United Talent Agency
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9336 Civic Center Drive Beverly Hills, California,
|Jim Berkus, (Chairman)|
Jeremy Zimmer (CEO)
David Kramer, (Co-President)
Jay Sures, (Co-President)
Peter Benedek, (Director)
Number of employees
United Talent Agency (UTA) is a talent agency representing artists and other professionals in the entertainment industry. The Beverly Hills, California-based company was established in 1991 and, as of 2017, has approximately 900 employees, around 300 of which are agents. UTA has divisions focused on film, television, digital, books, music, video games, branding and licensing, speaking, marketing, fine arts, news and broadcasting, among others. The agency also operates the non-profit UTA Foundation.
UTA, established in 1991, is a private company representing talent in a variety of industries, including film, television, digital media, publishing, music, and video games. It is one of the largest such agencies in the world, with approximately 300 agents representing actors, directors, producers, recording artists, writers, and other professionals. Its services also include brand management, film financing and packaging, licensing, marketing, strategic management, and venture capital financing for companies. In addition to Beverly Hills, UTA has offices in London, Malmö, Miami, Nashville, and New York. UTA has around 900 employees overall, as of February 2018.
The company operates as a partnership. Co-founders Jim Berkus and Peter Benedek serve as chairman and director, respectively. Jeremy Zimmer, also a co-founder, serves as chief executive officer (CEO). David Kramer and Jay Sures serve as co-presidents. These executives serve on the board of directors along with Tracey Jacobs, Blair Kohan, and Matt Rice.
Founding and early history
United Talent Agency was established in 1991 through the merger of the Bauer-Benedek Agency and Leading Artists Agency. Jim Berkus, Jeremy Zimmer, and Peter Benedek are UTA's co-founders.
UTA had 10 partners and 40 agents by mid-1994. The company began compiling a weekly list of mostly entry-level employment opportunities across the entertainment industry, which was described by the Los Angeles Times in 2001 as "among the most coveted documents in wannabe Hollywood". In mid 1996, the company had expanded to 45 agents and was described in the media as one of Hollywood's "big four" agencies.
By the early 2000s, the agency had become known for its roster of comedians including Jim Carrey, Dave Chappelle, Will Ferrell, and Ben Stiller, along with writers for popular comedy television programs. UTA was also known for its television talent, representing clients such as David Chase and Dick Wolf. In 2006, the Los Angeles Times described UTA as a "tastemaker" agency, noting clients such as Don Cheadle, Johnny Depp, and M. Night Shyamalan. The agency established "UTA U" in 2008 to provide skills training to interns by partners and other executives. The program also includes a community service component. UTA was inducted into Vanity Fair's "New Establishment Hall of Fame" in 2010.
In 2011, UTA relocated its headquarters to a Civic Center Drive complex, which was renamed UTA Plaza. The company acquired N.S. Bienstock, one of the largest agencies for television news talent in the United States, in January 2014. N.S. Bienstock represented more than 600 television news anchors, reporters, and producers, including: Glenn Beck, Anderson Cooper, Megyn Kelly, Steve Kroft, Lara Logan, David Muir, Norah O'Donnell, Bill O'Reilly, Robin Roberts, Bob Schieffer, and Bob Simon. Richard Leibner and Carole Cooper continued to serve in their roles as co-presidents of N.S. Bienstock. The merger made UTA the largest company representing television news talent. In 2017, UTA did not renew O'Reilly's contract due to allegations of sexual harassment. The venture was rebranded UTA News & Broadcast in 2017.
The agency created a new publishing imprint called Keywords Press in May 2014, to publish books by internet entertainers. UTA partnered with Atria Publishing Group, a division of Simon & Schuster, to create the imprint. Keywords announced deals with Shane Dawson, Connor Franta, and Joey Graceffa.
In 2015, UTA hired a dozen agents from Creative Artists Agency in what was widely characterized in the media as a "midnight raid". Creative Artists Agency filed a lawsuit in response. Also in that year, the company took a minority investment from Jeffrey W. Ubben, founder and CEO of ValueAct Capital, who became a non-voting UTA board member. ValueAct also was invested in 21st Century Fox, Adobe Systems, CB Richard Ellis, and Microsoft at the time. UTA acquired The Agency Group (TAG), the world's largest independent music agency, in August 2015. TAG had approximately 95 agents working in cities including London, Los Angeles, and New York, and brought around 2,000 artists into UTA's client portfolio, including Muse, Paramore and The Black Keys. UTA expanded its New York City offices in 2016.
In early 2017, UTA held several events relating to political and social movements. In lieu of its annual Academy Awards party, UTA organized a "United Voices" rally outside the company's Beverly Hills headquarters two days before the 89th Academy Awards, in response to President Donald Trump's signing of Executive Order 13769, commonly referred to as the "Muslim travel ban". As many as 2,000 demonstrators attended in support of refugee relief and freedom of speech, including Michael J. Fox, Gavin Newsom, Bill Nye, Wilmer Valderrama, and Kristen Wiig. UTA also contributed $250,000, plus $70,000 collected via crowdfunding, to the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee. The company hosted events for female employees in Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto as part of the Day Without a Woman.
In March 2017, UTA acquired an equity stake in the investment banking firm AGM Partners to give the agency and its clients guidance on investments in the media and entertainment sector. UTA acquired Greater Talent Network (GTN), which focuses on public speaking engagements, in September 2017. Don Epstein, GTN's founder and CEO who represented clients like Louis Freeh, Michael Lewis, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Ruffalo, and Lesley Stahl, was named a partner at UTA. GTN continued to operate from its offices in Florida and New York City.
The New York Observer named UTA one of "Hollywood's 7 Most Powerful Talent Agencies" in November 2017. In December, the agency also hosted Anita Hill at its offices during the early days of the Me Too movement, and provided support to the industry's Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, which Hill went on to lead. UTA became a founding donor of Time's Up in early 2018, committing $1 million to the organization against sexual harassment in the workplace in response to the Weinstein effect and Me Too movement. UTA acquired Circle Talent Agency, which focuses on dance and electronic music, in April 2018.
The agency operates a non-profit organization called UTA Foundation. The foundation's annual week-long Project Impact has worked with dozens of organizations in cities around the world and encourages employees to offer community service. The foundation also launched the Live Inspired program in 2016, which allows five UTA employees each year an opportunity to pursue their personal or philanthropic goals during a one-week paid sabbatical.
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