These advisers to entertainment execs and talent helped their clients weather the pandemic. Now they’re steering them through uncertain economic waters even as they grow their assets and build their portfolios.
Reggie Gooden, Josh Martin
360 Business Management
Gooden and Martin left 818 Management to form 360 Business Management in August, taking with them a client roster that includes songwriter-producers Bernard “Harv” Harvey and Cory Henry; actor-writer-entrepreneur Bella Thorne (“American Horror Stories”); actor-director Frankie Shaw (“SMILF”); actors Gregg Sulkin (“Marvel’s Runaways”) and Jake Picking (“Top Gun: Maverick”); and digital influencer Cashnasty. Gooden began his career as a performer-producer, while Martin started as a CPA for a national accounting firm.
Rise of the entrepreneurial multi-hyphenate: “I’ve seen a huge influx of talent who are aware of their surroundings, know their value and are astute in business,” says Gooden. “That’s different from years past, when you put all your trust in an adviser, then kind of put your head in the sand.”
Principal & Business Manager
Abacus Financial Business Management
Anakwenze’s background as a financial analyst for Disney prepared her for navigating the sharp-elbowed, male-dominated financial world. She handles film and TV actors, writers and producers; digital influencers; and executives in events and concerts. Clients include Jay Ellis (“Top Gun: Maverick”), Kevin Frazier (“Entertainment Tonight”) and a high-profile politician-author, among many others. In addition to her day job, the busy wealth expert pursues her passion for educating youth and emerging creative entrepreneurs on financial literacy. Recently this led her to partner with Patreon to launch a YouTube series “The Earn Up,” in which she answers questions that creators have about management and finance.
Value of ownership: “With content monetization constantly changing, I encourage clients to reinvest in themselves,” she says. “By creating content they own or partially own, artists set themselves up for long-term recurring compensation. Educating creative entrepreneurs and youth on financial literacy is a passion of mine.”
Howard Krant, Alice S. Lee, David Levin, Richard L. Goldstein, Lewis Stark, Michael Hoffman
Krant: Managing and Founding Partner
Lee, Levin: Managing Directors
Goldstein, Stark: Partners
Hoffman: Senior Partner
Clients include Edie Falco; bands Imagine Dragons, Live and War on Drugs; Wyclef Jean; Derek Hough of “Dancing With the Stars”; John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen; acting couple Tracy Letts and Carrie Coon; and fashion designers Hailey Bieber, Nicole Miller and John Varvatos. The six are all business managers based in New York’s Broadway district; the firm has 120 employees in six offices nationally. Krant is a generalist; Lee and Levin rep music talent; Goldstein handles actors; Stark has special expertise in royalties, audits and catalogs; and Hoffman for tax. Krant says it is boom times for clients’ selling their music catalog rights. Private equity investors have bid up prices, and selling clients also find that monetizing their music assets streamlines their personal estate planning.
Good timing: Clients “are able to invest that money to earn additional funds,” says Krant. “Why not strike while the iron is hot?”
Altman Greenfield & Selvaggi
New York-based Bonsignore has a client list that includes actors Dakota Johnson and Sterling K. Brown and writer-directors Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, who are romantic partners and frequent collaborators. Founded in 1986, his firm Altman Greenfield Selvaggi has grown steadily and organically over the decades. “We’re a put-your-head-down-and-do-the-work type of firm,” he says. “We don’t have a web page. All our business is word of mouth.”
The verdict on cannabis investment: “The way I look at it is very similar to crypto,” says Bonsignore. “I think it’s a saturated market, but if you want to take that risk, look at your overall picture, and then kind of find that niche amount.”
Robert Abramowitz, Catherine Catherine, Craig Manzino, Marc Rosen, Jason Zayon, Babette Campbell and Gail Peisach
Abramowitz, Catherine, Manzino, Rosen, Zayon: Partners
Campbell, Peisach: Directors
The business management team at Armanino can call on a broad spectrum of in-house experts across the country or down the hall, covering everything from cryptocurrency to estate tax. In the New York office, Manzino and Rosen handle actors, showrunners and TV series creators, along with YouTubers, fashion stars, theater craftspeople and CEOs. Dallas-based Peisach’s roster includes world-famous musical artists, a top TV producer and other high-net-worth individuals outside of entertainment. In Los Angeles, the clients include the expected array of film and TV actors, directors, writers, producers and musicians, along with NBA stars and a celebrity dermatologist (Abramowitz) to app developers and other tech entrepreneurs (Zayon and Campbell).
Lessons of the pandemic: “I think COVID taught us that people need to be much more nimble and open to new things and really sharpen every tool that they have as creatives,” says Manzino. “They might say, ‘Maybe I’ll do some voiceover work, maybe I’ll do a cameo, maybe I’ll try a podcast.’”
Evan R. Bell, Liza de Leon, Yifan Yang
Bell: Managing Partner
De Leon: Business Management Partner
Yang: Tax Partner
Bell & Co.
Bell & Co. promoted three insiders to partner in the past year, including Yang — a move that Bell says will solidify the firm’s corporate culture and maintain its independence, thus steering clear of the sector’s consolidation trend that has seen many boutiques swallowed up by behemoths. Based in New York, Bell, de Leon and Yang handle TV, film and literary talent, and influencers. Their clients include writer-directors Robert Eggers, Dee Rees and Steven Soderbergh; actor Camrus Johnson; writer Dan Hageman; casting director Carmen Cuba; and podcaster Leon Neyfakh.
Dream come true: Bell says a big satisfaction of the job comes “when you have the opportunity to sit down with the client and can say, ‘You have made it. You never have to take another job you don’t want, and you are financially secure for the rest of your life.’”
