Creative Artists Agency is reportedly discussing opening a Silicon Valley office where tech executives would become "rock stars." And they may start with Biz Stone, the vodka pitchman, Twitter co-founder, AOL adviser, and blogging how-to author. Stone is a good choice, being undistracted as he is with being an actual functioning technology executive.
• McGraw-Hill, which announced recently that it's looking to get rid of BusinessWeek, has now announced plans to get rid of 550 employees. [WSJ]
• Jim Spanfeller, the president and CEO of Forbes.com, either decided to leave the company or was forced out, depending on who you talk to. [DF, NYT]
• As expected, the new Harry Potter movie raked it in yesterday. [THR]
• Donald Trump's long-running libel lawsuit against author (and New York Times business editor) Timothy O'Brien has been dismissed by a judge. [NYP]
The few dozen people who still read print magazines will have noticed that the January glossies are more anorexically skinny than ever before. Elle is no exception, so it's no wonder that the mag is determined to pin its fortunes on a medium that remains relevant: TV. But since Joe Zee and Anne Slowey's uninspired (and lightly-viewed) Stylista has officially failed to make up for Elle's loss of Project Runway, Hollywood powerhouse agency CAA has just been tasked with finding new shows for Elle. So if you've got a concept that's brilliantly novel but still involves the humiliation of striving wannabes, elimination rounds featuring dramatic pauses/clunky music, and plenty of tears and tantrums, you now know where to pitch.
The fallout from Paramount's recent release-date shuffle continues today, with agents and saber-rattling DreamWorks brass continuing their protest over The Soloist's move to 2009. While we sustain our first impression that the Jamie Foxx/Robert Downey Jr. tearjerker will in fact be better than the diabetic-coma inducing trailers already in circulation, that's not much comfort to those who fear the bump from November to March will impugn Soloist's profile among critics and audiences alike. But now, as a peace offering to the angry gods at CAA who packaged the film for the 'Works with its clients Downey, Foxx and director Joe Wright, Paramount has forged a silver lining for one-third of that jilted braintrust.Sort of. After all, can DreamWorks or CAA ever really find consolation in a Tropic Thunder campaign pushing Downey as Best Supporting Actor? They'd better — neither Downey nor Foxx had a shot at Best Actor anyway with Sean Penn (Milk), Josh Brolin (W.), Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) and Brad Pitt widely foreseen to hold down four of the five slots, and the latter star's Curious Case of Benjamin Button (not to mention, to a lesser degree, Downey's Iron Man performance) already drawing from Paramount's awards war chest. DreamWorks insiders are still griping over some perceived revenge from Paramount, but even they'd acknowledge that The Soloist is better off with spring prestige all to itself. And that a nominated blackface performance is no doubt one of the least controversial ways to revive public interest in the Oscars. We're pulling for you, RDJ.
Though the sight of Princess Leia in a gold bikini could make any gay geek question his sexuality, being married to Carrie Fisher apparently had the opposite effect on CAA superagent Bryan Lourd. The two were together for three years (he fathered Fisher's daughter Billie in 1992) before Lourd famously left Fisher for another man. Now, in her new memoir Wishful Drinking, Fisher claims that Lourd blamed her and her pill-popping ways for making him gay. Page Six has the excerpt:
Yes, dear reader, we have seen the circulating Craigslist ad requesting a Sarah Palin look-alike for "an adult film to be shot in the next 10 days." Assuming it's remotely legit, we sit here rueing our enduring exclusion from such opportunities ("$2000-3000... No anal required") and wondering what imaginative variety of flute the lucky new star might be playing in the week or two to come. But that's hardly the most exciting Palin-related development around town today; in fact, a tipster sends word of the kind of serendipity that make this town one sprawling miracle of chance. Or a deepening, shrieking vacuum of souls — you tell us after the jump:
Whooop! Whooop! CAA Kitchen Fire! Just when you had been lulled into a false sense of Death Star culinary confidence—positive that no incendiary Chinese appetizers would again engulf the TV lit department in thick clouds of cabbage-and-pork-scented smoke—comes this CAA! Kitchen! Fire! Deathtrap! Exclusive! "Subject: CAA can't cook! they set fire to their kitchen and got evacuated!" We ask that you remain calm at this time, until we get a full headcount (just the agents, obviously—not assistants); commuters in the Century City area, meanwhile, are instructed to keep as far away from the scene as possible, regardless of how enticing those wafting, mouth-watering gusts of BBQ baby meat might be. [Defamer]
There are certain universal truths about Hollywood agents: namely, that they never pick up your phone calls, deal with you mostly through their assistants, and always seem to be finding work for people who aren't you. Sadly, E! bobblehead Giuliana Rancic (who we last saw announcing the death of "Brad Redfro" while dressed in a somber tube top) has failed to grasp that last tenet — in fact, she's suing her agents at William Morris for having the audacity to focus on anyone but her. Says Page Six:
Nicita Has Left the Building: Not a day too soon, it appears, 42-year agency veteran and CAA partner Rick Nicita is ditching his Death Star digs for the co-chairman spot at Morgan Creek. Nicita joins a distinguished list of CAA defectors to studio front offices, led by Michael Ovitz's spectacular Disney flame job and Ron Meyer's decidedly improved turn heading up Universal. The latter studio's distribution partnership with Morgan Creek will come in handy for Nicita, who will be charged with restoring the Creek to its late-'80s/early-'90s golden years after a string of recent underachievers including The Good Shepherd and Man of the Year. We admit we're a little surprised; at a time when most of his old CAA contemporaries are slowing down and/or testifying in federal court, Nicita's move is that of a man with something to prove — most likely with wife Paula Wagner and client Tom Cruise looking on studiously from their own perches at UA. That's just the kind of mensch he is. Good luck, Rick! [LAT, Photo Credit: Getty Images]
A sweeping profile of Endeavor hit The NY Times on Sunday, placing the agency's arduous climb to power in a welcome new perspective. By virtually all accounts, ETA has "grown up" — from a puckish, oversexed boys club to a puckish, oversexed employer of Jodie Foster's rumored lesbian paramour (and more than a half-dozen female partners, up from zero just a few years ago). But despite all Ari Emanuel's progressive brio, he still can't outrun CAA or his own choppy past — Michael Ovitz gets a fun body-blow in by the eighth paragraph, Ari not-so-strenuously deflects those nagging sale and/or merger rumors, and, for those who missed it, there's a recap of Endeavor's somewhat experimental sexual/ethnic chemistry:
Old Dog, New Tricks: The heartbreaking vacancy of the old CAA headquarters, which drew nearly 20,000 Michael Ovitz-era mourners to like a sprawling, marble mecca to extinguished power, has been resolved at last. After haggling with a star chamber of landlords including Ovitz himself, Sony BMG Music Entertainment closed a deal Wednesday to relocate its West Coast headquarters to the 65,000-square-foot black hole at the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica. Reports put the lease at $4 per square foot and "operating expenses of between $700,000 and $900,000 per year," which include inherited maintenance like office exorcisms, vintage employee execution chambers and a mysterious $370,000 annual allowance for something called "asshole removal." Security guards, maybe? Moving boxes? Your guess is as good as ours. [Variety]