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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,744 ratings  ·  145 reviews

An 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 al

Kindle Edition, 752 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Custom House (first published May 10th 2016)
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Peter Knox
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 vanit
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the book because I lived it during my 25 years at CAA and knew all the players/stories.
Michael Denniston
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.
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
David Carraturo
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Terry Dullum
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More than anyone could possibly care to know about Hollywood talent agents.
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 th ...more
Bartosz Majewski
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
After reading "Who is Michael Ovitz" I felt that I needed to go deeper into the history of CAA. What happened after Ovitz and Mayer left the company? What's the story of a private equity fund TPG involvement? Is onesided Ovitz's version of this history shared by other people?

This book provided me with answers to much of my questions. CAA seemed to be the most powerful service organization in the world (excluding investment funds). The history of their journey (into being less client service, mo
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 too
May 31, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-away
Could have been 300 pages shorter.
Chris Young
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book fascinating. Not necessarily for the writing, (this is primarily a compilation of over 500 interviews with the various players involved in the CAA saga since the mid 1970s), but for the story itself. I'm not in a career that involves the sports or entertainment industries, so I've never had any exposure to the agency business. This book will tell you everything you didn't want to know about how the business of Hollywood works and how it has evolved over the years.

To think up u
Diego Leal
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really great book. My only issue with it is the way it's written. It's more of an anthology of quotes than a real narrative or analysis. You get a good idea about what's going on but it's just a bit weird.
Amar Pai
Who cares.

Well, I do, but this oral history never really justifies itself either in terms of the subject matter or the stories.
Seth Brady
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Robert Mark
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-authors
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 sit ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Brian Eshleman
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From this take on show business, you can learn a lot about any business, and a lot about the culture entertainment shapes and is shaped by. Efforts are usually collaborative, incremental, and well-intentioned.
Mike Snedegar
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enthralling history on CAA with loads of entertaining stories and anecdotes on Hollywood and the movie business. Loved.
Kyle Ryan
Powerhouse was a book that I found endlessly fascinating until it got to be 250 pages too long. Unfortunately, the CPA in me requires me to finish any book that I'm already 400 pages into, so I had to power through the post-Mike Ovitz/Ron Meyer era, which is basically the experience of reading about the history of a mildly interesting corporation and probably could have done without 90% of it.

That said, I could have read stories about Mike Ovitz and Ron Meyer all day long. While Ovitz was the l
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 resembla
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite guilty pleasures is stories of Hollywood people having badly.  Love The Player.  Love Entourage.  Always a good time.

I was therefore naturally attracted to Powerhouse by James Andrew Miller.  This is the story of the founding of Creative Artists, the ground-breaking literary agency.  (I also read Miller's book on ESPN).  Miller's trademark is writing oral histories, and he is extremely good at it.  There is commentary when needed, but it is used sparingly.  He doesn't re-inven
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
After two years of picking this thing up periodically and immediately putting it down, I have to finally admit to myself that I'm never going to finish it. I'm not quite sure who this book is for. It's an oral history a la Miller's SNL book Live From New York, but I guess it's aimed only at big fans of talent agencies. Which, I think, don't exist. If you're Michael Ovitz or any of the other power players who spend the entirety of this book bragging about ruling the entertainment industry, I'm su ...more
Stevie Kincade
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
Greg Machlin
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 500 pages are thrilling and go by like the wind, or The Name of the Wind (h/t Patrick Rothfuss). Miller's working the same oral history magic he worked with Tom Shales on LIVE FROM NEW YORK, and he's somehow gotten -everyone- from the notoriously secretive CAA to talk extensively on the record. You get the POV of all 5 of the original co-founders, including Mike Ovitz and Ron Meyer. The five "Young Turks" who took over CAA after Meyer stepped down and Ovitz left abruptly.

Jay Fingers
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I am finally finished.

That’s right, friends. I finally finished the 700+ page behemoth known as Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency by James Andrew Miller. Whoo, man. It was a lot.

And y’all know that I’m not a slow reader. But it really took some time to get through this exhaustively researched oral history of CAA, one of Hollywood’s biggest agencies. Although I gotta say, while the book does drag at times, overall it is a fascinating look into the rise, s
Roo Phillips
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've seen Entourage or Jerry Maguire, then you have a small taste of who talent agents are. CAA, the dominant talent agency in the 1990s and early 2000s, has its talons in all arenas of entertainment. The founding story is a fascinating one, taking place at a very interesting time in Hollywood. The prominent owners Mike Ovitz, Ron Meyer, and Bill Haber led the company from nothing, to the biggest and most powerful agency over their tenure. Mike Ovitz, former President of CAA (and Disney), w ...more
Kathy Bourgard
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 ...more
Kris Roedig
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Live From New York” was the last book that I physically couldn’t put down. Never had I read a book from beginning to end in such a short time. The stories about SNL from all the names we know and a few we forgot were involved was simply fascinating and nostalgic at the same time.
“Powerhouse” reads in much the same way, except for the fact that most of the names involved are unfamiliar and for the most part, they are self-congratulatory. However, some of the stories are interesting.
This book i
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It may not be for everyone. This is not a flowing story and well thought out piece of literature. But I’m ok with that. Instead it is full of quotes by insiders about various turn of events. You get agents, celebrities, executives and sports figures giving their perspectives on high profile (and not so high profile) events throughout the agencies history. Powerhouse was fascinating for me. I know little about the behind the scenes of Hollywood. I don’t watch the Oscars and haven’t seen but one o ...more
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Play Book Tag: Powerhouse by James Andrew Miller - 4 stars 1 10 Oct 23, 2016 10:30PM  

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JAMES ANDREW MILLER is an award-winning journalist and co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN; Live from New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests, which spent four months on the New York Times bestseller list; and Running in Place: Inside the Senate, also a bestseller. He ...more

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“SYLVESTER STALLONE: Mike Ovitz carried a heavy hammer, and he swung it like he was Beverly Hills Thor. He went around smashing people, sometimes I think just for the fun of it. He did things to me that I thought were beyond unfair. We got into sort of a business with art, and the person he hooked me up with turned out to be a disaster, and had me spending a great deal of money on art that turned out to be—well, I don’t want to get into it because of the lawsuit, but it just wasn’t good. The next thing I know, he’s throwing an engagement party for them at CAA, a building that I basically put tons of money into with my commissions. I told him, “I find this to be really offensive. You know how much these people hurt me, yet you’re celebrating them?” He said to me, “What do you want me to do? Cancel it? Throw them out? And embarrass yourself and me all over the city? Would that make you happy?” I believe that was the last time I talked to him for many, many years. Is he beloved? That’s a rhetorical question.” 0 likes
“Mike was very good at making sure all roads led to him. He set himself up very intelligently. He was the guy who could get your kids into the best private schools; he was the guy who could get you into the best hospitals. We didn’t know it at the time, but he had a personal press guy, same one as Donald Trump—Howard Rubenstein—and this guy engineered a big Wall Street Journal story.” 0 likes
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