Read Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency by James Andrew Miller Online


A New York Times bestsellerAn astonishing—and astonishingly entertaining—history of Hollywood’s transformation over the past five decades as seen through the agency at the heart of it all, from the #1 bestselling co-author of Live from New York and Those Guys Have All the Fun.The movies you watch, the TV shows you adore, the concerts and sporting events you attend—behind tA New York Times bestsellerAn astonishing—and astonishingly entertaining—history of Hollywood’s transformation over the past five decades as seen through the agency at the heart of it all, from the #1 bestselling co-author of Live from New York and Those Guys Have All the Fun.The movies you watch, the TV shows you adore, the concerts and sporting events you attend—behind the curtain of nearly all of these is an immensely powerful and secretive corporation known as Creative Artists Agency. Started in 1975, when five bright and brash employees of a creaky William Morris office left to open their own, strikingly innovative talent agency, CAA would come to revolutionize the entertainment industry, and over the next several decades its tentacles would spread aggressively throughout the worlds of movies, television, music, advertising, and investment banking. Powerhouse is the fascinating, no-holds-barred saga of that ascent. Drawing on unprecedented and exclusive access to the men and women who built and battled with CAA, as well as financial information never before made public, author James Andrew Miller spins a tale of boundless ambition, ruthless egomania, ceaseless empire building, greed, and personal betrayal. It is also a story of prophetic brilliance, magnificent artistry, singular genius, entrepreneurial courage, strategic daring, foxhole brotherhood, and how one firm utterly transformed the entertainment business.Here are the real Star Wars—complete with a Death Star—told through the voices of those who were there. Packed with scores of stars from movies, television, music, and sports, as well as a tremendously compelling cast of agents, studio executives, network chiefs, league commissioners, private equity partners, tech CEOs, and media tycoons, Powerhouse is itself a Hollywood blockbuster of the most spectacular sort....

Title : Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780062441379
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 752 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency Reviews

  • Peter Knox
    2019-01-05 11:50

    If you've read the epic oral histories of SNL and ESPN, then you may know what you're in for when you're starting this one about CAA. At its best this is a business book about managing people, negotiating contracts, finding your passion, building a career and portfolio, lessons learned, teamwork, work/life balance, mitigating success and failure, and some awesome stories about old LA (working your way up from the mailroom, the right place right time conversation, matching convertibles with vanity plates) with a healthy mix of celebrity gossip, excess, and trivia. At its worst this is an overwrought messy long-winded book bogged down in the details, the hand-wringing over compensation checks, the infighting between partners, the poaching of agents, drugs/death/suicide, gross inflated egos, sexism, racism, harassment, threats, hearsay, and even worse - buzzword packed responses that read like press release copy, statements that come off like marketing copy and testimonials, and snippy boasting between millionaires.So... I guess it depends how much you like LA. I found the talent prospecting, deal packaging, company culture cultivating, innovative contract amendments, and building a business from the dining room to the board room story endlessly and nostalgically fascinating and fun. There is a LOT I didn't know about how movies come together, a division emerges from one idea, and a person can shape a company and entertainment world. But don't get too tripped up on the rest of the bullshit along the way.

  • Michael
    2018-12-31 11:14

    Loved the book because I lived it during my 25 years at CAA and knew all the players/stories.

  • Michael Denniston
    2019-01-12 15:19

    An interesting magazine article lost in an overwrought boring 600 page package. Loved LIVE FROM NEW YORK and THOSE GUYS HAVE ALL THE FUN. Biggest difference is those oral histories are told by storytellers and creators, this is from a bunch of millionaires who find their own contract extensions to be tales of myth and wonder.

  • David Carraturo
    2019-01-05 14:55

    Very entertaining reading and very informative about the agency world. I loved the format of the back and forth comments by all the relevant parties. I recommend this book to anyone in the sports/entertainment business.

  • Bean
    2018-12-25 14:08

    I took this out of two separate libraries in two different states to finish it, so I would say it's compelling. But also uneven, overly detailed in parts, and really hard to remember who was who - especially since almost every single major player is male (cough cough). Glad I read it.

  • Terry Dullum
    2019-01-08 14:57

    More than anyone could possibly care to know about Hollywood talent agents.

  • Diego Leal
    2018-12-23 15:13

    James Andrew Miller is the man, he knocked it out of the ballpark with this one too. Same style as the one he used with "Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN".The world that these agents navigate is fascinating and this book is testament to the bright and dark sides of Hollywood.I strongly recommend this exquisite and entertaining book.

  • Amar Pai
    2018-12-22 10:18

    Who cares.Well, I do, but this oral history never really justifies itself either in terms of the subject matter or the stories.

