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Ex-Hollywood Superagent OVITZ Regrets 'Gay Mafia' Remark
Wed Jul 3, 6:18 PM ET
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former superagent Michael Ovitz has issued a public apology for remarks in a magazine article that hit newsstands on Wednesday blaming a "gay mafia" of his enemies for the recent collapse of his talent management enterprise.
Ovitz, once viewed as Hollywood's most powerful dealmaker, became the talk of the town again this week after Vanity Fair released advance copies of an interview whose bitter tone pierced the industry's usual veneer of civility and stunned some of the most jaded of showbiz executives.
In it, Ovitz accused such heavyweights as DreamWorks SKG co-founder David Geffen; his former boss, Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner; and onetime partner and Universal Studios President Ron Meyer of orchestrating the demise of his company, Artists Management Group.
He also singled out several ex-colleagues at the talent agency he co-founded, Creative Artists Agency, as well as New York Times reporter Bernard Weinraub, describing him as the principal mouthpiece for an alleged Geffen-led conspiracy.
"I know how hard it is for people to see me as a victim, but in this case it's pretty close to the truth," Ovitz told the magazine. "It was the goal of these people to eliminate me. ... They wanted to kill Michael Ovitz."
But what drew the most attention was Ovitz's use of the term "gay mafia" to describe the alleged cabal of individuals he saw as out to get him.
Late Tuesday, Ovitz issued a brief statement apologizing for his comments.
"I made some statements that were inappropriate during an open and frank discussion with Vanity Fair," he said. "In particular, the term 'gay mafia' does not reflect my true feelings or attitudes. It is regrettable, and I am truly sorry."
His words may not be so easy to take back. Some said his interview revealed as much about Ovitz's self-destructive streak as it did about his storied ego. Others suggested the interview was tantamount to professional suicide in an industry where personal relationships are the lifeblood of success.
"I think he was out to get himself. He's done. It's over," influential talent manager Bernie Brillstein told the Los Angeles Times. "He shouldn't work in this town again."
The Vanity Fair article came about two months after Ovitz was forced to sell off his business for a reported $12 million after running up pretax losses Ovitz himself put at $100 million. AMG, whose client roster included stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Samuel L. Jackson, was acquired by an up-and-coming talent management company called The Firm.
That deal effectively ended a comeback Ovitz launched in 1999 when he and two other talent brokers founded AMG as a venture that would bring under one roof the management of leading entertainers and athletes with TV and film projects.
Ovitz rose to the top of Hollywood's inner circle in the 1980s and 1990s at the helm of Creative Artists Agency, where he was among the first to leverage performers' celebrity with his own stable of writers or directors and package them together for lucrative production deals.
In 1995, he left CAA to join Disney as its No. 2 executive, under Eisner, but left after a stormy 14 months with a severance package reported at the time to be worth more than $90 million, mostly in stock options.
I told y'all this story was going to be an ongoing one! More as it develops!- (Anim8Ed)
For more on this story...check out this thread and the posted articles.
Ovitz Issues an Apology for Comment About 'Gay Mafia'
Ovitz Issues an Apology for Comment About 'Gay Mafia'
By DANA CALVO and LORENZA MUNOZ, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Onetime superagent Michael Ovitz apologized Tuesday for his comments in a Vanity Fair magazine article, due to hit the newsstands today, in which he blames his downfall on a group he calls Hollywood's "gay mafia."
"I made some statements that were inappropriate during an open and frank discussion with Vanity Fair," Ovitz said in a statement. "In particular the term 'gay mafia' does not reflect my true feelings or attitudes. It is regrettable and I am truly sorry."
Ovitz's comments in the Vanity Fair story, which were furiously faxed and e-mailed around Hollywood starting early Monday, stunned even the town's most blase insiders. Some questioned Ovitz's sanity and others said he was homophobic. Once Hollywood's most powerful agent, Ovitz's career initially stumbled in the early 1990s when he left the Creative Artists Agency he co-founded for the No.2 job at the Walt Disney Co.
That job lasted 18 months and sent him into retirement with a handsome severance. He reemerged in 1999 with a management firm called Artists Management Group that he sold this year after its television business failed and investors backed out.
Ovitz told Vanity Fair that he was the victim of a well-orchestrated attack campaign by his numerous enemies in Hollywood.
He blamed many people, not all of them gay, for his problems. Among those singled out were Dream Works SKG founder David Geffen and Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer, who was a founding partner at Ovitz's former agency, CAA.
"I know how hard it is for people to see me as a victim," he is quoted as saying, "but in this case it's pretty close to the truth."
Many of those named in the piece declined to comment; others, such as Geffen, suggested Ovitz needed psychiatric care.
Wed Jul 3, 6:00 PM ET
By Mark Armstrong
Not that he's ever planning to work in Hollywood again, but fallen superagent Mike Ovitz does want you to know he's sorry.
Just one day after sparking a frenzy of derision and sympathy (if someone saying Ovitz needs psychiatric help can be considered "sympathy"), the former powerbroker apologized Wednesday for his comments in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, in which he blames a so-called "Gay Mafia" for ruining his business and reputation.
"I made some statements that were inappropriate during an open and frank discussion with Vanity Fair," Ovitz said in a statement. "In particular the term 'Gay Mafia' does not reflect my true feelings or attitudes. It is regrettable and I am truly sorry."
(And to think, Vanity Fair writer Bryan Burrough said he actually left out some of the more controversial comments.)
In documenting the near-collapse of Ovitz's talent-management company/studio, Artists Management Group, the magazine quotes him blaming a "cabal" of Industry bigwigs for its failure, among them David Geffen, Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer, New York Times reporter Bernard Weinraub, former CAA protégés Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane and Richard Lovett, and Ovitz's former boss, Disney chief Michael Eisner.
"It was the goal of these people to eliminate me," Ovitz told the magazine. "They wanted to kill Michael Ovitz. If they could have taken my wife and kids, they would have."
Many of Ovitz's "mafia" enemies refused to comment. Others, like Geffen, proclaimed that he needed psychiatric help.
"That's just so offensive," Geffen told Vanity Fair, upon hearing Ovitz's "mafia" allegations. "You know, all the fags, they get together and they pick a victim: Let's go get that one! It's remarkable that, at this point in history, the most powerful man in Hollywood, he's been brought down by a gay cabal! I've never heard anything like it in my life!"
Hollywood publicists, meanwhile, were scratching their heads over Ovitz's decision to speak to the magazine in the first place.
"In all my years out here, I have never seen anything like it," A-list publicist Pat Kingsley tells the New York Times. "I would say it's the most baffling interview I have ever seen. He had nothing to gain by it."
But at this point, most suspect Ovitz doesn't care. He's had a roller-coaster career since founding CAA in 1975, and at one point he was considered one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. He left the agency in 1995 to run Walt Disney, only to leave the Mouse House after a little over a year--taking with him a hefty $100 million severance payout.
The Vanity Fair story gives a detailed account of how two last-minute financing deals collapsed underneath Ovitz's AMG, leaving him with no choice but to sell the company (which represented talent like Leonard DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz) to the Firm, an upstart management company that was most notable for its work with music stars like Korn and Limp Bizkit.
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