Michael Ovitz is diversifying his new talent management company to include representation of some of television's leading animators.
In doing so, he has struck a deal with Ellen Goldsmith-Vein to merge her successful 5-year-old animation management company, Gotham Group, into his Artists Management Group.
Goldsmith-Vein represents 120 animators, including Paul Germain, the creator of Nickelodeon's "Rugrats"; Joe Ansolabehere, co-creator of ABC's "Recess" with Germain; Dan Clark, creator of the Warner Bros. network's "Brats of the Lost Nebula"; Glenn Eichler, creator of MTV's "Daria"; and Bill Kopp, creator of the "Roger Rabbit" shorts and co-creator with Steven Spielberg of "Toonsylvania."
Goldsmith-Vein said AMG did not acquire Gotham and that no money exchanged hands. Rather, the 35-year-old animation manager said, "we merged our companies and are really partners in animation."
Goldsmith-Vein met Ovitz five weeks ago through a mutual friend and said she immediately warmed to the idea of forming a partnership. She plans to retire the Gotham name in favor of AMG in order to convey "one clear vision."
When asked what Ovitz, who has no background in animation, offers her and her clients, Goldsmith-Vein said, "Michael has a very clear vision about how to grow our business in areas such as the Internet, digital media and features, not to mention being able to cross-pollinate our talent."
She said Ovitz is "fascinated by the animation business and knows so much about the animation process."
While the mainstay of Goldsmith-Vein's business is in TV animation, some of her clients work in the feature arena and several have ventured into live-action projects for the small and big screen as an outgrowth of their animation careers.
Eichler is rewriting a live-action movie, "Jingle," for Warner Bros., which will star Sandra Bullock. Clark wrote, directed, produced and starred in a live-action movie called "The Item," which is screening in competition at the Sundance Film Festival.
Goldsmith-Vein, whose animation management company is the biggest in Hollywood, said she constantly gets calls for her clients to write and direct TV and movie projects.
"The business is changing so dramatically between vertical integration and everyone wanting to get into the prime-time animation, so I felt like it was the right time and opportunity to expose our clients to other media," she said.
A native of La Jolla whose husband, John Vein, runs Film Roman, Goldsmith-Vein worked as a mortgage broker before entering the entertainment business as an assistant at William Morris Agency.
She and then-boss Toper Taylor left Morris in 1990 to join Nelvana, an account Taylor had represented as an agent. Goldsmith-Vein moved on three years later to join the late Stuart Kaplan at Atlas Management, which represented about 40 TV animators. After Kaplan's death, Goldsmith-Vein launched Gotham in January 1994.