Recently at a Los Angeles Penn event, I bumped into Penn alum Rob Golenberg (W'87, ZBT). Rob has been in the Hollywood biz now for over 20 years now and is currently the VP and Head of TV Literary and Packaging at the Gersh Agency. (I've known about Rob for years now because some Penn friends have had great experiences working for him.)
As you've seen in many of the Hollywood alumni I cover on DT, no one person's path is the same. In Rob's case, he made a big career change early on in his career to Hollywood and has had quite an interesting journey since!
After the jump, learn more about Rob's path from Penn to Hollywood agent and his solid advice to anyone looking to becoming an agent or getting into the entertainment business.
A must read for any Penn alum or undergrad looking to go Hollywood!
Rob's path from Penn to Gersh
"I graduated in ’87 and went to work on Wall Street. Lasted 9 months before I quit (another alum who made a career change!). Met Bob Pittman (had just left MTV which he founded) who told me that the best place to start an entertainment career was a talent agency. Interviewed in Spring ’88 at William Morris NY but there was a writer’s strike at the time an no one was hiring. Moved to LA and interviewed at CAA, ICM, WMA and Triad (one of the big Agencies at the time that merged with William Morris in ’94). Went to work at Triad as the TV coordinator and a year later was the first assistant (he had two) to the head of TV Packaging. Made a Jr. Agent but left right before the merger and went to Paradigm, back to William Morris in ’96 and left in 2002 to join AMG (Mike Ovitz’s management company). Company went under 4 months after I went there and came to Gersh."Responsibilities now?
"I run the TV Lit and Packaging which has a dept. of 6 Agents. Clients include Comedy and Drama writers as well as stand-ups and directors.
Advice for Penn undergrad interested in:
1) becoming an agent
"It's all about networking. "Entourage" is over the top but it is not that far off. Work in the mailroom at one of the large Agencies (CAA, WME, UTA, ICM, Gersh, Paradigm, APA) and see which area you are attracted to. Being a Talent Agent is a completely different job than a Lit Agent, Music Agent, Reality etc. Learn as much as you can. It’s all about knowing who is who. Who created the show. Who at the network or studio is responsible etc. Takes a long time to learn this."
2) getting into the entertainment business?
"The business is changing each and every day. I think the traditional models will collapse at some point. You cannot continue to produce high quality, expensive product if there is no return. Technology is changing the business model and we are no longer an ad based medium. People must pay for content. The question is, what will they buy and how much will they pay? We really don’t know yet. Read as much as you can online. Deadline Hollywood, Variety, THR etc. for news. Also there are hundreds of in-depth websites for info on ratings, production, movies, music etc."And FYI, Rob has a brother, Jeff Golenberg (C'91) who also went to Penn and is a partner at the management firm The Collective in Beverly Hills.
More advice and tips from Hollywood alumni HERE
More DT Original Entertainment Career paths and advice in:
- Acting: (from a guy's and girl's perspective)
- Advice for the actor who wants to move out to LA
- A Penn Alum Casting Director to Actors/Comics: Don't Fall into this trap
- TV and Film production
- TV writing
- A Successful screenwriting career not living in LA?
- Advice from a panel of Penn Hollywood alumni who've made it (videos)
- THE PENN MAFIA and getting a job in Hollywood (from this recent grad's perspective)