Jon rosen, Wm. Morris agent

Deft handling keeps Food Net, Harpo, King World happily behind potent Ray franchise

By Published on .

While rachael ray is in the kitchen coming up with recipes, filming any of her ongoing TV shows, in development meetings for her upcoming syndicated show, writing her latest book, working with the editorial team of her magazine or giving the latest kitchen implements bearing her name a good once-over, somebody's got to make sure that all the partners-from Food Network to Reader's Digest to Clarkson Potter and beyond-get the attention they need and that Ms. Ray's brand doesn't spin out of control.

Meet Jon Rosen, her agent at William Morris Agency for the last five years. When Mr. Rosen, 36, first saw Ms. Ray on her debut show on the Food Network, he rang her up to work with her. "She has an ability to come through the television screen like ... she's right in the room with you," he says.

He says the key to working with a client like Ms. Ray is "to make sure you really get to know your client on every level, not just the surface." Managing her brand requires holding every potential business deal up to Ms. Ray's core brand attributes-accessibility and that "you don't have to be wealthy to live a rich life." Sometimes it comes down to Mr. Rosen's hard bargaining. For instance, when Universal Studios was about to release "Meet the Fockers" on DVD, it approached him about doing a deal to put Ms. Ray on the cover. She ended up on the DVD box but only after Universal agreed to also push her latest book on the DVD wrapper. There was also a Pepperidge Farm-backed sweepstakes on the "Meet the Fockers" Web site.

Other deals include Rachael Ray-branded cooking knives with Furio, cookware with Anolon and the continued expansion of her cookbook line with Clarkson Potter. "Rachael Ray 356: No Repeats" has sold more than 1.3 million copies, says Mr. Rosen.

When it comes to keeping all the partners happy, Mr. Rosen works to create deals that turn potential adversaries into happy cohorts. When King World Productions and Harpo Productions began courting Food Network's superstar for a syndicated show, things could have gotten a bit sticky and it required deft negotiating on Mr. Rosen's part. "We were able to figure out a way to incorporate them all into the deal, and now we have three of the most powerful machines behind Rachael." Now all three will cross-promote each other and help keep Ms. Ray's schedule manageable.

Selected for: Rachael Ray

* Clear focus: "Don't have to be wealthy for rich life."

* Flanker deals aplenty, book at 1.3 million.
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