Steve Bills, Julie Krimstein, Alec Stoll, Peter Stoll
Bills, Krimstein, Stoll, Stoll: Partners
Bills & Stoll
Bills & Stoll is a firm whose partners have deep roots in the Los Angeles business management community. It was fortunate to retain staff and continue to expand its entertainment and high-net-worth practice during the recent tumultuous period. At the beginning of 2022 it named Alex Stoll as the firm’s latest partner, and, partly as a result of the pandemic, “we have transitioned to a hybrid work model, which the staff has embraced,” says Stoll. With the goal of improving client deliverables and staff experience, Bills & Stoll continues to invest in technology.
Boutique pride: “We are excited that we have grown, yet held onto the boutique, personalized nature of our practice, especially during a period when so many other firms in our industry have been consolidated,” Stoll says. “We believe our clients are better served through our independence while we’re providing our staff with a clear path for future professional growth.”
Business Wealth & Tax Management
Shaheen says live performance revenue is back, “from the Roxy to Madison Square Garden,” following a severe pandemic dip, increasing the revenues of his clients, who include singers Burna Boy and Matt Maeson, rapper Rico Nasty, singer-songwriter Breland and DJ Matoma. He also adds that “residential and commercial real estate deals are always active and appealing.” Future growth, Shaheen says, will be fueled by Web3, NFTs, advertising revenue and by clients starting projects and supporting new businesses.
Diversity all around: “We are proud of our diverse group of clientele and personnel,” says Shaheen. “There’s lots of exciting stuff going on.”
Rit Venerus, Butch Gage, Dan Goscombe, Sarah Dellimore, Amy Self
Venerus, Gage, Goscombe: Partners
Dellimore, Self: Directors
Cal Financial Group
Cal Financial Group is based in Charlottesville, Va., which makes sense upon learning the town is home to one of the firm’s best-known clients, the Dave Matthews Band. The 19-year-old firm also has offices in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville — the latter two of which are headed by Gage and Goscombe, respectively, while Venerus, Dellimore and Self hold down the home fort. Other clients include music acts Dead & Co., Jack White, Phoebe Bridgers, All Time Low, Odesza and Rainbow Surprise Kitten, and NBA star Joel Embiid.
Rocking the lockdown: “One of my clients, because they owned all the rights for their first albums, sustained a band of five, payed commissions and kept the lights on through the pandemic, while not touring for 21⁄2 years and still recording a record,” says Goscombe.
Layth Carlson, Steve Callas
Carlson, Callas: Partners
Callas & Carlson
Clients of the L.A.-based Callas and Carlson include directors Antoine Fuqua, Liz Friedlander and Marc Webb; screenwriter Derek Kolstad; touring musician Colin Hay; and film composer John Paesano. Carlson is pleased that the firm arranged mortgage refinances for some clients in the first quarter of the year before “interest rates went haywire.”
Working vacation: A U.S. real estate deal for a client took a multinational flavor when Carlson worked it while on a family vacation in Morocco. “I was trying not to check emails, but due to the nature of the transaction I had to make sure nothing slipped through the cracks,” Carlson says. “Thankfully, my partner, Steve, was able to pick up some of the slack and we got it done.”
Wayne Mejia, Arnie Herrmann, David Leventhal, Sharon Sullivan, Douglas Cammarano, Lauren Cooper, Errol Wander, Jamie Montanio
Mejia, Herrmann, Leventhal, Sullivan, Cammarano, Cooper, Wander: Partners
Montanio: Partner & Co-Leader, Business Management & Family Office Practice; Managing Partner, Beverly Hills Office
The firm’s clients come from many fields, including film, TV, music, media, sports, comedy, fashion, theater and the arts. Among them: Jack Antonoff, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Ana de Armas, Guillermo del Toro, Liam Neeson, Zazie Beetz and female-owned production company Makesay. As for the eight business managers, Leventhal and Cooper joined in the past year, beefing up the Los Angeles office, uniting Mejia and Montanio as the firm expands on the West Coast. Their colleagues in New York are Herrmann, Sullivan, Cammarano and Wander. The firm is a top 25 national accounting company. In January it acquired Massarsky Consulting, which has expertise in valuing music assets as catalog sales explode.
Global scale: Leventhal says as Hollywood employment becomes more geographically diffused and complex, large scale is required deliver in-house experts for areas such as taxation and local regulations. “It isn’t like 20 years ago when production was concentrated in a handful of places,” he says. “We now have clients working all over the planet.”
Sean Granat: Partner
Granat specializes in entertainment for CohnReznick, an accounting giant. His experience includes business management, tax preparation and planning, dispute resolution and services to touring artists.
Recruiting: Granat encourages fresh talent to enter the entertainment business management community. “Several accounting firms have received significant private equity investment … [which has] led to an increase in staff wages,” he says. “As a result, there has never been a better time from a compensation standpoint to work in business management.”
Shane Glass, Paul Glass
Shane Glass: President, Business Management
Paul Glass: Vice Chair
The Colony Group
Shane Glass handles musicians, touring artists, athletes, directors, producers, content creators and executives. Clients of Paul Glass are touring acts, singer-songwriters, recording artists and other entertainers. Shane Glass found federal tax savings via pass-through entities (PTE) after the state and local tax (SALT) deduction got capped.
Advice in a shrinking market: “For our clients who operate thorough loan-out entities, we were able to save them significant federal taxes through PTE planning,” Shane Glass says. He observes that millennial clients began seeking outside advice when the stock market and crypto currency swooned “as opposed to thinking they could do it themselves.”
Amir Malek, Pam Malek
Amir Malek, Pam Malek: Managing Directors
The Colony Group
The husband-and-wife duo opened a new office in Calabasas and have separate clienteles, though in similar areas of music and touring; comedians; TV and film talent; influencers; and high-net-worth individuals, including outside of entertainment. Amir Malek handles many music producers and worked some music catalog sales for clients in the tens of millions of dollars. Pam Malek advised a $100 million catalog sale.
Tough economics: Though the music concert business has rebounded, Pam Malek notes that its economics have gotten tougher as expenses skyrocket due to inflation. That’s caused a financial squeeze on touring even though adjustments are made to hold the line. Artists face “the same amount of work but potentially half the profit,” she says. One example: insurance for event cancellation doubled in price amid COVID.
