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Hollywood’s Top Business Managers of 2023 – The Hollywood Reporter

Their jobs were never easy — buy they’re certainly never boring, either. Meet THR’s Power Business Managers, the financial minds tasked with keeping things calm amid the chaos.

Profiles written by Winston Cho, Kirsten Chuba, Aaron Couch, Mia Galuppo, Erik Hayden, Caitlin Huston, Katie Kilkenny, Sydney Odman Etan Vlessing and Alex Weprin.

Belva Anakwenze

Belva Anakwenze with Jay Ellis

Belva Anakwenze with Jay Ellis

Courtesy of Subject

Abacus Financial 
“The strikes have taught our clients significantly more than the COVID-19 pandemic,” Anakwenze — whose clients include Insecure’s Jay Ellis and Entertainment Tonight’s Kevin Frazier — says of the past five months, explaining that back then, “the government provided large safety nets to bolster businesses and keep individuals flush with cash.” Without such relief, she says, “Planning for a rainy day is more than just having cash reserves. It is essential to have assets available for sale and lines of credit open.”

It’s never too late to … “Choose yourself. We are in a predatory business that can take advantage of the ill-equipped.”

Howard Krant & David Levin

Adeptus Partners
Adeptus, which folded four business management entertainment firms into its ranks in the past year, represents clients across music, film, theater, sports and more, including John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Edie Falco and Hailey Bieber. While few clients were “materially impacted” by the strikes, the takeaway for many was about how to live within their means and the necessity of saving for a rainy day. 

If I could swap jobs with anyone in Hollywood it would be …
Krant: “George Clooney. Because he’s George Clooney.”

David Altman, Anthony Bonsignore, Tom Carr & Frank Selvaggi

Altman Greenfield & Selvaggi 
The boutique firm is bicoastal, but its clients are global stars and hitmakers: from Barbie writer-director Greta Gerwig and partner and co-writer Noah Baumbach to the likes of Donald Glover, Sarah Jessica Parker, Steve Martin and Anne Hathaway. “It’s been a hard year,” says Altman. But, because of the shutdown, “a lot of clients have pared back their expenses,” he notes. “If that is something that people could stay consistent with, it could be a positive coming out of the strike.”

A splurge I support is … 
Bonsignore: “Wellness. Sometimes people will say, ‘I want to go to this retreat for a week, it’s going to cost me x,’ and the number is not normally a light amount. Everybody needs time to decompress and take care of their health and well-being.”

Babette Campbell, Catherine Catherine, Craig Manzino & Marc Rosen

Rosen observes that the strike has imparted some of his clients with an invaluable lesson that may save them from future anxiety: Savings must be the top priority. He says, “Savings is not just what’s leftover at the end. A healthy balance sheet leads to better decisions.” During the dog days of the work stoppage, Rosen notes the “emotional journey was harder than the financial one.” The firm’s roster of clients runs the gamut from A-list actors to Fortune 500 executives.

A splurge I support is …
Rosen: “Paying up for pet sitting. You can’t be worried about your furry friends while you’re traveling or out and about.” 

Evan Bell & Liza de Leon

Bell & Co. 
For Bell and de Leon’s clients (who include Robert Eggers and Hannah Bronfman), the Hollywood strikes offered a learning experience. “We were able to have ‘real time, real world’ conversations ­— we’ve of course had them before, but sort of generically — of the fragility of this business,” Bell says, adding that while most clients were able to live off their savings, some did dip into retirement accounts to stay afloat. Amid the chaos, Bell says the firm’s “younger partners and managers are really stepping into their roles … and, in many cases, bringing in new business.”

I tell my clients to pass on …
Bell: “[Investing in] restaurants and movies! Sometimes even their own.” 

Alec Stoll & Peter Stoll

Bills & Stoll 
The Encino firm helps some of Hollywood’s biggest talent plan for their financial futures and avoid bad investments. That includes minimizing fallout from dual Hollywood strikes. “For some that rely on current earnings or don’t have a substantial asset base, they have become more conservative with their spending,” observes Peter Stoll, who notes that a positive trend has been “the increasing availability of technology to assist in providing clients with good and timely financial information.”

