Sep 1, 2016|
Kirk Minihane is joined by author James Andrew Miller to discuss his latest book Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency. Kirk and James also talked about his books on Saturday Night Live and ESPN in a wide-ranging interview.
Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.
To my favorite books of last night. We'll use the S and l.'s oral history ESPN or his people would buy jeans in the Miller is a new book out now about CAA. Powerhouse has called on our top I think the best seller list. Talk to us for about forty minutes while but the CA book which are really liked begun ESPN as well as well the stuff to pick through there as well. Good conversation we genes in Drew Miller. When you first book you wrote was the senate book is that correct. And and I apologize I've read the national book. Loved it radius kimbo club that can just finish this I blew this this is Reitman will host loved I've bought I haven't read that book is out. Also an oral history form writers and. No and you're forgiven I've heard it when I debate yeah. You know it was it was not a girl history format. What is appealed to you when it went to the first trigger for you. When you're doing SNL and your researching it to say you know what let's let's make this sore issue which has become I think more popular in is such a readable. Format you know it's like candies because. The size a personnel issue dealing with saint SL SNL book. You know it's interesting question I love the nor'easter format and I think that one of the things that I. Real life would be put you know like from New York which side you're dealing with these people who just. So unique when you talk to Bill Murray when you talk to. Tina Fey Will Ferrell I mean the list goes on and on and on I'm sorry but put Hemingway in front of the keyboard and he won't be able to capture them. In a way that they. Can reveal themselves for the readers you know and I know they're they're people you know who's who's taken time well oral history you know. They do writers not making a term you know. I'm not against them never mind for the reader. Seems like that's where it seems a desert James Stewart was saying in the the refueling at times yet but. That's okay man please don't go to a Japanese director and more remarkable group of these different. This is from oral history this is what I do I like it I'd like I think that the transparency. Between. You know did the people who are speaking. And the way that they reveal themselves in the way that they didn't I sort of got even in the weighted form census. Even in the way they told stories and the that you at the end booklet to sit down Chris Berman the person certainly. I was born. You know John Wilkes Booth birthday like who like I need to such an interesting way to talked. And I mean it take for Bill Murray had talked. About the last time we saw Gilda Radner and for. You know Stuart Scott to talk about how he got beat all of these things that happened in the books and particularly this one because this one was by far the hardest. I'm just how these people talking directly particularly eat into warrants were we talking about themselves. You know there's let me talk that the clients are just I just I love oral history. Does subtle why is it was a party you would you least our attack in this book where. It's easy to. To attempted to write about Bill Maher had Bill Maher talk oral history or Accra later Lorne Michaels. Or. Did Patrick or Olbermann are all these characters from the first two books of last two books Simmons. We know all these people. There are so many different agents who I've denied you know knew a little bit about CA through that stuff that have been written in the eighties and obviously the Stewart booked in the entry Williams in the in the late shift. A lot of these characters I don't know so's that them hard to introduce them that way because everything people how much are who they are. Does that make sense right. Hey you know what I totally get geared to deal which is that I wanted in addition to all the celebrities in the book right and you know people that you may you know you know just from particular oversized personality. They're moguls and like David Geffen and Michael Leiter in this we're not when they're all there but I think biking down the agent I would. If you putrid job that a lot of people don't understand. And they really talk about themselves so it from write a book about Hollywood over the past forty years. Which is sensibly this book did. I felt like it was. My obligation almost to talk to these agents and keep capture what they're like it well. And you know I had been really key principal came out to people that I've really know what they did where I just. I know what kind of person they are and yet so some people think that agents are just these guys in black suit. And literally just guys who beat the crap out of people get a good deal and you know collar crime brag. It's much more nuance and it's much more involved in that and as a result. You know I just I think they were trying to like kill back the onion and a whole different culture. It's it's a first not a great powerhouses that great book the fasten to start the start of the book is obviously open to him and his there's no way around that Marcus and I first became aware of ovitz. I like most people do fall the stuff was that. Don't Carter book and in the TV movie like a symmetry Williams. Playing and I couldn't figure out reading it and I guess that's maybe it's your credit and although. If you like ovitz or if you don't like ovitz and I'm reading it does or so late the story to meet its moments most of Schimago gets in the way. Is an and