Hollywood is a surprising and always changing place, Bob Broder, a legendary talent agent and Entertainment lawyer, told an engaged audience at Southwestern Law School during a recent appearance. Broder long has specialized in representing television’s leading writers, directors and producers, working now with Chuck Lorre Productions, assisting the firm’s chief in the development and production of television series and other creative projects, including Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly and Mom. Broder, in a conversation with Steven Krone, the director of the Biederman Institute, said he never intended to be in the industry. He practiced as a public defender for two years before getting a job offer at 20th Century Fox. He later founded the Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann Agency, which was acquired in 2006 by ICM Partners, where he rose to the post of vice chairman. In 2012, Lorre approached Broder with an offer to leave ICM, and to join him and to run his expanding company.
Broder discussed the many changes he has seen, including the number of giant companies in the industry that have disappeared and that have been replaced by new firms, just since the last decade or so. While there once were more studios making more movies, there now are more independent production companies such as Lionsgate.
He commented on shifts, too, in the way Hollywood deals with talent. Contracts, he said, are written to last longer than they used to and this duration makes sense because a hit show no longer can be created and built up a less than three years or so. The structure of talent deals also has evolved, with packaging perhaps less key and performers increasingly sophisticated about back-end compensation, he said. Rare is it now, he noted, that a contract for a creative person also doesn’t include an arbitration clause and he talked about the prevalence of JAMS (Judicial Arbitration and Media Services) to resolve arbitration disputes.
He also remarked that many in the industry are staying busy — “everybody is working now,” he said — because of the many scripted shows in the works. When Krone asked about the many unscripted productions under way, Broder was somewhat dismissive of the popular and profitable form, saying he “doesn’t talk about reality TV.”
He addressed, as both an Entertainment lawyer and former agent, a recurring controversy in the business — the state’s Talent Agencies act, which has been the subject of recent litigation and considerable renewed attention. He pointed out differences, nothing that lawyers answer, among others, to the Bar, while agents are regulated by the state of California and the guilds. He said that if performers are lucky enough to have a good agents, they should stick with and work with them, but if not, managers are an option. As a noted literary agent himself, he also highlighted what he termed a new phenomenon, in which writers and not just performers now get managers. It’s not well known, he said, that excellent managers can have clients at several agencies, because large agencies have large rosters.
Broder serves as president of the Board of Directors of Saban Community Clinic in Los Angeles and is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Center for Early Education. He has served on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Board of Governors and its Executive Committee, the Board of Directors for the Association of Talent Agents and chair of its finance committee, a Board member of the Park Century School, and as a Governor of the Los Angeles Board for The Paley Center for Media. He received his J.D. from UCLA School of Law and B.A. from Stanford University.