Brandy L. Davis
Davis Financial Group
Woodland Hills-based Davis works a practice spanning film and TV, influencers, athletes and high-net-worth individuals. An experienced business manager, she left a larger firm to launch her boutique less than two years ago and takes an entrepreneurial approach. The falling stock market plus pockets of entertainment/media softness, such as video streamers becoming cautious, prompts client discussions about “making decisions so they can weather the economy as best they can,” she says.
Locking in low rates: Last year Davis advised clients to extend existing credit lines to lock in low interest rates. Now clients re-evaluate expenses and budgeting, and also consult their outside asset managers to check that their investment profiles are timely.
Pat Dunn, Mark Pariser, Tony Peyrot
Dunn, Pariser, Peyrot: Partners
Dunn, Pariser & Peyrot
The partners at Dunn, Pariser & Peyrot have a practice that spans generations, genres and industries. In addition to handling actor Randall Park (“WandaVision,” “Fresh Off the Boat”) and his production company Imminent Collision, and producer David Permut (“Hacksaw Ridge”), Dunn is involved in helping companies launch IPOs (current efforts include a gaming and an NFT business), and he’s a board member and the CFO of EatWell Group, a plant-based food company. Peyrot’s client list includes actors Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul”), Tenoch Huerta (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”) and multi-hyphen- ate DJ Shadow. Pariser has a roster that includes producer Matt Tolmach (“Spider-Man: No Way Home”), singer Justin Furstenfeld and his band Blue October and rapper Leikeli47, and is a board member and the CFO of SONA (Songwriters of North America), which works to protect songwriters’ rights and increase royalty rates, and also sits on the board of its foundation.
Streaming explosion takes away big backend paydays: “You’re seeing less of those big pops, but people are getting a lot of jobs and needing our services,” says Peyrot.
Julie Boos, Duane Clark, David Boyer, Jamie Cheek, Carmen Romano, Erica Rosa, Paul Barnabee
Boos: Co-Owner, Chairman
Clark: Co-Owner, President & COO
Boyer, Cheek, Romano: Co-Owners, VPs
Rosa: VP, Royalties & Contract Compliance
Barnabee: VP, West Coast Operations
Boos, Clark, Boyer and Cheek are based in the Nashville main office; Romano is in New York; and Rosa and Barnabee in Los Angeles. The seven handle touring artists and the music industry; all are working business managers except Rosa as head of royalties and contract compliance. News reports indicate the firm’s clients include Eric Church, Luke Combs, Kesha, Kings of Leon, the Tom Petty estate, Rage Against the Machine and Blake Shelton.
The Wild West: The embryonic metaverse online world as well as crypto, blockchain and NFTs all spark client questions for when and where to plunge in, says Boos. “Every artist is now being approached about that world and we are educating them about being protected,” she says. “Right now, it’s like the Wild West.” Boos says advice needs to address security of clients’ assets and complying with anticipated regulations.
Curry: Founding principal
Forward Business Management
A former in-house attorney at Universal with a masters in business taxation and a B.A. in psychology, Curry calculates that 65% of the clients at his 2-year-old firm come from the music world, including rising independent Latin music artists Carla Morrison and Justin Quiles, and hip-hop duo the Audibles, while the balance is film and TV, including actor Holt McCallany and voice actor Rino Romano. A small portion is family office.
Upside to inflation: “I encouraged my clients split their wealth out into real estate and we got really good deals, and inflation pushes those values up, so I’ve seen the net worth of my clients pop ridiculously in the last year and a half,” Curry says.
Andrew Meyer, Steves Rodriguez, Naomi Poblano, Tawny Nevarez, Leo Lopez
Meyer, Rodriguez: Founding Partners
Poblano, Nevarez, Lopez: Partners
Freemark clients include Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jordana Brewster, Accenture Interactive’s David Droga, Latin music duo Jesse & Joy, Anna Kendrick and Ramy Youssef. The firm also serves ad agency Mojo Supermarket and production company Smuggler. Meyer and Lopez specialize in film and TV talent and family offices. Meyer advises his clients Ellen Pompeo and Jon M. Chu. Rodriguez and Nevarez work for clients in music, TV and film, and in advertising. Poblano oversees tax across the firm.
All about monetizing: Rodriguez, who recently advised clients in selling their music catalog, finds that one motivation is to raise money that “fuels their creative ambitions to build their next catalog.” Meyer adds that “monetizing IP is something we are constantly contemplating with our clients.”
Eric Fulton, Elizabeth Ricin, Matthew Gilbert-Aranoff
Fulton, Ricin, Gilbert-Aranoff: Partners
Founded by Fulton in 1990, Fulton Management added Gilbert-Aranoff in 2005 and upped longtime bookkeeper Ricin to partner in 2015. Today, the Encino-based firm has more than 40 employees servicing a mix of front-and behind-the-camera talent (Chris Hemsworth, Channing Tatum, Taika Waititi, Mayim Bialik, Taran Killam), top social media influencers (Rhett & Link, Emily Ratajkowski) and world-class athletes (MMA fighter Conor McGregor). While the streaming explosion has created more work for clients, Fulton says the current high-inflation environment has created a tendency for people to focus on their work and not spend big, making their job as business managers easier, because “they kind of realize that money doesn’t fall off the trees and that everything’s a little more expensive,” he says.
Consequences of consolidation: “A good chunk of people I’ve inter- viewed have come from firms that were acquired and they just didn’t feel it had the same culture or the same opportunity for advancement that they wanted,” says Fulton.
