Doom-and-Gloom 'LAT' Surveys Scenes From the Post-Apocalyptic Agency Landscape

Seeing as the L.A. Times wouldn't rush any story it couldn't retract in disgrace a few weeks later, John Horn took his sweet time pounding out today's analysis of all the dramatic agency-hopping exploits over the last week-and-a-half. There's a little bit of a long view, here, however, and it's decidedly ugly; for starters, could industry volatility force CAA reps to endure the horrors of — gulp — business class? Or worse?

"Market forces are affecting the agencies," said Scott Harris, the head of Innovative Artists, a boutique outfit that represents top Broadway actors (Patti LuPone, Adam Pascal) and a number of established names, including Frank Langella, Ving Rhames and Marilu Henner. "Sometimes we have to manage expectations down. What someone made five years ago, the market may no longer bear." ...

Several managers — and more than a few agents — said the recent poaching is having a deleterious impact on the business. Rather than focusing on carefully building a career, these people say, some agents nowadays favor high-profile deals over strategic advice.

It's one thing to get a client a private jet and a fat cut of a film's profits, said UTA partner Jeremy Zimmer, "but it's also really exciting and emotionally satisfying to see someone's first movie premiere at Sundance or put someone to work who hasn't worked in a year."

We're encouraged to see moral rewards reclaim their status among dealmaking considerations — especially at UTA, where the recent defections of comedy super-agent Nick Stevens, Ben Stiller and virtually anyone who has had his name on a movie poster with him since 2003 promise a brave new era of phone-line sharing, cubicle consolidation and unisex bathrooms on every other floor. Next to go: Private e-mail, thus requiring a trip to Kinko's for agents faxing anonymous, client-hating poems to Nikki Finke.