Variety’s Business Managers Breakfast Honors Bernie Gudvi, Features Presentation From Color Force’s Nina Jacobson

Janet W. Lee
·4 min read

In recent months, entertainment industry professionals have adapted to new working conditions to overcome restrictions posed by the ongoing pandemic. Friday morning’s Variety Business Managers Breakfast presented by City National Bank spotlighted some of their contributions and honored this year’s honoree, Bernie Gudvi, for his charity work with the National Veterans Foundation.

The livestream event kicked off with a speech from Kelly Coffey, CEO of City National Bank. Coffey celebrated entertainment professionals’ efforts to cater to the audiences’ needs during the pandemic, while returning to production under COVID-19 protocols.

“This industry seems poised to explode with a surge in both creative content and audience engagement like we’ve never seen before,” she said. “This community is resilient, and we will get through this. Technology is already enabling us to connect with audiences in new ways.”

Coffey’s opening remarks were followed by a keynote conversation from Color Force founder and producer Nina Jacobson, who spoke to her experience on the set of “Y: The Last Man” in Toronto.

While Jacobson and her team are grateful to be back on set, the producer discussed the challenges of not being able to multitask or visit family until production is over. But she is hopeful that technology will continue to allow production teams to engage with different sets at once, even though “there’s no substitute for being together creatively when decisions are being made.”

Jacobson continued speaking to her experience living in a production bubble in Toronto, which she considers a “remarkably easy” system. The team limits the number of people on set at all times, and the showrunners and producers have been staying at the same hotel in their own room, communicating via phone calls, she explained.

Jacobson added that when a cast or crew member tested positive for the virus, following COVID protocols have allowed production teams to continue shooting.

“If you’ve followed all the protocol, the opportunities for exposure are really limited, because you don’t spend any time in an enclosed space without masks, and you don’t spend any time on set without shields near your Zone A (in which you’re in close proximity to the actors),” she said. “If you don’t stick to the protocols, if you don’t create the bubble and you don’t create small pods to contain any problems, obviously a positive could turn into a much bigger crisis.”

Jacobson is hopeful that the 10-hour work days under a collaborative work environment will translate to life on set following the pandemic. “I think we’ll all be happy to go back to a much more communal vibe when it comes to eating and catering and hovering around each other. It’s a very collaborative, very intimate and cozy experience to make a show or a movie with a group of people,” she said.

When the pandemic is over, Jacobson is curious to see how the TV and film market will shift to provide new forms of communal experiences for audiences who have adjusted to accessing content via streaming platforms.

“There’ll be this period of backlog where a lot of big movies have gotten held, and then they’ll come roaring out,” she explained. “But eventually, that backlog will pass, and we’ll see where the business is by then.”

After the keynote conversation, moderated by senior TV reporter Elaine Low, the program featured breakout sessions for the attendees to connect with one another in smaller sessions joined by Variety editors.

Once the breakout sessions closed, the event welcomed Gudvi, this year’s Variety Business Managers Elite honoree.

The legendary business manager, who serves as a partner at NKSFB Business Management, handles the finances of top musical acts. His current clients include Katy Perry, Michael McDonald, Richard Marx, Counting Crows and George Thorogood.

But in addition to counseling these artists’ careers, and guiding them through the effects of the pandemic, Gudvi was acknowledged for his contribution to the National Veterans Foundation.

“For the last 30 years, I have been working with this foundation and helping save a lot of lives and helping a lot of veterans and their families, and I’ve watched the great work they’ve done,” said Gudvi. “It’s a service that is so desperately needed for our veterans, and they are finally getting the recognition they need.”

He also took time to reflect on his career that dates back to 1977, expressing gratitude toward the artists, songwriters, performers and actors he has worked with. “Being part of this team of creative people has been a tremendous high and very gratifying,” he continued. “I’m very proud of the 40 plus years that they’re working, and I look forward to many more years of doing what we do.”

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