From JJ Abrams to Jimmy Kimmel: Celebrities Who Gave Big to Beto O’Rourke

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From J.J. Abrams to Sarah Jessica Parker and Steven Spielberg, it seems Hollywood is betting on Beto O’Rourke.

The Democratic Senate candidate mounted an uphill fight against incumbent Ted Cruz, an unpopular Republican in typically red Texas. Hollywood loves an underdog story — especially when liberals win — and that meant some generous checks for O’Rourke heading into Tuesday’s election.

O’Rourke has received a total of $811,632 from the entertainment industry, according to The Center for Responsive Politics, which includes film, TV and music industry donations under the banner of entertainment.

The figures are taken from databases uploaded by the Federal Election Commission at the start of every month. Those databases are as current as the FEC’s uploads, and the numbers will likely increase as more numbers roll in.

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TheWrap also sifted through 2018 Federal Election Commission filings as well as the Campaign Finance Institute’s FollowtheMoney.org to see which specific Hollywood donors coughed up maximum donations for Beto.

Currently, federal campaign finance law allows a donor to contribute up to $5,400 to a candidate’s campaign committee — $2,700 in the primary, and another $2,700 in the general election.

Connie Britton, Tate Donovan and “Star Wars” director Rian Johnson all gave Beto the maximum possible donation of $5,400 each.

Sarah Jessica Parker, Jimmy Kimmel, Rosie O’Donnell, Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams,, Tate Donovan, Rob Reiner, all gave $2,700.

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Other Hollywood donors include “Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman, CEO of Entertainment Studios Byron Allen, UTA co-president David Kramer, Carsey Marcey, who produced the original “Roseanne,” CAA Managing Partner Bryan Lourd, “The McCarthys” creator Brian Gallivan and Disney studio head Alan Horn, who all gave $2,700. CAA Managing Partner Kevin Huvane donated $3,700.

Chelsea Handler shelled out $2,500, Jamie Lee Curtis gave $2,000, and Barbra Streisand, who just came out with a new anti-Trump album, gave $1,250. Bill Nye donated $900.

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Jim Meenaghan Named Co-Head of UTA Independent Film Group

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United Talent Agency has named Jim Meenaghan the co-head of its independent film group.

The executive joins longtime group leader Rena Ronson in the department, a packaging and finance machine that reports to the agency’s David Kramer.

“The partnership of Jim and Rena will be a powerful combination for our clients working in the independent market,” Kramer said in a statement.

Meenaghan comes over from the motion picture business affairs group, which he’ll still oversee. In his new role, he’ll advise on content financing structures and distribution deals.

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He’ll also work with Asian markets and is tasked with expanding UTA’s footprint in independent animation (a big seller in international markets of late, like the Michael Jackson chimp stop-motion film “Bubbles,” which sold for $20 million at Cannes two years ago). The group is also a key player on the festival and awards circuit.

“I’m really happy to take on this new role and work closely with Rena and the fantastic team she has built to further expand the focus of the Independent Film Group,” Meenaghan said.

Meenaghan worked with Tang Media Partners on the formation of Global Road Studios, more recently with Australian production company Grace, and with animation studio 3QU Media. Prior to UTA, he served as head of motion picture business affairs for independent studios Walden Media and Icon Films. He started his career at Walt Disney.

During her tenure as head of UTA Independent Film Ronson has doubled the size of the department. Recent high-profile independently financed films, productions and co-productions from UTA include: “The Big Sick,” “I, Tonya,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Lady Bird,” “Hidden Figures,” “Call Me by Your Name,” and “Room.”

Last year, six films the UTA packaged earned 12 Academy Awards and three wins — including Bryan Fogel’s documentary “Icarus.”

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UTA Acquires Speakers Bureau Greater Talent Network

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United Talent Agency has acquired Don Epstein’s 35-year-old speakers bureau Greater Talent Network, the companies announced Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Epstein, who launched GTN in the basement of a New York brownstone in 1982 by signing initial clients P.J. O’Rourke and Tom Wolfe, will become a partner in UTA as part of the deal.

