What Do John Florence, Brad Pitt, Harvey Weinstein, And Joe Biden Have In Common?
Gossip Girl: Even on the injured list, JJF just got signed to the biggest Talent Agency in the world.
How famous are professional surfers, really?
Like Big Picture famous. Not just recognizable in the coastal enclaves and surfy seaside bubbles where we all reside. Like, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Sally Field, Sylvester Stallone, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Kim Basinger, Barbra Streisand, Chevy Chase, Robert De Niro and Glenn Close Famous—the types represented by the “Talent” world’s best and brightest, at the world’s most esteemed agency.
Well, if John John Florence’s most recent change in management is any indication, there’s proper star power waiting to be tapped in the sport.
Last month, Mr. Florence signed on the dotted line with CAA, the Creative Artists Agency and with that joins the aforementioned Hollywood stars and starlets, as well as fellow “Individual Sports Athletes” like NASCAR hearthrthrob Jeff Gordon, one of modern skateboarding’s first wunderkind, Nyjah Huston, Olympic Gold Medalist snowboarder Chloe Kim.*
While Stab was happy to chat off-record and on background with John John’s new co-rep, CAA’s Lowell Taub, who handles Olympic athletes, according to Sports Business Journal, the addition of John John is part of a conscious effort by the largest talent agency in the world, to keep ahead of the mainstream’s curve, as surfing and other action sports find themselves thrust into the spotlight come the 2020 Olympic.
“CAA Sports has quietly assembled a roster of some of the most marketable, if not the best, athletes in the new Olympic sports of surfing and skateboarding, which make their Games debut in 2020,” writes Lizz Mullen
“Surfing and two skateboarding disciplines — park and street — will be part of the program for the Tokyo Summer Games in less than two years. CAA Sports is representing street skateboarder Nyjah Huston, ranked No. 1 in the world by Street League Skateboarding. In park skateboarding, CAA Sports is representing Tom Schaar, a two-time X Games gold medalist, and Jordyn Barratt, a 19-year-old who has won two X Games medals.
“In surfing, CAA Sports is representing John John Florence, the reigning World Surf League champion, and Courtney Conlogue, who has been featured in ESPN “The Body Issue” twice and has won multiple surfing competitions, including the 2018 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing.
“All of the athletes are co-represented by Lowell Taub, who heads up the Olympic athlete division, and his partner, agent Lis Moss. Taub started representing Olympic athletes in 1998 and joined CAA Sports shortly after it was launched in 2007. Moss joined soon after that, first as Taub’s assistant, before being promoted to agent. Together, they have represented multiple Olympic stars, including snowboarder Chloe Kim and gymnast Gabby Douglas.
“Unlike our NFL business that might have 75-plus players or our NBA business that might have 75-plus players, we are very star-driven,” Taub said. “Because we are in the enviable position of being star-driven, we have signed five athletes who are clearly the best athlete in their sport or on any given Sunday are the best athlete in their sport.”
As far as surfers go, the only name on CAA’s roster previously was fellow WCT Athlete, Courtney Conlogue.
While details of the contract remain unknown, the decision by John—most certainly made together with his most trusted confidantes, the Johntourage—to join the mega-Agency is big news, and will surely result in an up-tick in John’s international presence, wether it be editorially, via commercial partnerships, or through what we can only hope will be easier access to funding for the big budget film projects we’ve come to love John for.
When asked why CAA might have such a vested interest in seemingly fringe sports, Taub is of the mind that both skateboarding and surfing “will be right alongside the Summer Olympic staples of swimming, track and field and gymnastics when it comes to sponsor interest.
“Any time there is a new sport, there is a heightened interest and awareness around it.”
Dedra DeLilli, who manages marketing for Toyota with the Olympics, told SBJ that “surfing and skateboarding will resonate with a wide audience.”
“Sure, the younger generation is the obvious target demographic and they’re crucial for most brands to attract and engage with, including Toyota,” DeLilli said. “But both sports bring new energy, excitement and an edge that I think people of all ages, ethnicities and geographic locations will rally around.”
So who is CAA? In its 43 years, CAA has seen incredible success, as well as crushing set backs and more than a few scandals.
Allow the LA Times to explain:
Founded by a group of dropouts from the 90-year-old William Morris Agency, CAA has become one of the most powerful, and least understood, show business institutions since the old MCA Artists talent agency was broken up under a federal consent decree nearly 30 years ago.
The measure of CAA’s strength is its list [of clients], including an extraordinary concentration of “bankable elements,” the big-name talent that gets films and TV shows made. The agency’s directors roster–which ranges from Martin Scorsese and David Lynch on the artier side to Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis, Sydney Pollack and Barry Levinson among the hit makers–is widely regarded as the best in Hollywood.
Much of CAA’s success came from the efforts of Michael Ovitz, who “moved into the limelight by negotiating mega-deals between Japanese conglomerates (Sony and Matsushita) and Hollywood studios (Columbia/TriStar and MCA). He also took CAA into the uncharted waters of advertising and telecommunications.”
While the Agency has waxed and waned over the years, it’s current talent roster numbers around 3,400, with over 300 employees servicing their needs, negotiating their contracts, babysitting their adult tasks as well as their infantile wants and desires (presumably—we’ve all watched Entourage, right?).
And while the company has certainly taken radical steps to address the incidents, it’s important to note that in the last two years, CAA has found itself front and center of the #MeToo movement, with Harvey Weinstein as well as other sex scandals involving staff abusing and exploiting positions of “power.”
Here’s Variety on CAA’s misdeeds involving Weinstein: “According to the Times, at least eight agents at Creative Artists Agency were aware that Weinstein had sexually harassed or threatened female clients, yet the agency continued to do business with him and send actresses to meet with him…
“Bryan Lourd, the managing partner of CAA, declined to tell the Times whether he was aware of the allegations against Weinstein, citing client confidentiality. In a statement in response to the story, CAA apologized to clients who were “let down,” and vowed to use its influence and resources “to help create permanent change.”
“We apologize to any person the agency let down for not meeting the high expectations we place on ourselves, as individuals and as a company,” the agency said. “We unequivocally support those who have spoken out publicly.”
Which has little to do with JJF, but is very interesting, indeed.
Needless to say, we hope CAA’s heavy handshakes and closed-door negotiations between Florence and interested commercial parties bares sweet fruit—whatever means the world seeing more of John, well that’s fine with us.
*As well as Ae$op Rocky, AC/DC, Ariana Grande, Beck… Actually, you can just go see the whole alphabetized list, here.
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