It’s never too late to …
P. Stoll: “Fully enjoy life.”

Christopher Fank

Christopher Fank CPA 
Marvel star Brie Larson, Alisha Boe and Abraham Juste are among those who look to Fank for help in navigating the uncertain times in Hollywood. While the downturn in the entertainment industry has proved challenging for clients, Fank has found it encouraging to see “clients growing trust and appreciation for what we do for them.”

A splurge I support is … “Getting back out and seeing live entertainment and traveling.”

Terry Bird, Arnie Herrmann, David Leventhal, Wayne Mejia, Matthew Segreto & Craig Tessler

Citrin Cooperman 
It’s not an easy conversation, but Leventhal says he’s been telling clients to “stay on top of cash flow and focus on their monthly burn rate.” Another piece of advice he’s been stressing is to maintain a “critical mass of liquid assets to get through those lean periods,” he says. The firm, which the elite team from Chapman Bird & Tessler joined in January, represents Hollywood heavyweights including James Gunn, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Ana de Armas and Guillermo del Toro.

It’s never too late to …
Leventhal: “Begin saving for when work might not be so plentiful.” 

Shane Glass

Colony Business Management 
A highlight for Glass, whose client roster includes all corners of the entertainment industry with musicians, athletes, directors, producers, stars, composers, influencers, executives and more, has been “helping clients capitalize on state PTE tax credits [which apply to pass-through entities that are taxed as a partnership or S corporation] and … maximize the value from IP rights.” Outside of the office, he has developed and taught courses through UCLA’s Extension Program, including one on touring, tour accounting and merchandising.

I tell my clients to pass on … “Investing too heavily in any one particular startup company.” 

Carrie Malcolm

CRM Management, a division of NKSFB
Managing the financial affairs of Hollywood actors, directors, writers and producers has Malcolm seeing her A-list clients like David Duchovny, Ethan Hawke and Benedict Cumberbatch suddenly eyeing their piggy banks amid the dual Hollywood strikes. “People are tightening their belts. I haven’t seen huge changes in spending, but definitely people are paying more attention to how they spend and rethinking the business in general,” she reports of her New York-based firm. 

If I could swap jobs with anyone in Hollywood, it would be … “Sofia Coppola because I’d love to tell people what to do — quietly — and have them really listen. She’s got the best style. And who wouldn’t want a sparkling wine named after them?” 

Rob Salzman & David Weise

David Weise & Associates, a division of NKSFB
The firm’s roster includes such big-name Grammy winners as The Weeknd, Coldplay and Usher. Part of founding partner Weise’s success formula is motivating clients like a personal trainer to stay in good financial shape and be ready for the difficult times. “The vast majority” have indeed heeded his team’s advice “to plan for the unexpected and diversify,” says Salzman. “Many clients are finding substantial revenue streams in branding deals through social media outlets helping in part to subsidize lost income during the strike.” For some corporate clients, it’s been tougher, notes Salzman: “The biggest challenge has been assisting our talent management company clients who have loyal employees they want to take care of while balancing the economics of having negligible income during the shutdowns.”

A splurge I support is …
Salzman: “Mental and physical health are essential to longevity and success. This can come with a substantial cost in the form of personal trainers or maybe much-needed vacations. However, this is the truest form of investing in yourself. ”

Andrew Meyer & Steves Rodriguez

Freemark Financial 
Helping A-listers weather the Hollywood strikes had Meyer and Rodriguez doing some heavy lifting to ease fears over their clients’ financial futures. “In most cases, our clients have had the necessary reserves to absorb the lost income, but it’s still a very real hit on current-year finances,” Meyer says of A-listers on his roster, which includes Jon Chu, Kenya Barris, Johnny Galecki and Vince Vaughn.  Rodriguez adds, “We are incredibly proud to have not furloughed or decreased our staffing at all. It was incredibly important to us to be able to continue to service our clients in these challenging times.” 

