Podcast Episode #25: Literary & Talent Agent Jack Tantleff on how to make it on Broadway

“What I really need is an agent.”

I’ve heard so many people say this over the years, including myself when I was acting back in the Clinton Era (the Bill Clinton era that is).

For so many actors, directors, and writers, the thought of having someone raise their hand and say, “I like you.  I’ll help you,” is the ultimate affirmation that they are on the right life path.

Of course, as the Gershwins said, “It ain’t necessarily so.”

I decided to sit down with one of Broadway’s big 10 percenters to find out more about agenting in the modern era, and you’re about to hear all the juicy details.

The agent?  None other than super-deal maker Jack Tantleff from the bi-coastal Paradigm Talent Agency.

Jack represents writers, directors, and orchestrators (no actors – that’ll be the subject of another podcast) but also puts shows together from the ground up in the same way that I do (click here for the incredible NY Times article about how he helped package the critically acclaimed if short-lived production of Side Show).

And in this podcast we’ll hear:

  • How his career all comes down to air conditioning.
  • Why didn’t Side Show work?
  • Need an agent?  Here’s what to say in a pitch letter . . . and here’s what NOT to say.
  • Why making deals is more challenging today than twenty years ago.
  • How the upcoming Waitress by Sara Bareilles (who he reps) came together.
  • And more!

Agents get bad reps.  I worked for one back in the day, and quickly decided that life wasn’t for me.  Part of that reason was because I was tired of producers who I admired always thinking I was the enemy.

But as you’ll hear on this podcast, the good agents aren’t the enemy.  The good agents help make shows happen.

And Jack is one of the great ones.

Listen in!

Click here to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.