Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Who Is Michael Ovitz?” as Want to Read:
Who Is Michael Ovitz?
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Who Is Michael Ovitz?

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,700 ratings  ·  174 reviews
If you're going to read one book about Hollywood, this is the one.
As the co-founder of Creative Artists Agency, Michael Ovitz earned a reputation for ruthless negotiation, brilliant strategy, and fierce loyalty to his clients. He reinvented the role of the agent and helped shape the careers of hundreds of A-list entertainers, directors, and writers, including Steven Spi
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Portfolio
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Who Is Michael Ovitz?, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Who Is Michael Ovitz?

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,700 ratings  ·  174 reviews

Sort order
Start your review of Who Is Michael Ovitz?
Joe Meyers
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Don’t believe the bad review in the New York Times. This is a really strong & honest memoir about a very powerful Hollywood figure who regrets a lot of his excessive behavior & his life priorities. There’s plenty of fascinating stuff on how Ovitz & CAA spearheaded the production of classics such as ‘Rainman’ & ‘Tootsie’ but the best sections deal with friendships busted by business pressures. The way that Ovitz broke up with best friend & partner Ron Meyer for years & then repaired the relations ...more
Bartosz Majewski
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
I gave it 5/5 stars but this book deserves all of the stars. If you are in business you should read it. If you are doing deals you should make a ton of notes. Gave me a ton of inspiration on how to run my company.

Ovitz's biography is insane. He was investor in Loudcloud and a partner in Andressen Horowitz. He strategized business expansion in palantir. Brokered multibillion dollar M&A deals. Was a COO at disney. What a character, what a story.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Deal me in.

This is the memoir of Hollywood’s superagent telling how he went from a kid taking tourists on sight-seeing tours of the studios to setting up talent agency CAA and becoming one of the most influential figures in a notoriously ruthless industry. Along the way, he changed the way the Hollywood system worked – to the delight of some (the talent) but not all (the studios who had to pay a lot more to acquire it).

In the 70s and 80s, CAA worked with all the major stars of the era - Newman,
Sten Tamkivi
Really strong honest autobiography from the founder of CAA, the most influential entertainment talent agency of our era. Mr Ovitz used to hang out at a16z sometimes while I was there, and while we never really had a proper conversation, there is so much at that firm that Marc & Ben have brought from his approaches to the venture world, and you can get a glimpse of from this book. There is some behind the scenes Hollywood stuff and a bit of (justified) name dropping, but the best part is the vuln ...more
Dec 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
Is it possible to read a memoir with an author trying to paint themselves as positively as possible and you still walk away feeling that you probably wouldn't like this guy? Yes, it is completely possible. Michael Ovitz has lived a larger life than most, but no, I would not trust this guy as far as I could throw him. There are some parallels between his business and mine, which lead to some positive takeaways. I wouldn't recommend this to someone who doesn't read much, but if you are a reader, i ...more
Ran Levy
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Could not put this book down. It's like Cheetos. It felt very honest and was very moving on top of all the interesting stories detailed in this memoir. ...more
Jun 12, 2019 rated it did not like it

1) Very compelling biography
2) Appreciate some of Mr. Ovitz's candor
3) Appreciate his business acumen and sharing numbers with us - that was incredible and much appreciated.


1) It read like a resume.
2) Some parts were not very truthful. He stated that the stars never fighted at CAA. Then how does he explain Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino fighting over 'American Buffalo' back in 1995. Pacino was incensed that Hoffman took the role he did on Broadway. This made industry news all over town. I
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a great composite of life stories told by Ovitz. He was THE guy in Hollywood to get shit done and was an innovator in the entertainment industry. His side of the story concerning his time at Disney is fascinating. It seems this book was written to ease the authors conscience on a few relationships that went sour as he climbed his way to the top of the entertainment business.
Rarity Manor
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube, Mikey. ...more
Keith Chawgo
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Ovitz autobiography is an interesting tale of the heavy hitters of Hollywood and the backstabbing and the lack of human support found within the industry. The book is very well written and at times does get bogged down with too much information when dealing with mergers and buying of corporations. This is an interesting aspect of Ovitz’s story but can be a little labour intensive at times especially in the final third of the book.