I tell my clients to pass on …
Rodriguez: “NFTs and crypto — again. The temptation is to go back in, since many believe there will be a comeback in that sector.” 

Tyson Beem, Enza Cohn, Andrew Crow, Melissa Morton & Rick Mozenter

GRF Group

Enza Cohn, Andrew Crow, Melissa Morton, Rick Mozenter and Tyson Beem.

Armando Prieto

Gelfand Rennert & Feldman 
In his first full year on the job as CEO, Beem led the firm as it navigated a tumultuous year for clients amid the strikes — their starry roster includes Will Smith, Jordan Peele and Keke Palmer — but there’s a bright side as the touring business has returned to “full strength,” as well as “writers and directors working on new projects and hopefully the actors working again soon.” That has allowed for even more opportunities for clients, including for “royalty, participation, valuation and other related services.” 

Harvey Gettleson, Seth Gettleson, Randy O’Connor & Larry Witzer

Gettleson Witzer & O’Connor 
“Cutting back staff is a heart-wrenching process that our clients dreaded during the strike,” says Seth Gettleson of one of the biggest challenges in advising Hollywood creatives this year. One upside, Harvey Gettleson notes, has been watching clients explore new forms of expression like “writing the book they’ve put off, going back to playing music, trying stand-up and starting interesting businesses they never would have had time to focus on.” The quartet, who advise clients like J.J. Abrams and Ava DuVernay, say another bright spot is that they’ve had fewer bidding wars for home purchases as the real estate market has slowed. O’Connor also is encouraged that clients can now “build a meaningful rate of return with a bond portfolio.”

A splurge I support is …
Witzer: “Renting an amazing and even expensive house for vacation — much better than buying a second home that sits empty.”

Laura Gordon

Gordon & Associates 
“Post-strikes, clients are more intentional and proactive in making business decisions,” says Gordon. “It is imperative to learn the lessons disasters teach and to pivot when a season passes.” The industry veteran, whose client list includes Nick Cannon, David Oyelowo and Amandla Stenberg, also notes a renewed focus on long-term financial goals among her clients. A highlight for Gordon is that her son, Isaac M. Gordon, is now managing partner of the firm, which recently expanded with an office in Atlanta.

It’s never too late to … “Start a new chapter in life and live your dreams.” 

Howard Altman, Corey Barash, Warren Grant, Kim Ibrahim & Zoe Lawrence

Grant Tani Barash & Altman 
When you ask industry reps who they trust with their clients’ finances, few firms come up as often as this one, which reps some of the most prolific showrunners and talent in town. “We were quite happy that our clients were well positioned to face economic fallout from the strikes,” says Altman, adding that this group, along with colleagues Fran Wild and David Jackson, was tasked with managing “the impact to the staff for the many clients with production deals that were suspended.” 

It’s never too late to …
Altman: “Change decisions and behavior. Each day is a new opportunity to do it better.”  

Brett Anderson, Jeff Bacon, Chris Bucci, Rachel Martinez, Martin Meeks, Aaron Philpott, Steve Savitsky & Jeremy Stahl

Ground Control Business Management 
Top showrunners and major digital creators all turn to Ground Control, which this year was joined by the team from Philpott Meeks. “It’s been really important for everybody to make sure their sensitivity scale has been ratcheted up a lot,” says Bacon of the strikes. Adds Philpott, “The clients have downtime, so they have time to call us, email us and maybe focus a little bit more.” Some of the firm’s financial insight has doubled as publicity advice. Says Stahl, “Let’s maybe not buy the house right now or fly on the private jet.” 

A splurge I support is … 
Stahl: “Charitable giving.” 
Philpott: “Creating memories with your loved ones.” 

Marie Ambrosino

Marie Ambrosino with partners

Marie Ambrosino (center) with partners Jeff Elkins and Greg Getzinger.

Courtesy of Subject

Gursey | Schneider 
Ambrosino, whose client list is packed with comedy’s top showrunners and writers like Seth MacFarlane and Mindy Kaling, says she spent the strikes reminding clients that “uncertainty always produces anxiety; however, since they have planned well and if they stay the course, they will be fine.” She also reports that the work stoppages haven’t significantly changed how people think about money: “Savers will save, spenders will always spend.”