  • Milllicent
    2018-12-22 15:05

    Could have been 300 pages shorter.

  • Seth Brady
    2019-01-10 11:14

    Back in the early 2000s I read scripts in a Hollywood production company for a year, and frankly had no idea that the scripts that came with the red and white covers had so much intrigue, ego, and cash behind them!This was a great story of five guys who left the comfort of their careers with the William Morris Agency and decided to set off on their own.  From humble beginnings of a card table and some telephones, these guys outgrinded everyone around them, forming an agency that started with TV but quickly moved into the movies and grabbed every major star imaginable.  The book is equally divided between the first and second decades.  The first was dominated by the likes of Mike Ovitz, the ultra-driven Hollywood super agent who outworked, outplayed, and outgunned everyone around him, and Ron Meyer, his more personable pseudo-second in command (even though they were equal partners on paper).  The second half was dominated by the Young Turks, a league of young men driven by the love of money and a desire to build CAA into something even greater, where it evolved into a powerhouse that included investment banking, sports, and a host of other businesses.The book is also a very unique style, told in snippets from interviews with over a hundred different people, including agents, stars, and the likes of Ovitz and Meyer themselves.  You’ll hear the story-behind-the story behind iconic films like Risky Business (and where Tom Cruise got his start), Ghostbusters, and Jurassic Park.  You’ll also learn some of the creative financing options that these super agents created for their clients, which resulted in more than a few mega-millionares as many clients, from Bill Murray to Tom Hanks, opted for highly-lucrative backend deals instead of collecting the typically inflated salaries associated with Hollywood blockbusters.The early days were fascinating, as was the political infighting surrounding the original gang of five.  Ovitz left to work for Eisner at Disney for a year, and after a failed attempt to recruit Ovitz, Universal changed their tune and brought in Ron Meyer to run their studio.  The story started to lose me for the last quarter as they went into the backstory behind CAA’s extension into sports, at which point it felt like another typical story of a billion-dollar firm that reached out into every possible side vertical it could (losing it’s way along the way).This was my only complaint with the book.  If you’re interested in the business of Hollywood, and you’re interested in getting a backstage tour direct from the mouths of the players both on and offscreen, pick up a copy.  It’s a long book, fitting with the long journey the agency took to become the firm it is today, so settle in and prepare to be entertained!

  • Kirsti
    2019-01-13 14:57

    Power! Money! Fame! Influence! Luxury! Scandal! Art! This book is about all of these things . . . but most of all it is about . . . HURT FEELINGS. Pretty much every senior male agent or executive interviewed for this book complains about being underappreciated and undercompensated. There are so many variations of "Sure, I got paid a lot, but I was paid $X million less than I was bringing in in revenue. Lots of guys there didn't pull their weight." This is interesting, particularly considering that CAA was well-known for paying extra for talent so their people would not look elsewhere. Either these guys are mistaken or there was one terrible agent losing the company hundreds of millions over the years--like a black hole of revenue. Anyway, this is lively and fun if you like James Andrew Miller's way of doing things. The only part that I found dull was the sports-related material near the end.

  • Kiki
    2018-12-27 08:58

    Great book, you can easily tell the abundant of effort the author did to make this book great. Book is based on numerous interviews and here and there the author outlines and provides additional details. Only issue for me was keeping track of the numerous number of people. I knew the main characters well but trying to remember other agents and their significance to the main characters they started to all blend in together. The book is quite long (about 800 pages) but crazy all the drama that took place. I wonder if they'll ever make such a story into a movie (maybe not since it is all about the movie/entertainment industry-they wouldn't want to hurt their reputation). But you get a good understand what is behind the movie and actors playing in them and all the politics that sadly is involved.

  • Robert Mark
    2018-12-28 12:04

    The author conducted over 500 interviews with entertainment agents, executives, studio chiefs, actors, actresses, sports personalities and other Who's Who of Hollywood starting from around 1975 when 5 William Morris agents split and formed CAA which over the years became a"Powerhouse" in the entertainment business. Most liked and enjoyed about the book was the writer's format that each paragraph stated a name and excepts from that person in the interview process over the years and the reader sits back and is like a person across the desk listening these people taking to you.

  • Mike Snedegar
    2019-01-19 11:18

    Enthralling history on CAA with loads of entertaining stories and anecdotes on Hollywood and the movie business. Loved.

