"Saturday Night Live" talent department chief Ayala Cohen has joined ICM Partners as a talent agent. Cohen will work out of the agency's New York office starting July 9.
In running the talent department at “SNL,” Cohen was responsible for bringing in new cast members, evaluating submissions, booking hosts and scouring the country for up and coming or underutilized comedians.
In other words, she was responsible for finding and nurturing talent – one key ingredient to being an agent.
“Ayala brings a wealth of industry knowledge and leadership and perfectly complements our culture of teamwork and collegiality at ICM Partners,” the partners said in a joint statement. “Her expertise will be invaluable in bolstering our presence in comedy, from motion pictures to television to the digital space.”
Since ICM Partners completed its buyout of Rizvi Traverse and Jeff Berg last month, it has set about rebuilding the business and reorganizing to fit the culture the partners desire.
The first step in that move – after selecting the partners – was hiring Keyvan Peymani to run the agency’s digital strategy division.
Hiring Cohen marks the next step, as ICM Partners hopes to build out its comedy department. That is seen as increasingly lucrative area given that comedians are even more valuable in the world of social media, online video and multi-platform programming.
They can appear in not just film and television, but onstage and online. Twitter is also an ideal platform for short bursts of comedy.
One sign of the changing times was Louis C.K.’s decision to self-distribute a stand-up special online for $5, something that earned the comedian more than $1 million in less than two weeks.
“I’m really thrilled to join my new colleagues at ICM Partners after almost twenty amazing years at Saturday Night Live,” Cohen, the wife of neoconservative columnist John Podhoretz, said in a statement. “I’ve always loved comedy, and I’m eager to bring new clients to the agency and help find exciting opportunities for its impressive talent roster.”
Expect more changes at ICM Partners in the near future — both arrivals and departures.