The close-knit LA literary agency community is in mourning today following the death over the weekend of Caren Bohrman. She was 56.
As owner of The Bohrman Agency, she brokered screenwriter deals for such major Hollywood films as the remake of The Fugitive. Her brother, David, is president of Current TV, while their father Stan was an award-winning SoCal TV newsman.
In an interview with scriptologist.com, she offered a wonderful explanation of how she came to own her boutique agency:
“I got fired from my first job as an agent after four years because they said, ‘You’re too honest. So, we can’t trust you anymore.’ [This] taught me about the lack of integrity in Hollywood. I’m very straightforward and honest. So I decided I was going to prove to these people that you can be honest and straightforward and still be very successful.”
“I went on to open four or five different literary departments at talent agencies that did not have literary departments. They were all wonderful departments where we were putting together series and feature films, and representing novelists like Irving Wallace. Then I decided it was time to open up my own agency.”
Bohrman’s sister Cathy has provided FishbowlLA with the following tribute. It speaks volumes about the fruits of Bohrman’s honest Hollywood approach. RIP:
Caren Bohrman, a leading Hollywood literary agent, died following a long illness Sunday. A native Angeleno, Bohrman, 56, had been under the care of her sister, Catherine, in the Oakland area since mid August.
Over nearly three decades at the forefront of literary representation and management, Bohrman had been directly involved in nearly a 200 screenplays and pilots, with projects ranging from a Michael Jackson film treatment – unfinished before his death – to The Fugitive. During a period of enormous transition – including a handful of wrenching writers’ strike and the advent of the digital revolution – Bohrman remained resolutely independent. She was a last-of-a-breed agent who eschewed “omnibus” projects – with actors and studios attached to a script as a condition of advancement – in favor of a boutique approach to script development, lavishing attention on language, plot, structure, and – in particular – the writer.
Bohrman represented dozens of newcomers, shepherding careers not only over years but decades. Under her tutelage, their efforts yielded both an eclectic and distinguished body of work, characterized most notably by an independence of voice. Produced films included The Fugitive, Warlock, Crazy/Beautiful, Buckaroo Banzai, The United States of Leland and Employee of the Month. She also secured the U.S. theatrical release of the Salvador Carrasco-directed and Plácido Domingo-produced, The Other Conquest, about neo-colonialism from an Aztec point of view and described by Cinescene as “one of the more astonishing feature film debuts in recent memory.”
More recently, she had worked on Admissions with Andy Garcia, Vera Farmiga and Tom Skerritt, on the Maria Bellow/Michael Sheen vehicle, Beautiful Boy, and Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum‘s The Vow. Before her death, she had over a dozen projects in various stages of development.
Bohrman had originally intended to become a journalist, in the model of her own father, Stan Bohrman, the investigative reporter and anchor for KABC-TV in Los Angeles, KPIX-TV in San Francisco and KYW-TV in Philadelphia throughout the ’70s and ’80s. But after being cencored by the federal government, she shifted gears by the mid ’80s had decided to enter representation, entering the business as a receptionist and – within six months – was representing some 45 leading television and feature writers and directors at various agencies while also establishing literary departments at each. She established her own firm, the Bohrman Agency, in 1994.
Bohrman was a word person in a picture town, whose primary allegiance was to the script. A voracious reader, she juggled dozens at any one time, scrupulously working over plot points, color, tone, dialogue and narrative. Her idealism shaped her approach to work, and deeply embedded in that ethic was a sense that someone’s dreams of writer stardom could certainly come true, but not until enough sweat and blood – quite often including her’s – had been spent in the effort. Over the years she welcomed neophytes, out-of-towners, newcomers, reasoning that a good and even great idea could come from anywhere. Caren was in the process of recreating herself and career before her death. She wanted to write, produce, develop ideas, find new ways to support writers, when her time was cut short. She commented on the many hats she wore in her file and said it was time for a new hat rack. A native of the city and industry she loved, Bohrman was at the nexus of dreamers and achievers, but her affinity was always with the dreamers.
“Caren was fiercely loyal to her ideals and never compromised,” said her sister, Catherine. “She believed that everyone is deserving of love and attention, and gave herself fully to her many wonderful clients and every project she worked on. Caren, as an agent, is unique in that she always told the truth, a rarity in Hollywood, and was able to carry forward the ideals of the freedom movement from the 60’s. Most people, upon meeting Caren for the first time, may think that her being a successful agent was impossible because she was too honest and caring for each client, but she never wavered in her beliefs and commitment. Caren was always loving, generous, and upfront with her views and opinion, but never mean, rude or arrogant. Caren was always sharp, quick and funny, would make a reference to an old movie or song out of the blue that would be spot on for the moment. She was an amazing woman, the best sister in the world, and a bright sparkle from the heavens. Now she can shine brighter and bring laughter to all in spirit.”
She is survived by her sister Catherine, sister in law Mary, and partner Michael, brother David, niece Amber, grandniece Sloan, and nephew Harrison.
Donations (in lieu of flowers) in her name can be made to her sister Catherine Bohrman or Caren’s life-business partner Michael Hruska to help cover uninsured medical health care costs, as Caren went through major surgery two years ago without insurance, and donations also can be made to your local hospice and fire departments, as these agencies were tremendously helpful in caring for Caren in her last days.
[Photo courtesy Michael Hruska]