This "Zide" Of Hollywood
Maverick home-boy hits Varietyand Reporterwith fruits of grit and guts.
RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER
arren Zide knew since
childhood that he was
different. His buddies
bought newspapers to
read the sports section. Young
Zide turned directly to the "En-
The peculiarities continued
into his late teens and twenties.
At Michigan State University,
Mr. Zide studied finance because
it was "easy."
"I did as little as possible to get
by," he says.
While classmates cracked
books, Mr. Zide sought
breaks in the movie
tion adventures includ-
ed law school in Los
Angeles, but academics
and prospects for a se-
cure and lucrative fu-
ture gave way to a
life-long dream: A job at
New Line Cinema.
In the mail room.
Mr. Zide says it was
the best move he ever
made. His current suc-
cess in Hollywood
proves it. Since striking
out as a personal man-
ager six months ago,
Mr. Zide has made a
name for himself as a
Hollywood macher —
someone who gets
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"It's about a cop and an orang-
utan. I still can't believe it," he
Hollywood Reporter, the other
prestigious trade magazine, has
mentioned Mr. Zide in five arti-
cles since last spring. Journalist
Anita Busch even managed to ex-
tract a bit of personal info on the
typically tight-lipped Zide and
Doug Jones, one of the writers
Mr. Zide successfully represent-
ed in the sale of "Parents' Night"
to Paramount Pictures last April.
"Jones trained Zide in the mail
heats up again, here's a
list of agents and man- Warren Zide: Moving up from T-shirts and jeans.
agers who appear most
active in moving the goods off the room at New Line when Zide first
entered the business. Zide then
The article lists Mr. Zide as the
only personal manager, alongside
representatives from prestigious
companies like International Cre-
ative Management and William
Why the hype over Southfield
home-boy Zide? Since late Janu-
ary, he has sold five scripts, gen-
erating close to $3 million in
revenue. He is set to produce four
films next year. As a personal
manager, Mr. Zide seeks out and
cultivates writers whose screen-
plays he sends to producers and
movie studio execs. (In fact, all of
his successes to date have been
with first-time screenplay writ-
Mr. Zide negotiates deals with
the bigwigs. His record-breaking
sale so far: $1 million for a screen-
play called "Mango," due for pro-
duction this January.
went to International Creative
Management as an assistant. It
was Zide's relationship with ICM
that led to an agent giving sup-
port to the project," the article re-
Mr. Zide confirmed the story
while home in Michigan during
Rosh Hashanah. "When Jones
and I were in the mail room, we
knew that one day we'd be in
business together," he says.
But, unlike Mr. Zide's MSU fi-
nance degree, success in the en-
tertainment industry didn't come
easily. The fast-talking 28-year-
old describes himself as "really
screwed up until age 25, 26.
"I was running my life for oth-
er people. I made a lot of stupid
mistakes. I wasn't thinking ra-
tionally," he says. "I wasn't fo-
Getting focused meant ditch-
ing law books for a mailbag at
New Line. It meant telling his
parents, girlfriend and Michigan
buddies that "pipe dreams" held
more value for him than steady
He lost the girl. His parents
and friends wished him well, but
"they thought I was crazy," he
says. Still, Mr. Zide had a goal in
mind, and he was hell-bent on
pursuing it. His watchword: per-
"In the entertainment indus-
try, you're either in the business
or you're not in the busi-
ness. There's no in-be-
tween. The key is breaking
down that brick wall.
What it takes is a lot of dri-
ve and ambition, and re-
alizing that you're going to
starve for three to four
years. Minimum. I lived
on tuna fish and spaghet-
ti. When you get net salary
of $250 a week, you can't
really live it up," he says.
Ripped jeans and T-
shirts also were tokens of
his rock-bottom status.
Mr. Zide was dressed
down on the day a mentor
informed him of a job
opening at ICM, one of the
largest talent agencies in
In 10 minutes, Mr. Zide
crossed Beverly Boule-
vard, rode the elevator up
seven flights, and shook
hands with Robert New-
man, ICM's director of mo-
tion pictures and special
Mr. Zide had no cover
letter. No resume. He
hadn't changed clothes. But he
got the job on the spot. It's proof
positive that, in Hollywood, ivory
tower accomplishments and pin-
striped suits just don't measure
up to grit and guts. And, of
course, being at the right place at
the right time with the right per-
son had something to do with it.
"Robert and I just clicked. It
was one of those things," Mr. Zide
says. "It's totally misguided to
think that you can get a 4.0 at
Michigan Law School and an-
other 4.0 in a master's finance
program and then expect to walk
right into the entertainment in-
dustry. Degrees are something to
fall back on, but to me, they're the
biggest waste of time.
"If you want to be in the en-
tertainment business, you'll like-
ly advance a lot further by
spending three years at an c,
agency, rather than three years
in law school. You can't learn how