I’m telling clients to pass on … “Private investments with friends — and sometimes family members.”

Mara Hofman

Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt 
One upside of the challenges brought by the near-total Hollywood shutdown this year has been an increased interest from clients in actively engaging with things like reviewing budgets and cash-flow forecast. “I have found clients are more willing to participate in their financial lives, understanding their investments and spending,” says Hofman, who works with top actors, producers and high-net-worth individuals with family offices. 

A splurge I support is … “Travel with family. Individual things that truly make them happy.” 

Gary Schneider & Jason Schneider

Kessler Schneider & Scheltinga 
Father-and-son team Gary and Jason Schneider advised creatives — like Rutherford Falls actor Ed Helms, The Flight Attendant creator Steve Yockey and Big Mouth co-creator Andrew Goldberg — whose experiences ran the gamut during the industry’s 2023 double strike. “We had some clients who bought vacation homes and others who are struggling to get by,” says Jason, adding that clients “had to think about their money on a daily basis, [so] they came to value a business manager even more.”

If I could swap places with one person in Hollywood, it would be …
J. Schneider: “Barack Obama is technically in Hollywood now, right? He’s finding the most impactful outlets for his incredible influence.”

Liz Kenney

L&L Business Management 
Amid industry disrupters like the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, Kenney’s goal is to keep her starry client list — which includes Awkwafina, Tiffany Haddish and Dustin Lance Black — prepared for a lull in income. “The challenge is supporting ways to find creative outlets to keep them in the space where they excel,” she says. The Burbank-based manager also notes a newer trend of clients taking a greater interest in their financial growth strategy. 

If I could swap places with one person in Hollywood, it would be …  “Adele because I can’t sing to save my life.” 

Mark Cattalini, Charles Clancy, Mark Friedman, Matt Lichtenberg, John Rigney  & Paul Ta

Level Four Business Management
In addition to ensuring clients were liquid enough to navigate work stoppages, several on the writing side looked to help support writing and development assistants. “Many studio-employed assistants were terminated when the strike began, and several clients wanted to help out financially where they could,” says Cattalini. The group’s talent roster includes Quentin Tarantino, Phil Lord, Chris Miller and Larry David.

I’m telling clients to pass on …
Cattalini: “Remodeling their home. It costs twice as much as you think and takes three times as long as you anticipated.” 

Humble Lukanga

LifeLine Financial Group
Lukanga preaches to his clients that wealth management is a marathon, not a sprint. Amid a quarter of intense uncertainty, he says the work stoppage has been “a big reminder to go slow, save and be prepared for anything.” It wasn’t all bad this year, though. The Uganda native — whose roster of clients includes Issa Rae, Terry Crews, the NFL’s DeAndre Hopkins and the NBA’s Anthony Edwards — says he’s been encouraged by “seeing more and more people who look like me” recently in his line of work.

A splurge I support is … “Any investment in self-care. You can’t pour from an empty cup. And philanthropy. ” 

Elizabeth Campos

Manhattan West 
For Campos, the most formidable challenge of navigating the double strike was “the delicate task of preventing [clients] from experiencing complete emotional breakdowns” amid the uncertainty. Campos, whose client list ranges from comedians and actors to directors and production companies, says clients are realizing the downside of “frivolous spending on items of little value.”

If I could swap places with one person in Hollywood, it would be … “Kelly Clarkson. She has the unique opportunity to interview celebrities, witness incredible live music performances and engage in entertaining games with her guests.”  

Steve Gelon, Van Lee, Alex Smith & Justin Sroka

Mann Gelon Glodney Gumerove Yee 
After the strikes gave clients — a high-powered lineup that includes Chuck Lorre, Riz Ahmed, and Andy and Barbara Muschietti — “a preview of what life may look like beyond their peak earnings years,” Smith reports that their firm is seeing “a reduced appetite for high-risk investments.” Sroka adds that a big challenge has been advising clients on “maintaining and becoming eligible for guild health insurance coverage.”

