Agent's Assitant Hits The Big Time...Over Lunch.

by Paul William Tenny

There's a wonderful little story coming out of Hollywood Reporter today about an assistant at CAA that pitched a story idea to Brian Grazer (24, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13), had it bought, and now is in the mix as a player himself, rather than representing other people - or worse, fetching coffee for agents.

The story is more about the unique process at CAA where Grazer sits down with assistants at the agency once a year, and listens to pitches over lunch. It questions the wisdom of allowing people who are supposed to be training to become top tier agents to pitch to mega-producers, invariably encouraging them to spend time working on their own material instead of finding ways to best represent their bosses stuff. I suppose I agree that if these people want to become agents, they should be spending their time training in that profession and not stepping on the toes of other professionals who have spent all their lives learning how to do this.

On the other hand, you can't be expected to send your entire life doing just one thing. Everyone has a hobby, or something they like to do that gets their mind off the business at hand. Professional screenwriters - at least some - enjoy blogging, because even though it's still writing, it's not even close to the talents and energies you put into creative script writing.

This guy, Ben Dey, got a shot that other assistants at other agencies can only dream of, and he made the most of it.

The program is designed to get the assistants thinking fast on their feet so they won't be afraid to throw out ideas that might be shot down. Ideally, it also generates projects for clients, as was the case when Grazer bought Dey's pitch, "Coma Boy," and screenwriter Kim Barker was brought in to write the screenplay.

I'm supremely happy to hear that a professional writer was brought in to work on the project, although now I really question just what the hell it is that Grazer is paying this guy for. Nobody buys ideas in Hollywood because ideas aren't scripts, aren't theater, aren't film. Give one idea to ten different people and you'll end up with ten wildly different stories.

I understand allowing writers to pitch because it's an exercise is convincing the money guys that not only do you have great idea, you can executive it into a great story too. Ben Dey can't do that because he's not a writer, so why allow someone who can't contribute to the process beyond "here's my idea" to pitch?

Seems a little pointless to me, but hats off to Dey for playing the system and coming out a winner.


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