SBJ/February 18 - 24, 2002/Labor Agents

SFX ices its figure-skating division after retirement of veteran agent

SFX has sent letters to about 20 figure-skating clients, including Olympic medal favorites, to say that the company no longer represents skaters.

SFX sent the letters just before the Olympics started, said Rocky Marval, formerly the company's vice president for skating. The company released the skaters, including ice dancers Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat of France, who were scheduled to begin competing last week and had been widely favored to win the gold medal, from their contracts.

The letters were sent after veteran figure skating agent Michael Rosenberg decided to retire in December, said Marval, who also left the company.

Howard Schacter, spokesman for Clear Channel Entertainment, which owns SFX, said: "Our last remaining figure skating agent resigned, leaving us with no choice but to tell our clients that they are free to find new representation."

Rosenberg was a top agent in figure skating, representing Dorothy Hamill at the beginning of his career and skating bad girl Tonya Harding in more recent years.

Rosenberg sold his company, Marco Entertainment, to Magicworks Entertainment in June 1998. Magicworks was then sold to SFX Entertainment in September 1998, and SFX Entertainment was acquired by Clear Channel in August 2000.

 

CEM, OCTAGON LOOKING FOR NEXT ISHII: International business consulting firm CEM and Octagon baseball agents are advising a handful of Japanese baseball players who want to join Major League Baseball. The two companies worked together to bring star Japanese pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ishii hired Octagon baseball director Joe Urbon as his agent after first hiring CEM, a New York firm that consults on Japanese-American business deals, to find him an agent.

"We looked at between five and 10 agencies," said CEM President Jon Loew. "We looked at small agencies, independent agents working by themselves and some large agencies."

Urbon was selected after several interviews with Loew and a single interview with Ishii, a left-hander who is a superstar in Japan.

The Dodgers signed Ishii to a four-year, $12.3 million deal earlier this month after spending about a month negotiating with Urbon. Urbon said he and the team were far apart at first, when the Dodgers offered only about $6 million over three years, and that he and the player almost walked away from the deal several times.

The Dodgers won the exclusive right to negotiate with Ishii after they posted a winning $11.3 million bid for the pitcher under the MLB posting system. After the bid to Ishii's team, the Yakult Swallows, was accepted, the Dodgers and Urbon had 30 days to work out a deal.

About five days before the Feb. 8 deadline, when talks had broken off, Urbon and Ishii flew to Los Angeles for a last-ditch deal-making effort.

"This was the best way to put our best foot forward," Urbon said. "We were not going to get this deal done in three totally different time zones."

With Ishii happy, Octagon and CEM say they are talking to two to five promising Japanese players who have an interest in playing for MLB, said Urbon and Loew. "There are a couple of players who are inquiring about coming over," Loew said. "We are advising them about whether to, when to and how to."

Loew and Urbon said the companies were working together informally and had not formed a partnership. Neither would name the players they are advising.

 

OCTAGON STRIKES GOLD: Octagon's deal to buy the practice of alternative-sports and Olympics agent Peter Carlisle last year paid off in the first few days of Olympics competition when two of his clients won gold medals.

Carlisle and Octagon represent women's halfpipe gold medal winner Kelly Clark and men's halfpipe gold winner Ross Powers.

Contact Liz Mullen at lmullen@amcity.com.

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