After years of complaining about partner Rick Nicita, CAA’s original Young Turks have pushed him out of the agency and foisted him onto Morgan Creek where he’ll be co-chairman and chief operating officer. It must have been a desperate situation for the 63-year-old Nicita who, after years of rumors that he’s on the outs, is now willing to work for James Robinson, one of the worst bosses in Hollywood and one of the biggest assholes in the movie biz. (Kudos to LA Times‘ Claudia Eller who got online first with the announcement… without analysis.)
This horrible job culminates Nicita’s 42-year career as an agent for first William Morris and then CAA, where he became a partner in 1995 when Ovitz left to become the short-timer prez of the Walt Disney Co. That’s when the agency was handed over to the so-called Young Turks — Jay Moloney, Richard Lovett, Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane, David “Doc” O’Connor — as well as to head of music Tom Ross, head of television Lee Gabler, and veteran agent Nicita. Even though Moloney at one point was touted to take over the agency, he was fired in 1996 because of his hopeless drug habit. Since then, the Young Turks have slowly but surely consolidated their grip on CAA, pushing out first Ross, then Gabler, and now Nicita.
Though considered a diligent agent within the movie biz, I’ve been hearing for years those CAA insider complaints about how “lazy” and “unaggressive” Nicita is, not to mention “overpaid”. (Remember, they’re saying this, not me…) So it was just a matter of time before he exited. Of course, now is an opportune moment for CAA to give the ol’ heavy-ho since Tom Cruise isn’t the star he once was and his United Artists is on the skids (Rick’s wife and Cruise’s longtime producing partner Paula Wagner is CEO there.) Meanwhile, Huvane is fielding what few leading man offers there are for Tom.
Nicita is generally liked within the Industry, so he’ll be a good antidote to Robinson who is loathed. But Nicita should have tried to buy himself more time, because he could have walked into a gig as No. 2 at a major agency (which I know was thinking about hiring him). But then Nicita would have been a competitor, and CAA couldn’t have that — which is why the Young Turks find production jobs for agents they want to jettison. Even Universal, which distributes Morgan Creek’s incredibly lousy product in exchange for a fat fee, are bewildered why Nicita would land at Morgan Creek. “What motivates Robinson these days? I don’t honestly know. It used to be to hobnob with stars…” one exec snarked to me.
Oh, and for the record, I just received this email from a CAA bigwig: “You have no idea how hurtful you are. Rick Nicita is one of the great guys of our business. He is beloved by all of us. He wasn’t pushed out of anything. He is actually excited about his new job. He created it. He’s been very good friends with Jim Robinson for a long time. Because of what you wrote and made up, he will now spend the rest of the year answering stupid questions about whether he was ‘pushed out’ or not….”
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