GREGG WILLINGER, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF WILLINGER TALENT AGENCY, INC. (“WTA”), FOUNDED THE COMPANY IN LATE 2000 AFTER A HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL 8+YEAR RUN AT THE CONRAD SHADLEN CORPORATION, A NEW YORK CITY BASED TELEVISION NEWS TALENT AGENCY. HE STARTED WITH SHADLEN IN 1992 AS AN ATTORNEY/AGENT AND WITHIN THREE SHORT YEARS, HE WAS A VICE PRESIDENT AND A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS. IN EARLY 2001, WTA PURCHASED THE CONRAD SHADLEN CORPORATION
Known for his keen eye for talent, hard work ethic and superb negotiating skills, Willinger prides himself most on helping make people’s career dreams come true. He has helped reporters transition to prime time news anchors and has also helped his clients transition from news to sports, as he did for Lisa Salters. He discovered Lisa over 20 years ago as a local news reporter in Baltimore and moved her to ABC News as a correspondent. She now works for ESPN as a newsmagazine correspondent and a sideline reporter for the NBA and “Monday Night Football,” the most important property at the network.
He has also moved his clients from local news to national hosting jobs, as he did for John Anderson, host of the hit prime-time show “Wipeout” on ABC, whom Willinger discovered reporting local sports in Tulsa in 1995. Client Hari Sreenivasan, who has been a client of Gregg’s for over 20 years, transitioned from reporter in Raleigh to technology correspondent and host of the nationally syndicated show “C/NET Central.” He is now an anchor for The PBS Newshour.
Willinger bases his success, in part, on lessons learned when he was a young lawyer practicing in New York City. “One of the canon of ethics for lawyers is to always put the clients’ interests ahead of your own. I have followed this rule as an agent. I work for my clients, not the other way around. I think some people mistakenly think the reverse is true.” Willinger has garnered a reputation as being one of the most selective agents in the country. “My standards are very high, and I carry that over to the clients whom I represent. If I don’t feel passionate and enthusiastic about someone, I don’t think it would be fair to represent them.” Gregg has always taken a long-term approach with his clients with a focus on loyalty and personal service. “I’ve been in this industry for over 22 years and one of the things I am most proud of is the fact that many of my clients have been with me for over 20 years. My goal is for every one of my clients to feel as if they are my only client.”
Born and raised in New Rochelle, New York, an honors graduate of the State University of New York at Binghamton with a B.A. in Political Science, he went on to acquire a Juris Doctor degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, where he served on the Moot Court Board and was Captain of the basketball team. In his third year of law school, he worked full-time at the William Morris Agency in New York City in its famous “agent training program.” It was there that he decided to pursue a career as a talent agent.
A member of the New York and Connecticut Bars, Willinger had been a litigation and entertainment lawyer in New York City for five years before becoming a talent agent. He has been much sought after to serve on panels for the RTDNA, NABJ, AAJA and NAHJ organizations. He has also been an invited lecturer at prestigious universities such as NYU and Columbia University on topics involving the television news industry.
Gregg lives on Long Island with his wife of 25 years, Jill. They have 3 sons, all of whom are over 6 feet tall and have tremendous jump shots. He is active in various charities and served on the Advisory Board of the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Metro New York for many years. When he is not making deals for his clients, Gregg enjoys spending time with his family, playing basketball, visiting National Parks across the U.S. and climbing very tall mountains.