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When the Press looks at celebrity speakers it turns to the industry leader...

Greater Talent Network Talent Matters, Exclusivity Counts ...attached are some recent examples


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Press: The Hollywood Reporter

THE BUSINESS Agents

“This business is labor-intensive, with many moving parts,” says Epstein, in his Midtown Manhattan office. “Passion has kept me going for more than 30 years.”

MONEYBALL

For Don Epstein, whose A-list clients command up to six figures for a few hours of their time, talk is definitely not cheap By Eriq Gardner

T

HE DAY MONEYBALL GARNERED SIX media execs (Tina Brown, Howard Stringer), Oscar nominations, Don Epstein, CEO politicians (Jimmy Carter, Cory Booker) and of Greater Talent Network, suddenly authors (Tom Wolfe, Ken Follett). It has twice became the point man for three of the as many entertainment speakers as politihottest speakers in corporate America: cal and an enthusiasm for Hollywood and the the book’s author, Michael Lewis, and Billy lighter side of the zeitgeist (from directors such Beane and Paul DePodesta, baseball executives as Brett Ratner and Bully’s Lee Hirsch to hosts who were portrayed in the movie and went on like Giuliana Rancic and reality exec Mark the road to talk innovative winning strategies. Burnett). Says Don Walker, president of The “I don’t have the money that Hollywood studios Harry Walker Agency, “Don Epstein created, have to promote this stuff,” says the New Yorkby dint of his hard work and imagination, one of based Epstein, 56. “So I have to ride the coatthe leading speakers’ agencies in the world.” tails of their promotion.” The public-speaking business is a lucraHis timing for drafting on the currents of pop tive parallel industry to Hollywood. Authors, culture is impeccable. When Apollo 13 came because they’re storytellers, tend to be among out, Epstein already had signed as clients the the highest-earning clients. “I must confess, I real-life astronauts who were the do cash the checks,” says Wolfe. basis of the film. Because he gets “Some people show up because ON DECK first looks at client Lewis’ books, they just want to say they were in he was able to position and launch the same room, others are really ● Epstein is pitching subjects like The Blind Side’s interested in the subject, and a Hillary Leigh Anne Tuohy on tour when few come because they are forced Clinton for the movie hit big; he’s crafting to by their professors.” Epstein’s when she similar opportunities for Max top clients make $50,000 to exits as secretary of state. Brooks’ World War Z and Marcus $100,000 for a few hours, and Husband Bill has earned $65 million in fees (with Luttrell’s Lone Survivor, both he says the market has exponenanother agency) since he GTN clients. The Harry Walker tially risen during the past few left office in 2001. Agency, established in 1946, might decades. (GTN typically gets a ● Brooks, the World War Z be older (the more politically 20- to 30-percent commission.) author, will offer zombie inclined Washington Speakers “When we started with Burnett, survival “lessons” when Bureau is another Epsteinhe was $1,500 per night,” he says. the film, starring Brad Pitt, opens. professed rival), and National “Now, it’s six figures.” Epstein ● Luttrell, the former Speakers Bureau might be bigger, and the 22 agents at his New Navy SEAL who wrote Lone but GTN is perhaps one of the York firm generate about 1,600 Survivor, will talk “Courage, most versatile speakers’ bureaus, speeches a year — or, as he says, Honor, Patriotism.” Mark representing a broad range of “3,200 legs,” because they also Wahlberg plays him in the clients — film and TV talent make sure speakers physically 2013 movie. (Michael Moore, Conan O’Brien), get from one place to another

32 | THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER | 05.04.12

THE BLIND SIDE Epstein got an early look at Lewis’ The Blind Side, which led to signing book protagonist Tuohy (inset) as a speaker before the release of the 2009 film, starring Sandra Bullock.

