that no wire gets sent from our office without verbal confirmation,” Oviedo adds. Based in the company’s Wilmington, Del., office, she manages the firm’s client service operations and internal controls.
Partner, Dunn, Pariser & Peyrot
Pariser believes that knowledge is power for his clients, who include writers, directors, actors, producers — including Matt Tolmach (“Venom”) and Danny Smith (“Family Guy) — musicians, publishers, and small record labels, as well as non-entertainment start-ups. “I like to show them what the current trend will do to them, because if they don’t like it that leads to a conversation about what they could or would be willing to change,” he says.
Trump Tax Cut: Temper your expectations. “There are always so many moving pieces in taxes, you don’t know what the outcome is unless you sit down and do the projection.”
Partner, Dunn, Pariser & Peyrot
Peyrot joined the firm a year a half ago, bringing with him clients including TV creator/show runner Rob Thomas (“iZombie,” “Veronica Mars”), animation auteur Josh Wakely (“Beat Bugs,” “Motown Magic”), writer/producer Gary Janetti (“Family Guy”), style expert Brad Goreski (“Fashion Police”), actor Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul”) and music artists such as multi-hyphenate DJ Shadow.
Trump Tax Cut: Make as much money as possible, spend as little as possible and save the rest. “In many cases for our clients, the tax bill is actually higher, so it comes down to those old standard things.”
Founding Partner, Level Four Business Management
Soaring TV series production widens work availabilities, creative outlets and job opportunities for clients, Rigney says. “If you’ve been in the industry long enough,” he adds, “you realize that these are the good old days. It doesn’t get any better than this and we should appreciate it.” Rigney handles writers, actors and directors, including Jim Carrey, Walton Goggins, David Gordon Green, Jody Hill, Josh Hutcherson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Danny McBride.
Trump Tax Cut:“If you make a lot of money and pay a lot of state income tax and property tax, you’ve been hosed.”
Founding Partner, Freemark Financial
Rodriguez says that clients embrace new-wave digital assets such as crypto-currencies “because they love the convenience.” But risks lurk because transactions are difficult to audit afterwards. He handles music artists, songwriters, managers and producers; behind-the-camera film/TV talent; advertising agencies; and production companies in TV, post-production and commercials. Clients include music producers Andres Torres and Mauricio Rengifo, ad agency Droga5 and cinematographer Linus Sandgren.
Trump Tax Cut: The revamp of the federal tax code impacts taxpayers differently. “For many business owners, the overall benefits of the 20% qualified business income deduction exceeds cost of the deductions that were taken away.”
Regional Managing Partner, Prager Metis
When business manager mergers are negotiated, both sides usually can grasp price issues given their financial expertise, but it can be tougher to align on cultural fit and core values, Rust says. “The merger train is not slowing down,” he adds. Rust handles business management for recording artists, songwriters, music publishers, TV actors, and executives. He further specializes in royalty audits and valuations, and also focuses on managing the national firm’s western region.
Trump Tax Cut: Despite downsides to the federal tax overhaul, Rust says that positives are the top individual rate lowered to 37% and the corporate to 21%.
Managing Partner, Kessler Schneider Scheltinga
A second-generation business manager, Schneider has been building the infrastructure of his firm, which handles a wealth of veteran and up-and-coming actors, writers, directors, producers, showrunners and executives, as well as talent agencies and personal management companies. “We’re growing the company, but we’re still trying to keep it at the 30-person or so staff level, so it’s still boutique-y,” he says.
Trump Tax Cut: If you have a pass-through entity, try for the 20% deduction for qualified business income. Unfortunately, “most of our entertainment-related companies can’t take advantage of that because of the service nature of the business.”
Managing Partner, NKSFB
Business management firms across Hollywood grapple with succession within their ranks. “It’s tens of tens of firms if not hundreds that have been in business for 30-40 years,” Segal says. Issues are whether the next generation of leadership is in place and compensating retiring partners. “You’d be stunned at the number of firms with no solution.” Segal’s clients are both in and out of entertainment, including executive Thomas Tull and singer Paul Anka. NKSFB was acquired by Focus Financial Partners in April.
Trump Tax Cut: “Because so many deductions are gone, it will affect almost everybody.”
