EXCLUSIVE: The definitive book on talent agency CAA is being written by James Andrew Miller, the same author who penned the bestselling Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World Of ESPN and the as-yet untitled CAA book will be the launch title of Custom House, a new boutique label under William Morrow/Harper Collins.
The book will cover decades of the talent agency’s history, from its beginnings when ‘the boys’ — as they were called by their agent mentor Phil Weltman — left the powerful William Morris Agency and set up shop on Wilshire Blvd.
Those “boys” — Michael Ovitz, Rowland Perkins, Ron Meyer, Bill Haber, and Mike Rosenfeld — were unceremoniously kicked out when management caught whiff of their plans to leave.
It is a fascinating history especially in its very beginnings, the expansion outside of film and TV talent, to music, sports and advertising and even having a hand in multi-billion dollar companies changing hands (MCA, MGM) and executive placement.
The book will delve into later years with a new generation of agency and the quest for equity and capitalization from TPG investing in the company.
It will also cover a tumultuous era with the new generation of agents — Richard Lovett, Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane and David O’Connor — who threw down the gauntlet and refused to work with one of its co-founders and former mentor, Ovitz. It is, in many ways, a Shakespearean tale.
Miller said he had more than 300 interviews already conducted, including the CAA founders and current leadership, studio presidents, network chiefs, producers, directors, stars, musicians, athletes and agents.
Geoff Shandler, who is now the VP/Editorial director of Custom House, is Miller’s former editor. He says, “What I’ve read thus far is jaw dropping.”
Miller previously wrote Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History Of Saturday Night Live As Told By Its Stars, Writers, And Guests (co-written with Tom Shales).
Noted Miller, “SNL, ESPN, and CAA were all born in the 1970’s and are still very much part of our culture. The world of CAA is much bigger than a show or a network, and reporting on the agency’s myriad personalities, rivalries, struggles — along with its tremendous growth — is an incredible challenge. My hope is to deliver a book of record so readers understand the unvarnished dynamics inside CAA since its founding 40 years ago.”