When phones began ringing and e-mail began pinging with the happy (or not-so-happy) news of this year’s Oscar nominations, it’s a good bet that thanks to their BlackBerrys, the agents at Creative Artists Agency were among the first to get the scoop.
The 200 agents who work for the powerhouse talent agency (which represents Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise, among others) are the power BlackBerry users in Tinseltown. CAA CIO Michael Keithley stewards 22 Microsoft Exchange servers that store more than 4 terabytes of e-mail full of the latest megadeal details. According to Keithley, the size and complexity of CAA’s e-mail database resembles that of General Motors.
Clearly, for Hollywood agents, the BlackBerry is more than a status symbol. CAA’s agents spend plenty of time away from their glittery Beverly Hills office building, so keeping in touch is essential.
Of course, agents still live and die by the phone. Each agent may receive over 100 calls a day and more during peak times such as the current Oscar season, when they’re trying to get better deals for their nominated clients. So Keithley’s team designed an application for the BlackBerry that automates the phone sheets maintained by the agents’ assistants (the assistants log the calls in a spreadsheet), giving the agent access to his or her phone messages. Meanwhile, a simple command from the BlackBerry gives the agent immediate answers to queries from CAA’s databases about past deals, movies, talent history and more, so they have the information they need to return the calls.
If the caller is on the “A” list, that is.