WHILE ICM WAS BUSY DEFENDING THEIR TERRITORY in court, another one of their West Coast competitors was making plans to move in on the same market. In April, the Gersh talent agency announced that Phyllis Wender, a longtime New York–based literary agent, would be joining the firm to launch its first book division.
If Mr. Abate’s struggles to open up a book division for Endeavor show off everything that can go bitterly wrong when the New York publishing world gets tangled up with the Hollywood movie culture, then Ms. Wender’s move to Gersh demonstrates all of the potential upside of such cross-continental partnerships.
Ms. Wender, who was born in New York City and raised outside of Princeton, N.J., has deep roots in the New York publishing industry. In 1981, she co-founded an independent literary agency, called Rosenstone/Wender. Over the years, she built up a long, impressive roster of clients in the theater and book world, including the director Jack O’Brien, the novelist Amy Bloom, the actress and children’s-book writer Jamie Lee Curtis, and the estate of the late Wendy Wasserstein.
Overnight, by bringing Ms. Wender on board, Gersh established a formidable presence in New York. By teaming up with a well-connected L.A. agency, Ms. Wender can now offer her clients great access to screenwriting and directing opportunities in Hollywood.
Likewise, if Gersh clients (including studio actors and professional athletes) want to write a book, they can pass them along to the in-house New Y
orkers. Already, Gersh’s sports division has handed over one client to Ms. Wender’s division—namely the mixed-martial-arts fighter, former U.F.C. titleholder and budding author Randy Couture.
“The flow of information between Los Angeles and New York is incredibly useful,” said Ms. Wender. “And it goes both ways. It’s good for everybody involved.”
Unless, of course, it isn’t.