Gersh Starts New Chapter

The Gersh Agency is the latest to announce its entry into the New York book market, opening a literary division under the direction of Phyllis Wender.

Endeavor Talent Agency made a similar announcement earlier this year, a controversial move with the departure of former International Creative Management lit agent Richard Abate.

That makes four major Hollywood agencies to have made the foray into New York literary circles, according to the Los Angeles Times. William Morris Agency also has a lit division. But others, such as Creative Artists Agency and United Talent Agency, co-agent with authors’ independent 10-percenters on book-to-film deals rather than establish literary units.

Wender comes on board from the ranks of independent literary agents, having co-founded the Rosenstone/Wender Agency in 1981. She is bringing colleagues Sonia Pabley and Susan Cohen with her to Gersh, according to the Times. Reportedly among Wender’s clients are director Jack O’Brien, author Amy Bloom, actor Jamie Lee Curtis, Ms. Magazine founding editor Letty Cottin Pogrebin and screenwriter/playwright Loring Mandel.

Inter-genre "cross pollination" of film, literature and music businesses appears to be on the upswing, though not without some friction. When Abate announced he was jumping from ICM to open a lit division at Endeavor, the agency sued, charging breach of contract and accusing Abate of stealing proprietary company information.

A federal judge rejected ICM’s charges, but the spurned agency is still battling Abate in arbitration for $10 million it claims in damages.