Thursday, February 15, 2007


Today was my last day at ICM.

I started at the talent agency in June of 1998, and after almost nine years, I had to say good-bye.

I should clarify a small point. Today was my last day at ICM in Beverly Hills. As of next week, I will be starting at the new ICM.

For the last 15 years, ICM has occupied the building at 8942 Wilshire Blvd. at the corners of Almont on the west and Lapeer to the east – directly across the street from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

A uniquely designed building (that often served as host to architectural students), 8942 is rumored to have been constructed as a bank by Michael Milken. After our expansion with “Broder-Webb-Chervin-Silberman” last year, a larger base of operation seemed necessary. At the end of this five-day weekend, we will return to work on Tuesday February 20th to the 7th, 8th and 9th floors of the MGM TOWER in Century City.

Century City was constructed in the 1960s in an attempt to give the west side of Los Angeles a “downtown” feel. The land was originally owned by 20th Century Fox, which sold 176 acres of their northern parcel to make up for the loss they suffered on CLEOPATRA. The MGM TOWER was completed in 2003 at the cost of $150 million. The Tower offers 35 floors and approximately 775,000 square feet of which ICM will reportedly occupy 125,000 square feet, which includes two state-of-the-art screening rooms.

When I was a kid, my father took me to see CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (1972), which is set in the future of 1991 after all dogs and cats in the world have died, and apes have taken their place as “man’s best friend." Eventually, the apes get pissed off at humans, revolt and kick ass. The riot sequence scared the hell out of me, and I thought the sleek stone and angular buildings of the futuristic city added great resonance to the mise en scene. That futuristic location was none other than Century City.
For the last few weeks, many of us walked around ICM in denial about the shift. The big joke was, “Has anyone told the agents that we’re moving?” There just wasn’t any time to pack up, and the work seemed like a Sisyphean task because after successfully unloading one script – two more appeared on your desk. Despite the angst, confusion and lack of time, our administration should be commended for their organization; this part of the move has been surprisingly smooth. (I suspect those employees overseeing the move have been delving deep into their volumes of Sylvia Plath.)

My plan of attack was to throw away everything. I had eight-plus-years worth of scripts, notes, coverage, memos and an assortment of things buried under and behind furniture and shoved into every nook and cranny. My office was like an archeological dig; the deeper I excavated, the older the find. And there were some treasures. I felt a bit like Howard Carter discovering the tomb of King Tut. For instance, I unearthed a four-year-old un-cashed check (for $113.73) from Adelphia, the cable TV company. They were recently bought out by Time-Warner, but I’m going to try to cash it anyway. Buried under a pile of dust behind my desk was a script from 2000 that, I suspect, had fallen back there. The cover letter was still attached, and the author was “anticipating a quick reply.” My office was usually a mess – cluttered with hundreds of scripts piled with no system. My boss Ed Limato once suggested I clean it. “You might find the Lindbergh baby,” he said. I unloaded one and half huge bins of scripts and paper, consolidating my tenure at 8942 Wilshire to just three boxes. Since the Century City offices will be gifting us new furniture, I left everything behind except a lamp, TV and DVD player.

We know very little about the new office space. We were not given tours or shown floor plans, so the general suspense has led to all sorts of rumors and speculation. We have learned that the MGM TOWER has a wide assortment of amenities, offering a library, oil changes and “umbrella service” to name a few. The best thing about the move will be a greater selection of restaurants. Our Beverly Hills district has little to offer within walking distance. The LAZY DAISY is a staple for those who don’t want to venture more than a few steps from ICM, but it’s hardly renowned for its cuisine. Furthermore, there’s only a few tables handled by a lackadaisical waitress for whom the restaurant seems to have been named. KATE MANTILINI’S is two blocks west but it’s loud and overrated (though the sourdough bread is great). The underrated IL BUCO is a few blocks east on Robertson; it’s reasonably priced, recently expanded, and easy to get a table. But across from the MGM TOWER is the Century City Mall (a/k/a Westfield Shoppingtown) – which has recently been revamped. Rumor has it the food court there uses china plates and silverware. The mall will certainly add some convenience, offering more of a selection than the SAV-ON DRUGS we all frequent across from KATE’S. Of course, Century City is also home to the new CAA building, “another” top tier talent agency.

While I am definitely looking forward to new surroundings, I can’t help but feel a loss - leaving behind the building that served as my second home for almost nine years.

During my stay there, I was located on the “upper Westside” as it was often referred – the third floor, west wing – in suite number 362.

Although my office was an unimpressive space to be sure, it was prime real estate. Situated at the gateway to the west end of the floor, anyone who is anyone would have to walk passed my door to visit the agency’s heavy duty power brokers. Julia Roberts once made a cell phone call right outside my office. I wanted to give her privacy but didn’t dare close my door in fear that she’d misinterpret the gesture as my trying to shut out the noise. TV producer David Milch accidentally barged into my office, mistaking it for the men’s room – a common error since I was in the same vicinity as the bathroom and probably emitted a similar odor. We had a brief chat and he considered using my potted palm tree to take care of business. (Somehow, I inherited the tree from Jim Wyatt, former ICM co-CEO, who left in 1999 to serve as the CEO at William Morris. The tree is also making the move with me.)

