Michael Ovitz

Michael Ovitz
Born December 14, 1946 (1946-12-14) (age 64)
Chicago, Illinois
Occupation Entertainment executive, Philanthropist, Art Collector

Judy Reich (m. 1969–present) «start: (1969)»"Marriage: Judy Reich to Michael Ovitz" Location: (linkback://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Ovitz)

Children: Christopher, Kimberly, Eric

Michael S. Ovitz (born December 14, 1946) is an American talent agent who co-founded Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in 1975 and served as its chairman until 1995. Ovitz later served as President of the Walt Disney Company from October 1995 to January 1997.


Early life

Ovitz was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of a liquor wholesaler. Raised in Encino, California, he attended Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, a classmate of Sally Field. While a premed student at UCLA, he began his entertainment career as a part-time tour guide at Universal Studios. Upon graduation from UCLA in 1968 with a degree in theater, film, and television, he secured a job in the mail room at the William Morris Agency. Within a year he was promoted, becoming a highly successful television agent. Six years later he and four other young colleagues left William Morris to found Creative Artists Agency.[1]

Creative Artists Agency

Ovitz founded Creative Artists Agency in 1975 along with fellow William Morris Agents Ron Meyer, Bill Haber, Rowland Perkins, and Mike Rosenfeld. Borrowing only $21,000 from a bank,[2] the agents rented a small office, conducting business on card tables and rented chairs, their wives taking turns as agency receptionist.[1]

Under Ovitz's direction, CAA quickly grew from a start-up organization to the world’s leading talent agency, expanding from television into film, investment banking, and advertising.[3] Ovitz was known for assembling “package deals”, wherein CAA would utilize its talent base to provide directors, actors and screenwriters to a studio, thus shifting the negotiating leverage from the studios to the talent.[4] As CAA rose in stature Ovitz became one of the most powerful men in Hollywood.[5] Promoted to President, then later to Chairman of the Board, his roles at CAA were numerous. He served as talent agent to Hollywood actors such as Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, and Barbra Streisand, as well as directors such as Steven Spielberg, Barry Levinson, and Sydney Pollack.[6] Ovitz also provided corporate consulting services, helping negotiate several major international business mergers and deals including Matsushita’s acquisition of MCA/Universal, the financial rescue of MGM/United Artists, and Sony’s acquisition of Columbia Pictures.[7] His signing of Coca-Cola as a CAA client from agency McCann-Erickson had a significant impact on the advertising industry.[8] He is also well-known for negotiating David Letterman's move from NBC to CBS, chronicled in the book The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno, and the Network Battle for the Night by Bill Carter.

Disney President

Ovitz resigned from CAA in 1995 to become president of the Walt Disney Company under chairman Michael Eisner. Ovitz quickly grew frustrated with his role in the company and vague definition of duties.[9] After a tumultuous year as Eisner's second in command, he was dismissed by Eisner in January 1997.[10] Disney shareholders later sued Eisner and Disney's board of directors for awarding Ovitz a severance package valued at $38 million in cash and $131 million in stock.[11] Later court proceedings reflect that Ovitz' stock options were granted when he was hired to induce him to join The Walt Disney Company, not granted when he was fired. The $130 million figure was an estimate by news sources of what his stock options might be worth. The court eventually upheld Disney's payment.[12]

Artist Management Group

In January 1999, Ovitz formed CKE, comprising four distinct companies: Artist Management Group (AMG), Artist Production Group (APG), Artist Television Group (ATG) and Lynx Technology Group (LTG). In 2002 Ovitz sold AMG to Jeff Kwatinetz for an estimated $12 million, which was merged into his management group The Firm.[13] After the sale of AMG, Ovitz became the subject of controversy for remarks made in a Vanity Fair interview.[14] He later apologized.[15]

