Monday, April 13, 2015

CAA Agents Depart to rival United Talent Agency

Creative Artists Agency
CAA, the talent agency co-founded by Michael Ovitz  in 1975, last felt tremors when co-founders and 'rainmakers' Ovitz and Ron Meyer departed in 1995.  The company has made the news recently with a new shakeup:  the departure of eleven agents to smaller rival UTA, taking with them a number of high profile clients including Chris Pratt, Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell.  

"CAA long was the biggest agency in Hollywood, and was known for its rock-solid stable of big stars. It also has a reputation for a buttoned-down corporate culture reinforced by its gleaming headquarters office at 2000 Avenue of the Stars.

In 1975, Creative Artists was created by defectors from the William Morris Agency. Their newly created firm eventually became majority-owned by Michael Ovitz, who was widely hailed as the most powerful figure in Hollywood before leaving the agency to a next generation of managers in the 1990s.

If public intrigue over the machinations of agents has diminished since Mr. Ovitz’s heyday, the current shake-up nonetheless shook Hollywood, where a semi-subterranean network of agents and managers conspires daily to keep clients working — or not."

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Armory Show Opens with Strong Sales

Michael Ovitz and Tamara Mellon were in attendance at The Armory Show's VIP preview last Wednesday along with various celebrities and collectors including Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, Michael Stipe, Kelsey Grammar and Audrey Gruss.

This year's sales were apparently brisk, according to this article appearing in Forbes Magazine: “We’re surprised at the strength of the art market, and the speed at which it has kept growing,” said Thaddaeus Ropac, who was showing for the second year in a row at the Armory. “It’s very solid. We are pleased because the Armory has had its ups and downs in the last few years, but this year it’s an amazing turnout despite the weather. In the last few years the quality has gotten better. Many people came and the interest is strong.”
Michael Ovitz
Michael Ovitz and Tamara Mellon
with Dealer Hannah Schouwink (left) and
Ovitz Family Collection curator Nu Nguyen. (right)
Jean Gabriel Mitterand, whose eponymous gallery is based in Paris, agreed with Ropac’s assessment.

“The Armory Show has improved a lot,” said Mitterand. “This is a very strong year. We have many American collectors, from New York, the West Coast, Florida, and all over. We need to have contact with America once a year, and we get it thanks to the Armory Show.”

The Armory Show is a leading international contemporary and modern art fair that takes place every March on Piers 92 & 94 in central Manhattan. The show is "devoted to showcasing the most important artworks of the 20th and 21st centuries. In its sixteen years the fair has become an international institution, combining a selection of the world's leading galleries with an exceptional program of arts events and exhibitions throughout New York during the celebrated Armory Arts Week."

Check out The Armory Show's website here.

Michael Ovitz and Tamara Mellon with Dealer Hannah Schouwink (left) and Ovitz Family Collection curator Nu Nguyen. (right)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Michael Ovitz's Hamasaku Caters to Crudo Craze

Salmon crudo at Michael Ovitz's Hamasaku

Michael Ovitz's Hamasaku is among L.A. Weekly's five sushi restaurants serving crudo - raw fish "garnished with Mediterranean accents, like olive oil and fresh herbs, rather than the expected ginger-wasabi-soy sauce trio usually served with Japanese-inspired sashimi. "

"Helmed by Chef Yoya Takahashi, this celeb-heavy restaurant is worth seeking out in its tucked-away mini-mall location. Only one of the numerous sashimi dishes wears the mantle of crudo, the rest reflecting the purity of Japanese presentation. The salmon crudo differs by reveling in a Mediterranean approach with the addition of olive oil, lemon, maldon salt, pepper and horseradish aioli. Try it with a sake flight and pretend you're Hollywood royalty."

Chef Yoya Takahashi of Hamasaku says, “Sashimi is eaten to enjoy the natural flavors of the fish with soy and wasabi. Crudo is the same but eaten with extra virgin olive oil, salt and some citrus.” Brilliantshine’s Chef Richie Lopez adds, “Sashimi derives from the culinary practice of sticking the fish's tail and fin to the slices to identify the type of fish you're eating.”