and understand what the buyers expect. “This is not a hobby,” says GTN client Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Pictures, who gives talks on risk management, leading in uncertain times and entrepreneurial thought. “The speech has to be carefully designed to meet the company’s needs. This can be a real value proposition for a corporation; I was encouraged by Don and his group, who have spent years coaching, to make sure speeches were engaging.” When Epstein founded GTN in 1982 after a stint at New Line, the public-speaking circuit mostly was reserved for politicians — typically Democrats — who because of ethics rules could only accept modest amounts. “I remember booking Joe Biden for $2,000 a night, the limit Congress had set,” he says. When Ronald Reagan left the presidency, he began getting big paychecks for corporate events — a transformative moment for the industry. Soon, Epstein’s political clients were making fistfuls of cash. Some, like the late U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, would joke that taking a government stint meant Epstein would receive one type of e-mail from him: “Time for free speech.” Exiting public life meant another: “Time for paid speech.” With a flair for showmanship — Epstein once promoted G. Gordon Liddy by spreading the rumor that the Watergate figure would reveal Deep Throat’s identity — the agent continues to anticipate what’s hot in the market, not to mention the culture at large. After 30 years of leveraging Hollywood’s next hot properties, Epstein will celebrate GTN’s anniversary in May at the U.N. “If none of my clients came, great,” he says. “If I’m doing my job, they should be on the road, working.” PHOTOGRAPHED BY

Matt Salacuse

CLINTON: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES. MONEYBALL, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: MELINDA SUE GORDON/COLUMBIA TRISTAR; CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES; ROB KIM/ EVERETT COLLECTION/NEWSCOM. BLIND SIDE, FROM LEFT: JOHN SHEARER/GETTY IMAGES FOR CHILDREN AWAITING PARENTS; COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES.

Putting the Pop in Paid Speech

Epstein handles speaking appearances for Lewis (bottom right) and Beane (upper right), who was portrayed onscreen by Brad Pitt (left, with Jonah Hill, who played a character based on DePodesta).


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Press: The New York Sun


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TheWallStreetJournal.

Press: The Wall Street Journal


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Press: The New York Times


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TheWallStreetJournal.

Press: The Wall Street Journal


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Press: New York Magazine

It’s Good to Be Michael Lewis

He could have made a fortune in business. Instead, he made a fortune writing about it. Plus—a fortune for everyone he writes about.

By Jessica Pressler

Collins Tuohy has told this story before, and by now her delivery is spot on. It was Thanksgiving morning, and her family were on their way to pick up breakfast. “Because in our household,” she says in her Memphis drawl, and pauses for emphasis. “My mother thinks that if we go and get food.” Dramatic pause. “And bring it back to our house.” Another pause. “Then it counts as home cooking.” The audience laughs as Collins, a twentysomething Kappa Delta in a leopard-print dress and heels that bring her a good four inches closer to God, shakes her head affectionately at her parents, Leigh Anne and Sean, who are sitting next to her onstage at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Then her story turns serious. As they were driving, they spotted a boy from Collins’s school walking down the street, unseasonably clad in shorts and a T-shirt. Leigh Anne asked her husband to pull over. You probably know the rest. So did the thousand or so salespeople that diamond manufacturer Hearts on Fire had invited to hear the Tuohys speak during its annual seminar. At this point, practically everyone with eyes has seen the movie The Blind Side, which tells the story of how the Tuohys adopted that boy, Michael Oher, and transformed him, by the grace of Jesus and with the help of cash from Sean’s fast-food franchises, from almost-certain lost cause to millionaire NFL star. Oher’s story might never have been told outside Memphis if Sean Tuohy’s high-school classmate Michael Lewis hadn’t happened into town soon after that Thanksgiving Day to talk to his old friend for a story he was working on about their high-school baseball coach. Lewis watched as Collins, “Michael her brother, Sean Junior, a six-foot-four, 350-pound in and out the of theagent house and quietly wondered does thisandover and over again,”mystery says streamed Don Epstein, what the hell was going on.

