Friday, April 19, 2024

TV: “Animal Kingdom” Star Ellen Barkin Makes Two Sudden Exits: from Series, and from BFF CAA Agent Bryan Lourd


Ellen Barkin, star of TNT’s hit show, “Animal Kingdom,” never does anything quietly.

The famous, fiery star of “Sea of Love” and “Diner,” and Tony winner, has had quite a week already.

On Tuesday, viewers were rocked when her character, Smurf, the center of the show, was brutally killed off in the next to last episode of the fourth season.

Then came the news yesterday that Barkin has left Creative Artists Agency and moved to a competitor, Gersh. Leaving CAA is shocking because Barkin and CAA partner Bryan Lourd have been thick as thieves for years. They were quite literally BFFs, although in Hollywood the initials that matter are the agencies. Friendships are fleeting.

But it was Lourd that helped design Barkin’s return to Hollywood after her contentious 2006 divorce from Revlon CEO billionaire Ronald Perelman. (For five years of being his fourth wife she reportedly got $20 million– not enough!) That Renaissance began in 2007 when Barkin re-emerged in the very high profile “Ocean’s Thirteen.” She’s worked constantly since then, and won the Tony in 2011 for featured actress in “The Normal Heart.”

“Animal Kingdom” is based on the terrific David Michod film that starred Jacki Weaver as Smurf, kind of a Ma Barker, the tough leader of a crime family of violent and unruly young men. Though TNT shows don’t compete for Emmys, Barkin deserved one. She’s been dynamite, her usual mix of tough on the outside, soft(er) on the inside. She’s what drives the show.

So her character’s death this week was certainly a surprise, and not one that was Barkin’s decision. She’s been leaving clues on Twitter, where she’s politically outspoken all the time. She wrote: “Next episode Smurf’s will is opened. She left her boys a hit tv show.” Her PS: “Carry on Codys…well, maybe not all Codys.”

Did the agency change have to do with Smurf’s death? There’s no such thing as coincidences. And it’s not like “Animal Kingdom” won’t be back. It was renewed for a fifth season by TNT two weeks ago. Without Barkin. Sort of like killing off JR Ewing when he was shot on “Dallas” — very, very weird!



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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