According to a source close to the uber-agency, Obama met with his film, TV, and non-scripted team to discuss projects for Higher Ground. As casual as it can be when the ex-leader of the free world is in the house, the gathering was held in one of CAA’s large conference rooms.
Michelle Obama did not join her husband and business partner today at the meeting. However, Higher Ground president Vinnie Malhotra, plus Joe Paulson, Tanya Davis and other member of the production company’s team were there with President Obama Thursday, I hear.
No details on what the specifics of the discussion at CAA were, but with Higher Ground’s track record of the Oscar-winning American Factory, Oscar-nominated Crip Camp, and the Emmy-winning and Obama-fronted Our Great National Parks, among others, the quality had to be high – pun intended.
Describing the Secret Service presence outside and inside CAA’s Avenue of the Stars HQ as “noticeable,” during Obama’s afternoon visit, one on-looker also said a “lightning bolt went through the floor when we heard he was here.” Certainly, in the constellation of big stars that routinely show up at the Bryan Lourd-run CAA, few shine as bright as the two-term President.
Which, even by Tinseltown standards, can be an event, as one Twilight Zone scribe noted:
CAA did not comment on President Obama’s visit and meetings in their offices today when contacted by Deadline.
Higher Ground signed with CAA for big screen and small screen deals just over a year ago, as Deadline exclusively reported at the time. The agency does not represent either Barack Obama or Michelle Obama individually.
Still, as today’s meeting makes clear, the Obamas are very much personally involved in projects under the Higher Ground banner.
Sam Esmail recently told Vanity Fair that the former POTUS gave notes for on the forthcoming Leave The World Behind, Set to debut in theaters on November 22, and premiere on Netflix on December 8, the latest film directed by Mr. Robot creator Esmail stars Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke. Produced by Higher Ground, the film is based on the 2020 novel by Rumaan Alam following a couple on a Long Island vacation just before the apocalypse.
“He had a lot [of] notes about the characters and the empathy we would have for them,” Esmail told the mag. “I have to say he is a big movie lover, and he wasn’t just giving notes about things that were from his background. He was giving notes as a fan of the book, and he wanted to see a really good film.”
Higher Ground Productions was launched in May 2018 by the former First Couple. Kicking off with a multi-year deal with Netflix at the time, the company also has had a significant podcast presence over the years with a series from Michelle Obama and the Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen hosted Fatherhood.
Ex-Showtime exec Malhotra was named as the president of Higher Ground back in April.