Managing Partner, Altman, Greenfield & Selvaggi
Hackers “email wire requests pretending to be the client” after spotting the business manager in hijacked emails, Selvaggi says. To thwart such fraud, Selvaggi says that instructions for money transfers require a phone voice or text confirmation, unless money is going to a known vendor or family member. He handles entertainment industry talent and talent management firms. Clients include Rachel Brosnahan, Jimmy Fallon, Ilana Glazer, Anne Hathaway, Abbi Jacobson, and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Trump Tax Cut: The federal tax code overhaul is “a nightmare” and clients dislike it, too, because of limits on business tax deductions and state/local tax deductions.
Partner, Business Wealth & Tax Management
Shaheen finds that music producers do more these days “identifying talent and helping shape artists’ careers by expanding on the music production process.” He adds that producers are getting rewarded with bigger paychecks. Shaheen’s work is in music, TV/film, production companies and royalty administration. Clients including DJ/producer Matoma, the Revels Group and director Gibson Hazard. Shaheen established BWTM earlier this year, transitioning from Summit Business Management.
Trump Tax Cut: The federal tax-code overhaul is a mixed bag, but Shaheen is embracing it for streamlining tax reporting and also benefitting international performers with C corporations.
CEO, Summit Business Management
Over the past five years, Shapiro has noticed an increase in out-of-town gigs for clients. “More tax planning is necessary because many are working in foreign jurisdictions as well as other states,” he says. Shapiro is sole owner of Summit, with a staff of 30 handling television, motion picture, music and sports professionals, including “Weird Al” Yankovic and baseball’s Christian Yelich. Services for clients include bill paying, financial planning, estate and retirement planning, tax planning and major purchases.
Trump Tax Cut: Talent pays about a quarter of every dollar on professional fees such as agent commissions, Shapiro says, so the loss of business deduction under the federal tax overhaul is not fair.
Rick Shephard, John McIlwee, and Mark Tinglof
Partners, Shephard McIlwee Tinglof
Digital influencers have spawned their own ecosystem of managers, lawyers and other supporting professionals, says McIlwee. “Nobody knows where [the digital revolution] is going to end up but the possibilities are unlimited,” adds McIlwee, whose client @happilygrey is a force on Instagram and has deals with consumer brands. Shephard manages the company, and also handles Courteney Cox, Jon Favreau, Kurt Russell, Ben Stiller, and Lucas Till. McIlwee’s clients include an assortment of actors, directors and entertainment industry executives; among them are actors Caleb Landry Jones, Jane Lynch, Francois Arnaud, and director Matt Reeves. Tinglof’s clients consist of producers, directors, writers and actors; they include director Michael Engler, producer-directors Richard Heus and Alan Poul, and Jeff Kleeman, who runs Ellen DeGeneres’ company. Tinglof also handles family offices for high-net-worth non-entertainment clients and their foundations.
Trump Tax Cut: McIlwee finds “the frustration level high” for clients in New York and California, the two states most impacted by the diminished state tax and property tax deductibility.
Singer spent eight years as an investment manager and market analyst for a number of Tokyo-based companies before joining his now-retired father’s firm in 2002. Arkof came aboard a year later, after a brief post-collegiate stint in production accounting at Paramount. Together, they run the firm’s SEC-registered investment arm, which creates private equity funds as a value-added service to its clientele of writers, directors, producers, composers, execs, agents, attorneys and video-game industry pros.
Trump Tax Cut: “If you make less than a certain dollar amount, then you can still have service income flow through and get the 20% automatic deduction for it,” says Arkof.
Partner, Bills & Stoll
Since hanging their own shingle in 2016 following the death of longtime partner Bob Philpott, Stoll and firm co-founder Steve Bills have been steadily expanding their client base of high-profile actors, producers, directors and writers, as well as entrepreneurs and high-net-worth families, the latter of whom “we’re finding need the same kind of services that people in the entertainment industry need,” he says.
Trump Tax Cut: Set up a loan-out company, if you don’t have one. “You effectively get to keep the deductions they took away [for employees].”
President, Sussman & Associates
Sussman left his job running the L.A. office of Prager and Fenton and moved to Nashville to hang out his own shingle in 1994, hoping to lead a quieter, less-stressful life. While his personal pace may have slowed, his business didn’t, as evidenced by a client list that includes Bon Jovi, Miley Cyrus, Bette Midler and other musicians and songwriters, as well as several producers, actors and actresses.