Personal life

Ovitz is a private investor who continues to advise informally the careers of luminaries such as Martin Scorsese, David Letterman and Tom Clancy. Active in philanthropy, he donated $25 million in 1999 to spearhead fund raising efforts for UCLA's Medical Center,[16] and has contributed significantly to numerous other philanthropic endeavors.[17] A private investor and businessman, his notable activities have ranged from attempts to bring an NFL team to the Los Angeles Coliseum [18] to ventures in online media.[19]

Ovitz is considered among the world's top 200 art collectors.[20] His contemporary pieces include works by Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and many others.[21]

Business positions
Preceded by
Frank Wells
Disney Presidents
Succeeded by
Robert Iger


  1. ^ a b Castro, Janice (1989-02-13), "Pocketful of Stars: Michael Ovitz", Time, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,956963-2,00.html 
  2. ^ , http://kara.allthingsd.com/20101208/when-marc-met-mike-andreessen-interviews-ovitz 
  3. ^ Ovitz, Michaeal - U.S. Media Executive, http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/O/htmlO/ovitzmichae/ovitzmichael.htm 
  4. ^ Cieply, Michael (1989-07-02), "Inside the Agency - How Hollywood works: Creative Artists Agency and the men who run it", Los Angeles Times, http://articles.latimes.com/1989-07-02/entertainment/ca-4858_1_creative-artists-agency 
  5. ^ Appelo, Tim (Nov 2, 1990), "101 Most Powerful People in Entertainment", Entertainment Weekly, http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,318518,00.html 
  6. ^ "Michael Ovitz: A Tough, Innovative Superagent Emerges as King of the Hollywood Deal", People, Dec 31, 1990, http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20114127,00.html 
  7. ^ Castro, Janice (Apr 19, 1993), "In A Rare Interview, Ovitz Defends His Power", Time, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,978256-1,00.html 
  8. ^ Top 100 People of the Advertising Century, http://adage.com/century/people087.html 
  9. ^ "Michael Ovitz", Yahoo, http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/contributor/1808503949/bio 
  10. ^ Masters, Kim (Aug 16, 2004), "Deposed: The strange hiring and firing of Michael Ovitz.", Slate, http://www.slate.com/id/2105223 
  11. ^ Brehm v. Eisner, 746 A.2d 244 (Delaware, 2000)
  12. ^ Holson, Laura (Aug 10, 2005), "Ruling Upholds Disney's Payment in Firing of Ovitz", New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/10/business/media/10ovitz.html 
  13. ^ Holson, Laura; Weinraub, Bernard (May 13, 2002), "Some See a Young Ovitz in Emerging Power Broker", New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/13/business/some-see-a-young-ovitz-in-emerging-power-broker.html?sec=&spon=&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink 
  14. ^ Burrough, Bryan (August 2002), "Ovitz Agonistes", Vanity Fair, http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2002/08/ovitz200208 
  15. ^ Gorman, Steve (July 3, 2002), Ex-Hollywood Superagent Regrets 'Gay Mafia' Remark, http://www.talkdisney.com/forums/td-archives/2302-ex-hollywood-superagent-ovitz-regrets-gay-mafia-remark.html 
  16. ^ Purdum, Todd (May 23, 1999), Ex-Mogul at Helm Again, for Hospital, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/09/us/ex-mogul-at-helm-again-for-hospital.html 
  17. ^ Steinburg, Jacques (June 10, 1998), Voucher Program for Inner-City Children, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/10/nyregion/voucher-program-for-inner-city-children.html 
  18. ^ [Ovitz's Coliseum Design Dazzles NFL in Preview http://articles.latimes.com/1999/may/23/news/mn-40175]
  19. ^ Pollack, Andrew (May 21, 1999), THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Ovitz Helps Form On-Line Entertainment Venture, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/21/business/the-media-business-ovitz-helps-form-on-line-entertainment-venture.html 
  20. ^ The ARTnews 200 Top Collectors
  21. ^ Money makes the art go round

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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