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Summer battle royal for agents

Times Staff Writer

Hollywood IS all about bragging rights: who has the biggest box-office returns, the largest market share, the most Oscar nominations. Talent agents love the glory as much as anyone but generally prefer to keep the spotlight on their clients.

So we’ve decided to do the back-slapping for them.

As much as they say they dislike reading about themselves, agents very much have been in the news recently. While it’s unclear if the Screen Actors Guild will go on strike and prompt a complete work stoppage, the agencies are still hurting from the recent 100-day Writers Guild of America labor dispute, which forced many to reduce staff, drop lesser clients and forgo bonuses.

Because most movie studios planned for the possibility of a SAG walkout this summer, they front-loaded their film production schedules and committed very few dollars to making movies in the year’s second half, leaving agents scrambling to find their clients work.

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At the same time, skirmishes among the town’s five top agencies have been escalating, with a prominent agent or an important client switching sides nearly every week.

More worrisome to all talent agencies are the numerous A-list actors who no longer have agents at all, a list that includes Emile Hirsch (who left United Talent Agency as soon as “Speed Racer” bombed) and “Iron Man’s” Gwyneth Paltrow (who is no longer being represented by Creative Artists Agency).

As the year’s most important -- and competitive -- moviegoing season, the summer provides a perfect period to measure the agents’ true clout. We’ve selected 25 of what we consider to be the summer’s highest-profile films and analyzed which agencies currently represent the key creative talent in each movie.

Admittedly, it’s a tremendously subjective exercise: Who says the upcoming “X-Files” movie is more worthy than “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2"? Well, we do. And isn’t Sigourney Weaver’s voice a critical ingredient of “Wall-E”? Sadly, not by our reckoning. “Hancock’s” Jason Bateman makes the cut, but not “Wanted’s” Morgan Freeman? We’ve seen both movies, and that’s our ruling. And shed a tear for producers too, none of whom qualified because our focus rests on directors, writers and actors.

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Given their instinctive fierceness, the agencies have tried their best to apply pressure and influence the outcome any way they can. One dutifully (if not morbidly) pointed out that CAA shouldn’t get credit for representing Heath Ledger, as “The Dark Knight” star is no longer alive. Another went to bat for a client’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-her cameo in “Sex and the City.” Several argued that writer-director clients should get two votes for fulfilling two jobs. We saw it differently.

Because so many agents and clients have changed addresses in the last few months, the agency that helped put key pieces in one summer movie may receive hardly any credit for it under our rules if the agency no longer represents those people. UTA, for example, once handled some of the linchpins in Aug. 15’s “Tropic Thunder.” But since writer-director Ben Stiller and costar Jack Black recently left UTA for Endeavor, the latter agency grabs our vote. And because Black is also the lead voice in “Kung Fu Panda,” Endeavor collects not one but two points in our accounting.

Even multiple tallies such as that, however, can only narrow -- but not close -- the gap between the dominant CAA and everyone else. As any studio executive or film producer will tell you, CAA’s authority is unrivaled. What’s surprising about this poll is not that Endeavor landed in second (as it has been steadily rounding up and launching topclients), but how close everyone else is. International Creative Management, which has lost a number of agents and clients over the last few months, still has a surprisingly strong showing thanks to its literary department.

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john.horn@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Accounting for bragging rights

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A tally of talent agency clients in the summer’s 25 highest-profile films, listing the key creative people in each film. The five major agencies listed are the Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the United Talent Agency (UTA), the William Morris Agency (WMA), International Creative Management (ICM) and Endeavor.

John Horn

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“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”

William Moseley, actor...UTA

Andrew Adamson, writer-director...UTA

Christopher Markus, writer...UTA

Stephen McFeely, writer...UTA

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Anna Popplewell, actor...CAA

Skandar Keynes, actor...Endeavor

Georgie Henley, actor...Hamilton Hodell

Ben Barnes, actor...ICM

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“The Dark Knight”

Maggie Gyllenhaal, actor...CAA

Chris Nolan, writer-director...CAA

David S. Goyer, writer...CAA

Christian Bale, actor...Endeavor

Jonathan Nolan, writer...UTA

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“Get Smart”

Anne Hathaway, actor...CAA

Pete Segal, director...CAA

Steve Carell, actor...Endeavor

Matt Ember, writer...Endeavor

Tom Astle, writer...ICM

Dwayne Johnson, actor...UTA

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“Hancock”

Vy Vincent Ngo, writer...ICM

Vince Gilligan, writer...ICM

Will Smith, actor...CAA

Pete Berg, director...Endeavor

Jason Bateman, actor...UTA

Charlize Theron, actor...No agent

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“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

Selma Blair, actor...CAA

Guillermo del Toro,

writer-director...Endeavor

Ron Perlman, actor...No agent

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“The Happening”

Zooey Deschanel, actor...CAA

M. Night Shyamalan, writer-director... CAA

Mark Wahlberg, actor...Endeavor

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“The Incredible Hulk”