  • Irene
    2019-01-12 11:15

    I purchased this book at Skylight Books in LA because I wanted to read something about the city I was visiting and what is more LA than the lives and deaths of Hollywood talent agents?An oral history of one talent agency to rule them all, CAA has a great business story, a mythology that has been polished over the years, something you can tell because towards the end when you get to present-day, the spin hasn't really taken off with its safe, boring public-facing statements that lack any resemblance to storytelling. CAA got its start when a couple of intrepid agents, sick of the bureaucracy obstructing innovation and risk-taking and the lack of collaborative culture at the traditional William Morris, set out to create their own talent agency. Michael Ovitz and Ron Meyer are the two main personalities of the agency as they transform how talent agencies do deals, whether that is landing new talent, booking them jobs or putting packages together for the studio. There's plenty of office politics in the servants quarters too. It all seems so quaint - getting your start in the mailroom where you did insane tasks such as booking a same-day flight to France to convince talent to fly back on for a project that got the green light, agents having relationships with actresses, vanity plates for convertibles, dinner upon dinner upon dinner meetings. There is so much here about doing what it takes to make the deal; there are personal sacrifices in the long work days but also marvelous moments in doing what appears to be at first impossible. What I found inspiring was learning how some agents did not take no for an answer but found their own unique way to yes.The talk of compensation among the agents was also pretty delicious to read. How CAA revolutionized packaging actors, stories, writers, and directors together to a studio was superbly fascinating because it not only showed how open and supportive the team was in fitting the pieces together, but it also made their deals much more attractive to the studios/broadcasters. As CAA becomes more established with Ron and Michael in positions of influence and the Young Turks on the rise, Michael is exploring technology, marketing and even handling merger and acquisition consultation work through the agency. Ron is hanging out with actresses and does not like working with Michael. There was an interesting shift in the narrative when Ron takes Michael's studio position upon his CAA exit, and I'm not sure I truly believe what Michael or Ron say on the subject. On the flip side of CAA's secret formula (everyone shares news together, do not work in silos), there is balancing perspective on relieving the intimacy of the agent-talent relationship with some agents wanting to be the advocate for their talent rather than having the talent shuffled back and forth. As we move into the mid-1990s when the Young Turks take over, I did begin to skim. The new leaders of CAA are pretty interchangeable and the focus on CAA Sports was not something that my brain could focus on because when I have to listen to sports, the part of my brain that makes meaning out of the sound of words shuts off. Highly recommend this for people who need an airport read, and don't know too much about inner machinations of the Hollywood machine but would be interested to learn more.

  • Stevie Kincade
    2019-01-04 12:05

    Another great oral history from James Andrew Miller author of "Those guys have all the fun" and "Live from New York", the oral histories of ESPN and Saturday Night Live.The format of an oral history, where we are presented with an endless stream of interview snippets and anecdotes is one people seem to either love or hate. I can't get enough of them and this one has plenty of Hollywood glitz, out of control egos and stories about fame, money and power. Even if you have no interest in the agency or talent business there are so many fascinating stories about how stars and successes came to be. Miller has once again received unprecedented access as he is able to speak to every prominent living player in CAA's story in depth, from the agents to the studio heads to the talent. Similarly to the ESPN story, the early years were the most fascinating, when CAA was operating on a shoestring budget and using their wives as secretaries long before the giant cheques started rolling in.There are a lot of important figures in the story but at the heart of the book is the friendship, collaboration and eventual separation of Michael Ovitz and Ron Meyer. Michael was the brash, cutthroat visionary. Meyer the people person who could charm anyone into liking him. As a fascinating bookend to the story you can hear a 2016 interview between the author, Ovitz and Meyer on the "LA live" podcast that helps to frame the individual personalities even more. Ovitz actually comes across and humbled and contemplative about his mistakes. Highly recommended for anyone that loves "Hollywood insider" stories or oral histories.

  • Kathy Bourgard
    2019-01-05 10:14

    In the mid 1970s, five young talent agents from the famed William Morris Agency in Hollywood did the unthinkable. They left to strike out on their own and formed the nucleus of what was to become the powerhouse Creative Artists Agency. This story is told via hundreds of interviews not only with the principals, but also their colleagues and famous clients through the years. It's a peek into the inner workings of Hollywood and how a project gets from the creative mind of the writer to the finished product on the big and small screens across the country and around the world. This life is not for the faint of heart....a talent agent is on duty 24/7 holding the hands of the creative yet mostly needy clients who will leave them in a heartbeat if another agent can promise them their next blockbuster. Not a life I would want but an interesting read nonetheless.