who handles Lewis’s speaking engagements, which are plentiful When they were done talking, Sean Tuohy escorted Lewisalso to thehandles door. “Well,Lewis’ I hope another 25 years doesn’t go by,” he said. and remunerative. Epstein remarkable spillover: Lewis paused in the entryway. “You’re really going to let me out of here without telling me who the black kid is?” he asked. When Lewis does a book, he often puts the people he writes about Collins Tuohy hasn’t actually read the book that Lewis subsequently wrote about her family and that served as the basis of the movie. She touch Epstein, because, inevitably, they the arestory going to need anof its own. Last year, the doesn’t need to, shein says, and notwith just because she “lived it,” as she puts it, but because has taken on a life Tuohys published another book, In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving, followed in February by Oher’s own memoir, I Beat agent, too. Even supporting characters are in demand: Epstein books the Odds. Leigh Anne, who was an interior decorator before she became professionally herself, has appeared on Extreme Makeover: Home fora reality Paul show DePodesta, straight man; Edition, is developing about at-riskMoneyball’s children, and has number-crunching become good friends with Sandra Bullock, who played her in the movie. “I could eat him with a spoon,” she told People, of the actress’s own recently adopted child. Susan “Miss Sue” Mitchell, who tutored Michael Oher in The Blind “But it was Michael Lewis,” Sean reminds the crowd at the Aria, “who got the ball rolling. And he has a new movie coming out, MoneySide; and Meredith Whitney, the financial analyst whose early warnball—” ings about subprime debt were highlighted in Lewis’s financial-crisis “Oh, don’t plug him,” Leigh Anne interrupts good-naturedly. “He’s made plenty of money off us.” Big laughs from the crowd—she has narrative The Big Short. “It’s almost like he stamps his own brand on a point. But so does Sean. Without The Blind Side, the Tuohys would be a family of local saints; with it, they are something like national you by writing you,” says Whitney. heroes, touring the country from speakingabout engagement to speaking engagement on a kind of paid victory lap. They may be the most enterprising beneficiaries of a phenomenon now so common it deserves to be called the Michael Lewis Effect—the way the author makes his subjects into celebrities just by writing about them , endowing obscure figures with major profiles, intellectual prestige, even earning power.

“He changed my life,” Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane had told me the day before, bouncing through the Oakland Coliseum on a golf cart between his own press appearances for the movie Moneyball, adapted from Lewis’s baseball book turned management manifesto. Beane had been a backroom-style executive in a forgettable market—a pretty good gig if you like baseball, but nothing that would get you recognized in the street—before Lewis’s 2003 Moneyball proclaimed him a genius for his team’s use of sabermetrics, an arcane statistical method of evaluating players. The book, which sold over a million copies, changed the way baseball was played, made “Moneyball” a shorthand term for data-¬driven innovation in any field, and turned Beane himself into a savant legend well outside of baseball circles. Though he’s still not quite as well known as the guy who sneaks up behind him and slaps him on the back as Beane walks to his next interview. “Hey, man,” says a familiar voice. That would be Brad Pitt, who plays him in the movie. “Michael does this over and over again,” says Don Epstein, the agent who handles Lewis’s speaking engagements, which are plentiful and remunerative. Epstein also handles Lewis’s remarkable spillover: When Lewis does a book, he often puts the people he writes about in touch with Epstein, because, inevitably, they are going to need an agent, too. Even supporting characters are in demand: Epstein books for Paul DePodesta, Moneyball’s number-crunching straight man; Susan “Miss Sue” Mitchell, who tutored Michael Oher in The Blind Side; and Meredith Whitney, , the financial analyst whose early warnings about subprime debt were highlighted in Lewis’s financialcrisis narrative The Big Short. “It’s almost like he stamps his own brand on you by writing about you,” says Whitney.


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Press: Crain’s New York Business