Tyson Beem, Grady Brown, Andrew Crow, Mark Goodman, Adriane Hibbert, David Lloyd, Melissa Morton, Enza Cohn
Beem, Brown, Crow, Goodman, Hibbert, Lloyd, Morton, Cohn: Managing Directors
Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman/Next Gen
The next-gen group at Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman works out of its L.A. office, which has grown to some 575 employees serving an exponentially larger pool of clients that includes actors, writers, directors, producers, musicians, composers, TV personalities, social-media influencers and execs, as well as entrepreneurs and other high-net-worth individuals. In recent years, it’s done a booming business in music catalog sales, analyzing royalty streams to establish a valuation of the artist’s holdings. Deals include those for Lindsey Buckingham with Hipgnosis, and the band America with Primary Wave Music — as well as an increasing number of film and TV participation examinations. Clients’ income streams have become more diversified with branding and licensing deals that frequently include equity participation. The office was created in 2019 when parent company Focus Financial Partners merged Gelfand with fellow business management firm WG&S, bringing in partners including Crow, whose clients include Jordan Peele and Cailee Spaeny.
About that European tour: “For a while, the euro was one-for-one with the dollar, but now there’s a lot of fluctuation, so if you have contracts that are locked into local currency, that poses some challenges,” says Beem.
Todd Kamelhar, Anton Pamer
Kamelhar, Pamer: Managing Directors
Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman/N.Y.
Working out of the firm’s New York offices, Kamelhar and Pamer handle a mix of performers, artists, actors, producers and fashion industry clients, including models, makeup artists, magazines and photographers. A big part of their business is managing the financial intricacies of touring, recording and publishing administration for major music artists such as Kamelhar’s client Billy Joel.
Rising concert biz costs: The profitability of tours has taken a hit due to the scarcity of buses and trucks, higher fuel costs, and artist guarantees set before or during the lockdown. “Hopefully, those prices will moderate, but they’re not necessarily linked to inflation, which started later,” says Kamelhar. “The important thing is to make sure you budget for it.”
Christopher Fazzolari, Jon Menneci
Fazzolari, Menneci: Managing Directors
Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman/Royalties-Audits
Fazzolari and Menneci lead a team of about 45 specializing in the complex arena of music, film and TV royalty and profit participation. It includes a label administration group that handles outbound royalties for small music labels and independent distributors, and a royalty consulting group that does evaluations for music catalog sales.
Challenges of vertical integration: “You have studios that own streaming services that maybe own merchandising companies, all housed under the same umbrella, and often the agreements — especially older ones — don’t specifically deal with how those should be treated from a profit participation standpoint,” says Fazzolari.
Mike Skeet, Simon Hopkins, Jeff Kaye
Skeet, Hopkins, Kaye: Managing Directors
Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman/U.K.
When Gelfand acquired London-based Skeet Kaye Hopkins in 2019, it got an influx of major music clients, plus expertise in European tax laws. Since then, Kaye and Hopkins have held down the fort while Skeet has spent most of his time in L.A. to serve the stateside needs of clients, many of whom also spend time touring.
Saving money to preserve artistry: “A big part of my job is trying to get clients to a position as early as possible where they never have to make a creative decision because of a financial need, so they never have to go on some dodgy reality TV show,” says Skeet.
David S. Garelick, Jessica Souther
Souther: Senior Account Manager
Global Business Management
Garelick started at Global Business Management 35 years ago, and Souther joined in 2007. Today, the firm has a client list that includes Oscar-winners Anthony Hopkins, Ernest Thompson and Robert Nagle, director Bethany Rooney, celebrity stylist Cristina Ehrlich, NFL players (including Kansas City Chiefs star Juju Smith-Schuster), Randy and Kristy Pitchford, the CEOs of Gearbox and Nerdvana and a stable of DJs (including DJ Vice), as well as Sujit Kundu, president-CEO of SKAM Artist Management, which reps DJs.
Here comes the IRS: “There’s going to be more scrutiny, more audits,” says Garelick. “It’s important to be prepared and make sure your financial records are in order for expenses you’re claiming as business deductions, and to keep corporate books and records up to date.”
Gordon: Founder & CEO
Gordon & Associates
The daughter of an offensive lineman for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, Gor- don is the founder of her 30-year-old boutique that handles athletes, musicians, comedians, directors, producers and high-net-worth individuals. She also runs Gammy’s House, a nonprofit that supports Black entrepreneurship with everything from scholarships and microlending in the U.S. to workshops for business owners in Uganda.
Touring expense surprise: Prepping a tour nowadays is fraught, she notes. The buses and the trucks may be contracted but with the fluctuating price of fuel, bus companies have been saying, “We can’t do it for this. It’s going to cost us more.”
Warren Grant, Jane Tani, Corey Barash, Howard Altman, Kim Ibrahim, Zoe Lawrence, Fran Wild, David Jackson
Grant, Tani, Barash, Altman, Ibrahim, Lawrence, Wild, Jackson: Partners
Grant, Tani, Barash & Altman
The eight are based in Beverly Hills and all work broad practices. Their clients are in film and TV, music and consumer products, as well as digital media including podcasters and influencers. In February, Chicago-based wealth manager Hightower bought a strategic stake in the firm. Altman finds that clients increasingly inquire about entrepreneurial opportunities and ideas as the landscape changes; they want to sift through proposals that they come up with as well as receive ideas from their business managers.
Fast change: The rise of digital media is a constant source of conversation. “The world is evolving quickly, and so too are the opportunities and risks,” Altman says.
Chris Bucci, Brett Anderson, Andréa Bacon, Jeff Bacon, Jared Kroll, Rachel Martinez. Gary Satin, Steve Savitsky, Vera Singartiyska, Michael Thompson
Anderson, Bacon, Bacon, Kroll, Martinez, Satin, Savitsky, Singartiyska, Thompson: Managing Directors
Ground Control Business Management
All 10 business managers are based in Century City. Their entertainment clients include film and TV producers, showrunners, writers, directors, actors and executives. They also serve professional athletes, digital influencers and high-net-worth individuals outside entertainment. The firm, previously known as Savitsky Satin Bacon & Bucci, was founded over 30 years ago by George Savitsky, father of Steve Savitsky. (The elder Savitsky was Variety’s 2014 Business Managers Elite Honoree.) Property and casualty broker NFP acquired the firm in 2019, allowing it more resources for growth. In a September brand refresh, the firm renamed itself Ground Control.
