Why Isn’t Channing Tatum’s UTA Agent A Partner Yet?

channingtatum1Every time I ask the top Hollywood agencies about diversity among their ranks, they refuse to answer en masse. Which is why I want to point out that this weekend’s big hot R-rated comedy starring Channing Tatum will pack people into movie theaters. Yet I can’t believe that his UTA agent Louise Ward still isn’t a partner.

I’m told she was truly pissed last October when the agency promoted four agents to partner level. Not that motion picture talent agents Jay Gassner, Chris Hart, Josh Katz and TV talent co-head Mike Jelline weren’t deserving. But she wasn’t told it was happening and had to read about it online. That’s a real bitchslap.

Since then the agency bought NS Bienstock and made Jonathan and Adam Leibner partners. They hired talent agent Brian Swardstrom from WME and he came over as a partner. But nuttin’ for Louise even though her clients are very loyal and Channing is a first-dollar-gross player. Now the agency has about 30 partners and a Board Of Directors and 3 (mis)managers: CEO Jeremy Zimmer, Jay Sures, and David Kramer.

To make things worse, UTA eminence grise Jim Berkus likes to tell the town that Channing is his client. Advisors told Louise Ward to tear Berkus and everybody else there a new asshole. But she hasn’t. So I have this to say about the matter: the more women stay passive and keep their heads down, the more these places are going to forget about us gals.

Meanwhile, UTA still hasn’t partnered with a private equity firm like CAA and WME. "If the circumstances are right and it makes sense, it can happen," the agency informed me yesterday.

  56 comments on “Why Isn’t Channing Tatum’s UTA Agent A Partner Yet?

  1. Wow. I just stumbled upon this and am a bit shocked, being somewhat naive to how people behave, anonymously, and the lack of class some have spewed. But, feel the need to add my two sense. All I know is that Louise is one of the good guys. Probably the nicest person I have ever met in this business and with the most integrity and loyalty and brilliance. And, one of the wittiest people I have ever encounter. When she believes in someone or a project, she goes to battle and isn’t finished until it’s won. This is an uncomfortable article, because I agree, next day at work must have been very unnerving. I don’t know why she’s been passed over as a partner — Agency politics seem just as vile as Washington shenanigans. This business is unkind and self serving. And, she is neither. Certain individuals drain the joy and creative energy, and she pours it in. And, too many talentless, ego maniacal and sociopathic men running things. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that she has been passed over. Perhaps, a better opportunity awaits her dedication. She has incredible instincts. Whether she stays or goes, I only wish her the very best, knowing whomever has her as a partner, in their fold, on their team, in their corner, on their board, will be that much more fortunate and stronger. Seriously. If Louise was running Hollywood, it would be a much more functional and pleasant place to do business.

  2. She hasn’t been promoted because she came from WME(A), UTA’s biggest rivalry. Steve Rabineau, Theresa Peters & Brian Swardstorm came is as partners because they had the leverage with their lists (and wielded it in the face of UTA’s resistance), but agents like Louise Ward, Ramses IsHak, Michael Sheresky, Carolyn Sivitz, Ali Benmohammed, Chris Newman, have built strong, if not outstanding, lists since joining UTA as well as built up some of their previous WMA clients (like Channing) into major elements. Don’t hold your breath for them to become partners any time soon unless they play chicken with their employment contracts and threaten to take their business elsewhere if they don’t get the bump – and believe you me, Channing will follow Louise anywhere, like he has every time in the past. If Ward, IsHak, Sheresky, etc, aren’t partners in the next couple years, they will be back at WME (now that it’s under new, more aggressive, leadership) or CAA on principle, bank on it. The real money for an agent is in a partnership stake in the agency, and they’ll make more money at WME/CAA in their pay structures than being a non-partner agents at UTA (which is not good pay by agency standards, especially with lists like theirs and at their level/reputations in the industry). UTA has cult-ish insular culture and the WME/A style (serve the clients first, not the agency culture & brand) doesn’t sit well. Those agents do a fine job at navigating the politics (because that’s what great agents do), but they are just cut from a different cloth, and one that generally rubs top UTA brass the wrong way given the history of the two agencies. The leadership at UTA loves to wield its authority by shunning and bitch-slapping hardworking agents, and works very hard to have people fall in corporate line and bend over in submission – and that’s one of the reasons they’ve lost some great agents with real leadership skills in the past too (Dan Aloni, Nick Stevens, Sharon Jackson, Patrick Whitesell, Stu Manashil, etc).

  3. It’s hard for me to concentrate on the core issue here — whether Ward should be elevated to partner — because I’m distracted by that pic of Tatum. It only serves to remind me of how Smoking Hot he was in Magic Mike, and how Tap Water Tepid his pudgy face and body are now. Let’s face it, no one is going to his movies to see him attempt to act. If he is no longer bringing the eye candy, what’s the point?

    1. Resolution would kill his career just like they’ve killed their own careers. When a founding partner leaves and agents from CAA leave, take it as a sign.