The book gives details on the phenomenal career of Orvitz
Lucas Gelfond
Oct 16, 2022 rated it really liked it
one of the most entertaining business-y books i've ever read, essentially a memoir by Michael Ovitz about the creation of Creative Artists Agency, arguably the most important film/TV/lit agency of the last 30-40 years; CAA (with ovitz at the helm) basically repped/reps everyone giant and ran LA for a few decades. pretty fascinating angle to think about 'commercial art' and where creative work bumps up against business impulses (this reminded me a lot of bob iger's 'the ride of a lifetime') + the ...more
Amy Carver
Mar 28, 2022 rated it liked it
This is a memoir by the co-founder of CAA. Ovitz talks about starting the agency, convincing architect I.M. Pei to design the building, taking on big clients, helping movies get made, moving on to corporate deals, making lots of enemies, working and failing at Disney, and finally moving up into the Bay Area to join Silicon Valley. Oh yeah, and he says he doesn’t think it’s lying if the person saying the untruth has a reason for saying it. Dubious!

I liked this book. It’s an interesting picture o
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Insane, the crossovers are extraordinary. I had no idea who Michael Ovitz was until listening to Michael Caines memoir and the links between him and my favourite films and people are everywhere even down to me currently watching Bob Iger’s MasterClass, he’s mentioned in here several times!
We definitely don’t agree on what constitutes a lie but the gains Ovitz talks about simply by doing what others were unwilling to do as early as marking out his mail route around the studios so he’d finish as
Scott Wozniak
Feb 12, 2021 rated it liked it
If you work in entertainment or are a serious fan who likes the story of how the shows are made, then you may really enjoy this book. But if not, then that's all this is, the story of the deals and the man who made most of them happen.

But there's a bigger limiting factor: this is the autobiography of a man who openly admits (multiple times in the book) that he doesn't have any problem with lying or manipulating people. He said he just sees them as skills, as tools of the trade that he respects
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jack Ruhl
Mar 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Super interesting story about the (at one point) most powerful man in Hollywood. I grew up hearing stories from my Uncle Billy about the players in the NBA and college coaches, so this felt like hearing stories from the Hollywood version of an uncle. Really enjoyed it, ironically i do wish it had a bit of a clearer story structure, but still a great book nonetheless. Biggest takeaway; i could care less about making a ton of money or winning awards in Hollywood, i care a lot more about what type ...more
Gayle Noble
Co-founder of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Michael Ovitz shares his story with us in this memoir. I'd honestly never heard of this guy before but I love any books about the true stories of Hollywood, and this one did not disappoint in depicting the inside scoop on being a successful agent.

It was fascinating to read how Ovitz got his start conducting studio tours, and it was interesting to see how Ovtiz cultivated a tough persona which eventually took over and caused issues for him later on. I
Gabriel Frieberg
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Who is Michael Ovitz? I don’t think he fully wants to tell us—as candid as he comes off. It was fascinating parsing what is truth, what is elaboration, and what is spin considering it’s the autobiography of perhaps the greatest spin doctor ever. All that being said, ovitz is fast, loose, and efficient w names, places, and projects. Hard to ask for more 4.5
Roy Nallapeta
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very entertaining read and a pov narration on how one of Hollywood's greatest agencies, CAA, got built. Like a great movie the story has a protagonist, friendships that were forged for lifetimes, high living, celebrity names, glamour, feuds, betrayals and high wire acts like m&a, big studio deal making. Stunningly enough it is still personal, human and a twist ending with a story of redemption - where the audience in me cheers for the imperfect hero that is "Michael Ovitz". ...more
Andrew Collins
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Just finished this...
I have a read a lot about CAA and Mike Ovitz over the years and was curious as to what he might add color on or if he would raise anything new or unkown.

Clearly this had some revisionism in it but it is interesting to also see a more humbled side of the former super Agent and creator of one of the world's most influential talent and packaging agencies.

I liked it. I especially felt a bit for him when he describes going back to the empty I.M. Pei CAA building recently and reli
Mohammad Al-ubaydli
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So many stories!

This book is such good fun to read. The pace of story telling is relentless, which is what it must have been like to be around this man.

