EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just been told that Emanuel “Manny” Nuñez, a motion picture tenpercenter at Creative Artists Agency who’s a pioneer in structuring deals for India-based production entities to invest in U.S. film projects, was the unsung hero of the Dreamworks/Reliance pact. His role from start to finish (he even arranged for Reliance to approve the final press release) also highlights the increasingly vital role that a Hollywood agency’s indie division, often referred to as the “packaging” or “financing” department, plays these days. They’re not only there to help the tenpercentery’s clients get passion projects made; they increasingly serve as gateways for the ongoing influx of financiers looking to invest in movies. As a member of CAA’s 16-year-old department, Nuñez is accustomed to finding funding and distribution for individual films and even companies. But this was certainly the biggest indie deal of his career. Months ago, when DreamWorks decided to exit owner Paramount, the company founded by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg was expected to pact with Universal. But that’s when Nuñez phoned up DreamWorks and said he had “someone who’s interested in putting up money. He then facilitated the meeting,” sources inform me. That “someone” turned out to be India’s Anil Ambani, chairman of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and one of the world’s richest men. And the rest is, well, history. Now DreamWorks is the best funded indie with $1.2 billion. And CAA pockets what insiders tell me is $2.5 million for its part. (I’m told claims it was $17M are untrue…) Nuñez, whose role has been kept quiet, has been at CAA since 1991, before that ICM, and before that an entertainment law firm. I say it’s guaranteed he can expect a fat end-of-year bonus for 2008.
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