I apologize is the agent. Who first tells the story about having some act extra expected future three. And then open its tells the next story and they are deeply contrast there memory. Of the situation. So I was ovitz a guy who's just comfortable while I am not telling the truth. I don't think I don't think he's I don't I don't think he's come to align I don't even think he thinks he's lying. If he's saying something that's at odds with somebody else. I mean permit he has a right here. He's an unbelievable. Character to capture the first saw he doesn't that somebody you typically cooperate so I would. Really really pleased to mean. You know if you're gonna do a forty year history of Hollywood and GA particular. You know I would say Michael ovitz is probably you know one of the necessity. And I was you know prepared to do it without his cooperation as early god did. I mean but he is. You know there's surveys that say 99 have a hundred people dead what he thought Condit he'd be out there. He's the guy who you know everybody says banality of the guys that talked surgeries now there's just a different way of looking thing. There's there's constantly. A different it's almost like you know. The whole world you know PC's use each day he he's a Mac. Like people speaking different language. For for good and are bad and I think that as a result. Particularly historic pursuit Shakespearean. You know I. I just I couldn't couldn't resist having him in the book. Although I mean the way he crashes. Kind of unbelievably he was you could easily make the case the most powerful guy is ranked number one a couple of times in these polls. In Hollywood for you know almost a decade and then. It all kind of vented in this flash in any sort of disappeared from from public right. So how polluted this idea I mentioned in the preface that. You know somebody who it is. He's really good agent for people like. Robert Redford Paul Newman and you know unbelievable Tom Cruise in born Griffey you know. He's like a while eating themselves right. And I think that that's like you know one of those. Again delicious. Kinda threads running through this book which is that the people spend their days taking care of other people. And when it comes to taking care of themselves. They sometimes are not up to the challenge they're not equal to the challenge and I think that one of the things that happened to Michael ovitz doctors messier. In 1995. Woods that. He. Listen. So aware of certain things in so unaware of other things particularly. You know his own on his own. Watch and it doesn't schedule and so complex that. It made for a really really difficult. Post CA world form. What's have a credible as you know is it to some he grew up in the eighties I was a key growth in the eighties in my favor movies he you know asked enlist for five you know rain in would be an analyst for sure. Cosponsored the analyst for short tootsie will be on that list for short. Decent movies that would not have happened. Without CA I mean yes that's I think maybe that's I'm I'm speaking for you here going you sat down and start to give your next book subject. Just the power of what's he was able to do just starting in movies first of all what they're broadening out that must have been a factor because coveted. Untold story about a place it was incredibly. A powerful force you know years and years he has to do it is that. Yeah I mean I. You're absolutely right I mean looked at the short. Version was. Everybody knows what the initial personnel means that he knows what he has in the world why. And what I wanted to do this time with GA I want to kind of like outside of Hollywood introduce a brand to people. And to say to them what these three initial you may not know them but they're part of your world much more than you realized. Like just like your thing from your favorite movies to ER tablets like all these unbelievable TV shows you know. Bruce Springsteen and Katy Perry in one direction and even like the Coca-Cola polar bear. Go to polian. And creating the right party it was a party because I mean the SP a book is number one your ties to ourselves as a part of you going in. There was ward with I write this book. It could be great but some people to certain group that just ball to the ship I mean people care but ESPN. People care about us now they might not care about a bunch of agents who had ever fear. I think. Is that and what I said to my agent and I told them I want to duplicate. But you know. This is not going to. Jump out the number one because outside of college you know people may not know it. But it's okay because I want to tell this story anyway I I can't. You know it's very hard to spend three years and I interviewed over 500 people. You know doing something and just thinking about a case is to be number one north I mean I'm thrilled that. He noted first we get it in your contests are less and you know quite frankly that was you know that that that's that's a blessing as far as I'm concerned I'm. Enormously grateful. You know whether it's number one number ten the number whatever I mean that's not really the goal of this book the goal was. To really kind of jumped into the deep end wolf Hollywood. And to give people an idea. You know what's been going on Hollywood it over the last four years through the prism CA and to capture. What goes on behind the curtains of people you know in Kansas and Florida and everything else. How I have a sense. You know of what it's like it and by the way why they should care about why why it matters that. I could be I can be brought about this it may be correct me if you note I don't think I've ever seen Tom Cruise quart did the book before I could be