CMP's Case and Tony Kaye Team in New Production Company

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"Sears: A stop on Kaye's comeback trail?
The rehabilitation of Tony Kaye continues. Creative Management Partners co-founder Tim Case has announced that he's getting out of the repping business, shuttering CMP's commercials representation division, and devoting all of his time to Minder, a sales, management, and production company that opens its doors with one client: renegade British director Tony Kaye. "In my mind, there are two giants in the modern history of this business," Case says. "Tony Kaye and Joe Pytka. In my mind, I'm starting this business with someone who's been a giant in this business since I first walked onto a set."

Kaye -- once rated by many to be the best director in the industry -- experienced career implosion after a public battle with New Line Cinema over control of his 1998 feature debut American History X. Combined with a reputation for being difficult and erratic -- just last year, Kaye was doing standup in New York dressed as Osama bin Laden -- the director became persona non grata in both Hollywood and the ad business. In 2000, Kaye signed on with Case -- himself suffering a career reversal after placing a controversial anti-SAG ad in the trade press with director Marcus Nispel -- and began to "play nice," as Case puts it, with agencies and clients. Tony Kaye Films still had an awful financial reputation, however, culminating last August in a Reebok shoot for Berlin Cameron & Partners that left vendors stiffed for thousands. Minder, which takes its name from British slang for "bodyguard," launched shortly thereafter to handle the business side of Kaye's shoots. "Minder became a production company because Tony Kaye had driven his production company into the ground," Case says. "He had turned his reputation around from a process perspective, but he had run up so much debt that agencies wouldn't work with him anymore." Since the new arrangement has been in place, Kaye has shot campaigns for clients ranging from Rogaine to Sears, with work on the horizon for Heineken and Bermuda Tourism. And according to Case, Kaye is committed to paying off all of his outstanding debt.

Kaye as Osama
But Minder's mission does not end with engineering Kaye's comeback. "I want to build a production company like [London's] Gorgeous, but I joke that it's going to be Gorgeous on steroids. Because it's America, it's going to be a much bigger business." Case says Minder will eventually have four partners; himself, co-founder/executive producer Kent Eby, and two more executive producers -- one each in Chicago and L.A. -- to be named. Case also envisions a one-to-one partner-to-director ratio, and says he intends to sign three more established directors, who are less dependent on production support than newcomers. "The real thing Tony Kaye and other directors I'm talking to are looking for is sales and management," Case says. "I see myself not as a production company, but as a management company."

The move to Minder does force other adjustments in the world of spot representation. Creative Management's Midwest and West Coast reps, Richard Miller and Paul Muniz, will launch their own companies and continue to represent CMP's former production clients -- which include Harvest, Cyclops,and London's Academy -- in their respective territories. Furthermore, Creative Management will continue to exist as a holding company for Minder and the firm's photography representation business, which will continue under the direction of Michael Ash and the Creative Management brand. Case and Ash will be partners in the holding company.

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