Many routes to success: Bucci observes that business managers play a major role in structuring deals when Hollywood talent clients extend their celebrity glow as brand ambassadors to consumer goods and services. Business managers, he says, are there to advise clients on “what the risks are, the upside, and on deferring taxes to maximize their return.” In some cases, he adds, the answer is not a simple cash payment; it involves equity in startups with high growth potential. “Those small startups can become quite large in short order.”
John McIlwee, Alex Grissom
McIlwee: Founding Partner
Grissom: Senior Business Manager
J. McIlwee & Associates
McIlwee and Grissom grew their 3-year-old firm 35% during the pandemic, a gain they attribute to their ability make their clients feel comfortable and cared for, and the good word-of-mouth it inspires. Their roster includes Matt Reeves (“The Batman”) and his production company 6th and Idaho; actors Maura Tierney (“American Rust”), Selma Blair, Caleb Landry Jones (“Finch”), Valorie Curry (“The Boys”), Christian Serratos (“The Walking Dead”) and Tanisha Long (“Bigger”); actor-host Jane Lynch (“The Weakest Link”); Olympic skateboarder Sky Brown; and TikTok star Chris Olsen.
Brand dollars raining down: “I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that brands have no idea what’s coming down the pipeline, so they’re just throwing tons of money at a lot of these TikTok stars, and right now it’s paying off,” says McIlwee.
Jason Schneider, Gary Schneider
Gary Schneider: Partner
Jason Schneider: Managing Partner
Kessler, Schneider & Scheltinga
Eight years ago, Jason Schneider ditched his plans for law school and joined his father, Gary, himself a second-generation business manager, at the firm he co-founded back in 1986. Today, the elder Schneider has a client list that includes actors Alyson Hannigan and Ed Helms, showrunner Carol Mendelsohn (“CSI”), along with execs, talent agencies and management companies, while his son handles Steve Yockey (creator of “The Flight Attendant”), Andrew Goldberg (co-creator of “Big Mouth”), writer Stacy Osei-Kuffour (“The Morning Show”) and actor Jimmy Tatro (“Home Economics”).
The deals they are a-changin’: “Unless you’re powerful enough to command a decent contract upfront, forget the big buyout on the backend,” says Gary Schneider. “They are not willing to spend the money, and that’s significant because the deals that were being signed were huge.”
Matt Lichtenberg, Mark D. Friedman, Charles B. Clancy, Mark Cattalini, Paul Ta
Lichtenberg, Friedman: Partners
Clancy, Cattalini, Ta: Executives
Level Four Business Management
Based in West L.A.’s Brentwood neighborhood, Level Four is an independent outfit with approximately 75 employees and a roster of top showbiz talent. Partner John Rigney is Variety’s Business Managers Elite honoree this year (see separate story). Lichtenberg’s clients include Will Ferrell, writer-director-producer Adam McKay (“Don’t Look Up”) and top-rated podcaster Joe Rogan; Friedman looks after Quentin Tarantino; Clancy has filmmaking duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”). Cattalini and Ta handle a large group of emerging talent or talent going in new directions: Cattalini serves show-runners Patrick Somerville (“Station Eleven”) and David Weil (“Invasion”), while Ta handles Cheech Marin and Limp Bizkit leader Fred Durst.
Talking crypto: “Crypto has certainly been a fascination for a lot of clients, but, personally, I’m not a huge fan of it,” says Cattalini. “It’s so volatile, it’s hard to call it an investment because there’s no real way to track its performance. There aren’t these parameters for why it’s going to go up or down in value. For our clients who have dabbled in crypto, it’s generally been smaller amounts.”
Marius Bercovici, Justin Kobay, Venicia Mestey, Bruce Seckendorf
Bercovici, Kobay, Mestey, Seckendorf: Partners
LL Business Management
Mestey, who recently came aboard, is focused on U.S.-based clients in Latin music. Bercovici, Kobay, Mestey and Seckendorf are based in Lake Success, N.Y., and the firm has a Los Angeles office and London affiliate. LL handles music-industry artists, executives, labels and management companies. Clients in music are Chris DeStefano, Omer Fedi, the estate of Jarad Higgins (aka Juice Wrld), Lauv, Lil Nas X, Trippie Redd, Boots Riley, Ice Spice and Timbaland. Actor Kylie Cantrall is also a client. Mestey wears a second hat as CEO of the Heavy Hitter collective of DJs.
What makes sense: When clients inquire about buying into NFTs, crypto currency and the metaverse, Bercovici responds that these are volatile alternative investments suitable for only 5%-10% of portfolios. The bulk of portfolios should be traditional investments with “proven track records,” he says.
Elizabeth Campos, Jack Sinoryan
Campos: Director of Business Management
Sinoryan: Director of Business Operations
Campos and Sinoryan are seeing the benefits of diversification for their roster of musicians, actors, writers, directors, reality stars, athletes and high-net-worth individuals. Although interest rates have been rising on lines of credit and stock prices dipping, the duo — who joined the firm a week before the pandemic lockdown — are seeing the portions of clients’ portfolios invested in private equity and venture capital companies performing well. Others are taking advantage of the safe-but-solid returns currently offered by fixed-rate bonds.
Educating young clients: “It’s all about teaching them what generational wealth means and how that can play out versus the short-term desire to do something that doesn’t have any value,” says Campos. “You want to go to a nightclub and spend $10,000? Let me show you what that $10,000 can do with compounding interest.”
Steve Gelon, Van Lee, Alex Smith, Justin Sroka
Gelon, Lee, Smith, Sroka: Partners
Mann Gelon Glodney Gumerove
Founded in 1967 as a tax and accounting firm, the indie boutique added business management services in 1985 when it was joined by Gelon, who became managing partner in 1994. Today, Gelon, Lee, Sroka and its youngest member, partner-in-charge of the business management group Smith (who joined in 2015), along with their team of 75, handle an impressive roster of entertainment clients that includes legends and rising stars from the worlds of acting, music and comedy, hot filmmaking talent, some of most successful and acclaimed series creators of the past 20 years, the estates of TV greats, a leading digital influencer and a top boutique entertainment law firm.