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Press: The Hill

Ceo reveals secrets of the political speaking circuit By Judy Kurtz - 04/10/12 With more than four decades of experience, Don Epstein has a pretty solid track record of choosing up-and-coming orators who will be a hit on the speaking circuit. But there’s at least one person he admits he was reluctant to give a shot. While a student at the University of Florida in the 1970s, Epstein would book speakers to come to the school. He remembers getting a phone call about a governor from Georgia who wanted to give a lecture on campus the same day that actress Jane Fonda was at the university. Epstein says he replied, “Look, no one’s ever heard of him and no one’s ever going to.” That “nobody” was future President Jimmy Carter. Epstein relented and gave the Democrat a speaking slot: “There were about 60 or 80 people seeing Jimmy Carter in one part of the university and about 10,000 people seeing Jane Fonda in the other part of the university … But I gave him a platform and I don’t think he ever forgot that either.” Five presidents later, Don Epstein, 56, is still at it. He’s the founder and CEO of Greater Talent Network, a New York-based agency celebrating its 30th anniversary booking top talent in politics, entertainment, business, technology and sports. The company’s roster includes Gen. Wesley Clark, former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), Meghan McCain, former Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and former Attorney General Janet Reno. Paid speech can mean big bucks for some of the country’s in-demand speakers. Epstein says his lineup can command anywhere from $7,500 to hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech. But ex-lawmakers dreaming of cash registers ringing when they open their mouths probably shouldn’t get their hopes up. Epstein says, “We turn down probably about 99 percent of the people who come to us.” For those who make the cut, Epstein contends a successful speaker can’t just do some tired shtick at the podium. The first thing the colleges and associations that book Greater Talent Network tell Epstein is, “We don’t want a canned speech. We don’t want a speech that has been delivered like a stump speech.” Epstein says the trend in public speaking these days is to do a Q-and-A format or a discussion between people with different views on issues. Since starting his company in 1982, Epstein has compiled endless memories. But he says one of his favorites is walking the streets of Croatia with Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. And it was Holbrooke, who died in 2010, who helped Epstein to avoid overlooking one of his now most popular speakers. “If it was not for Holbrooke constantly calling, calling, calling me, telling me that I really had to speak to [former Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn.], I didn’t see it. And then Ford became one of the greatest speakers I’ve ever seen.” Epstein says the ex-congressman still ribs him about that one. “Oh, he kids me all the time. And we’ve both been very successful with him being in the circuit!”


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Press: New York Post


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Press: The New York Times


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Press: Office Arrow

Understanding Speakers Bureaus: Working with an Agency to Book the Perfect Speaker By: Terri Pepper Gavulic When a meeting planner needs to book a speaker for their event, they often turn to a professional speakers bureau. Many articles have been written for meeting planners about how best to negotiate with a speakers bureau. This article, based on an interview with Don Epstein, the CEO Greater Talent Network, one of the “big five” speakers bureaus, presents the industry’s perspective about their purpose and how meeting planners can work well with them. It is interesting to see the process from another perspective. There are many bureaus in existence. The five largest and most widely used are exclusive agencies, meaning they have exclusive contracts with the speakers in their roster and are the only agency authorized to book these speakers. While this may seem restrictive, the bureaus believe it’s in the best interests of their clients. A Helping Hand The ultimate goal of the speakers bureau is to make the client, company and planner look good so they will have the benefit of repeat business and steady referrals. They cull through thousands of speakers to determine whom they wish to represent. They have intimate knowledge about their speakers and use this to counsel meeting planners about which speakers may be the best fit. Often a meeting planner will have a specific speaker in mind and ignore advice that someone may not be a good fit for a particular meeting. Ultimately, if the speaker does not live up to expectations, both the meeting planner and the bureau suffer. As Mr. Epstein said, “It is more important for us to have people excited after the event than before the event.” The lesson for meeting planners? Be receptive to the advice of your agents. They want your future business so will strive to make you look good and succeed at your event. Sometimes meeting planners are suspicious that an exclusive agency is only trying to “hawk their own wares.” From the bureau’s perspective they’ve vetted thousands of speakers to ensure they represent the “best of the best.” It only makes sense to them to push those speakers they have vetted and whom they feel comfortable putting their name behind. If there’s a speaker that might be a better fit for a meeting than one represented by your bureau, they’ll work with the other bureaus to secure that speaker for their clients. Similar to the real estate business, the major bureaus buy and sell from each other’s inventory. This allows the “best of the best” to be accessible to all of the top bureaus. There is no mark-up in price when one bureau contracts with another. How It Works Mr. Epstein said there is a lot of trust in the industry. The top five bureaus have held that status for 25 years or more. When a planner expresses interest in a speaker the bureau escrows the fee (to reflect that they are taking this available date away from a speaker) and then make good on all commitments. Willing to put themselves at financial risk in this way, the agents working within a bureau think of themselves as consultants and strive to establish a long-term relationship with their meeting planner clients.


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Press: Forbes


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Press: Crain’s


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Press: The Miami Herald


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Press: Meetings & Conventions


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P u b l i c

R e l a t i o n s

Tactics

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Press: Agent & Manager


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Press Kit  

GTN Press Kit 2012

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