GTN boasts some of the top lecture agents and professional event coordinators representing talent from the worlds of business, entertainment, sports, media, technology, news and politics. GTN will continue to operate out of its New York City and Florida offices.

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The deal immediately establishes UTA as a market leader in live speaking engagements at a time when public figures from all walks of life are seeking to extend their brands across all available platforms.

“Overnight this makes UTA the global leader among talent agencies on the speaking circuit,” UTA co-president Jay Sures said in a statement. “GTN has been a great company in this market for decades, and the synergies on both sides will create both unlimited and unparalleled opportunities for our clients.”

“Over many years, GTN has been approached with opportunities to combine our company with other organizations,” Epstein said. “We chose UTA for its unique hands-on approach to servicing artists, public figures, and content providers.”

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The acquisition follows UTA’s announcement last week that Sures and David Kramer have been named co-presidents of the agency under CEO Jeremy Zimmer.

This year, UTA took an equity stake in investment firm AGM Partners, increased its partnership ranks by 20 percent, and represent a roster of directors who helmed half the year’s top-grossing ($100 million-plus) films.

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UTA Names David Kramer, Jay Sures Co-Presidents

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David Kramer and Jay Sures have been named co-president of United Talent Agency (UTA), UTA’s Board of Directors announced Wednesday.

The pair became Managing Directors in 2010 and worked with CEO Jeremy Zimmer to grow UTA’s business. Over the past five years, the company has doubled in size to now include over 850 people globally, made major acquisitions in music, news and finance sectors, and recruited numerous agents and executives on both the creative and business sides.

In 2017, UTA announced its equity stake in investment firm AGM Partners, a 20 percent expansion of its partner ranks, a roster of directors that represents half the year’s top-grossing film, and a decision to cancel its annual Oscar party to hold a “United Voices” rally that financially benefitted the ACLU and International Committee for Refugees.

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Kramer oversees UTA’s motion picture group which includes its literary, talent, independent film finance, media rights and production departments, and he also directs the agency’s comedy touring, licensing, endorsement and publishing arms.

Sures oversees the agency’s television divisions, which includes UTA’s scripted and non-scripted groups, news and broadcasting, TV talent and speakers group.

“Jay and David embody the greatest parts of UTA, and I couldn’t ask for better, smarter or more creative partners,” said Zimmer. “They are, first and foremost, among our industry’s best agents. But they are also great colleagues, whose collaboration and entrepreneurship have helped build UTA into what it is today–a true, diversified media company with global reach. As UTA continues to grow and pursue new ventures, partnerships and acquisitions, these titles are a more appropriate reflection of their central roles and what’s next for UTA as an entertainment company.”

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“As we continue to expand and evolve into a truly diverse entertainment company, artists and creators remain at the center of everything we do,” said Kramer and Sures, who both began their careers as assistants to UTA Co-Founder Peter Benedek. “For us, this partnership has worked so well for so long because it’s always been more than just a professional experience. We’ve loved working and growing the business together, and we look forward to continuing that work with our fellow board members, partners, and everyone across the agency.”

UTA’s client roster includes Anthony Anderson, Wes Anderson, Judd Apatow, Elizabeth Banks, Samantha Bee, Alec Berg, Anderson Cooper, Bryan Cranston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lena Dunham, Will Ferrell, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, James Franco, James Gunn, Kevin Hart, Angelina Jolie, Chuck Lorre, Dr. Phil, Chris Pratt, Seth Rogen, Mark Ruffalo, Amy Schumer, Jill Soloway, Wanda Sykes, Jake Tapper and Channing Tatum.

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UTA Promotes 9 Agents to Partner

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United Talent Agency (UTA) has promoted nine agents to partner status, representing a 20-percent expansion of the agency’s top ranks, the company announced Tuesday.

Sarah Clossey, Steve Cohen, Gueran Ducoty, Charles Ferraro, Pete Franciosa, Allan Haldeman, Keya Khayatian, Tim Phillips and Jo Yao all join UTA’s 44 existing partners.

