Apr 29, 2017
RICHARD KONIGSBERG was one of the youngest agent trainees to ever be promoted at ICM. But Richard ditched the powerhouse talent agency to become an actor himself. Five years later, he returned and was made an agent for a second time -- but not before having to serve another tour of duty as assistant to one of the most demanding agents in the biz. EXPLICIT (45:56)
My first job in the entertainment business was at the powerhouse talent agency International Creative Management. I started in January 1988 and in the two-plus years I was there, I assisted agents in both the motion picture and television departments. And despite witnessing a lot of ego and pressure-driven theatrics and bad behavior, I was very glad to be at ICM because at that time it was one of “the” places to work in Hollywood.
From the Los Angeles Times (Column One – By Amy Wallce – Dec. 11, 1998):
"In the '80s and early '90s, talent agents ruled the industry. Movie studios and television networks found themselves beholden to International Creative Management, the Creative Artists Agency and the time-tested William Morris Agency, the "big three" agencies that had a lock on most A-list stars. Agents made big money for both their clients and themselves, charging the TV networks, for example, huge so-called packaging fees to assemble talent for shows. Even for the most famous actors, it was often unclear who needed whom more: agent or client?"
And as far as agents and clients go, they didn’t come any bigger than ED LIMATO and his megawatt roster, including: Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Denzel Washington, Nicholas Cage, Steve Martin, Matthew Modine and Diana Ross. As RICHARD KONIGSBERG tells me: “Mike Ovitz’s company CAA might have had more stars, but as individual agents go, Ed Limato had the best client list of any agent in town.”
Richard was one of the youngest agent trainees to ever be promoted at ICM, which came after spending two very intense years working as one of two assistants to the notoriously demanding Limato: “I was putting in at least 11-hour days. I was there at 7:30 in the morning. We took no lunch. We assistants worked through lunch, and we did not leave the office until he was actually seated at dinner. He used to eat dinner 5 nights a week at a restaurant called Morton’s. When his guests arrived, we were allowed to leave. But there were many, many times dinner would be over and he would be calling the office and we were still there.”
But the stress and sacrifice that came with the job paid off for Richard. At the age of 23, he became a bona fide agent in ICM’s motion picture department. However, shortly after his promotion was announced, Richard had a surprising announcement of his own – he was leaving the agency: “I was scared. I was insecure. I wasn’t prepared for what was being put in front of me. So, I left and I thought maybe I should be an actor. I said, ‘Look. We represent a lot of people and they’re making a good living. And they’re not that talented.’”
Richard got a job as a waiter, started taking acting classes, and began going on auditions. But fairly quickly, he realized that becoming a working actor wasn’t going to be as easy as he thought – or at least hoped – it would be. “I realized that I was not built for that kind of rejection. But then I had to figure out how to get back into the business.”
And that would take Richard quite a while. He was eventually hired back at ICM. Not as an agent – at least not right away. No, in order to get back on track for promotion he was required to work again as Ed Limato’s assistant for nearly a year. “That was a hard pill to swallow. Here I am showing back up with my tail between my legs. That was tough. Not because of my age. That was never an issue. But explaining to people that I had to work for a guy that I worked for 5 years ago and go back and be his assistant again.” But, once again, it paid off. “I was made an agent at 23, then I was made an agent again like at 28. And I worked as an agent until 2007 when I was fired.”
But that’s just the half of it, because ultimately this episode is the candid, firsthand telling of an unexpected love story. It’s a touching tale of a deep and life-changing friendship that Richard formed with Ed Limato – a friendship that ended up transcending and outliving the power, prestige and pressures of making multi-million-dollar movie deals.
Many thanks to the composers of the music featured in this episode royalty free through Creative Commons licensing:
1. "Jazzy Funky" by TA2MI - blocsonic.com/releases/bsmx0154
2. "Nesting" by Blue Dot Sessions - sessions.blue/sessions/
3. "Slider" by Blue Dot Sessions - sessions.blue/sessions/
4. "Sunset Stroll" by Poddington Bear - soundofpicture.com
5. "Chill Wave" by Kevin MacLeod - incompetech.com
6. "Pensacola Twilight" by Lee Rosevere - leerosevere.bandcamp.com
7. "Tranceless" by Blue Dot Sessions - sessions.blue/sessions/
8. "Parade Shoes" by Blue Dot Sessions - sessions.blue/sessions/