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Viacom's Chief

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vradenburg

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the producer

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Titan of ABC

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Nancy JosephsonMine is a ridiculously fun job," says Nancy Josephson '82, executive vice president in charge of television at International Creative Management (ICM). Josephson oversees 35 agents in ICM's TV division while personally managing the careers of sought-after writers, producers, directors, and actors.

"I'm very picky about whom I represent," Josephson says. "All of my clients are innovative and seek to make a difference with their work." They include Darren Star, creator of the hit TV shows "Melrose Place" and "Beverly Hills 90210"; Chris Keyser '85, cocreator of popular "Party of Five"; and United Media and Scott Adams, cartoonist of the darkly humorous "Dilbert" strip. Two longtime clients are Marta Kauffman and David Crane, who created the huge hit "Friends" and the new series called "Veronica's Closet," which they executive-produce with their partner Kevin Bright - also a client.

ICM occupies its own sleek building on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Naturally, there's a TV and VCR in Josephson's once. There is also a framed Thanksgiving message from her young son: "I am thakful for my mom because she is always organysd." Josephson needs to be, considering her nonstop job. She has lunch with contacts and clients daily, hosts many business dinners and parties at her home, frequently attends tapings of her clients' TV shows, and conducts business by cell phone on the L.A. freeways.

Josephson's father, Marvin Josephson, founded ICM in 1955, and continues to represent Colin Powell, Margaret Thatcher, and other select clients. "Sign clients and keep them," Josephson advised his daughter. "I took his advice," she says. "I've kept my focus on my clients' goals, and on every detail of their lives to help them make the right career moves."

She is also placing her own distinctive stamp on the family business. In movies, she says, "the director is king." In TV, "the writer is king. You can attract talent to television only if the script is great, with the potential to turn the show into a hit. Proven writers become executive producers and have all the leverage." Josephson's gift is discovering and cultivating such writers. It has now been a dozen years since she saw the off-Broadway play Personals by young playwrights Kau›man and Crane, and began promoting the talent that led to "Friends" nine years later.

After graduating from HLS, Josephson joined an entertainment law "boutique" in New York. She discovered her knack for putting the right teams together and orchestrating deals to turn literary works into movies and TV shows. But after her group merged with another firm, then merged again, Josephson found herself in a "fairly stu›y" Park Avenue practice. "I realized I was an agent in a law firm."

An ICM executive overcame her reservations, and she joined the agency's New York o¤ce as a business affairs attorney. She also began selling dramatic rights to literary works by ICM authors, and trolling for new talent at TV tapings and theater productions. Within two years she was running ICM's TV division. However, with "the heart and soul" of TV in L.A., a move west was inevitable. In 1987 she switched coasts "and hit the ground running."

The emergence of new TV marketplaces-Fox, WB, UPN-and expansion of cable services-such as HBO, TNT, Showtime-have all fueled demand for TV talent, Josephson says. "My clients are never out of work; it's always a question of which option is best."

Her legal training continues to serve her well. "Many agents are afraid of profit definitions, for example, and don't know how to construct deals. They have to develop business negotiating skills along the way. I do all this in my sleep." -- Julia Collins

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