My latest column is headlined Oh Shit! The Vultures Are Circling: CAA Picks Off Steinberg’s Prime NFL Meat. (It’s an expanded follow-up to my Tuesday DHD exclusive: USC Megastar QB Matt Leinart Leaving Steinberg, Going to CAA?)
To tease you, this is how my new column starts:
“CAA president Richard Lovett has long hero-worshipped scoundrel genius Mark McCormack and the business-is-war ethos of the founder of IMG — that sports-modeling-authors-whomever global management mega-giant. Everyone at CAA, Hollywood’s most arrogant talent agency, knows that Lovett has not only studied every facet of McCormack’s career but that the glorified Tom Hanks caddie has obsessed about being as good as McCormack someday. The fact that IMG’s success was founded on its agents acting like vultures who swarm over their prey didn’t bother Lovett one bit because CAA has copied that agenting style since the days of Michael Ovitz.
“Lovett took to heart the two essential guiding principles of the late McCormack (R.I.P. in 2003). First, that the company was always more important than the clients, and, as far as the clients go, it didn’t matter if they were successful or mediocre; it was better to have them than not have them. The result is that Lovett at times has tangled with his partners Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane and others who grew up at Ovitz’s CAA thinking the agency should represent fewer, better clients and give them more personal attention than try to sustain a volume business. Ultimately, Lovett has won every battle because his mantra is market share, market share, market share. As Lovett likes to argue, there won’t be a need for any other agency if CAA has everyone.
“So far, that philosophy has strictly applied to Hollywood talent. Now, though, Lovett is truly trying to ape McCormack and grow CAA, à la IMG, into the next giant of the sports-agency business on the broad back of no less than USC megastar quarterback Matt Leinart. It’s a strategy where an agency’s roster of clients is reduced to little more than the sum of its parts: this many comedians, this many leading men, this many leading ladies, this many character actors, and now this many quarterbacks and this many pitchers. It’s cold and calculating and crafty: It’s also why stars hate agents. In recent days, continued…“