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Volume 21 No. 1

Labor and Agents

Liz Mullen
Relativity Sports, launched by Hollywood studio Relativity Media last year, has hired former ICM motion picture and television talent agent Brett Carella to help its athlete clients secure work in entertainment projects.

Carella will be vice president of development and will report to Relativity Sports President Josh Swartz.

In the newly created role, Carella will serve as a liaison between Relativity Media, which has about 30 television programs in production and makes about 12 to 15 motion pictures a year, and Relativity Sports, Swartz said.

“What it means is he understands exactly what Relativity has as far as a slate of movies coming out, what they have in production, in terms of television, and he can figure out what kind of opportunities are appropriate for our athletes, our clients,” Swartz said.

In addition to helping to place the agency’s sports clients in its entertainment projects, Carella will also work to present them with opportunities in television and movies being produced by other studios.

Although Hollywood agencies have placed athletes and other sports personality clients in film and television roles before, Carella is thought to be the first person to be hired specifically to do that.

“The reason why no other agency has a guy like this is we are unlike any other agency,” Swartz said.

Relativity Sports is the only sports talent representation firm owned by a Hollywood studio. Relativity Media has produced, distributed or structured financing for nearly 200 films, including “The Social Network,” “The Fighter” and the coming comedy “Free Birds.” The studio has 17 original television series on air.

Relativity Television and Relativity Sports are co-producers of the documentary “Being Mariano Rivera,” about the recently retired closer, who is a longtime client of its SFX Baseball division president, Fern Cuza. The 90-minute documentary was scheduled to debut on Fox last Sunday and re-air on Fox Sports 1 on Tuesday.

In addition to hiring Carella, Relativity Sports’ SFX Baseball has made several hires, including Vanessa Baez as a marketing agent. Baez will report to Aaron Spiewak, Relativity Sports’ senior vice president of business development.

The baseball division also hired Giovanni Rodriguez and Jim Reid as MLB agents and Laina Myers as client service manager working on clients’ charitable and fundraising initiatives. Rodriguez, Reid and Myers will report to Cuza and SFX Baseball CEO Mark Pieper.

> DEAL TALKS FOR ROOKIE: Newport Sports was in early discussions last week with companies in the U.S. and the Czech Republic for endorsement deals for client Tomas Hertl.

Hertl, a 19-year-old rookie forward with the San Jose Sharks, scored four goals against the New York Rangers on Oct. 8, becoming the first teenager to do so since Jimmy Carson in 1988. Hertl is represented by Newport Sports agent Craig Oster and president Don Meehan, in partnership with Czech Republic agent Robert Spalenka.

Meehan declined to identify the companies that have inquired about Hertl. “To date we had five or six companies contact us, but I wouldn’t want to say anything more, in fairness to them and in fairness to Tomas. He’s only been in the league three weeks,” Meehan said.

Hertl was taken No. 17 overall in the 2012 draft, but didn’t start playing for the Sharks until this year after his former Czech Republic team HC Slavia Praha agreed to transfer him this summer.

“This is a unique start. I don’t think anyone expected he’d be this successful that quickly,” Meehan said.

> WASSERMAN SIGNS SKATEBOARDER: Wasserman Media Group has signed 15-year-old skateboarder Alex Midler, who first gained popularity on the television show “Camp Woodward” on the former Fuel Network.
Steve Ruff, Wasserman executive director for action sports and Olympics, will represent him. Midler previously had no formal representation.

“His parents have been doing his deals until now, and his deals are getting to the point where they need representation,” Ruff said.

Midler’s sponsors include Real Skateboards, Thunder Trucks, Spitfire Wheels, Red Bull and Volcom.

Ruff said he plans to expand on Midler’s relationships and find new opportunities, including nonendemic deals.
It is not unheard of for action sports athletes to hire agents when they are in their mid- to early teens. For example, skateboarder Ryan Sheckler hired his first agent at age 14 in 2004.

“He’s the youngest kid I’ve signed,” Ruff said.

Liz Mullen can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.