Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hamasaku helps kick off the 2014 Los Angeles Times Taste festival of food

Michael Ovitz's Hamasaku featured at L.A. Times Taste
Michael Ovitz's renowned sushi restaurant Hamasaku helps kick off the 2014 Los Angeles Times Taste festival of food scheduled for Labor Day weekend with a Friday night VIP opening night party along with featured chefs and food from other great restaurants including Girasol, Guelaguetza, Sotto, Plan Check, Phorage, Sushi Roku, Waterloo & City and others.

Taste runs from Friday Aug. 29 through Sunday Aug. 31 and includes five culinary events L.A. food lovers are not going to want to miss, ranging from cooking demonstrations by famous chefs (including James Beard Chef of the Year Nancy Silverton, esteemed pastry chef Karen Hatfield from Hatfield’s, and rising star Bruce Kalman from Union Pasadena).

Tickets for the Friday night VIP party are $150; tickets for the other events range from $100 to $125, with a $25 discount for L.A. Times subscribers.

If you miss Taste, hopefully you'll get a chance to visit Ovitz's Hamasaku, considered one of the best sushi restaurants in Los Angeles.  Located in an inconspicuous strip mall on Santa Monica Blvd., the restaurant features a refined fusion menu orchestrated by executive chef Wonny Lee and head sushi chef, Yoya Takahashi, complemented by the legendary off-menu celebrity roles that made the restaurant a favorite lunch spot for Hollywood's dealmakers.  In addition to the food the walls are decorated with carefully curated pieces from Ovitz’s private art collection.
Read the entire article, It's all happening at The Times' Taste over Labor Day weekend

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Moguls Attend Allen & Co's Annual Sun Valley Conference

Michael Ovitz and Tamara Mellon at Allen & Co's annual Sun Valley Conference
Michael Ovitz and girlfriend Tamara Mellon (designer and co-founder of Jimmy Choo) were in attendance at last week's Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho along with many of the world's wealthiest and most powerful executives from media, finance, and technology.

The 5 day conference, now in its 32nd year, featured a number of compelling panel discussions, ranging from Saturday’s interview of Secretary of State John Kerry by the legendary Charlie Rose (who also interviewed Harvey Weinstein and Brian Grazer at the conference), as well as a panel that included billionaire investor Warren Buffet and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

All stars were ever-present:  Phil Jackson was interviewed by Bill BradleyGoogle’s Larry Page was interviewed by Ben Horowitz, but the conference also made way for emerging technology, including presentations from the entrepreneurs of Lookout, Xapo and Lending Club.

Other attendees included Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, AOL’s Tim Armstrong, Google’s Larry Page, Pinterest’s Ben Silbermann, GoPro’s Nick Woodman, and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman.

The five-day Sun Valley retreat concluded with a final dinner hosted by Herb Allen "whose aserbic wit and self-deprecating humor was enjoy by all."

Read about the Sun Valley conference in Variety's Sun Valley: Media Moguls and Tech Titans Mingle at Allen & Co. Conference.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Los Angeles Magazine Looks Back at Spago

Celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck
Los Angeles Magazine's latest addition 'The 80's' includes a look back at the original Spago, chef Wolfgang Puck's iconic restaurant that became a favorite for Hollywood dealmakers and royalty.  Spago paved the way for today's culinary renaissance:  it was the first L.A. restaurant to feature an open kitchen, the first to serve fresh ingredients purchased that morning at a local market, the first to feature fusion cuisine and a celebrity chef.  But most of all, Spago was the spot for big stars and entertainment power plays.

"Tables 1, 2, 3, and 5 were called 'the ones.'  These were coveted VIP spots and head waiter Philippe Pique always worked them.  Michael Ovitz, the most powerful man in Hollywood at the time, would come in and say, 'Oh I don't know what I want, Phillipe.  Just make me something!'  Phillipe would go into the kitchen and make a chopped salad, which became a signature off-menu special."

But Ovitz didn't only help Puck by frequenting his restaurant - he helped launch the Austrian chef into a television personality and personal brand.

"When my second cookbook came out, in ’86 or ’87, I gave a book to Michael Ovitz—you know, he was running Hollywood talent agency CAA—and he asked me, ’Where do you promote it?’ I said, ’Well, A.M. Los Angeles and stuff like that,’ and he said, ’No, you cannot do it with A.M. Los Angeles. You have to do it on Good Morning America, the Today Show, some national shows.’ Sure enough, he called ABC New York, and they came out to see me and had me on a week later. I still remember when I did Good Morning America for the first time. Oof, they made me so scared. I had David Hartman, who is six-foot-five, next to me with his deep voice; he was doing the cooking with me. I made a chocolate soufflĂ©, and you know, you only have four minutes on the show. You have to make your dish and then have another one in the oven perfectly ready to take out. It was a very scary moment. But it came out fine."

Check out the latest issue of Los Angeles Magazine, The '80s in newstands now.

Read the Food and Wine article, Interview With Wolfgang Puck

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How Los Angeles' Art Lovers Live

Michael Ovitz home designed by architect Michael Maltzan
Michael Ovitz Residence
LA Confidential magazine's recent How Los Angeles' Art Lovers Live discusses Michael Ovitz's 28,000 square foot residence designed by architect Michael Maltzan.  Created as both a 'home' and a 'villa' - Maltzan had to create a space that serves as both a private residence and a museum for Ovitz's significant art collection.

