With clients like Matt Lauer of NBC's "Today" show, Julie Moran of "Entertainment Tonight," Elizabeth Vargas of ABC News and Chuck Henry of KNBC, Ken Lindner is one of the top news agents on the West Coast.
Lindner, who is headquartered in a suite of spacious offices in Century City, finds jobs and negotiates contracts for more than 250 clients in TV news and reality-based programming.
Lindner, 47, began his career as an agent at the William Morris Agency in New York, just after graduating from Cornell Law School in 1978. The Brooklyn native moved to the L.A. office of William Morris in 1983. Among his biggest competitors in Los Angeles is Ed Hookstratten, an attorney who represents Tom Brokaw, Tom Snyder and Bryant Gumbel.
Lindner started his own agency, Ken Lindner & Associates Inc., in 1988, growing it into one of the premier agencies of its kind. When Lindner first opened his office, he had two associates. Today, he has 16.
Question: You've carved out quite a career by discovering talent. How does that work?
Answer: At William Morris, I was going to find up-and-coming people. It would be my niche because other people like Ed Hookstratten had a strong hold on the market. I was living in New York and I went to Sacramento and three or four other markets and sat in various hotel rooms watching TV newscasts. I'll never forget my first trip to San Diego. I got lost and wound up in a Holiday Inn at a bar, having a ginger ale, and I saw this woman on the bar's TV who was amazingly compelling as a consumer reporter. She just drew me in. Her name was Bree Walker. I saw this really handsome young guy with this great voice at Channel 8 in San Diego. It was Michael Tuck, and neither (Tuck nor Walker) had agents. I found three or four people in Sacramento and I wound up going to places like San Antonio, Austin. I paid for that Sacramento trip on my own during my vacation. I was off and running.
Q: Do you still hit the motel circuit?
A: For the first few years I would travel and find people, but now the company has a track record and I must get 40 tapes a week from people in smaller markets who want to leave news and go into reality-based programming. I don't have the time to do it, but that's how it started.
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