Inflation’s silver lining: “Folks were getting nothing on their cash,” says Smith. “Now we’re having way more conversations about liquidity management and maximizing the yield on cash through money markets. This represents meaningful returns on cash for the first time in a while.”
Smalls: Partner, Leader of Entertainment, Sports, & Media Practice
Smalls has been charged with heading up the new Atlanta office of multi-national professional services company MGO. A certified public accountant who in his previous professional life managed music artists, as well as serving as CFO and CEO for startups and Fortune 100 companies, he knows first hand about the challenges faced by those on his hip-hop-heavy client roster.
Can you cannabis?: “There are great opportunities out there, from brand deals to investment components,” says Smalls. ‘They need someone they can lean on with expertise in that space, and MGO has been serving the cannabis industry for years and some of the largest owners and operators are clients.”
Michael Kaplan, Justine Ruffalo
Kaplan: Managing Partner
Kaplan handles motion picture and TV talent for traditional media and streamers; talent and solo music artists and influencers globally; and high-net-worth individuals. Ruffalo has a music-centric practice covering both talent and executives. They are based in North Hollywood. During the pandemic lull, Kaplan urged clients to record albums, package TV/film projects and line up partners.
Ready for action: “We were preparing our clients during that downtime to ‘explode’ when things opened up,” which has happened, Kaplan says. He also sees the digital influencer landscape evolving into a solid launch pad.
Mark Landesman, Paul Zukowsky, Scott Landesman
Landesman, Zukowsky, Landesman: Partners
ML Management Partners
The New York-based trio of Mark Landesman, his son Scott and Zukowsky rep comedians, film and TV personalities, models, executives, influencers, podcasters and athletes. Client include Eddie Murphy (since 1984), James Cameron, Pete Davidson, Vin Diesel, Tina Fey, Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds, Chris Rock and Bruce Willis. Mark Landesman has seen industry personalities pounce on brand-ambassador partnerships with consumer products in liquor, technology, clothing, fragrance and household goods.
Not your grandfather’s CPA: For business managers “it’s not just being a good accountant anymore but also being a dealmaker and business adviser,” Mark Landesman says, adding that the deeper brand associations can add a level of complexity for client compensation.
Mickey Segal, Michael Karlin, David Bolno, Bernie Gudvi, Carrie Malcolm, David Weise, Dian Vaughn, Harley Neuman, Larry Tyler, Matt Segal, Michael Oppenheim, Thomas Kingsley
Segal: Managing Partner, NKSFB
Karlin: Founding Partner, NKSFB
Bolno: Name Partner, NKSFB
Gudvi: Founding Partner, NKSFBGO, a division of NKSFB
Malcolm: Founding Partner, CRM Management, a division of NKSFB
Weise: Partner, David Weise & Associates, a division of NKSFB
Vaughn: Partner, NKSFB
Neuman: Founding Partner, Neuman + Associates, a division of NKSFB
Tyler: Partner, NKSFB
Segal: Partner of NKSFB
Oppenheim: Founding Partner, NKSFBGO, a division of NKSFB
Kingsley: Partner. NKSFB
Mickey Segal oversees Hollywood’s largest business management firm with 675 employees and has presided over his company’s two mergers with other business management firms. In the past year, Karlin advised clients on music publishing transactions, and one of his client’s businesses sold for nine figures. He’s been involved in music catalog sales and real estate transactions. Bolno — who works with internationally known entertainers, musicians, artists and athletes — was a leader of a $1 billion acquisition/ merger between two companies in the music space. Gudvi guided music clients through COVID relief applications and music publishing sales, and worked with them to resume touring. Malcolm handles actors, directors, writers and production companies. Weise worked music catalog sales, tour resumption and financial planning for clients. Vaughn handles actors, authors, directors, entertainment executives, producers and musicians. Neuman’s practice spans film, TV, social media influencers, music and the arts. One of Tyler’s strengths is touring, which he sees as robust following the pandemic slowdown and here to stay as his clients return to the road. In addition to working with multiple charity organizations, Mickey Segal managed to double his practice in the past year. Oppenheim handles some of the world’s top music acts. He also obtained millions of dollars in Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) for his music clients. Kingsley handles a diverse clientele spanning music, Hollywood, athletes, motivational speakers and entrepreneurs — as well as having expertise in real estate and the nonprofit arena. The 12 partners are based in the Los Angeles area, except for Malcolm, who is in New York. NKSFB is a Focus Financial Partners company.
Market drop keeps managers busy: With the sharp drop in the stock market mid-year, Segal notes that phones were ringing across town as clients checked their financial liquidity and reviewed expenses with an eye to belt-tightening. “Clients get nervous in these declining-market times and always seems to ask for more services and information,” Mickey Segal says.
Mike Merriman, Bryan Gott
Gott: Director of Business Management
At Parr3, Merriman and Gott have been optimizing their office for their employees, implementing technology to make it fully work-from-home-optional. They’ve also been building a new and improved royalty hunting system with software design start-up Hi-Fi for their clients, who include singer-songwriters Clairo, 6lack, Alison Wonderland and Kehlani; songwriter-producer Louis Bell; and record label LVRN.
Finding hidden cash: Merriman estimates that 99 out of 100 errors on royalty statements are not in the artist’s favor: “It’s everything from missing songs to simple addition errors on the front summary page that can result in our client missing out on money.”
Thomas F. Smith, Bruce I. Kolbrenner, Mark Carter, Lahteefah M.Parramore, Simon Winters
Smith, Kolbrenner: Managing Partners
Carter, Parramore, Winters: Partner
Smith is based in New York; Kolbrenner in L.A.; Carter and Winters in London; and Parramore in Miami. Smith focuses on music and TV companies and litigation services; Kolbrenner on music/touring and royalty audits; Carter on music and athletes; Parramore on music, athletes and non-profits; and Winters on music, athletes, tax planning and forensic accounting.
