Richard Leibner, Formative Agent for TV News Figures, Dies at 85

The media vet guided the broadcast careers of Diane Sawyer, Dan Rather, Norah O’Donnell and Mike Wallace

Richard Leibner
Richard Leibner (Credit: Getty Images)

Richard Leibner, a prominent talent agent who transformed the industry by representing well-known TV news anchors, died on Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 85.

Leibner guided the careers of many broadcast journalists, including Diane Sawyer, Dan Rather, Norah O’Donnell, Mike Wallace, Andy Rooney, Ed Bradley, Morley Safer, Bob Simon, Steve Kroft, Bill Whitaker, Paula Zahn, Brian Stelter, and Fareed Zakaria. He retired in December 2021 after 58 years in the industry. 

Leibner passed away at his home in New York, UTA vice chairman Jay Sures announced in an internal memo. 

“Richard will be remembered as the agent who transformed the news business,” Sures wrote. “Decades ago, he made it his personal mission to see that big name news stars should be treated and compensated like traditional movie and television stars.”

“To say that Richard was iconic and larger than life is an understatement. He was truly one of a kind and he will be missed,” Sures added. 

Leibner started his career in 1963 after graduating with a master’s degree in taxation from New York University, a B.S. in accounting from the University of Rochester and a C.P.A. license. He worked for his family’s accounting firm briefly before cofounding N.S. Bienstock with his former partner, Nate Bienstock. The firm was eventually acquired by the Leibner’s and Richard started his career as an agent. 

After his many years in service of the TV news industry, Leibner was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 2018.

He is survived by his spouse, Carole Cooper, another longtime agent known for her representation of news anchors; two sons, Adam and Jonathan; and four grandchildren. Cooper and Adam Leibner continue to work at UTA. 

Funeral services are to be announced at a later date. 


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