Clossey, Cohen and Yao are agents in UTA’s Motion Picture Talent department; Ducoty heads UTA’s Licensing & Endorsements department; Ferraro and Keya Khayatian are agents in UTA’s Motion Picture Literary department; Franciosa heads UTA’s Production department; Haldeman is an agent in UTA’s Television department; and Phillips is an agent in UTA’s Television Literary department.

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“These promotions reflect the strong individual contributions, skills and networks of our newest partners and our collective confidence about the opportunities ahead for our agency and clients in a shifting media environment,” said UTA Managing Directors Jeremy Zimmer, David Kramer and Jay Sures in a statement. “Each of these individuals plays an integral role in our success.  We value the passion, integrity and commitment they bring to work every day on behalf of UTA’s clients, and we know they will continue to accomplish great things.”

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Cohen, Ducoty, Ferraro, Khayatian, Haldeman, Phillips and Yao all came to the high ranks of the agency through the UTA Agent Training Program. Clossey, who represents stars like Bryan Cranston and Rashida Jones, joined UTA in 2007 from Paradigm, while Franciosa joined in 1998 from International Creative Management.

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Rob Carlson, Agent to Top Screenwriters and Directors, Joins UTA

Rob Carlson, Agent to Top Screenwriters, Joins UTA

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Rob Carlson, a motion picture literary agent whose clients include Hasbro, Michael Bay and Jon M. Chu, has joined UTA, the agency announced in a Tuesday statement.

Carlson, who reps some of Hollywood’s top screenwriters, comes from WME, where he began his career in the mailroom and worked for 25 years. He spent eight years as a TV packaging agent before transitioning into movies.

Carlson’s client list at WME also includes Ian Bryce, Jack Thorne, Mike Lesslie, Clay Kaytis, David Slade, Matt Shakman, Adam F. Goldberg, Tom Harper, Paul Tibbit, Richard Tanne, Jeff Wadlow, Scott Speer, the Spierig brothers, Mark Burton and Wash Westmoreland.

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“Rob is a great agent whose reputation in the filmmaking world speaks for itself,” David Kramer, UTA managing director and head of the motion picture literary department, said in the statement. “We’re thrilled to welcome Rob to our team, and we know he and his clients will thrive at UTA.”

UTA, which was founded in 1991, has been aggressively growing in agents and divisions in recent years. Last year, the agency poached 11 CAA comedy agents in a daring raid, bringing A-listers including Will Ferrell and Chris Pratt along with them. Also in 2015, UTA acquired The Agency Group and combined it with an existing division to form UTA Music.

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UTA Communications Chief Chris Day to Leave Agency Next Month

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UTA’s longtime head of Corporate Communications Chris Day will be departing the agency in January, it was jointly announced today by Day and UTA managing directors David Kramer and Jay Sures, and CEO Jeremy Zimmer.

Day, who has led the agency’s communications since 1999, tells TheWrap, “This was a soul searching decision to leave. But I intend to continue a great relationship with UTA.”

He added, “I’ve had an incredible run at an incredible organization, but it felt like the time was right to take stock of where the media world is, and see what the next challenge could be for me.”

“Chris is a consummate pro who has led our media strategy through many game-changing events in our history,” Zimmer said. “We are grateful for the invaluable counsel he has provided to the agency and our clients, and for the many ways he has gone above and beyond his role. We reluctantly accept his decision to leave, and we look forward to working with him in whatever role he tackles next.” 

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Day added, “UTA is an extraordinary place that has given me unlimited opportunity, and I’m grateful to Jeremy and the Board for entrusting me with this role for 17 years. It’s an incredibly tough decision to leave a company I’m so proud to be a part of, but after a long run, I’m excited to explore new challenges.”

One of the longest-serving heads of talent agency publicity, Day has overseen UTA’s communications strategy during the company’s rise as one of the top talent agencies in the world.

Day also led the company’s efforts to form the non-profit UTA Foundation and the agency’s research department. He has played a role in the agency’s consulting practice, working with corporate clients such as Delta Air Lines and the Consumer Technology Association.

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More recently, Day oversaw the communications surrounding UTA’s acquisitions of market-leading broadcast news agency Bienstock and leading independent music firm The Agency Group as well as the formation of UTA Fine Arts and subsequent launch of UTA Artist Space.

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