wrong. But you've talked to him a semi extensively I guess two questions one as hot as Jim Miller sit down with Tom Cruise you talked on the phone. Number two how long was that conversation was at 45 minutes was a couple of times how how how does that work. Look I I think here I I've been told at least that you're right in terms. Not covering the book before. I think that. One thing that happens. Is. You know people and this is true with other celebrities in the hands of the other books. Or. Who knows something maybe you were approved any fair New York Times. And there's an element of trust I think when they hear other people who were cooperating that is further wind. Act. At it at my back I mean I was hoping to. C Tom in person and it kind of you know there was some months went by and finally but I mean we love talking on the phone I think a couple times in. It just I'm happy to. Get him on the phone is dot. You know I got out the bird in the hand rather than keep on waiting to for that moment just sit down because it may never come with something like god I mean. I mean I do most of my infusion in in person but I was just thrilled. You know that he gave me you know the time they did and it's kind of interesting right I mean. He's crash nonchalant and calculus nineteenth. 1990 Sean Penn did you gotta check these people up at CA. So you know I I was really. Yeah I. Much should we don't you know you don't think it is an economic theater now marching panel think of it you'd think you think a movie like Rain Man to shows up fully formed in arrive but this was to be Sydney Pollack directed. Plavsic kind of maneuvers his way in the ovitz and Paula Wagner whose cruises agent forever. Says originally supposed to be Hoffman and Nicholson Paul wax is a minute let's have crews beat ya so. CAA plays a massive pro rate it does not happen without CA. Agreement doesn't happen this time to let them lose it does happen there's tons of I mean literally I loved the idea what I found out. He's done you know ER is like a movie script that he unique. CA script file. Until. CIA agent pulled it out that read it says with secondly about a TV shot and he on non non non non. And I mean it was because I you know I am met with Mitt Mick Fleetwood and you know they were if I PM another agency and when insulin there agent Tom brought Pete came over here he's like. Of course we're gonna come and pick the guy the guide that if rehearsed we just had no money in the ICM basement. He he was the one key you. Who who pushed us to you know higher and support us when we want to hire. May be and decrease in the bag and he's like. It's just these great stories that. I don't know it just. Not trying to get him through you know we hear you what I'm doing books like what what is. You know what blown me away what what interesting news and if it was a lot of fun. Up adjusted to its Michigan makes this earlier so UN they're willing to go forward and write an oral history CA book. If you had zero cooperation from over it's that seems to be a top us like writing an SL book without more Michael stocking it seems difficult. I'm not god give you one better not to carry out reckless and so satellites since. I signed the deal without even telling CA. Yes and as a result date when I told them they said well. We've worker cooperate we don't we don't corporate books and we wish. You know we wish you at that beforehand before kinda contract. Because. I can happen. Now I would really. Please that they changed their mind and they did cooperate. Because they've never cooperate but I can tell you. You know it I think Nancy in the world here care cancer but it is a weird thing to butcher. Signature on a contract. You know that it's gonna be. A very visible book and you have no idea if anybody. Can talk to you and the only thing you really know is that. People like over it and places and CA itself. They have notoriously has now. So yeah I'd get tight is that kind of a big roll of the dice for some tickets. We set out a guy like ovitz and I'm sure he spent a lot of time that seems like he did. Did you feel like he was trying to manipulate showed you Felix was trying to charm you do it he did over the years to so many people. Yeah we went to lean years ago. And you know I mean look. Once an agent or an agent I mean do I think that he had. An agenda. I'm sure I think his agenda way. You know it's simple that he's gonna be written about the history of the company. That. I co founded I want to match my version of reality as much as possible. And I think he was. Incredibly respectful though my process. Speak. You know he didn't. He didn't. Asked to read what others were saying I did I I you know like I can keep church and state I kind of separated out it was a you know there was a wall between that it wasn't like I was running to and every time and think oh my gosh you know bill is that just said that about you what you think about that. You know I think it's not the way IE I operate and he was very respectful of Africa country. You know again curious but I. You know these these books take on my own and each one is it different kind of journey that Islam is by far that was typical. But. You know in some ways. It's it's you know I love them all but I think I'm going to be the most gratifying because it really was the highest part of Cuba. What seems like it would be like the SPM book if you write PS PM book. It seems like it's kind of easy to to format that even the oral history format. He kind of the beginning you know the middle the eight million SNL it's really easy Tenet year by year by year by year. How sick it is when I was reading your book it must be tougher when your editing your history part