Michael Ovitz's Hamasaku is one of the entertainment industry's best kept secrets.  "Known for attracting agents and execs from nearby 20th Century Fox and Sony, Hamasaku is at the top of Tinseltown’s power lunch list.

The newly renovated restaurant reopened January 12. 11043 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; 310-479-7636.

Read the entire L.A. Weekly article, 5 L.A. Restaurants Catering To The Crudo Craze

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Paula Crown Exhibition at Marlborough Gallery

Michael Ovitz recently attended friend and artist Paula Crown's exhibition entitled The Sublime and the Center: Dimensions of Landscape at Marlborough Chelsea at Marlborough Gallery on 57th Street in Manhattan.  It is the artist's first solo exhibition in New York.  The exhibition runs from Feb 5 - March 7 2015.

From ArtNews Magazine: "Spread across a variety of mediums, the show all stems from a series of drawings Crown made while flying in a small plane over the Drakensberg mountains in southern Africa.

“I was really thinking of William Anastasi’s subway drawings,” Crown said in an interview, referring to the automatic drawings the artist made on the 1 train, “as we were moving through time and space.”

Crown scanned the drawings at very high resolution, “reduced them to their geometric points,” and produced “fractal drawings,” in line paintings and etched glass. She also “dimensionalized” the holes of the notebook paper, making them into sculptures."
Read Paula Crown's digital catalog here.

View Paula Crown's website.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Michael Voltaggio Co-Hosts The Travel Channel's Breaking Borders

Michael Ovitz's business partner Michael Voltaggio with co-host Mariana Van Zeller
Michael Ovitz's business partner and Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio has had a lot going on of late.  His critically acclaimed Melrose restaurant ink. (voted 'Best New Restaurant in America' by GQ in 2012) and ink.sack, the sandwich shop a few doors down, both continue to do great business, so much so that he recently opened a second ink.sack location inside LAX's Tom Bradley International Terminal.

If that wasn't ambitious enough, Voltaggio is now co-hosting The Travel Channel's Breaking Borders along with journalist Mariana Van Zeller.  The premise of Breaking Borders is to gather people together from all sides of a conflict zone, have them break bread together and explore the issues that divide them.

"For each location, I arrived with just my bag of knives and a vague idea of some of the most traditional foods from the region," Voltaggio said in the release. "I started from scratch buying every ingredient on the ground and constructing my interpretation of the local cuisine. I put 100 percent of myself into cooking every meal. It was an honor to sit at the table and hear the stories."

The series opener will feature a visit to the West Bank and will bring together "two families of Jewish settlers, a Palestinian bookstore owner, a Palestinian guide and the general director of a pro-two-state-solution group". Subsequent episodes will be set in Cambodia, Northern Ireland and Cairo, among other places.  

Check out more info on the Travel Channel's Breaking Borders.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nikki Rocco Retires from Universal

Nikki Rocco's early career highlights included Universal's Cape Fear 
Nikki Rocco, a 'game changer' of the film industry, has retired from Universal Pictures as President of Distribution, "a post she held for 19 years as part of a 47-year run with the studio that began at age 17."  In the book 'Women Who Run the Show', Rocco recounts one of the first turning points in her career: a private screening of Cape Fear with director Martin Scorsese and his then-agent, Michael Ovitz.

"I was a new senior VP when [then-Universal President] Sid Sheinberg invited me to a screening in New York and afterwards to join him with Marty and Michael Ovitz to discuss how to release the film.  I was thrilled.  Ovitz leaned across the table and asked me how I'd release the film."

"'Around this time,' I said, 'early November before Thanksgiving to get the word out, to launch it...'  That release strategy turned out to be what we did.  My plan did not sit well with the man running the division at the time; he was unhappy I'd been invited to the screening.  But I knew it was a turning point in my career."

The release turned out to be Rocco's birthday, November 13.

“I did my homework with Cape Fear,” Rocco recalls. “I had my competitive studio calendar and was prepared for that trip. It felt like a fall movie, and the best time was a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, which just happened to be my birthday.” 

Cape Fear opened unopposed by any wide releases in November 1991, making $10.3M and a final total of $79.1M.  Rocco went on to release films during what was then thought of as less than optimal times - the dead zone before Memorial Day weekend, early November, etc. - and proved through many successes that 'if you build it, they will come.'