  4. louise also reps colbie smothers, who’s made a nice transition from comic acting in himym to action-drama in the marvel tv/film universe. Good management or agenting there.

  5. whaaack….the sound of Jeremy Zimmer gettin’ another bitch slap. for a guy who’s so conscious of his image, why does Jeremy always end up getting sold out like a prison punk? Jeremy zimmer is not a dumb guy, he’s a soldier for the brand, works hard. So why does he always end up walking around this town with his pants down to his ankles and bent over the bar getting slammed hard? Memo to Chris Day, Jeremy’s mouthpiece: call Nikki up and go straight to the tears. cry, beg, plead…but for chrissakes, do something, girl.

  6. I’ve met Louise in professional circles and find her to be an ethical, good person. Agency world is cut throat. Surprised someone like Tracey or Rita isn’t sticking up for Louise. She’s clearly doing a terrific job. However, she’s not the only female agent suffering from this. The agencies for the most part, still act like it’s the 50′s. Most of these legacies suck ass.

  7. Louise is amazing. And she’s not just about Channing. She’s an old-school manager in an agent’s body. I’ve seen her help smaller movies get done with UTA clients that aren’t even hers. She fights, and it’s odd to see her not fighting this, but she’s a smart woman and I’m sure she’s got a plan. At least I hope she does…

  8. She got no respect at WMA either. Michael Cooper (now at CAA), who was brought on the Channing, team believed he had power over Channing. When WMA booted Louise Ward, Cooper thought for sure Channing would stay with him. But the star stayed loyal to Louise. UTA’s decision to overlook Louise as partner means they believe Channing doesn’t have the box-office clout worth getting into bed with Louise Ward.

  9. So Nikki, can You tell us who’s pushing Tatum on the top of success? Cause this guy simply can’t act and i dont buy such BS as his "acting perfomances" which deliever him spotlight.

  10. Speaking about diversity, how many Black agents do we have in this town? Probably less than 5. Now THAT’s a topic I want to see addressed

  11. Louise is a class act, a hard worker and one smart broad. Long overdue. If morons like Theresa Peters can be a partner, surely Louise is long overdue. Come on, UTA. Pull your head out of your ass.

  12. Quite right, Nikki. She ought to be promoted. Anyone who can make an A-lister out of an ex-stripper with Down Syndrome should be moved up to department head.

    1. Channing Tatum may well be dumb as a sack of hair and his agent an unspeakable hellbitch who’d make Satan piss his pants in terror. Your point? Last time I looked, UTA was neither a finishing school nor in the business of faculty recruiting for Ivy League colleges.

    2. Tatum might well be dumb as a sack of cat hair with an agent who’s a hellbitch who’d make Satan piss his pants in terror. What’s your point? Last time I looked UTA wasn’t recruiting faculty for Ivy League colleges and "Miss Manners Seal of Approval" isn’t terribly high on the list of qualities Hollywood agencies look for when hiring. When a man says a woman is "unlikable" I’m just cynical enough to hear "once told a man to get his own damn coffee and stop staring at her tits."

  13. ‘UTA eminence grise Jim Berkus likes to tell the town that Channing is his client. Advisors told Louise Ward to tear Berkus and everybody else there a new asshole. But she hasn’t.’ <–this right here, a male agent would go OFF, and it would be buisness as usual, she knows it would affect her in every way.

  14. Squeaky wheels always gets the grease. If that lady wants to be a partner, she’d better pipe up now or forever hold her peace.

  15. if someone is expecting Channing Tatum to deliver them a partnership anywhere – perhaps they need a shrink – not an agency – to go to each day.

  16. Jeremy Zimmer is a sniveling prick. People like to characterize him as this cold, calculating, intimidating character. He doesn’t have the sack to back up his words, which are empty.

    1. What, are you one of his former assistants or a collegue that he dropped kicked into last year with his power and influence? Bitter, party of one…your table is ready.

  17. Nikki, can You explain us all how such an atrocious actor like Tatum became so popular in Hollywood among directors and producers? Who is pushing him on top of success and for what?

    1. Remember last month when ICM took all the male agents to Vegas to party, leaving all the ladies at the office to work? Nope, not on a weekend, on a work day. Not shocked by the lack of "promotions" in this town.

  18. Channing does not look like that. I find him pretty average in looks. I think he is fine in comedies but I think he has to grow in more serious roles. His next film is with Bennett Miller who I adore. Could be a break through. I don’t know if he subject matter will pull me in to watch.

    1. He was just in Pa. at a car race and his body is no where near that look. Actually kind of pudgy. Need some new pics.? My cousin took a bunch.

  19. You are back and already causing ripples. Missed you! I would say the best female agents should all form a new agency with their ranks and watch as shit gets done.

    1. Well, Hon, Tatum might be a talentless beast in your eyes. But his last five films grossed just over $1.2 billion worldwide. Perhaps that’s why he’s got representation at UTA and the two of us don’t.

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