In the entertainment industry for the long haul? You had better be nice to the person who answers the phone.
More specifically, if you are calling someone at United Talent Agency, the person you are speaking with may be the person you are trying to reach very soon.
At UTA, the long road to agent usually culminates after years on an assistant’s desk on any one of four floors at 9560 Wilshire Blvd. — a fertile training ground for agency (and industry) personnel. Over 65 of UTA’s nearly 100 agents (including partners Andrew Cannava, Dan Erlij, Wayne Fitterman, Lisa Jacobson, David Kramer, Larry Salz and Jay Sures) all made the jump to agent off of assistants’ desks at the agency.
Subtly contrarian, the partners at UTA have bucked the trend by remaining at their great location between Barneys and the Beverly Wilshire for more than a decade and a half. The 5th floor (pictured here), like the other floors to which UTA eventually expanded, has always exuded the silent intensity of agent hopefuls vying for promotion.UTA has even instituted its own thorough and rigorous education program for all in-house recruits. UTA University (see photo below) provides formal training to agent trainees, and all trainees must first graduate from UTA U to get on an assistant agent’s desk and continue their training.
The curriculum covers a wide range of the agency’s business practices and departments and also trains them on software, submissions, accounting, coverage grids, phones and a multitude of company policies. And so the current assistants on the 5th, 4th, 2nd floor and penthouse at UTA read, listen, watch, schmooze and strategize as they perform their daily tasks.To become an agent requires astuteness; ambition; perseverance; an ability to develop “a point of view” — a popular agency mantra; a love of movies, television, literature and other media; and plain old hard work.
Tom Benedek is the brother of UTA founder Peter Benedek.