Trump Tax Cut: “It’s something we have to evaluate on a client-by-client basis. We look at all aspects, whether it’s corporate structure or what’s going to work best under the new law.”
President and Founder, Tanner Mainstain Glynn & Johnson
Tanner sees the ripple effects from booming production of scripted primetime television series washing across Hollywood. While there’s more work to spread around, which keeps business managers and their clients busy, a downside is that the new income is front-loaded with “fewer big hits on the backend in TV syndication,” he says. Tanner handles entertainment-industry figures, including writers, actors, directors, producers and composers. His clients include Michael Keaton and Aaron Sorkin.
Trump Tax Cut: “For my clients looking at homes, I stress that their property taxes are no longer deductible over $10,000, and that impacts their personal cash flows.”
Founder and CEO, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group
Taylor sees a generational divide in the way the flow of information is handled, with a growing demand to quickly deliver “real-time information into the hands of a younger generation.” She notes, however, that older clients are often still satisfied with more traditional paper reports and review materials. Taylor’s clients include Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Meghan Trainor, Florida Georgia Line, Bryan Cogman, and pro football executive Les Snead.
Trump Tax Cut: Taylor finds that the federal tax-code revamp has uneven impact: eliminating the 50% deduction on certain meals and entertainment hits taxpayers broadly, though the wealthy benefit from the doubling of the exemption on passing on their estates.
Managing Partner, WG&S
Wasserman received Variety’s Business Managers Elite Award in 2016 and finds philanthropy work gratifying, citing the All Within My Hands foundation of client Metallica. “Metallica had a vision to support food banks in their local concert markets and the San Francisco Bay area,” Wasserman says. The effort also helped with crises in Puerto Rico, Mexico City, Houston and Sonoma County. His other clients include Richard Gere, Chris Hardwick, New Kids on the Block and Conan O’Brien’s company, as well as families and various businesses of entertainment-industry figures.
Trump Tax Cut: “The increase in the federal estate tax exemption to $11.2 million has set in motion planning for our clients to utilize the increased exemption.”
Principal, Prager Metis
Young joined the Prager Metis family earlier this year when her company Geibelson, Young & Co. was merged with the venerable accounting and consulting firm, founded as Prager and Fenton in 1920. Her clients include a variety of actors, writers, directors, music artists and producers, executives and other high-net-worth individuals, along with talent agencies and other small businesses. “I really like entrepreneurial opportunities, and I’ll frequently act like a CFO for our small-business clients,” says Young.
Trump Tax Cut: Despite the sugar-coating, there are definitely negative effects. “The tax bracket may have dropped by 2.6%, but we’re anticipating a higher tax hit for you, not a smaller one.”
Zayon says clients are intrigued by crypto-currencies as investments, though “it’s the wild, wild west from a tax perspective. But our clients expect us to have answers.” The digital asset space is so new there aren’t precedents for guidance, so Zayon taps tech experts within his firm for advice. His clients include Hollywood executives, writers, producers and directors, and also high-net-worth individuals and business owners outside of entertainment.
Trump Tax Cut: For high-income individuals living in high-tax states such as New York and California but earning money elsewhere, Zayon says relocating to states with no income tax gets significant savings, after reduced state and local deductions in the federal tax code.
Aaron Zimmer and Elaina Kogan
Tax Partners, Singer Burke
As heads of Singer Burke’s tax department, Zimmer and Kogan call on more than 67 years of combined professional experience (48 for him and 19 for her) to service a mix of writers, directors, producers, actors, managers and media companies, as well as doctors, lawyers and real estate pros and other high-net-worth individuals for whom they file more than 300 tax returns each year. Zimmer says: “Experience helps, but I’m not so egotistical to think that someone who has only a couple years of experience, with proper knowledge, can’t also do things well.”
Trump Tax Cut: You shouldn’t look for a bigger return. “I see the taxes going down for the middle income, but for the really high-net-worth people, I’m not seeing much of a tax drop,” Kogan says. “With the loss of the property tax and state income tax [deductions], it’s hurting a lot of our California clients,” adds Zimmer.