I’m telling clients to pass on …
Sroka: “Anything that seems too good to be true.”

John McIlwee

McIlwee Group

John McIlwee (right) and his team.

Magnus Unnar

McIlwee & Associates 
While working to ensure continued financial security for clients like Jane Lynch, Selma Blair, Caleb Landry Jones and TikTok star Chris Olsen, McIlwee also saw his business grow 20 percent this year, adding “some really substantial new clients.” As for industry trends, he notes that clients are paying closer attention to how necessary expenses are amid the shutdown. “A mortgage is mandatory, a European vacation is discretionary.”

It’s never too late to … “Slow down and appreciate where we are.” 

John Blakeman & Anna Levin

Strikes, like any economic shock, require preparation and vigilance. For Levin and Blakeman, it’s a key part of the job. “When the fit hits the shan, plan some more,” Blakeman says. “Communicate, analyze and act — behave — accordingly.” Levin says she told clients early on to “be prepared for the strike to potentially last longer than initially anticipated,” a wise piece of advice given how things are playing out.

A splurge I support is …  
Blakeman: “Decompression.” 

Scott Landesman, Jessica Mooney & Paul Zukowsky

Phoebe Robinson, Busy Philipps, Jessica Mooney, Eric Gurian

Phoebe Robinson, Busy Philipps, Jessica Mooney and Eric Gurian.

Courtesy of Subject

ML Management 
With arguably the strongest comedy roster in the business, the ML team saw a different side of the strikes. “As it was after the COVID shutdown was lifted, comedians are on the road more than ever before,” Landesman says. Meanwhile, TV and film clients have been working to “leverage their celebrity in different ways, most specifically toward collaborative branding and commercial deals.” (Firm founder Mark Landesman is this year’s Business Manager Icon.)

If I could swap places with one person in Hollywood, it would be … Landesman: “Bob Iger. The Walt Disney Co. has the widest diversity of IP, and Bob Iger’s career has been a consistent stream of winners.” 

Ryan Conlon & Harley Neuman

Neuman + Associates, a division of NKSFB
For Neuman and Conlon, the strikes were a moment to help their clients (who include Jonah Hill, Ted Sarandos, Emma Roberts, Jay Shetty, Scarlett Johansson, Ryan Murphy and John C. Reilly) adapt to a changing world. “We take serious steps to protect them with an appropriate amount of savings, insurance and other measures to avoid disasters,” Neuman says. Still, the firm helped “clients adjust their spending levels and advised on large purchases when it is unclear how long the strikes will last,” Conlon says. When it’s all said and done, they’re optimistic clients will benefit from the new deals with studios.

It’s never too late to … 
Conlon: “Learn something new.”
Neuman: “Change your mind, strategy or opinion on something.”

Rich Feldstein, Bernie Gudvi, Michael Karlin, Matt Segal, Mickey Segal, Larry Tyler & Dian Vaughn

Amid a year of industrywide upheaval, the mega-firm dealt with its own turmoil: Fifty principals at the prominent company — which reps Adam Levine, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and other A-listers — launched a blockbuster lawsuit against parent company Focus Financial Partners, challenging noncompete clauses in their contracts. (No resolution there yet.) As NKSFB steers amid the current landscape, Segal notes a challenge in dealing with clients is “their fear about having money and paying ongoing expenses” amid inflation, high interest rates and strikes. Karlin also highlights the difficult task of “helping clients manage their spending when there’s little to no money coming in.” 

I’m telling clients to pass on … 
Mickey Segal: “Aggressive spending in the high-interest environment.” 

Michael Ullman

Michael Ullman with Staff

Michael Ullman (center) with Lesley Arnold and Maribel Ramirez.

Courtesy of Subject

Platinum Financial 
Ullman’s star clients paid attention to the effects of the COVID-19 shutdown and were prepared for the strikes. He notes, “Lessons learned from the pandemic have made reserves a priority.” In boom times and otherwise, Margot Robbie, Miles Teller and Brooke Shields look to Ullman for financial help. From endorsement deals to ecommerce and the selling off of music catalogs, there have been bright spots amid the industry strife. Says Ullman, “Clients have been much more proactive in planning their futures.”

