CAA Inks Japan Deal

Yoshimoto Kogyo, one of Japan’s biggest talent agencies, announced Sept. 24 it will form a strategic partnership with U.S. powerhouse Creative Artists Agency.

The partnership will cover areas including management of entertainers and athletes in both the U.S. and Japan as well as the distribution of films, TV programs and digital content.

Osaka-based Yoshimoto made its name as both an agency and school for comedians. In Japan, talent agencies are called “production companies,” as they not only find work for their clients but also create work by producing everything from television programs to theatrical extravaganzas.

Yoshimoto owns five legitimate theatres, and its influence is monumental given the dominance of the variety show model on Japanese TV.

Variety shows are basically talk shows built around simple themes and their main component is lots of celebrities saying funny things. Yoshimoto has been instrumental in developing the variety show format as a launching pad for its comedians.

Several Yoshimoto veterans have become emcees who host multiple variety shows. In fact, one of the most popular sub-formats of the variety show right now is comedy competitions that tend to be dominated by Yoshimoto acts.

However, the Yoshimoto-CAA deal could run into trouble from Hollywood guilds, according to Nikki Finke in a posting on her Deadline Hollywood blog. The guilds at one time prevented talent agencies from entering the production field because of potential conflicts of interest.

The agreements between unions and agencies have lapsed over the years, but Finke says there have been “threats to enforce the rules again.”