Hollywood manager Jon Rubinstein encourages clients to give back when they’re off the set.
His Authentic Talent & Literary Management in Los Angeles and New York has made social action and charity part of its mission statement. His roster includes Vera Farmiga (“Up in the Air”), Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”) and America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”).
A CrossFit enthusiast, Rubinstein talked about his agency’s dual mission over lunch at Bloomberg News headquarters in New York
Cole: What’s a typical day like for you?
Rubinstein: I do CrossFit training six or seven days a week. I read the New York Times every day. A lot of stuff shows up on my Facebook.com and Twitter.com feeds.
Cole: Why did you point your agency toward charity?
Rubinstein: I wanted to do something that had some impact, and I saw my friends and my colleagues that worked in entertainment who just got burned out.
Everybody goes in with a lot of passion and inspiration. Five years later they’re making money, but they’re asking “What am I doing?”
Cole: What shaped you?
Rubinstein: I’ve studied Buddhism for years and meditated, and I have a lot of interest in the world of spirituality and self-development, personal growth. I saw that I exist on the planet to make an impact.
One of my teachers said everybody loves something, even if it’s just tortillas, and he said everybody’s heart is moved by something.
Cole: How do you help a client make a decision?
Rubinstein: Vera Farmiga directed, co-wrote and starred in “Higher Ground,” a movie about a woman’s search for religion or spirituality. She said she wanted to show this process with some love, not with the usual judgment, so she made a movie.
Cole: What was your role?
Rubinstein: I said you could direct this, and she said no that’s a lot of work. Then she thought about it. She brought in the original writer of the book. I found producers and a financier. She was pregnant with her second child. It was a crazy experience, and we made it!
Cole: Some people say Hollywood isn’t as generous as it should be.
Rubinstein: A lot of people that I encounter in the entertainment business are generous. If you look at any agency, United Talent Agency Inc., Creative Artists Agency LLC, they have foundations, and they do extraordinary work.
Cole: You went to the Toronto Film Festival. What did you like?
Rubinstein: I went there to see “Only Lovers Left Alive” which Tom Hiddleston stars in, and it’s a great movie. Everybody’s talking about “12 Years A Slave,” and I think Chiwetel Ejiofor is one of the greatest actors on the planet. I just saw him in his play in London, which is called “A Season in the Congo,” and he was just breathtaking.
Cole: Will the Internet become a major distributor of films?
Rubinstein: Yes, it’s going to be huge. I just bought a television set, and YouTube.com is built in to it. You can look up a YouTube video on my phone, and it just instantly appears on the television. It’s ridiculous, and some of it is 30 seconds of a cat on a skateboard, right?
(Patrick Cole is a reporter for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are his own. This interview was adapted from a longer conversation.)
Muse highlights include Lance Esplund on art, James S. Russell on architecture.