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HOLLYWOOD NOW | CLASS OF '98

The Kids are All Right

A new generation is finally sweeping into Hollywood. Here are some names to watch on both sides of the camera.

March 22, 1998|Steve Pond Renee Vogel..AU: Gregg Kilday and Dave Gardetta and Renee Vogel

A native of the Bronx and graduate of NYU's film school, Cherot puckishly allows that the script "is somewhat autobiographical" and insists he acted in the movie only because another actor dropped out two weeks before filming was to begin. "Watching myself was the hardest part," he admits.

Meanwhile, Cherot is at work on his next film, tenatively titled "True Heroes." He describes it as a "buddy road movie that's also a bit of a love story--I guess all my stories are in one way or another love stories."

-- Gregg Kilday

Patrick Whitesell

Hollywood agents are widely thought of as the sharks of the entertainment business. Yet Patrick Whitesell of Creative Artists Agency is a successful agent who is also the sort of nice young man parents wish their daughters would bring home to dinner. At 33, he represents a bevy of hot young stars who adore him. "I can say without hyperbole that Patrick is a competent, smart, decent man of conviction," says client Ben Affleck, who gives Whitesell full credit for getting the film "Good Will Hunting," which Affleck wrote with friend Matt Damon, made at the studio level. "He believed in the movie and that Matt and I could be attached to it when no one--and I mean no one--else did."

Many insiders look at the success of "Good Will Hunting," a movie written by, and starring, two relatively unknown actors, as an astonishing feat. But Whitesell thinks that kind of project is the future of the Industry. "We've got to be proactive," he insists. "It's my job to look for unconventional situations that achieve what my clients want. If you're a young actor, unless you're on a very short list at the studios, we have to be very creative about moving your career along. Otherwise, all we can do is hope to get lucky and find that perfect role that pops you into stardom."

Whitesell's seize-the-day philosophy has worked well for Affleck and Damon, whom he's represented for years, and other young stars like Minnie Driver, Jennifer Aniston and Jada Pinkett Smith. He is also busy grooming a new crop of even younger talent. "I represent a whole group of people you haven't heard of yet, but they're right behind these guys, ready to break," he says.

Whitesell was working in banking in San Diego when his brother John, a TV director, encouraged him to come to Hollywood. He was attracted to the agent's life because it combined working with actors and other creative people with the art of deal-making. "It was a win-win situation," he says, in a rare display of agent-speak. After working his way up from the mail room at Intertalent, Whitesell was an agent at United Talent Agency and then became one of the last people Michael Ovitz and Ron Meyer hired before they left CAA. He now runs the agency's talent department, an honor he says he owes, ironically, to Ovitz and Meyer's departure. "Their leaving created opportunity for those of us who stayed," he says.

Affleck believes Whitesell would be where he is now regardless. "Some people get ahead by being at the right place at the right time, and others get there because their father owns the company, but Patrick ended up where he is because he works hard, he's straight with people, and he actually serves his clients."

Whitesell's accomplishments may also have something to do with understanding the young moviegoing audience, which he says the studios have underestimated.

"Fifteen to 30-year-olds are interested in all kinds of intelligent movies--it doesn't have to be a broad comedy or an action adventure for them to go see it," he says. "And the best people to deliver those movies are of that generation and share their same experiences." Twenty-five-year-old Affleck is happy to agree. "I trust Patrick implicitly. If I'm going down, I'm going down on his ship."

-- Renee Vogel

Bumble Ward

Bumble Ward is just back from a much-needed Caribbean vacation. She's relaxed and toying with the fantasy of relocating. "Wouldn't it be lovely," she asks in her lilting English accent, "to have a little beach bar and listen to Bob Marley all day?"

It's hard to picture the guiding force behind Bumble Ward & Associates far from the heart of Hollywood. In just three years she has built a highly regarded public relations agency that specializes in representing young, cutting-edge artists and projects. When your client list includes Quentin Tarantino, Allison Anders, Kevin Williamson, Michael Keaton and Vincent D'Onofrio, even Bob Marley might get stale.

Ward worked as a publicist in London before coming to Los Angeles 12 years ago. She served apprenticeships at several entertainment-oriented PR firms--Clein + White and Andrea Jaffe among them--and then headed out on her own, setting up shop in her garage when she was pregnant with her second child. "Someone very wise once told me that babies bring good luck," she says of her timing.

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