I spent many long hours at that building. One of the first projects I rallied behind was THE PATRIOT, which went on to star client Mel Gibson. I desperately wanted to go to the premiere, but seats were in short supply. Thankfully, someone took pity on me and managed to get my name on the list; I was happier than Charlie Bucket with his golden ticket. But at the last minute, I was given the screenplay for SIMONE. Sharon Stone was meeting with the producers early the next morning to discuss the script, and she wanted my feedback. Always putting the client’s needs before my own, I bravely sacrificed the premiere and remained at work, reading and scribbling. The next morning, I helped Sharon prepare for her meeting. She eventually passed on the project. I have given up many joyous hours of life to lock myself up in suite 362 – for a different kind of joy.

As I was leaving the building for the last time today, it dawned on me that 8942 Wilshire Blvd. was the setting for several plot points in my life.

When I first started at ICM, Carol Bodie (now heading the ICM Motion Picture Talent Department) had her own management company. She managed Winona Ryder while my boss, Ed Limato, served as Winona’s agent. Since our offices worked closely together, I met Carol’s assistant, Jack d’Annibale, one evening for drinks at the Polo Lounge (in the Beverly Hills Hotel) along with Winona’s personal assistant, Sandra. We all hit it off. When Jack’s gig with Carol dried up (he was the worst assistant in Hollywood), I got him a job as a full-time story analyst at ICM. (Sandra later moved on from Winona, turning over the reigns to pal Sibi, who eventually married Christian Bale.)

Jack and I became best friends – roaming ICM like two school kids on a hall pass. We argued endlessly about story, debating the merits of scripts and talking about story problems and possible solutions. A mutual friend once called Jack and me “professionals,” but we couldn’t understand how it related to us. We were just doing what came naturally. I remember working on Saturdays – often until midnight. Jack would drop in and I’d take a break. We’d go into the third floor conference room and look out the windows, staring into the dark southwest sky lit up by the distant glitter of Century City. It was my favorite view from the building – even though our north vista featured the Hollywood Sign. Perhaps I liked it more because it was a safe perch to keep watch for any civil disobedience amongst apes.

It was during one of those respites that I first pitched Jack the idea of “Story Conference,” a series of free writing workshops I was planning. Those workshops eventually led to our collaboration on “The Inside Pitch” TV show and our Emmy nominations.

When Jack left ICM to work for Jerry Bruckheimer, it was a dark day for me. He has since ventured out on his own (is engaged to be married) and is currently working as a screenwriter (repped by ICM), adapting a book for Fox. He still visits me at work regularly.

While meeting Jack was certainly a landmark of this past decade, I also met another very influential person at ICM.

My wife.

This happy-go-lucky pro beach volleyball player was also a licensed masseuse. "HOLLYWOOD STORY EDITOR FINDS 'HAPPY ENDING.'" Sarah visited ICM once a week to ease Mr. Limato’s stress and muscle pain. On her very first day, we met at the third floor credenza (eastside).

There was a cake celebration and sugar addicts hovered around hoping to be one of the lucky few to snag a piece. (ICM was constantly serving cake – honoring a birthday, a departure, a facelift. Recently, we’ve limited it to “Cake Day”, the third Friday of the month where we celebrate everything at once with several big cakes.) While "Sweet Lady Jane" was being doled out, Sarah wandered over and we were introduced. She was dressed all in white and had her long blonde hair wrapped up in braids. She looked like the Swiss Miss. I struggled to be charming and witty and when I was done flirting (having missed out on cake – hopefully sacrificing one kind of piece for another), I went down to the Story Department to visit Jack and told him I had just met the girl I was going to marry. (I was being facetious at the time. “Marry” was probably a code word for some salacious sort of business I was imagining.) Anyway, we eventually started dating.

The times were not always good at 8942 Wilshire.

I remember once giving someone a tour of the building and took him into the Voice Over Department – a unique feature of ICM. The ironic thing about “Voice Over” was that if you had an eye for obscure faces, you might recognize a lot of people. Over the years, I had chats with voice over talent like Danny Bonaduce, Eddie Deezen and Patti Deutch. The Voice Over Department was run with an iron fist by Jeff Danis - an odd little man who guarded his halls like the bridge troll in the “Three Billy Goats Gruff.” As my guest and I walked through the area, Danis pounced like Robocop with a blown fuse, demanding to know why I was trespassing. He shouted at us and ordered that we leave. The unprovoked attack was frightening - but all in a day’s work. Like any agent worth his weight in Hollywood, his balls were big enough to expect an apology from me – for which he has yet to receive. To his credit, SHOWTIME did a moving documentary called HE’S HAVING A BABY, which chronicles the efforts of Danis and his partner to adopt a Vietnamese baby. He recently formed his own agency and took the Voice Over Department with him.

Time, confidentiality and human decency prevent me from sharing too much information about life at 8942 Wilshire. Although I threw away an unimaginable amount of detritus (all of which a few days before had precious meaning), I'm taking with me great memories, great friends, a great wife and thousands of stories that revealed themselves to me in that very building.

With two of the industry’s biggest talent agencies having relocated to Century City, it seems the apes have arrived and the conquest has begun.

Please direct all future coorespondence to:

c/o ICM


Send all questions and comments to


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Blog Counter