As a tech person with no background (or interest) in Hollywood I was still gripped by his stories. My outsider knowledge is similar to his description of LA movie people ignorant of New York finance people: “Hollywood, where people didn’t know Goldman Sachs from Saks Fifth Avenue”. He worked with so many people moving behind the scenes with such
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This guy was ruthless. Enjoyed reading the book and learning about CAA and the man behind it. Very honest account of behind the scenes and what it took to become number 1 but at the loss of realationships
Mar 26, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book is exceptional!
Abhishek Anbazhagan
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5/5: This is a richly entertaining tale about the life of one of the most secretive (hence the title "Who is Michael Ovitz") man who remade Hollywood from the ground up. In this fascinating picture of the origins of Creative Artists Agency, Michael Ovitz paints a portrait of perseverance and offers a masterclass in getting things done even though the means may be questionable to some. The book, in addition to making my jaw drop at the vast expanse of fields that Michael dominated (Hollywood, M ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books
This is a highly engaging memoir of the Hollywood "Super Agent" Michael Ovitz who is the co-founder of Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and represented all the big names in Hollywood and entertainment businesses during the 70's and 80's.

The book touches on many celebrities, influential figures, creative works and events that are very familiar to us but yet it unveils many inside story that the readers would normally have heard of. There are countless intriguing stories in the book, a few of them t
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is surely a unique type of business biography which in itself is a good enough reason for recommending it. It is captivating albeit sometimes too detailed (but then this is often the case with autobiographies where the author sometimes overstates the importance that some of some of his/her life events have for the average reader). This and what looks like a partial view of certain events (be it negotiations with artists or M&A deals) are the only reasons why i took a star off a book that is ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I disliked this guy more after reading. Interesting stories about his involvement in the media industry.
Robert Pres
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great insight into Hollywood. Would’ve given it five stars if it didn’t have the feeling of being too polished by a spin doctor.
Bobby D
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The scene opens flying over the Pacific Ocean directly at and over the high priced homes on Malibu Beach further on over a Beverly Hills mansion built in the shape of three large cubes then flying further over the low mountain range into the bright high sky over the flatlands of the Valley. The camera zooms into a middle class track home in Encino, California and comes to rest in the garage and stops on a stack of open cases of Seagram bourbon, gin, and vodka under a blanket. The titles appear…. ...more
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
For a book entitled Who is Michael Ovitz?, Who is Michael Ovitz? has vanishing little introspection from Ovitz. Instead it is a catalog of successful sales and the tactics used to make them from the world's greatest salesman. I don't say this in a pejorative way -- I had a lot of fun with this book. It is what it is.

Our story begins in the San Fernando Valley, where Ovitz is born to a middle class family. We learn about his first his job in the Universal backlot while a senior at UCLA, his move
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Powerhouse
  • Amp It Up: Leading for Hypergrowth by Raising Expectations, Increasing Urgency, and Elevating Intensity
  • Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making
  • More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite
  • The Power Law: Inside Silicon Valley's Venture Capital Machine
  • Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire
  • The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership
  • Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It
  • The Caesars Palace Coup: How a Billionaire Brawl Over the Famous Casino Exposed the Power and Greed of Wall Street
  • Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
  • What We Owe the Future
  • The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History
  • Principles For Dealing With the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail
  • Safe Haven Investing: How to Take Cover from Financial Storms
  • Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts
  • Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement
  • What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence
  • Kings of Crypto: One Startup's Quest to Take Cryptocurrency Out of Silicon Valley and Onto Wall Street
See similar books…
See top shelves…

Related Articles

Anne Lamott, the beloved writer of memoirs including Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies, once said, “You own everything that happened to you....
65 likes · 22 comments
“Brian asked, “How did you learn to think so big at CAA?” I reminded him that Airbnb had consistently thought big: it hadn’t been at all content with its original business of renting out air mattresses on floors. Then I added that one way to conceptualize how to think in business is a martial-arts precept: “If you aim at the target, you lose all your power. You have to hit through the target to really smash it.” To get where you want to go, you have to set out to go even further.” 2 likes
“Nothing in Hollywood is anything until it’s something, and the only way to make it something is with a profound display of belief. If you keep insisting that a shifting set of inchoate possibilities is a movie, it eventually becomes one. Sometimes.” 1 likes
More quotes…