Tim Roth, actor...CAA

Zak Penn, writer...CAA

Edward Norton, actor...Endeavor

Louis Leterrier, director...Endeavor

Liv Tyler, actor...UTA

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“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”

Cate Blanchett, actor...CAA

Steven Spielberg, director...CAA

David Koepp, writer...CAA

Jeff Nathanson, writer...CAA

Shia LaBeouf, actor...Endeavor

Karen Allen, actor...Paradigm

Harrison Ford, actor...UTA

George Lucas, writer...No agent

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“Iron Man”

Jeff Bridges, actor...CAA

Robert Downey Jr., actor...CAA

Jon Favreau, director...CAA

Mark Fergus, writer...CAA

Hawk Ostby, writer...CAA

Art Marcum, writer...ICM

Matt Holloway, writer...ICM

Gwyneth Paltrow...No agent

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“Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

Jennifer Flackett, writer...Endeavor

Mark Levin, writer...Endeavor

Brendan Fraser, actor...WMA

Eric Brevig, director...WMA

Michael Weiss, writer...Original Artists

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“Kung Fu Panda”

Jack Black, actor...Endeavor

Mark Osborne, director...Endeavor

Jonathan Aibel, writer...Endeavor

Glenn Berger, writer...Endeavor

Ethan Reiff, writer...WMA

Cyrus Voris, writer...WMA

John Stevenson, director...CAA

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“The Love Guru”

Mike Myers, writer-actor...CAA

Marco Schnabel, director...CAA

Graham Gordy, writer...CAA

Jessica Alba, actor...Endeavor

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“Mamma Mia!”

Pierce Brosnan, actor...CAA

Colin Firth, actor...CAA

Meryl Streep, actor...CAA

Phyllida Lloyd, director...CAA

Stellan Skarsgard, actor...ICM

Amanda Seyfried, actor...Innovative Artists

Catherine Johnson, writer...The Agency

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“Meet Dave”

Rob Greenberg, writer...ICM

Bill Corbett, writer...ICM

Brian Robbins, director...UTA

Elizabeth Banks, actor...UTA

Eddie Murphy, actor...WMA

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“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”

Brendan Fraser, actor...WMA

Rob Cohen, director...WMA

Alfred Gough, writer...WMA

Miles Millar, writer...WMA

Maria Bello, actor...CAA

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“Pineapple Express”

Seth Rogen, writer-actor...UTA

Evan Goldberg, writer-actor...UTA

Judd Apatow, writer...UTA

Danny McBride, actor...CAA

David Gordon Green, director...CAA

James Franco, actor...Endeavor

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“Sex and the City”

Sarah Jessica Parker, actor...CAA

Michael Patrick King, writer-director...CAA

Kristin Davis, actor...WMA

Cynthia Nixon, actor...WMA

Kim Cattrall, actor...ICM

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“Speed Racer”

Larry Wachowski, writer-director...WMA

Andy Wachowski, writer-director...WMA

Christina Ricci, actor...ICM

Emile Hirsch, actor...No agent

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“Step Brothers”

Will Ferrell, writer-actor...CAA

John C. Reilly, writer-actor...CAA

Adam McKay, writer-director...Endeavor

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“Tropic Thunder”

Jay Baruchel, actor...CAA

Robert Downey Jr., actor...CAA

Brandon T. Jackson, actor...CAA

Jack Black, actor...Endeavor

Ben Stiller, writer-director-actor...Endeavor

Etan Cohen, writer...ICM

Justin Theroux, writer...UTA

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“Wall-E”

Andrew Stanton, director...No agent

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“Wanted”

James McAvoy, actor...WMA

Timur Bekmambetov, director...WMA

Michael Brandt, writer...WMA

Derek Haas, writer...WMA

Chris Morgan, writer...ICM

Angelina Jolie...No agent

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“What Happens in Vegas”

Cameron Diaz, actor...CAA

Ashton Kutcher, actor...CAA

Tom Vaughan, director...CAA

Dana Fox, writer...WMA

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“The X Files: I Want to Believe”

David Duchovny, actor...ICM

Chris Carter, writer-director...ICM

Gillian Anderson, actor...CAA

Frank Spotnitz, writer...Endeavor

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“You Don’t Mess With the Zohan”

Emmanuelle Chriqui, actor...Endeavor

Adam Sandler, writer-actor...Endeavor

Dennis Dugan, director...UTA

Judd Apatow, writer...UTA

Robert Smigel, writer...CAA

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Agency breakdown

Here’s a look at 25 of the summer’s highest-profile films broken down by which agencies represent key creative talent.

CAA (44 clients): 34%

Endeavor (24 clients): 19%

WMA (18 clients): 14%

UTA (17 clients): 13%

ICM (15 clients): 12%

Others (12 clients): 9%

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Note: Others include the agencies of Hamilton Hodell, Innovative Artists, Paradigm, Original Artists and artists without agents.

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Source: Individual agencies

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Los Angeles Times


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