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

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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,463 ratings  ·  135 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 all of
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Paperback, 768 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Custom House (first published May 10th 2016)
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3.85  · 
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 ·  1,463 ratings  ·  135 reviews


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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
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Michael
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.
Bean
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.
Kirsti
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
Kiki
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
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Milllicent
May 31, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-away
Could have been 300 pages shorter.
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
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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.
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
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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
Aaron
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.
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
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Irene
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
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
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BJ
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
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Aaron
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.

And then...th
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Jay Fingers
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally.

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
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Adam
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 550 pages of this thing are pretty compelling - big personalities making big deals on big movies, people falling in and out with each other, backstabbing one another, feuding, and making amends. Good stuff. If the story had ended in '97 or so, this would be an easy 4-star book.

Those last 150 pages (the post Ovitz, post Meyer years), though, are an endless slog. The "Young Turks" who take over CAA seem to have the personalities of sentient Wall Street Journal articles. There's barely a
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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
Kerri
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
William Evans
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 whi ...more
Grindy Stone
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!) Ovit
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Casey Ryan
Started off great and overall interesting subject matter, but grounds to a halt halfway through its 25 hour audiobook runtime. It starts getting very dry and becomes more of a manual of the history of the Hollywood agent industry for wannabe agents than something that can be enjoyed by the masses. I love everything associated with Hollywood agents, but they made it too much about "this old white guy did this great thing, then hit a peak, someone made a power play", rinse and repeat. Mix in anecd ...more
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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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