There are few talent-representative partnerships in Hollywood that have lasted a career. CSI creator Anthony Zuiker had that with manager Margaret Riley, most recently a partner at Lighthouse Entertainment, who died Tuesday of ovarian cancer at age 58.
In 1998, Zuiker was moonlighting as a tram driver in his native Las Vegas while trying to make it as a screenwriter with a movie script he had written, The Runner. Producer Jim Garavente slipped it to Riley, who had recently been promoted from assistant to manager at management/production company Addis Wechsler, and she signed Zuiker on his 30th birthday, 8/17/1998.
Riley then took Zuiker to all Hollywood agencies. He ended up at CAA (where he still is a client) with Joe Cohen and Scott Greenberg. Riley also introduced him to Kevin Yorn, who repped him for free for an year until he got his footing.
“I was living at the Hollywood Towers starving and Margaret would bring me food from the deli across the street to eat,” Zuiker recalled. A year later, in 1999, ABC and subsequently CBS would buy CSI, which would become a fall 2020 series and launch a billion-dollar franchise.
Riley, who worked with Zuiker on his CSI script and the projects that followed, started her career at Addis Wechsler and Associates before founding Margaret Riley Management in 2002, with Zuiker as one of the company’s top clients following the breakout success of CSI. The company was acquired by Brillstein Entertainment Partners three years later, with Riley leaving in 2006 to join Lighthouse Management and Media as a partner. Throughout it all, Zuiker had remained on Riley’s roster until her death.
“Margaret Riley managed me for a quarter of a century,” Zuiker said. “In 1998, she took a no-name tram driver from The Mirage Hotel and stewarded me into CSI stardom with grace, patience, and love. By far my toughest critic, but she led with her heart. She used to say to me ‘Life is long.’ Although her precious life was cut short, she gave me the gift of a long career and helped me find a voice. Now my voice is ours until eternity.”