Fan Communities: Smith sees client ambitions in NFTs and the metaverse expanding from simple monetizing to adding the goal of cultivating their fan bases. “Now there’s community building,” Smith says. “That can involve enticements such as access to talent’s events and unique merchandise.”
Barry Siegel, Bill Vuylsteke
Siegel, Vuylsteke: Senior Managing Directors
Provident Financial Management
Provident manages the assets and helps out with deals for an impressive roster of veteran artists: actors, film and TV writer-directors and leading lights of the stage to some of the top music acts of the past 60 years. Siegel’s clients include Al Pacino, Mike Judge, David Mamet, Des McAnuff, Air Supply and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Vuylsteke handles the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Weezer, Sheryl Crow, Shakira, Lucy Liu and talent manager Guy Oseary.
Creative dealmaking: Provident has helped with more than half a billion dollars’ worth of music catalog sales, and is working on new deals. “We’ve been creative in structuring deals that are some combination of sales and debt, others that are pure debt and some that are worked into a complicated estate plan,” says Vuylsteke.
Phil Sarna, Amy Gittleman Blom, Andrew Britton, Abner Monegro, Tara Moore, Patrick Templeman
Sarna: Founder, Senior Managing Director
Blom, Britton, Monegro, Moore, Templeman: Partners
PS Business Management
The six work talent-centric practices in film, TV, music, sports and fashion. Sarna, Blom and Monegro are in New York; Moore in Nashville; and Britton and Templeman in New Orleans. In the past year, the Nashville office opened. Sarna finds business managers get more involved in client deals with corporate America because connections are deeper. “When clients lend their celebrity to goods and services, they seek a deeper relationship where they have input on marketing, creative and goals, and sometimes get equity that provides upside for success,” says Sarna.
Creativity meets business: “Our artists are not only creative but also entrepreneurial and business people, and we try to find a way to bring those three together,” Sarna says.
Anna DerParseghian, John Power, Jason Brown, Leo Jenkins, Darren Calbay
DerParseghian: Managing Partner
Power: Senior Partner
Brown, Jenkins, Calbay: Partners
PTD Business Management
The five business managers are based in Sherman Oaks. DerParseghian manages the firm and handles touring comedians, producers and music. Power works complex transactions and large clients. Brown is focused on Hollywood talent, multi-hyphenates, touring clients and is resident expert on NFTs and crypto. Jenkins handles live touring comedians and entertainers, and an expanding podcast and digital media practice. Calbay is the tax guru.
Connecting directly: DerParseghian says stand-up comedy clients increasingly produce their own content distributed via direct-to-consumer media. “It ends up delivering huge slices of fans and income,” adds DerParseghian, who believes the next trend is cashing in on the metaverse.
Alan Reback, Derrick Lee
Reback, Lee: Founding Partners
Reback Lee & Co.
Reback and Lee service actors, producers, writers, directors and executives including nearly all the other entertainment industry business managers, but their specialty is television specials and live events, particularly awards shows, such as the Emmys, the Grammys, the Oscars and the Tonys. The duo first met in 1995 when Reback was enlisted to do production accounting for one of Lee’s business management clients. Nine years later, they launched their firm, where Reback continues to handle production accounting, while Lee is in charge tax matters, and they both act as business managers.
Not getting any easier: “We still do the same stuff, but it’s just the different things that pop up that we didn’t have to do when we first started out as young puppies 30 years ago,” says Lee. “There’s so much more filing, so much more compliance.”
Andrew B. Blackman, Robert Grubman, Ron Myers, Marc Zand
Blackman, Grubman, Myers, Zand: Partners
Joining Blackman and Zand as a New York-based partner is Grubman, after the Schulman Lobel firm acquired the assets of Grubman’s company earlier this year. Myers works in Sherman Oaks, another of four offices. Clients of the combined firm include super-agent Don Buchwald of the talent agency Buchwald; actor Brian Cox; DJ-producer-writer Black Coffee; graffiti artist Futura; touring jam bands the Disco Biscuits and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead; Hollywood marketing agency the Lede Co.; and the estates of William Goldman, Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse. Gazing into his crystal ball, Blackman sees a future in which clients “develop content that is delivered in a virtual way and interactively, allowing the audience to be part of the content.”
Musical money: Grubman says sales of music catalogs “continue to be a strong source of client income. These are multimillion-dollar deals.” Catalogs span music publishing, talent royalty streams and master recordings. Private equity outfits are aggressive buyers.
Scott F. Guber
SFG Business Management
Guber’s clients range from newscasters, film and television producers, directors, actors, writers, talent managers to high-net-worth individuals. They include comedy actor-writer Damien Fahey (“Family Guy”), director-producer Anthony Hemingway (“Red Tails,” “Genius: Aretha”), director-producer Vince Marcello (“The Kissing Booth”) and director-producer Greg Mottola (“Superbad,” “Confess, Fletch”). “Clients have come back to the simpler things in their lives,” says New York-based Guber, citing spending on family vacations and home improvement.
Financial apps: Guber says digital technology lets clients access their finances via read-only apps. “That way, at any point in time, clients can log on to see what’s come in and what’s come out,” he says. “Whether they look is another story.”
Rick Shephard, Mark Tinglof
Shephard: Founding Partner
Shephard Tinglof + Associates
Shephard and Tingelof moved their office from the Sunset Strip to West Los Angeles in the middle of the pandemic, but, otherwise, it’s been business as usual at their firm, where the roster includes such longtime clients as Courteney Cox (pre-“Friends”), Jon Favreau (since 1996’s “Swingers”) and Ben Stiller (since 1998’s “There’s Something About Mary”). Other clients include Kurt Russell and his son Wyatt Russell, Meredith Hagner, Jeff Kleeman, Alan Poul, David Schiff and Narrative Media.
Advice against celebrity money pits: “With a 90% failure rate, no matter how good the restaurant is, it’s not worth the risk,” says Shephard. As for boats, “the old adage is correct. The happiest days are the day you get it and the day you get rid of it.”
