Gary James' Interview With
Roger Paul

How's this for a new Showbiz term - "Magent"? That's the term coined by Roger Paul to mean a manager with agent skills. Roger Paul is the owner of Roger Paul Inc. In his career, he's worked with Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Bryan Adams and The Beach Boys, to name just a few. Roger Paul has a very diverse and impressive background as agents go. That's probably why he is a "Magent".

Q - Roger, you once worked for A.T.I. (American Talent International) and Jeff Franklin.

A - Yes, I did.

Q - That was one of the best agencies ever! But you didn't work as an agent. You worked as a line producer. What's that?

A - Let's say they had shows like Nightflight, which they had six months before MTV took off. Basically, we put the show together. We had to make it flow. If you notice how Chuck Jones did the Bugs Bunny cartoons. You know how they flow? You know how that works in a sense? The line-producing makes it work, the story line. The same thing you do in a video. It's like a director. So, we put the features together. When I was a production assistant, I would put things together. Back then, we were using one inch tape. It's a lot different now. That was a lot of fun. We had a blast. We edited in National Studios where Tootsie was filmed. We had a good time.

Q - Was that something you studied in college?

A - No, but I always loved video, commercials. I don't look at TV the same way anymore. I can see hands drop out. You really train your eyes for it. But, you can go to school for it.

Q - I have this feeling that you were booking acts when you were in college. Were you?

A - That is absolutely correct. I ran the entertainment committee at The Rothskeller and then the big concert committee at the University of Miami.

Q - That was the ticket to you joining Variety Artists in Minneapolis?

A - Yes. Gordy Singer's company. A lot of great people came out of there. A great time to learn. I had a great time there. Gordy just told me, "No stone unturned." You gotta make sure you make every call possible. Find the common denominators with people. It's really all about your personality when you're selling. You gotta believe in what you're selling. You gotta believe in your clients. If you don't, get out!

Q - What acts were you trying to book at Variety?

A - Well, it was kind of tough. I was trying to book The Suburbs, The Flaming O's in college where it just didn't work. The colleges weren't going for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Prine or Steve Goodman, so it was tough. But, I got my skills. I was able to sell. I put some tours together like Vixen. But it's not easy. It was really tough.

Q - After that, you went where?

A - A.T.I., which was eventually sold to I.C.M. (International Creative Management). I went to a different company instead.

Q - But, you did work for I.C.M., didn't you?

A - Yes, I did. I worked for I.C.M. for about two years in the Comedy Division on the East Coast. I loved the people there. It's just a different corporate world. I'm not that kind of corporate guy per se. I remember bringing specific acts to them the they looked at me like a deer in headlights. Those acts went on to sell millions of dollars.

Q - Like who?

A - James Blunt. Sold five million albums that year. I had him signed, sealed and delivered. I had creative ideas, but you can't rock the boat. It is what it is. I learned a lot. I love the people and they're still good people. A corporation runs a specific way that you gotta follow and I'm the type of person if the job isn't getting done, you gotta step up and do it.

Q - While at I.C.M. you booked The Beach Boys?

A - Yeah. I was one of the guys who not only did comedy, but music. I was supposed to be brought on for comedy, but I was booking everything possible. Diane De Garmo. I was the one who put her on Broadway in Hairspray. I got her whole career off the ground and going. It was fun. I loved what I did. So now it's actually coming into a different area because Universal Attractions has hired me to run their Comedy, Film and TV Division on the East Coast. I plan to do that now. It's really my name. My company goes on hold and I'll have a few more people working underneath me now. I can do the things I want to do, from production, to selling shows, personal appearances and film and television. There's a lot of lying. No matter what anybody is going to tell you, film and TV is what they all want. That's the only thing that sells tickets.

Q - Is it easier to sell an established act like The Beach Boys?

A - Yes and no. Here's the deal: Yes, people still want to go see them, but they're doing the same act. They're not doing anything new. People get tired of it. So, you kind of have to re-invent yourself every so often with something unique or different. It's not easy. We had The Temptations. We had the real Temps with Otis. There are two other Temptations acts out there as well. There are Coasters shows out there. There are Platters shows out there. It's all how you present it.

Q - William Morris and I.C.M. are famous for starting their agents in the mail room. Did you start in the mail room at A.T.I. with your background?

A - I did start in the mail room at A.T.I. because they were a big agency at that time. That's where I.C.M. bought their P.A. (Personal Appearances) Division. Jeff Franklin held onto the video end of it. I heard Jeff started a new company, Revolution, with Jeff Berg and Jerry Rouche. I started in the mail room at A.T.I. and that's where you learn a lot of stuff. I don't know if they do that anymore to be honest with you. Nowadays they just start you as an assistant and you get it that way.

Q - Even if you've had no agency experience?

A - Yes. It's a lot different nowadays. It sucks. Old school hard knocks isn't around anymore.

Q - Is it true that with the advent of the personal computer, you don't need an office anymore? All you need is a laptop, a cell phone and a printer.

A - That depends. If you're an agent for film and television, you have to have an office. You have to follow SAG and AFTRA rules. Any other one, yeah, you can.

Q - Like music?

A - Yes. You can be a music manager and a booker, an agent. There's no law. You can't do that for film and TV, but you can do that for personal appearances.

Q - I like that term you use, "Magent."

A - Yes. I'm a manager with agent skills. That's how I pretty much put it.

Q - What can you offer a client that William Morris and C.A.A. (Creative Artists Agency) can't?

A - Well, I won't take on as many clients as they have and I'll give them more personal attention. Plus, my niche is taking clients that people just give up on and I don't. They got there the first time; they'll get there the second time. They just need the right vehicle to get there, that's all. A lot of times people give up on people. I won't. Who said if you did it first, you can't do it again? I don't get that.

Q - I take it you've always been an agent?

A - Well, yes. I'll always be in this business in some way. I love it. I enjoy it. It's a lot of fun.

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