I doubt that the CAA co-founder enjoyed reading David A. Kaplan’s trenchant profile of him in the issue of Fortune that hits newsstands on Monday. (Here is the teaser link.) “Cast out of Hollywood, not quite a player on Wall Street, never a sensation on Madison Avenue — Michael Ovitz must see Silicon Valley as a final chance to become Michael Ovitz again,” Kaplan writes. He justifies the conclusion with fresh anecdotes showing how the former talent agent and Disney exec has emerged as a “guru” to tech stars including Skype President Tony Bates and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. While he helps them connect with people in other fields and hone their deal-making skills, “Ovitz coaches them on culture and storytelling. He picks them up when they have bouts of doubt, sometimes inviting them to visit the curated mega-million-dollar collection of contemporary art on display in his 28,000-square-foot home in Beverly Hills.” Kaplan adds that Ovitz’ sushi restaurant, Hamasaku, named a $20 salmon-and-snapper role after Bates. And “the nerds — typically a skeptical, evidence-driven bunch — have been uncharacteristically enchanted by their new ally from the Southland.” No mention in the story about Anita Busch’s suit against him in connection with the 2002 scandal involving private investigator Anthony Pellicano. But Kaplan recalls some stories — including Ovitz’ short-lived partnership with Michael Eisner at Disney and the collapse of Artists Management Group — from the days when he was “the dark lord of Hollywood” who “ruled the town with a gap-toothed smile that belied a taste for blood.” Ovitz didn’t cooperate with Kaplan. And even now, most sources “agreed to be interviewed only on the condition we not use their names. Such is the respect and fear he still inspires.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.