  • Grindy Stone
    2019-01-18 12:16

    Miller might be hitting his stride with these oral histories. The SNL one stunk, the ESPN one pretty good. Hitting on CAA as the subject of his latest effort was an inspired choice - lots of good anecdotes, and a pretty good way to get a perspective on topics that have been done to death, such as the movie business in the 1990s. However, one key entity that missing from this book is Miramax, for whatever reason. There is nary a mention of the company or the Weinsteins. Once (spoiler alert!) Ovitz leaves the scene, the narrative becomes less compelling. My takeaway from this history is that Ron Meyer is the nicest guy in Hollywood history, replacing Jimmy Stewart.

  • W.S. Evans
    2019-01-07 07:16

    Oooof, after almost 2 months (but damn did it feel longer), I finally finished this BEHEMOTH. And to be completely honest? I zoned in and out of it - most of it stuck, but there's a few important bits that did not and - because of that - I will likely revisit it in a few months, here and there. I don't like how Miller organizes everything here. There's a chronological order for his other nonfiction history, LIVE FROM SATURDAY NIGHT whereas this will follow a pretty straightforward path for a while, then zip way back in time to comment on another important event. It's a bit of whiplash. So with that in mind, I give it more of a 3.5 than a 4.

  • Rob Pruden
    2019-01-04 08:56

    The book had a rather unique way of presenting itself with snippets of thoughts from the agents, talents and subsidiary players over the 40+ year history of the firm. It was long and with so many players sometimes it could be confusing to keep things straight. Exceptionally detailed accounting however of a giant of its industry. If you are into the inside of the entertainment industry it is a must read

  • Aaron
    2019-01-02 09:09

    Up until 1995, this book is incredible. Amazing story, interesting people profiled, and a great look at how movies and packages used to come together. Then the new wave took over CAA, and it all got super muddy super quick. Where you really knew Mike Ovitz and his time at CAA, and the projects he made happen through his power, you got no sense of the 5 Young Turks who replaced him, and almost all the anecdotes stopped. But still a really fun read into a fascinating world.

  • Chris Leroux
    2018-12-31 07:16

    Miller definitely has a knack for turning hundreds of hours of interviews into a well-constructed narrative. At its best (mainly during the formative years) this is somehow gripping. The later acts get bogged down in business acquisitions and lose a lot of momentum. For anyone fascinated by the entertainment industry and Hollywood history, this should be a fun read full of memorable anecdotes. (3.5 out of 5)

  • Ryanne Miller
    2019-01-01 09:56

    Fascinating to hear the perspectives of so many different players in the industry. It's amazing how you ask multiple people to recall a certain event, they all remember it differently. It's a long read and the quote structure gets old after a while but I highly recommend to anyone who works or is intrigued by Film, Sports, TV, Music etc. Aside from the competitive agency drama, to hear the backstories on how so many projects came to be is worth the read alone.

  • Leslie
    2019-01-04 14:08

    Really fun audio book. 25 hours just flew by. Author, James Andrew Miller does the narration, and Kirby Heyborne and Ann Richardson do voices of interviewees. Lots of snippets and stories told from many points of view. I think this book would be entertaining for anyone, even those not particularly interested in entertainment business.

  • Michael
    2019-01-14 07:02

    It’s full of fun Hollywood anecdotes and, perhaps inadvertently, useful management advice. As a book there are sections that are seemingly endless and the compelling narrative thread gets lost amongst trivia. The book’s construction mirrors the story of CAA accidentally and suffers for it. I think.

  • Jose Vitela
    2019-01-05 08:00

    I enjoyed reading about the founders but found myself less interested in the sections following their departures. Also, it felt as if the last 10 years were covered in haste. I would recommend the first half of this book to everyone in the Entertainment industry. The second half seemed unnecessary.

  • Lynda
    2019-01-19 09:19

    I found this book interesting, but I don't believe it would appeal to many. Unless you worked in the film business in the 1990's-2000's, it's probably of little interest. Also the layout took getting used to and seemed a bit cumbersome at times. 700+ pages took awhile to get through, it wasn't exactly a "page-turner."

  • Judith Schomp
    2019-01-05 11:10

    Fascinating book about a very important piece of Hollywood history. I had never heard of Michael Ovitz or Ron Meyer before reading this book, but their trajectory (as well as CAA's) is very interesting to read about.

  • Daniel Elder
    2018-12-27 10:05

    Love this book. Thought it's insights into the agency world, Hollywood dealings and especially CAA, Michael Ovitz and Ron Meyers was brilliant. It's well written, interviewed and an amazing overview of the Hollywood glitz, glamour and the less glamorous dealmaking.

  • Cameron Olsen
    2019-01-19 08:50

    Another book which needed a lot more editing. Fascinating subject about the company which ran Hollywood and the impact they had on tv and movies. Just too long and drawn out after Ovitz left. A biography on Ovitz alone is probably a better read. Or maybe Jay Maloney