Jeff Berg has long been considered more than just another talent agent. For a long time he was the grand high poobah of International Creative Management one of the biggest of the big time talent agencies. Now a man of his age and status in the industry is expected to sit on his laurels and soak in the adulations and obeisances of the Hollywood community.
Mr. Berg has decided that isn't good enough for him. He's leaving his luxurious and lucrative comfort zone at ICM, and starting Resolution a brand new agency from the ground up. He's already moved into his offices, and is currently hanging his new shingle on his new door, with over $200 million in capital financing to help pay the bills.
Now some may wonder why he would be going to all this hassle at his age, which is a time when most would consider retirement.
I think it has to do with the thrill.
From what I've been able to gather Berg had been an important player at ICM since it was created in 1975 by the merger of two agencies (Creative Management Associates and International Famous Agency) and its growth into one of the biggest talent agents in the world.
There's a thrill to building a business like that. Making connections, making deals, and watching the whole thing grow and spread before your eyes, provide a rush not seen outside of illegal narcotics.
However, there's a time when you reach the top of the mountain, and you have a choice. You can sit on top of that mountain, doing nothing constructive because you're too busy battling all comers to stay on top until the day comes when you're finally pushed off, because as long as you sit there, everyone else's opportunities for advancement is frozen while you're there. Or you can have the wisdom to climb off the mountain by your own choice and go create new opportunities for others by either finding or building a new mountain because it's more fun and exciting than watching your back 24/7.
I'm no mind reader, so I can't say that my theory about Mr. Berg's decision process is anything more than just a theory with absolute certainty, but I have seen it before.
Canada's biggest movie producer and distributor during the 80s and 90s was Alliance Films which had been run almost since the beginning by co-founder Robert Lantos. In 1998 Alliance merged with TV prodco Atlantis Communications, and Lantos went from being a CEO back to being just a film and television producer.
As an industry watcher I was amazed by the transformation Lantos had. He lost weight, and looked 10 years younger almost overnight. This wasn't the sort of grimacing Botox induced death mask type of 10 years younger, he looked sincerely rejuvenated. It looked like being back in the organizational and deal making trenches of being a street level producer building a new business from scratch re-invigorated him. (Having the comfort of the money and connections earned through his past success no doubt making things a lot easier.)
So good luck to Mr. Berg, I like to see lots of competition, it's better for the industry as a whole.