Starting his career in television as a news producer for Fox Entertainment News dovetailed well with Chris Coelen’s current gig as alternative television chief at United Talent Agency.
While at Fox, Mr. Coelen helped put together news packages on the business side of the entertainment industry for Fox affiliates’ news programs, a job that required him to be current with entertainment news. “Coming from working in a news division for two years, there is something that resonates with me in terms of the authenticity,” he said of reality TV, which is handled through his department. “There is a certain immediacy to it.”
Mr. Coelen said his department has a broad mandate, but something common runs through all the programming he helps shepherd. “Our area covers all things nontraditional,” he said. “News, documentary, reality, talk, game shows. All of that ties into the way people get information. It can be a mirror on things that are happening in society.”
But he also said he knows full well that “reality” programming is crafted television guided by his clients. “Not everything is real,” Mr. Coelen said, “but the fact that they are working with real people, the fact that there are real reactions, that is exciting for me.”
Mr. Coelen joined UTA in 1996 after a four-year stint at the Agency for the Performing Arts, where he started APA’s on-air-host department. His first stop at UTA was in the talent department, but then came the success of CBS’s reality phenomenon “Survivor.” Mr. Coelen decided to combine his experiences at APA and Fox with his relationships at UTA to capitalize on what he saw as an emerging business on network television.
In 2001 he formed the alternative television department, where he has helped package ABC’s “Supernanny,” NBC’s “Average Joe,” Fox’s “The Simple Life” and MTV’s “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica” and reps personalities such as “Trading Spaces” host Paige Davis.
Title: Head of the alternative television department, UTA
Date of birth: Oct. 8, 1968
Place of birth: New Brunswick, N.J.
Who knew? He met client Michael Davies (“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”) when Mr. Davies worked on talk show “Mike & Maty.” Mr. Coelen repped co-host Maty Monfort.