The Source Interview;
He Makes the Stars Shine
Norman Brokaw remembers when he used to peddle Marilyn Monroe to the studios for a whopping $55 a day. And a time -- some 25 years ago -- when client and entertainment phenomenon Bill Cosby fetched only $238 a show.
"Those are the highlights of one's career," Brokaw says today, "taking talent and watching it grow."
Brokaw has done his share of watching -- and then some. This week, the 66-year-old renowned agent celebrates his 50th year with the William Morris Agency, a company that is as much a reflection of his instinctive feel for the deal as it is of the talent it handles.
He has risen from mail-room clerk to chairman of the Beverly Hills firm that has managed such clients as Clint Eastwood, Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, Danny Thomas and Tanya Tucker. On the political end, he's done his share to sell authors like Al Haig, Caspar Weinberger and Donald Regan (who could forget Nancy's astrologer?). He also paved the way for other legends, such as super-agent Mike Ovitz and record mogul David Geffen, to graduate from the same mail room.
But mention the name Brokaw in the industry and another name pops out instantly: Bill Cosby. He's widely credited with turning the comedian into a moneymaking and industry titan by being one of the first to develop the idea of "packaging" -- processing clients through Morris's various departments (literary, lecture, TV, film). It was Brokaw, for instance, who landed Cosby the starring role in "I Spy," which paved the way (he's worth an estimated $300 million today) for commercials, lectures, books and NBC's "The Cosby Show." "We have always known the best way in which to present our talent," he says. "We're a full-service operation."
It was Brokaw too who recognized that some of his biggest names were aging -- or dying off. Among his responses was last year's acquisition of another agency, Triad Artists, which added to the Morris roster such hot talent as Bruce Willis, Danny Glover and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Brokaw won't respond to rumors that he refused a chance to represent Dan Quayle, but he says: "We're in Hollywood. We represent Murphy Brown. We represent Candice Bergen. I'd feel it would be a conflict."
Brokaw says he suspected that he was heading into the career of his life when he landed a job -- at the ripe old age of 15 -- in the Morris mail room. But he wasn't sure he'd last the week when his bosses discovered that he wasn't 16 and therefore couldn't even drive the day's mail to the post office. Still, he says, "from the first day, it was where I wanted to be, where I hoped to stay." That he did.
Roger's Family Matters
To hear Roger Clinton tell it, things haven't always been so cozy between the renegade First Brother and sister-in-law Hillary. "It's just like the weather -- you get a warm front and a cold front together and they'll clash," he says in a candid interview to be published tomorrow by Steppin' Out, a weekly entertainment magazine in New Jersey. "She had a Chicago upbringing and we had a Down South, Arkansas, Bible Belt upbringing. It was fried chicken and mashed potatoes versus a concrete wall." But now, he insists, things are just peachy.
As for brother Bill, Roger says he's in touch. "I like to be informed. I call and check where my brother is going to be at certain times and we call each other every couple of weeks. ... In fact he called me today, but I wasn't in and I've been too busy to call him back."
Clinton, whose band is playing in New Jersey, also talks about his so-far unfruitful meetings with Dan Aykroyd about taking on the John Belushi role in the Blues Brothers (hmmmm ...); his rocky childhood; and his current love.
And like Billy Carter, who got bro Jimmy in some hot water when he signed on to represent Libya, Clinton apparently doesn't see any problem in using a little influence with the top banana. Asked about the status of a meeting he promised to set up between the president and shock jock Howard Stern, whose lewd antics have come under intense scrutiny by the Federal Communications Commission, Clinton said, "There's no reason why a brother can't get a friend in to see his brother, just to talk to him."
WE'VE HEARD THAT...
A White House reception for the diplomatic corps got off to a bumpy start last night when Ruwaida Tarawneh, wife of new Jordanian Ambassador Fayez Tarawneh, broke her left arm when she took a spill on the East Room floor. She was taken by ambulance to Georgetown University Hospital, where she had a cast applied, and then was released. Seems the very least the president should do is sign her cast.
The Alexandria City Council has approved Fleetwood Mac musician Mick Fleetwood's application to open a restaurant in Old Town. "Fleetwood's" will feature more than 400 indoor and outdoor seats along the Potomac River and live blues and jazz. No opening date as yet.
John Kasich, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, brought nine of his colleagues together with Hillary Clinton on Monday night at his home to discuss the First Lady's health care effort and general relations with the GOP. "It was very productive," Kasich said. "She was a big hit."
Marla Maples and her former manager, Chuck Jones, are making peace. Chuck was recently indicted for stealing Maples' shoes following her testimony before a grand jury. "If he agrees to get therapy and stay away from her, yes, she will support his motion to dismiss the indictment against him," confirms Maples' attorney, Sharon Stein. Chuck tells us that as an extra incentive, he's decided not to write that kiss 'n' tell about Marla and Donald Trump after all.
Bucky, the huge golden retriever belonging to Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, won the award for Prettiest Eyes and second place in the Chicken Eating category at Sunday's dog show in Georgetown's Volta Park. The event, a comedic version of the usual dog show rituals, was sponsored by the Georgetown Community Dog Show.