L.A.-based talent representation and marketing firm Wasserman on Monday said it has acquired storied management and production company Brillstein Entertainment Partners, in another sign of consolidation in the representation space as businesses face competitive pressure to expand their scope.
The deal expands Wasserman’s roster, which already includes sports, music and brands, to clients in other areas of entertainment such as film and TV performers. Brillstein represents entertainment industry figures including actors Florence Pugh and Brad Pitt, comedians Seth Meyers and Adam Sandler and influencer Brittany Broski, known for a viral TikTok reaction video of her trying kombucha.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We gain a level of expertise and experience in both the talent management space on the entertainment side and the content production space that we haven’t had before,” said Casey Wasserman, the chairman and chief executive of his namesake firm, in an interview. “As the opportunities for talent continue to be broader and more diverse, this is a significant addition to our ability to serve our clients.”
Talks between the two firms began last year, before the writers’ and actors’ strikes brought to a halt scripted film and television production. The work stoppages have put significant pressure on workers, studios, talent agencies and managers and have led to layoffs across the industry.
Brillstein’s executives will continue to lead the firm and will join Wasserman’s leadership team, and Brillstein’s more than 30 managers will continue in their roles, the companies said in a joint news release.
“All of us at Brillstein are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Wasserman and to tap into their extensive resources on behalf of our management clients,” said Brillstein’s co-Chief Executives, Jon Liebman and Cynthia Pett, in a statement. “We share the same vision, which is to serve all of our clients — in talent, lit, comedy, digital and gaming — in an increasingly complex ecosystem.”
Brillstein traces its history back to 1969, when it was founded by Bernie Brillstein, the influential talent manager and producer who helped bring “Saturday Night Live” to TV. The business later became Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, when Brillstein joined forces with fellow manager Brad Grey, who eventually became head of Paramount Pictures.
Brillstein sold his interest in the company in 1996. In 2005, Grey sold his ownership of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment to Pett and Liebman. Two years later, the firm’s name changed to Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Brillstein died in 2008. Grey died in 2017.
Wasserman, who led Los Angeles’ successful bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics, has been growing his company through acquisitions. In 2021, Wasserman bought Paradigm Talent Agency‘s North American live music representation business.
Brillstein is Wasserman’s 10th acquisition in two years. The latest deal brings the company’s staff to nearly 1,900 people. Wasserman’s maternal grandfather is Lew Wasserman, the Hollywood mogul and kingmaker who ran the powerful entertainment conglomerate MCA.
As the definition of entertainment has become more broad, talent agencies and management firms have expanded the areas in which they serve clients. For Wasserman, that meant the business would grow beyond sports, music and brands.
“The lines between all what used to be pretty distinct businesses were getting blurred very quickly, and so we clearly had started to think about ways for us to continue to make sure we had the best people in the business as resources for our clients,” Wasserman said.
Major talent agencies such as Creative Artists Agency, Endeavor-owned WME and United Talent Agency have grown significantly over the years, adding pressure on smaller businesses to size up. Last year, CAA purchased Hollywood’s fourth largest talent agency, ICM Partners, in an acquisition valued at $750 million, increasing its staff by 425 employees. Earlier this month, investment company Artémis agreed to buy a majority stake in CAA. The financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal was said to value CAA at $7 billion.