I’m surprised that no one has focused on this particular angle: Rosie O’Donnell leaving Risa Shapiro, the agent who’d repped her for seemingly forever, in favor of Nancy Josephson, the newbie Endeavor TV agent and former ICM bigwig. The daughter of Marvin who put Jeff Berg in charge of ICM in the first place, and the first female president of a major talent agency, Josephson made gobs of money for ICM as the rep for its TV package Friends and its exec producers (and her discoveries) Marta Kaufman, Kevin Bright, and David Crane. Then, after being displaced in July’s ICM/Broder merger, Nancy scampered to Endeavor with most of her client list. O’Donnell’s publicist handed out this statement from Rosie: “I have enormous respect and affection for Risa Shapiro, who helped me guide my career up to this point. But given that my career is now more rooted in television, I decided to move with Nancy Josephson. I am already struck by Endeavor’s energy and innovative approach across many platforms.” Back to Shapiro, she has repped Rosie dating back to 1989 when Risa still had to ask Hollywood, “Do you know who Rosie O’Donnell is?” The comedian, who got her first break on Star Search in the mid-1980s, met the agent on an airplane right before Shapiro made the move from the NY to Beverly Hills office of the William Morris Agency. “Rosie says she thanks American Airlines every day,” Shapiro once joked to me. After making the comedy club scene, Rosie was hosting Stand-Up Spotlight on VH1. She did her first film, the remake of Car 54, Where are You, but its release was delayed for more than 4 years. In 1990, she snagged a TV pilot that wasn’t picked up immediately by Fox. In the meantime, Shapiro moved from William Morris to ICM. Just when Rosie was set for her big movie break in A League Of Their Own, Fox suddenly decided to to pick up the TV series. So ICM had to do some tricky negotiating to convince Fox to move back the start of the TV series so O’Donnell could do the movie, too. I looked at my old notes, and here’s what Risa told me about Rosie way back when: “Penny Marshall calls her every night. Because Rosie is the kind of person that you want to have around. She’s the funniest human being you have ever met, and she’s going to be a huge star.” Well, all I can say is that Rosie did bring in a chunk of change for ICM because of her namesake talk show syndicated by Warner. Also, remember that it wasn’t too long ago that Rosie was battling publishing moguls, and bad publicity, in a NYC courtroom after coming out of the closet and abandoning both her talk show and magazine. She’s hot again with a just-offered FX gig relating to Nip/Tuck that supposedly will film during the summer hiatus, and she’s also got The View though she’s only signed on to co-host for one season. But ABC has sure spent a lot of $$$ promoting the heck out of her arrival, and the show’s ratings are way up along with its controversy quotient. But now it’s Josephson who’ll bring in Rosie’s newest ka-ching.
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