CAA, according to one estimate in 2014. Creative Artists Agency was formed by a handful of agents at the William Morris Agency in 1975. 90 million in annual bookings in the late 1980s, Ovitz led the agency to expand into the film business. Ovitz expanded the agency into advertising and telecommunications.
In the middle 1990s, however, there were major changes in management. In 1995, Ron Meyer was appointed as the head of MCA, and Ovitz left for Disney. The departure of Ovitz and Meyer brought an exodus of some of CAA’s top-marquee names. The agency continued to grow in the 21st century. In 2003, it opened a New York City office to manage theatre clients. From 2005 to 2015, CAA developed greater fiscal discipline, with more emphasis on profits, possibly as the result of the influence of private equity firms. The departure of comedy star Will Ferrell led to major legal battling.
Agents are the core of the business, the behind-the-scenes players, putting together deals, while the public focus is on the moviemakers and actors and TV and film shows that they bring together. For some agents, CAA is a training ground to learn the business, and they leave after a few years sometimes to form their own talent agencies. Talent agents, as an unwritten rule, prefer not to tout their own accomplishments, so as not to divert the spotlight from their clients. CAA president Richard Lovett is regarded as shunning media attention and keeping a low profile.
Top agencies frequently raid each other’s staff, and when key people defect to rivals, it makes news headlines and often leads to legal battles over breach-of-contract claims. When agents defect, the rivalry can degenerate quickly into vicious battles played out in courtrooms and in the media. Rivalry is not limited to rank-and-file agents, but can take the form of public barbs by company CEOs. Jay Weston sued CAA in 1979 about the rights to a film, and years later, it was revealed that Weston was “totally ostracized” by the agency. Courtney Love contends that she was blacklisted since 2005 by CAA for making a comment about now-disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein. Top agents have had a reputation in the public’s mind of living in a world of “fast cars, rooftop bars and foul-mouthed, phone-throwing power brokers,” according to an account in the Los Angeles Times. CAA superagent Jay Moloney led a colorful yet self-destructive life.
The primary focus of the business is the deal: putting together content and talent in new ways to make new entertainment properties. In that sense, agencies serve as a “broker for information and opportunities. CAA chiefs including Michael Ovitz, Ron Meyer and Bill Haber built the agency by packaging actors and directors with literary clients, but the scope of deal-making has widened in recent decades. While talent agencies can grow by making acquisitions, CAA has generally grown organically by bringing in new clients.
The company divided its agents into two camps: traditional agents who manage the career tracks of 1,000 stars, and specialists in investment banking, consulting, advertising and digital media. Like any business, talent agencies have to deal with contingencies such as recessions and strikes. For example, CAA’s agents scrambled to deal with a strike by the Screen Actors Guild in 2008. A CAA-catered party after the 2013 Sundance Film Festival got a bit “bawdy” and lewd, prompting a public relations backlash. To market themselves, talent agencies often cater exclusive parties following awards ceremonies such as the Golden Globes. CAA has sometimes stepped beyond the bounds of propriety to harm its own public image.
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But the bash thrown by Hollywood’s powerful Creative Artists Agency on Sunday night took festival revelry in an unexpectedly bawdy direction, as Sundance guests mingled with lingerie-clad women pretending to snort prop cocaine, erotic dancers outfitted with sex toys and an Alice in Wonderland look-alike performing a simulated sex act on a man in a rabbit costume. CAA established CAA Marketing in 1998 to work with brands and clients for promotion purposes. CAA Marketing developed Chipotle’s Back to the Start video. CAA began an expansion into sports in 2006, under the leadership of CEO Richard Lovett. The transaction enabled acquisitions in areas such as sports and overseas operations. It later sold a controlling stake to TPG Capital in October 2014.
In the late 1980s, CAA commissioned architect I. Pei to design a new headquarters building at the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards in Beverly Hills. CAA was formed in 1975 from defections from the William Morris Agency, and there continue to be about four or five major talent agencies, although many reports suggest that CAA tends to be a dominant force in the industry. As of 2015, CAA and WME are the largest agencies in the business.
CAA’s building is featured in the video game Midnight Club: Los Angeles. CAA has a long list of A-list clients, including Lady Gaga, J. There were reports that the agency was complicit in covering up the sexual harassment of women by Harvey Weinstein. Actress Uma Thurman accused CAA of helping disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein in his predatory behavior. In December 2017 there were reports that the agency was actively involved in coverups relating to abuse and harassment by disgraced Miramax executive Harvey Weinstein. Company Town : Buzz Shifts to CAA Partner Bill Haber”.