Michael Ovitz residence designed by architect Michael Maltzan
While very few images exist of the home's interior (a few of which were featured here last week), W Magazine's The Client Whisperer offers excellent insight into both the Ovitz residence and the overall work of Maltzan, which includes a wide-range of architectural projects, particularly his series of modern apartment structures built for the homeless through the Skid Row Housing Trust.

The Ovitz residence consists of three interconnected boxes wrapped in a perforated-steel skin, all arrayed along the descending ridgeline of the lot.  The 'wow' moments of the home occur as the visitor approaches and progresses through the house - this notion of 'movement' was carefully planned in the home's conception.

Artwork in the home consists of works by Picasso, Dubuffet, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Franz Kline and many others, including numerous lesser known emerging artists whom Ovitz has helped via purchases of their early works.

Michael Ovitz residence, front
Approach to the Ovitz residence entry
And how can the public see the Ovitz art collection?  Portions of the collection are often loaned to museums around the world, and public tours of the home are occasionally given through local museums.  However, one great way to see pieces is to visit Ovitz's two restaurants, Hamasaku and Michael Voltaggio's Ink., where many works hang on the walls.

Ovitz Library by Jonas Wood
While few photos exist of the home's interior, a number of artists have had the opportunity to create works commissioned by Ovitz, (including the full size police car sculpture by American artist Sterling Ruby featured here last week).  Pictured above is the Ovitz library by Los Angeles artist Jonas Wood.

Read the entire LA Confidential Magazine article, How Art Lovers Live in Los Angeles.

Read W Magazine's profile of the Michael Ovitz residence and architect Michael Malzan, The Client Whisperer.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Michael Ovitz Residence Featured in W Magazine

Ugo Rondinone’s 'Wisdom? Peace? Blank? All of this?' - 2007 Ovitz Family Collection
W Magazine selected the 'coolest venues in town' for its latest art-themed fashion shoot, including a rare look at Michael Ovitz's Beverly Hills residence.  The shoot allowed a glimpse of a few of the extraordinary works of art at the home - itself an artistic expression.

Renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone's Wisdom? Peace? Blank? All of this? stands outside the residence, cast from a 2000 year-old living tree in a field in Basilicata in Southern Italy, while in the driveway is  Ovitz Portrait - a full size police car sculpture by American artist Sterling Ruby.

Sterling Ruby's police car sculpture, 'Ovitz Portrait', 2009

Designed by architect Michael Malzan, the 28,000 square foot residence serves as both a place to live and a museum of some of the world's greatest works.  Ovitz, one of the top art collectors in the world, worked with Malzan to create a space suitable for his modern collection; the result a "palatial structure—comprising three interconnected boxes wrapped in perforated steel" with numerous works featured throughout.

Carol Bove's mixed-media installation 'The Foamy Saliva 
of a Horse', 2011
Inside, Carol Bove's mixed-media installation The Foamy Saliva 
of a Horse, 2011, is pictured.  Works by Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and many others are throughout the house.

While the Ovitz home is a private residence, private tours are periodically provided through local museums, and collection works are loaned throughout the world for display.

Check out the entire W Magazine photo shoot, Fashion Art Walk.

Monday, June 2, 2014

New York Times Unlocks Secrets of Palantir Technologies

Michael Ovitz - Palantir Technologies
Palantir Technologies Offices in Palo Alto, CA
"Palantir Technologies will not help you share, message, pin, post or chat. It does not exist to make you more social or connected, or even to help advertisers get to you. Its technology is deeply geeky, its work secretive. Nonetheless, it’s one of the most valuable private tech companies in Silicon Valley."

The New York Times' recent comprehensive article, Unlocking Secrets, if Not Its Own Value, covers Palantir Technologies, a Palo Alto, CA tech company expected to bring in around $1 billion in revenue this year via powerful data analysis software used for a variety of important issues, from "illuminating terror networks and determining safe driving routes through a war-torn Baghdad... to tracking car thieves and salmonella outbreaks."  The software "consumes huge amounts of data - from local rainfall totals to bank transactions - mashes it together and makes conclusions based on those unlikely combinations."

Palantir was the invention of Pay Pal founder Peter Thiel, now a Silicon Valley investor after selling PayPal to eBay in 2003.  "To drum up private-sector business, Mr. Thiel called on Michael Ovitz, whom he knew through Marc Andreessen, the former Netscape whiz kid turned venture capitalist. At first, Mr. Ovitz thought Palantir could be used in selling online ads, but the housing crisis changed his thinking. Banks had thousands of homes in foreclosure across the country, and no idea how to efficiently clear the backlog in a collapsing market."

"'The idea was to pick one bank, and the rest would follow,' Mr. Ovitz said. JPMorgan was the first. Much as Palantir figured out navigating Baghdad by analyzing recent roadside attacks, satellite images and moon phases, it derived home-sale prices by looking at school enrollments, employment trends and retail sales. Data that JPMorgan thought would take two years to integrate was put into action in eight days."

Michael Ovitz currently serves as an advisor to Palantir, along with a number of prominent public and government figures including James Carville, the Democratic strategist; Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state; and George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director.

Read the entire New York Times article, Unlocking Secrets, if Not Its Own Value