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TV Agent Tells NU Crowd How to Make It In Hollywood

By Jacob Nelson

Hollywood is an a business of apprenticeships. If you want to make it as a writer, producer, or actor, then get a job working for someone who can teach you how it’s done.

That was the advice given by Kevin Crotty (WCAS92), a partner and board member at the major literary and talent agency ICM Partners, at the second speaker series event hosted by the Masters of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises (MSLCE) program on Nov. 5. Crotty spoke to a packed room during a talk moderated by RTVF senior lecturer and screenwriter Bill Bleich. MSCLE program director Pablo Boczkowski introduced the event.

After graduating from Northwestern in 1992, Crotty graduated moved to Los Angeles with no prospects. He found a job as a runner, taking scripts to people around the city. Eventually he got a job as a production assistant, and from there found his way to an agency, where he sold books and television.

“It was a great job I had material to sell… and I did it very well,” Crotty said.

Now, Crotty is a partner and board member at ICM Partners, one of the largest talent and literary agencies in the world. His company represents “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan, “House of Lies” creator Matthew Carnahan and “The Blacklist” creator Jon Bokenkamp.

I don’t want to represent Coke, I want to represent writers, directors, producers, actors,” Crotty said. “We want to be known as the place an artist can go and spend their career.”

Corti said that his years in the business have taught him what works towards success and what works against it.

“My blanket advice… if you want to work in the entertainment business, you have to be in the entertainment business,” he said. “Get a job in the business, that’s the best way to learn.”

Crony explained that even good writers need years to improve their craft, and that often the first script from a writer is not the one that turns into a television show. The creator of the new character-drama “Kingdom,” for example, started as an assistant to Crotty. One day he handed him a script. Crotty said it was brilliant, and got him a job working on the Showtime program “Huff,” which Crotty said “got his career going.” Now “Kingdom” is airing on DirecTV.

Crony also encouraged people interested in working in Hollywood to work hard and, equally important, be unafraid to be themselves.

“I’ve been more successful the more authentic I’ve become,” Crotty said. “Work really hard be likable, be pleasant to deal with and have a point of view.”

The next event in the MSLCE Speaker Series will take place Dec. 3, featuring Adult Swim Games producer Matthew Schwartz (C95), at 5 p.m. in the Frances Searle Building, 3-417. It is open to the public. For more information, email creative@northwestern.edu or RSVP here.