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READER QUESTION: How Do I Track Down Celebrities for Articles or Projects I'm Working On?

Hey, everyone--

Today's question comes from Cherie, who actually emailed Writers Digest editor Brian Klems over at his Questions & Quandries blog. Cherie asks...

"In doing research for articles I'm working on, I would like to contact a number of celebrities in
different fields of work, including music, theater and art. Is there a specific source you know
of that lists agents or contacts for celebrities?"

There are several places that can help you dig up this info, Cherie. I'd start with Who Represents (www.whorepresents.com) a subscription-service that maintains a massive, and usually up-to-date, database of contact info for everyone from actors and rock stars to writers and directors. They often include agents, managers, publicists, and lawyers. IMDB has a similar service called IMDB Pro.

If that doesn't work, try the main Hollywood unions...

The Writers Guild of America (www.wga.org)
The Directors Guild of America (www.dga.org)
The Screen Actors Guild of America (www.sag.org)

Each of these websites has services to help you track down members (SAG's is called iActor-- the others are easy to find).

If this doesn't work, I usually get scrappy, which isn't hard on the internet. Try Googling for the name of your celebrity, along with keywords like "agent," "agency," "repped," or "tenpercentery." For example, just as a test-- I just Googled "Laura Linney" and "repped." Thousands of hits came up, and I noticed one of them said "Linney, repped by ICM..." so I clicked on it. It's pretty old-- from August, 2001-- but it does have a story about Linney appearing in The Life of David Gale, and-- sure enough-- it says she's repped at ICM. Still, this article is almost seven years old, so I'd like to double check that. So I Googled for "Laura Linney" and "ICM." This time, I got a Deadline Hollywood Daily article claiming Linney is still at ICM... and this is from July, 2007. Much better. Next step: call ICM, ask for Laura Linney's "point agent," and tell the assistant you're looking for Laura Linney's publicist. If she doesn't have a publicist, you can usually explain to the assistant what you're looking for and he/she will point you in the right direction.

If some creative Google searches don't help, I often resort to simply calling the five big agencies: ICM, UTA, CAA,Endeavor, or William Morris. This usually only works if your celebrity is big enough that you're fairly certain they'll be at one of the five giants. Mega-stars like Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, for instance, are certainly repped by one of the biggies (they're both at CAA); smaller acts, like the awesome Summer Glau, may not be (she's at Paul Kohner). So while you certainly don't want to call every agency in New York or Hollywood, it's sometimes worth it to simply call the Big Five.

The receptionist will answer, and tell him/her you're looking for "Client Info," the department which will give you your subject's point person... or whether or not they're even a client.

Also-- clients switch agencies a lot, so even places that should be up to date, like the unions, may have old info. Sometimes, Client Info can give you their new agency; other times, you're back at square one.

If calling agencies doesn't work, then you have to get really scrappy. I usually track down someplace I know the celebrity has worked before. Maybe you're trying to track down a book author... look up his/her most recent publisher, give them a call, explain what you're looking for, and a receptionist can usually put you in touch with an editor's assistant who will direct you to the author's publicist. The same can work for tracking down musicians through music labels. Or writers, directors, or actors through production companies, networks, or studios. It's often a long, twisty path of phone conversations, but it often works.

If you're tracking an actor, you can also try going through a casting director. For example, let's say I wanted to track down Joey Ansah. "Who?!" you ask, because Joey Ansah is clearly not a household name you could find simply by calling the Big Five agencies. Joey Ansah played Desh, the assassin killed by Jason Bourne in the greatest-fight-to-the-death-scene ever from last year's ridiculously incredible The Bourne Ultimatum. So I'd go to IMDB and look up Joey Ansah, where even in the little pictures he looks deadly and makes me glad that Matt Damon killed him. His most recent film seems to have been Underground, some obscure (maybe British) martial arts film. Because that's a weird little film, I'm guessing it won't be easy to get in touch with people who worked on it. But just before he did Underground, Joey Ansah did Bourne, so I click on that. Over to the left, I click on "full cast and crew." I search for the casting team, who were Daniel Hubbard, John Hubbard, and Avy Kaufman. Next, I head to The Casting Society of America (www.castingsociety.com), which allows you to track down casting directors. I click "Find a CD," and enter Daniel Hubbard's name. Nothing comes up. So I enter Avy Kaufman's name, and his contact info pops right up.

I give Avy a call, explain who I'm looking for, and they're able to point me to Joey Ansah's agent.

(All of this is assuming, of course, that you don't come across as some kind of stalker. People are very protective of other people's info, especially celebrities'. So many are hesitant to give it out to anyone other than other industry people undefined or-- occasionally-- legit journalists.)

There may be other websites, similar to Who Represents, that are just as helpful in tracking down celebrities in other mediums. I tend to use the ones discussed here because they're the best for movies and TV, but music and theater may have similar sites. If you know of any, I'd love to hear about them... feel free to shoot me an email at WDScriptNotes@FWpubs.com, or post them in the comments section below so other people can use them.

In the mean time, I hope this was helpful, Cherie... good luck!... keep reading!... and I'll talk to you soon...

Chad

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