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Clout and Clients

July 18, 1993

Regarding "The Clout Is in the Client and Other True Tales of Women Agents," by Elaine Dutka (July 4):

I read most of the Calendar cover story about women agents. Was that really supposed to be fireworks? I am amazed that any writer could fill up so much space and say so little.

I am a very well-established woman agent, as well as a former Broadway star. I turned agent in 1963 because I felt I had the knowledge and courage to be the best. This is much more than acquiring talent with clout, but in giving the clout to the client. Everyone needs to be nurtured.

I have always been my own boss and have always had courtesy from the male producers who buy my clients. I am not just a woman. I am a lady.

I tracked down Mickey Rooney. I put him in "Sugar Babies" and every good thing he has done. I housed and protected him and never gave up. I remained sane. I represented Zsa Zsa Gabor and remained sane. I got Martha Raye the Polident commercial. Allan Carr didn't think Gene Barry was right for "La Cage aux Folles," but I was so persistent that he finally auditioned Gene. The rest is history.

While that big-mouthed, brassy Sue Mengers is chewing on her pencil, I have finished my book, "Won't You Step Into My Parlour?" Being a good agent, male or female, is more than making a deal. It is making a star!

RUTH WEBB

Los Angeles

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Dutka's article on women agents did not give enough credit to the many agents who don't work at the Big Three.

Independent agents work in the same crowded trenches. They chose an equally tough career path. Every woman agent battles the subtle and blunt forms of sexism. Independents take on the added challenges of starting and expanding their own businesses.

Independent agents represent clients in an ultra-competitive market. It's uphill all the way. The slope's even steeper in a recession.

Independent agents contribute greatly to the film industry. They are the unsung heroines of many careers and movies.

I interrupt this letter to applaud them, including my own agent, Leslie Kallen.

ANDREW McCARTHY

Los Angeles

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I really enjoyed Dutka's cover story. We need more quality coverage like her piece. If we don't keep the subject of our inequality on every level out there, there will never be change.

ELLIE SCHIFF BERNARD

West Coast Coordinator

Women's Legal Defense Fund

Los Angeles

*

I read your article with a keen interest, having (1) married into a show business family (deceased patriarch Dore Schary), (2) become a third-generation agent (Paul & Lillian Small/Edgar Small/Lynda Bensky Small) and (3) authored a book, "Agents: The Guide to Today's Powerbrokers."

I must agree with Mike Ovitz when he states: "We should have more women in leadership roles in this industry, just as there should be throughout society." I believe parity will draw near once the boardroom dialogue reflects not how long the winning touchdown pass was, but rather how long you chose to breast-feed your baby.

LYNDA BENSKY

Jerry Levy Management

Los Angeles

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