If I could swap places with one person in Hollywood, it would be … “Michael Strahan because of the diversity of his career — athlete, journalist, sports analyst, TV host and astronaut, just to name a few.”  

Tara Beaudine-Moore, Abner Monegro & Phil Sarna

PS Business Management 
At the firm — which represents several big names in music like Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello and Benny Blanco, as well as TV and film stars — Beaudine-Moore says she has seen a trend toward a residency model for artists that allows them to play several nights at one venue. She says it’s a positive for the artists, given the lack of travel, and boosts the local economy, too. The strikes have been challenging for all sectors of the business, the partners say, with more clients (especially those who have not yet made it big) struggling to maintain cash flow.

If I could swap places with one person in Hollywood, it would be … 
Monegro: “Dave Chappelle. I would love to look around in that brain.” 

Jason Brown, Anna DerParseghian & John Power

PTD Group

Darren Calbay, Power, DerParseghian, Brown and Leo Jenkins.

Paige Ray

PTD Business Management 
While PTD was prepared for the strikes — with the firm deploying lessons it had learned during the 2007-08 writers strike and relying on long-term cash-planning strategies — the partners have been meeting with clients more frequently to address concerns and uncertainties that remain. Outside of the strikes, Brown and DerParseghian say they see clients, particularly women, taking more control of their careers by starting production companies and podcasts and inking development deals. 

A splurge I support is …  
Brown: “Tangible things that appreciate over time, like a nice watch.”
DerParseghian: “Shoes and ice cream.”

Matthew Burke

Singer Burke 
“What I really am proud of is our ability to be the calm in the storm even when everything else seems to be chaotic and falling apart. Certainly, it felt that way this year,” says Burke, an adviser to top showrunners and creatives on shows like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Secret Invasion, Queen Charlotte, Tiny Beautiful Things, Family Guy and Daisy Jones & The Six. Amid the simultaneous strikes, Burke says, “A lot of lessons were learned, and maybe some gratitude as well.”

A splurge I support is … “Human kindness — splurge on lifting one another up. In this time of immense change and volatility, supporting our community through charitable giving is the greatest investment we can make.“

Steven Campeas

SJC Business Management
Stars, influencers, writers and showrunners alike — including John Stamos, Rebecca Romijn, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Katee Sackhoff, Kevin Abbott and Vanderpump Rules’ own Lala Kent — have the L.A. native on speed dial. A disturbing trend Campeas is warning clients of: “Cybercriminals are only becoming more creative. Don’t share too many personal details on social media, such as birth dates and where you were born. Hackers will purchase domain names very similar to those of trusted people in your life — make sure to check the email address when dealing with wire transfers or any other financial matter.”

A splurge I support is … “Therapy.”

Joel Mandel, Rob Mandel & Erica Wright

The Management Group 
This trio has a firm no-press policy but stays squarely on the industry’s radar as a go-to adviser to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars and creatives. They’ve been linked to Judd Apatow, Greg Daniels, Steven Levitan and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Phil Ramos

ThxPhil Business Management 
Ramos, who counts action filmmaking impresarios Chad Stahelski, David Leitch and Kelly McCormick as clients, says making impactful changes to finances during a work stoppage can come down to reevaluating small expenditures, like wardrobe and eating out. He adds, “Try to find ways to inject cash into your personal cash flow. The moment is about saying yes to things that can bring you income.” And most importantly? “Learn from the moment for the next disaster so you’re prepared.”

A splurge I support is … “Spa days with cocktails.”

Jeff Wolman

Wolman Wealth Management 
Canada native Wolman, who has credited Halle Berry hiring him during the ’90s for kick-starting his Los Angeles business, also counts as clients A-list filmmakers such as Aquaman’s James Wan and Maestro director-star Bradley Cooper. 

This story first appeared in the Oct. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe

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