Alec's agent: Auburn native Matt DelPiano represents Baldwin, Pacino and more

2013-02-17T03:00:00Z 2015-02-03T16:58:15Z Alec's agent: Auburn native Matt DelPiano represents Baldwin, Pacino and moreDavid Wilcox, The Citizen Auburn Citizen
February 17, 2013 3:00 am  • 

Here's how Matt DelPiano spent his Super Bowl week:

On Wednesday, he flew to New York City to accompany Kevin Spacey for the premiere of the Netflix series "House of Cards" at Lincoln Center.

On Friday, he had lunch with Al Pacino on the front porch of the actor's Los Angeles home.

And on Sunday, he attended the big game in New Orleans with Alec Baldwin.

It'd be hard to stay grounded when you're hobnobbing with half the cast of "Glengarry Glen Ross," but DelPiano does it. As a talent agent at Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, the Auburn native still has moments of incredulity about what he does every day.

"When I get a phone call and my assistant says 'Kevin Spacey's on one,' I'm like, 'Wow,'" DelPiano said. "I grew up watching these guys; they're so talented and amazing to know."

Raised on Norman Avenue, DelPiano was drawn to entertainment at an early age by films like "The Godfather" and TV shows like "Magnum, P.I." For Christmas, he'd ask his parents, Paul and Diane, for tapes of radio shows by Gracie Allen, Jack Benny and George Burns.

Paul, a former vice principal at Auburn High School, said his son also wrote letters to Burns. When the quick-witted star turned 90, Matt asked his father to buy a box of cigars to send as a present. After finding out Burns' brand through a letter exchange with his manager, the DelPianos mailed the box to the Friars Club of Beverly Hills.

"About two weeks later," Paul said, "George said in a letter back, 'Thanks for the cigars — I'll be sure to return the favor when you celebrate your 90th.'"

One day Matt would have lunch with Burns and his manager in Hollywood, but first he had to figure out how to get there.

After graduating from Auburn High, where he captained the football team, Matt spent a year playing at the University of New Hampshire before transferring to the University at Buffalo to study English literature and drama. He wasn't sure about his next move; he just knew he wanted it to take him to Los Angeles.

"I knew I wanted to be in entertainment, but I also knew that I didn't know anything about it," he said.

DelPiano found his guide in Linda Buzzell's book "How to Make it in Hollywood," which said that a talent agency mailroom is the best classroom in show business. So, while staying with a cousin in Orange County, DelPiano called up CAA and spoke to its human resources director. He started sorting the agency's mail in September 1992.

During the next 10 months in the CAA mailroom, DelPiano befriended many of the assistants to the building's agents. When one of those assistants left CAA, she asked DelPiano if he'd like her job: working for CAA co-founder Ron Meyer, today the president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios.

DelPiano took the step up and spent the next 18 months sharpening his sense for how Hollywood worked, from its studios and production companies to its actors and directors. And at the center of all of it, he said, was the talent agent.

"If you work for a company or a director, you're really only involved with that company or director," he said. "At CAA, someone here was involved with whatever was going on."

He shared this ambition with Meyer, who put DelPiano into an agent training program under Bryan Lourd. Around this time, DelPiano began forming his first working relationships with the stars he would later represent: Matthew Broderick, then Lourd's client, and Baldwin, then Meyer's.

In 1995, Meyer and CAA's other partners left the company, which put DelPiano in line for his long-sought promotion. He immediately went to work as Broderick's agent, but wouldn't represent Baldwin, who left with Meyer, for another few years. DelPiano also signed Jennifer Love-Hewitt and Gary Oldman as some of his first clients.

Though he had climbed high in Hollywood, now representing many of its biggest stars, DelPiano didn't stop learning about the way the business works.

"You'd be surprised how many nos you get representing such talented actors," he said. "The casting process is all about no: too tall, too short, too young, too old. ... The fun part is knowing what a client wants and going out and getting it."

For DelPiano, the sweetest of those conquests was convincing Martin Scorsese to cast Baldwin as Juan Trippe in "The Aviator." The actor and his agent were attending a party at the home of producer and director Irwin Winkler when they saw Scorsese, who had just completed his film "Gangs of New York." After waiting in a receiving line to greet the iconic director, DelPiano introduced his client — as Juan Trippe.

Scorsese was visibly bemused, and Baldwin was impressed — especially when he landed the part, he said.

"Getting that part was a pleasure of mine — and Matt is responsible for that," Baldwin said.

Baldwin also credits DelPiano for putting together with Lorne Michaels the deal that brought Baldwin to NBC's "30 Rock." If the schedule wasn't right for the actor, who wanted time to spend with his daughter, he was prepared to decline — regardless of money. But DelPiano made it work.

Deepening Baldwin's appreciation for DelPiano's talents as an agent is the fact that he, too, has a family: a 6-year-old daughter, Bella, a 4-year-old son, Luc, and a wife of 22 years, Allyssa (maiden name Moore), who's also from Auburn.

"Even as a married man with two kids, he's out there at the screenings, the openings, the meetings, the lunches, the dinners," Baldwin said. "He's got two full-time jobs and a career."

Baldwin has become a part of that family, too: He's godfather to Luc, and close enough to joke with Allyssa and Matt about running back to Auburn with her and opening a coffee shop. But it's still a challenge for DelPiano to balance friendship, business and being starstruck with his famous clients.

"Even though I basically work for them, I find myself in social situations all the time," he said. "It's a fine line, but I can never forget that I do a service for them."

Though it may be that DelPiano simply doesn't have the time to let success go to his head, he credits his "small-town mentality" with keeping him kind in what can be a selfish and self-important industry.

"He was always humble about it," Paul said. "He never talks or brags about his success."

DelPiano did allow himself one recent boast, though. Before parting with Baldwin on Feb. 2, the day of the Screen Actors Guild Awards, DelPiano had a request for his client.

"He put his hand on my shoulder, with total sincerity, and said, 'Don't forget to thank the greatest agent in the history of show business,'" Baldwin said.

And so Baldwin did. Accepting his seventh straight award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series on "30 Rock," he made a proclamation in front of a Los Angeles ballroom full of celebrities and a live TV audience:

"Matt DelPiano is the greatest agent in the history of show business."

Copyright 2015 Auburn Citizen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(2) Comments

  1. dpearl
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    dpearl - March 03, 2014 5:28 am
    Glad to see someonee from AUburn making it!
  2. Mr bwash
    Report Abuse
    Mr bwash - February 17, 2013 8:18 am
    Why joke about opening a coffee shop with the Baldwin brothers in Auburn NY?

    That pitch is about as close to a slam dunk as anything anyone would ever see.

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