Combining Talents: Top U.S. and Japanese Talent Agencies Working Together

October 28, 2008 at 10:30 am 1 comment

Nikki Finke, Hollywood reporter extraordinaire who runs the influential website Deadline Hollywood Daily, reports that major U.S. talent agency CAA (Creative Artists Agency), which is jokingly referred to as “the Death Star” at gossipy www.defamer.com, has teamed up with Japan’s biggest agency and entertainment conglomerate, Yoshimoto Kogyo.

CAA represents the most famous actors in the world, including Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Meg Ryan, Jennifer Aniston, and oh, about 2,000 more.

However, as per guild rules for talent agencies, CAA isn’t technically allowed to produce TV and films. No such restrictions apply in Japan to Yoshimoto Kogyo, which was founded in 1912 and has branches in Tokyo and Osaka. The media group represents famous Japanese comedy duo Downtown (Hitoshi Matsumoto and Masatoshi Hamada) among hundreds of other Asian talent.

According to Ms. Finke, Yoshimoto Kogyo produces films, owns TV recording studios and owns shares in a large music company. The agency provides a good deal of Japan’s TV comedy programming; the latest is “Seikatsu! Hop, Step, Mitsuwa.”

In some ways, Yoshimoto Kogyo is like Chicago’s Second City Improv, L.A.’s Upright Citizens Brigade, or New York’s Saturday Night Live, in that it cultivates new comedy talent through its “New Star Creation” school. Budding comedians in Japan dream of being discovered there.

It’s almost impossible to turn on the tube in Japan without seeing YK’s handprint. Together, CAA and Yoshimoto Kogyo will probably rule the world…

Sarah S.

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