There are countless agencies out there, some small, some big, and some, well, very big. If you’re a screenwriter interested in Literary Agencies 101, I’m going to start off with the top dogs, or more commonly known as The Big Four, that you should definitely know. The Big Four are Creative Artists Agency (CAA), International Creative Management Partners (ICMP), William Morris Endeavor (WME), and United Talent Agency (UTA).
You will often hear other smaller agencies referred to as boutique agencies, some of which include APA, The Gersh Agency, Paradigm, Rothman Brecher Agency, Verve, and many, many others. This is not to say these are any less important or successful, however, most of the big deals of the entertainment industry are being made by The Big Four. Smaller agencies are often the perfect fit for new writers. However, for the sake of giving a freshman introduction to the world of agents, I’m going to focus on The Big Four so you get to know what some of the best in the business have to offer.
Creative Artists Agency (CAA)
Founded in 1975, CAA has established itself as oneof the most successful agencies in the industry. With over 2,000 employees, their client list is ever expanding and has some of the top A-list writers, actors, and directors in the industry. Some of their clients include Mindy Kaling, Paul Feig, Jordan Peele, James Cameron, Aaron Sorkin, and Taika Waititi.
ICMP has represented individuals in film, television, publishing, theater, broadcasting, and branded entertainment since 1975. They have packaged hit shows such as “Friends,” “Breaking Bad,” “Modern Family,” and “The Big Bang Theory” and represent clients such as Mark Duplass, Jerry Seinfeld, Spike Lee, Vince Gilligan, and Shonda Rhimes.
United Talent Agency (UTA)
After the merger of Leading Artists and Bauer-Benedek in 1991, UTA has grown to hold 300 agents representing individuals in film, television, books, theater, digital, music, broadcast news, and live entertainment. Some of their high profile clients include Wes Anderson, Michael Schur, Greta Gerwig, B.J. Novak, Judd Apatow, and Issa Rae.
William Morris Endeavor (WME)
William Morris Agency is the longest-running agency, having been formed in 1898 getting its start representing vaudeville performers. In 2009 they merged with Endeavor and became William Morris Endeavor creating the biggest talent agency merger in history. From Charlie Chaplin to Elvis Presley to Marilyn Monroe, they’ve continued their streak of successful clients and today represent Quentin Tarantino, Donald Glover, Tina Fey, Guillermo del Toro, and Dan Fogelman.
While this is only four of the many literary agencies out there, these are four big time power players you should definitely familiarize yourself with as you explore the world of agencies that are such a critical part of the entertainment industry and launching and building your career. These Big Four don’t often represent brand new writers (or in the parlance of the business “baby writers”) but the more you know, the more prepared you will be when you’re in the sweet position of choosing an agent.
Director of WGA's Showrunner Training Program, creator & Director of the CBS Diversity Writers Mentoring Program, international speaker and a leading expert on entertainment career strategies, Carole Kirschner teaches creative professionals how to navigate the often mystifying landscape of show business. Her book, Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, TV and Digital Entertainment is a primer on how to break in and move up in the entertainment industry. Through her popular workshops, Carole teaches writers, producers, directors and executives the real world strategies that will help them not just succeed, but thrive.