Best/worst celebrity career management

Some actors are very BAD at managing their careers, or at choosing people to do so for them. A prime example is David Caruso, whose head was so swelled after one year at the lead of **NYPD Blue ** that he bugged out on his contract, did a string of forgettable movies, got a reputation as an unreliable, hard-to-work with prima donna, and took a decade to get another leading TV role.

And then there are the opposite numbers. Take George Clooney, for instance, who, catapulted to stardom by ER, stayed until his contract was up, left gracefully (both for his actor and his character) in a way that didn’t forbid a return, and undertook a series of respectable and well-paying lead roles. Yes, he was unbelievably smug at the Academy Awards, but at least his not routinely a dick on set. And he’s benefited.

What other actors/singers/etc. stand out in your mind for especially bad or particularly good management of their careers?

McLean Stevenson seems to be well qualified in this category, leaving mega-hit MAS*H in order to launch the turkey Hello Larry.

Valerie Harper also comes to mind- after her great success in Mary Tyler Moore she jumped ship and had a one year sitcom of her own then got a second chance in 1986 with Valerie’s Family and then jumped that ship.

Cuba Gooding Jr. - Oscar win to Snow Dogs.

Michael Crawford, star & Tony winner for Phantom of the Opera to “Dance of the Vampire” & “Woman in White.”

I opened this thinking it would be about ‘management’ specifically.
I would say Col. Tom Parker’s handling of Elvis. He couldn’t travel outside of the US so therefore Elvis never toured outside of the USA. He also turned Elvis away from doing the male lead in Streisand’s “A Star is Born”. It is said that Elvis really wanted to do more serious film work and tht possibly being able to focus on that might have given Elvis more motivation to not die on a toilet seat.

I’m perfectly fine with people talking about the managers rather than the actors/singers themselves; it’s just that managers are rarely as well-known as the stars they represent.

These two are things I have heard, so if I am wrong please feel free to correct me, I would actually love it if someone could confirm/deny these:

Molly Ringwald was offered both the lead in Pretty Woman and Ghost, she turned them down on advice of her agent.

Also Gino Vanelli’s manager dumped all other clients to focus on only him as he felt Gino would be the next Elvis. I think one of his clients was Bruce Springsteen

I second the vote for Cuba Gooding Jr. In the 10 years since his Oscar his film choices have to be the worst in history.
Ok, he was decent in As Good As It Gets and Men of Honor, but that’s it out of what- 15 or so films?

Shelley Long left the top-rated TV show Cheers to star in an impressive string of movie flops. (As did, like, 99.999% of Saturday Night Live cast members).

I’ve never understood why damn near every TV star wants to be a movie star.

Huh. I was going to jump in here and slam Denise Crosby for tanking her career by bailing out on her role as Tasha Yar in STNG, but looking at her IMDB record, I notice she has 54 movie and TV roles since 1989, which is 54 more than I have, so maybe she did a smart thing by not typecasting herself…

Most young actresses who win the Academy Award for Best Actress make pretty poor choices afterwards. Halle Berry, for example, although that could just be poor ability instead of poor decision-making.

Antonio Banderas routinely picks the worst possible scripts, when I think he’s a good actor, personally.

I’m surprised Tom Cruise hasn’t been mentioned yet. His film career may be doing well, but his public persona took a nose dive and that may soon affect his marketability and film roles.

I’d have to also include Elvis Presley. He was managed by a huckster who, among other things, never had Presley incorporated. So Presley was paying expenses, salaries and taxes on his gross income. He did movies that were basically travelogue’s set to music (though they always made money) and pretty much pissed away absolutely awesome talent.

I’ve always said that Keanu Reeves has the greatest agent in the history of Hollywood.

  1. The pay can be surprisingly sucky.
  2. The hours are hell. (Movies shoot 3-4 pages of script a day; a TV drama shoots 8-10 pages, for 9 months a year.)
  3. Perception-wise, movies are still the big time. You’re not truly a star until you’re a movie star.
  4. I’d say it’s much easier to get typecast on TV than in movies.

This isn’t GD, of course, but I still have to ask for a cite. It’s been well over a year since the silliness on Oprah’s couch, and he hasn’t suffered any marketability thus far that I can see, and has had two hit movies since.

“May” is different from “will.” And “annoyed a lot of Dopers” (including me, for the record) "is is different from “lost marketability and lost a role”.

It’s been said – IIRC, here in Cafe Society – that a latter-day Back To The Future would include mention of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I can’t disagree; he knew a muscleman with the diction of a mechanical Nazi could be a warm and likable protagonist with a knack for light comedy, routinely getting audiences to root for him in countless blockbusters until the time was right to amiably get elected Governor – but how the heck did he pitch that to everyone else, back when?

I’d have to say whoever has been managing Tony Danza for the last 30 years has been doing a bang-up job. I mean:

Taxi: plays a character named Tony, a former boxer

Who’s The Boss?: plays a character named Tony, a former baseball player

The Tony Danza Show: plays a character named Tony, a former boxer

That’s what I call playing to your client’s strengths (being named Tony and being a former boxer) and away from his weaknesses (evidently a really poor memory and/or imagination). Seriously, how could the man sustain a 20+ year career like this?

ABBA. Stig Anderson took four Swedes unknown outside their native country, made them famous worldwide, and keep control of them through his company Polar Music. He also treated them decently, giving them shares in Polar, and letting Bjorn & Benny keep rights to all the songs. Stig didn’t forsee or live to see “Mamma Mia!” but B&B owe him a world of thanks for the money they are making from the show.

Henry Winkler had the good sense to stay with Happy Days rather than do some doomed-to-fail, cash-in series.

Denzel Washington has enjoyed a steady career arc since St. Elsewhere.

On the other hand…

Reportedly Van Johnson was all set to revive his career by playing Elliot Ness in the original TV The Untouchables when he let his wife talk him out of it. The role then went to Robert Stack – which is why Van Johnson didn’t star in Airplane!

Suzanne Sommers let her husband/agent get her thrown off Three’s Company and cripple her career with lawsuits.