EXCLUSIVE: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas is joining 3 Arts as a manager/producer, returning to the rep business after 11 years. Once a high-powered dealmaker at ICM best known for guiding Julia Roberts from unknown to $20 million a picture as the world’s biggest female star, Goldsmith-Thomas left ICM in 2000 to run Revolution Studios East for Joe Roth and supervise films under Roberts’ production deal there. She has been a full-time producer since Revolution folded. An agent for more than 15 years at WMA and ICM, Goldsmith-Thomas also repped Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Connelly, Madonna and Darren Star.

The obvious question is whether she will be rejoined by Roberts, who went to CAA not long after Goldsmith-Thomas left. Goldsmith-Thomas said she comes to 3 Arts without any clients. While producing, she continued to give career advice when asked, but referred talent to agencies and management companies for years even as people asked why she wasn’t building a client list. She decided months ago to explore a return but was reticent to resurface as an agent. It would be hard returning to a job she left behind, and she never liked the poaching part of that game. She also didn’t want to give up producing, which agents can’t do. After meeting with 3 Arts’ Erwin Stoff, Goldsmith-Thomas felt she’d found the right fit. She will operate out of the management/production company’s New York base, where Richard Abate manages authors and runs the book department and Avi Gilbert manages stand-up comics.

“I’ve always loved the architecture of careers, and I missed working with colleagues in breaking down walls that have gotten thicker,” Goldsmith-Thomas told me. “I think it’s a mistake when people try to re-create the same career they had. I love what I’m doing now, and I see this as a complement.”

Stoff also saw it that way. “We welcome Elaine back to the talent representation business,” he said. “Her past accomplishments as an agent, in combination with her more recent experience as a producer make her the ideal addition to 3 Arts. Since we have distinguished our company by using the acumen we’ve gained as producers to guide, advance and augment the careers of our clients, Elaine is a perfect fit for us. We have no doubt that she will make the kind of concrete and quantifiable contributions to the careers of her future clients that have defined 3 Arts.”

Since making the switch, Goldsmith-Thomas has produced the films Maid in Manhattan, Mona Lisa Smile, Bandslam, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, Little Black Book and Perfect Stranger, along with some TV projects. She will continue projects that include Replay, the Warner Bros time-travel drama looking for a new director after Robert Zemeckis dropped out to do Flight with Denzel Washington; Hot Mess with Endgame; and Doggy Daycare at DreamWorks.

Goldsmith-Thomas sounded a bit wistful as she recalled her early dealmaking days. At WMA and ICM, she came up alongside the likes of Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane, Ari Emanuel and Tom Strickler, and was mentored by Ed Limato, Toni Howard and Sue Mengers. “Who knew some of them would be running Hollywood? I missed that teamwork we had at ICM, having people to figure things out with, and console each other,” she said.