Matthew Burke, Elaina Kogan, Richard Singer, Stephanie Arkof, Amitha Harichandran
Burke: Managing Partner
Kogan: Tax Partner
Singer, Arkof, Harichandran: Wealth Management Partners
The five specialize in content makers, including showrunners, composers, producers, directors, writers, production companies and podcasters. They work shows such as Netflix’s “Bridgerton” and Starz’s “Power.” Media executives are also clients. Burke, Kogan, Singer, Arkof and Harichandran are based in Encino. The firm also operates a registered investment adviser (RIA) arm in-house; most business managers leave that stock-picking function to outside third parties.
Maturing media: Singer says that “businesses have matured such that [clients’ startup] enterprises require us to address all the same complexities of any other established media companies.”
Jordan L. Josephs, Andrea Link, Laura Zepkin, Michael Levy
Zepkin, Levy: Directors
Founded in 1959, SingerLewak has a team of business managers delivering a broad range of services to a roster of music artists, actors, producers, directors, digital influencers, internet companies and industry execs. Josephs specializes in tour accounting, royalty tracking, financial planning, M&A consulting, entrepreneurship advisory and Web3 projects. Levy focuses on film and TV talent and executives, doing everything from running point for clients’ production companies to handling union matters and profit participation. Link specializes in tax advisory and compliance, while Zepkin works with the music touring and podcast communities.
Upside to bad times: “Times of fear are the best times to invest,” says Josephs. “There’s incredible fear in the market right now and in the short term that will affect markets and they will drop. But it will benefit those who aren’t afraid of it and understand that it’s a long-term play, not a get-rich-overnight skit about bitcoin.”
Rick Schenkel, Steve Levitt, Marta Botten
Schenkel: Managing Shareholder
Sobul, Primes & Schenkel
The Sobul, Primes & Schenkel team handles actors, screenwriters, novelists, musicians, reality TV stars and high-ranking entertainment execs, but what sets it apart from many business management firms is its emphasis on serving as CFOs-for-hire, overseeing the finances for small- to medium-size creative companies, particularly in the film and TV space. Not only does this broaden its revenue base, it gives the firm a synergetic flow of information and expertise that helps it better serve both sides of its client roster.
Alternative to Wall Street: “A lot of the clients come to us and say, ‘I don’t want to be in the market,’” says Levitt. “They want to invest a little bit in real estate or a little bit in other types of industries and funds, so we help them work with different advisers that are more creative with alternative stuff, like real estate lending funds and private equity, where there’s more risk, but, hopefully, more reward.”
Summit Business Management
Shapiro’s Woodland Hills-based boutique handles a mix of entertainment industry figures, athletes and high-net-worth individuals. It includes Emmy-winners Zendaya (HBO’s “Euphoria,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home”) and Aaron Paul (“Westworld”), actor/producer/TV host Vanessa Hud- gens and Grammy-winning song paro- dist “Weird Al” Yankovic.
Rolling a strike with the crystal ball: “When everyone took money from the government in 2020, I said, ‘All they’re doing is throwing candy at a crying baby.’ Sure enough, all this stimulus money is coming back to bite. When you have an extra $5 [trillion] or $10 trillion floating around, prices go up.”
Peter Mainstain, Michael L. Glynn, Bradley W. Johnson, Thomas F. Fouladi, Robert Harrison, David A. Coronel
Mainstain, Glynn, Johnson, Fouladi, Harrison, Coronel: Partners
Tanner Mainstain Glynn & Johnson
The veteran firm’s clients include Sean Callery, Jackie Chan, Martin Henderson, Michael Keaton, Jordan Kerner, Marc Lawrence, Aaron Sorkin, Krista Vernoff and Bradley Whitford. The partners are based in Westwood. Mainstain, Glynn, Johnson, Fouladi and Coronel are business managers; Harrison is the taxation specialist. Johnson believes that the streaming revolution has drastically shifted business paradigms: Talent working for streamers face tricky financial planning because of uncertainty about downstream income. The firm recently became part of insurance broker/consultancy NFP.
Where’s the backend? Video streamers “are paying good fees upfront but for some clients we don’t know if there ever will be a backend,” Johnson says.
Klein: CEO-Managing Partner
TKG Business Management
Klein handles music, TV, sports and high-net-worth individuals. Clients include Chloe x Halle, the Chainsmokers, Chelsea Cutler, Big Sean, supermodel Winnie Harlow, Logic, Modest Mouse, Quinn XCII and Kelly Rowland. While Klein is a fan of conservative investments, he leans into clients’ entrepreneurial ambitions as partner for venture-capital fund investing in early-stage companies.
Inflation pain: Klein sees inflation raising costs on music’s touring business for travel, hotels, equipment and staffing. “We’ve had to sharpen our pencils in terms of budgeting to ensure our clients stay profitable,” he says.
Joe McGill: Owner-Founder
Topline Business Management
McGill did stints at high-profile firms including Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman and Level Four before striking out on his own in 2017 to found Topline, one of the few Black-owned Hollywood business management firms. Today, he handles actors, writer-producers and directors, as well as “Queer Eye” star Karamo Brown, who succeeded Maury Povich in his daytime slot when he premiered his new NBCUniversal talk show “Karamo” in September.
Buying vs. leasing: “Leasing was always the go-to for most clients when it came to autos, but now it’s often cheaper to buy the vehicle, because a lease that was $600 year and a half ago is now double the price,” McGill says.
Adam Yorkshire: Partner-Founder
Yorkshire Management Group
Yorkshire handles music artists and their touring, plus actors and athletes. He says clients increasingly seek advice on investments in both traditional and alternative spheres. He recognizes the sentiment among clients that the business manager’s advice is more valuable than ever as clients face various financial options and unique situations.
Keeping up: But business managers can also learn from their clients: “Clients are savvier than ever, and the business manager must follow that curve to advise them appropriately.”