making things work sort of having a Linear form. It must be difficult to figure out which spot goes where we doing this book I would think I could be wrong the most difficult that you know three books from that aspect. I was sent out. Without a doubt in fact you know tear point. I do and outlines of Torre's book and the outline for Vietnam book. Did beforehand. Kind of mirrored like what came out and immediately and there were few. You know. Important. Detoured that I had to do it might cut my my reporting uncovered more things and had to get into it. Debt and that debt that I didn't anticipate because quite frankly never been reported before aside I really idyllic. What they found that I couldn't have known beforehand with the TA book. You know are constantly doing. Constantly doing the outline and in fact truth be told an electorate basically gave up on the outline. You know I just I just had to go had to go where I thought I knew I had to go. And you know particularly likely something exceed sports which you know in my reporting on. Reported in two point fifteen to give support me more money. See movies and I tell us that is why this. I could not get by the way there are people in the building he didn't that situation article leads. Right so all of a sudden one perspective realize it. I think to myself well I'm about to spend a little more talent PA sport I realized because I have to explain how this can happen. Pick a tree the pedigree of that enormous growth and I explained the kind of business and rebuilding. So you know things like that happen and I mean look it's fine I mean particularly wind year. You discovering new things in your reporting things that had been reported before and you're getting people like. You know the private equity guys who now basically have a controlling interest in day to talk and they didn't they they're not you know particularly. Funded. Talking to. So. All that was part of the journey. You know what you read these books and these oral history books in the lead to even the last three yours you can always let the ones the guys who look better in the women look better look worse coming out of the book. For me to the wanna big surprises and again as a child of the eighties and nineties and I love this guy is Stallone still all comes across great in this book. I'm like I'm so glad you said that because guess what he I was asked the other day I was on TV and you know what were one of the you know that's surprising. So I just want to be put off people forget. That this guy aside from a commonality with the big dogs. Finally tell the story in the book about bubble were your. I'm tired of this story I've been like in Thailand tight right now I think you know Rambo two locations and they're on their walk along the riverbank in the middle nowhere. There's not a TV you know any culture insights. And people on the other side of the river here chanting rocky rocky rocky. And Iran said when he would have what you would go out to dinner with Stallone the supposed you know that the blacks will be closed. I mean and mean when he came out. What's it. In this summer don't back then you're right at B go you have got a jewel silver saw Cuba back in the summer in the eighties it was okay. Here's a block in the summer for in 83 for slide 8485. And 86 and you were don't not feel Roxio is the first one I think. Do you Schwarzenegger were the first guys that you can have a it's the misperception books folks he got famous for playing kind of a marble mouth sort of boxing dummy. You can have the kind of career he's had for forty years still be a star in not be Smart and Alec it's possible. Probably the second how about the idea that when I asked him about what it was like when Ron Jesper are all he's not. He says I'm gonna go to universal but it he told me how they both want to cry and then afterwards. He wrote Ron Paul and I mean like seriously Buick studio chief and I've worked in the screenplay and activities contact me toss it. But you're pushing a little bit too much okay yeah you just break the cost of Islam right now Matt upon let's let's cut it out. You talked it screws Stallone Kidman does Jennifer Lopez search scope I mean a whole bunch of you know like Tom Hanks. Was there are a couple of was or star star to that you weren't able to win cheap dot. This kite were were essential to to put this book together it was a one guy he said should I really wish I was able and that guy from a star perspective. That did not really no I mean I would have I think it was more about. Dad I would have allowed to have interviewed. Mike Nichols and Paul Newman both right. Word to see if they think boy that would work. Topping even talk to Redford right. Now I can talk direct tried and I think you know I would. I mean look I have a lot of respect for Robert Byrd and I was I talked to several people close to mom and that was one of those decisions where I'd like literally. Did not even do need. I request. Because. I by the time I heard from several people close to them that did that era and he knows that. What he went through it. That this year's there's just something that he really really didn't wanna talk about so I didn't want to. I don't know I just I I want to respect and respect that not. Put him in the kind of position you know that says when I got together with Barbara striving to an unpopular as a month behind him a couple of like and he was terrific. You know the issue and have I would highly reflective. Parenthetically included where I mannerisms and her facial expressions in there and actors and stuff like that because she said. She she really is an amusing. What is your are just transition your quickest we let you go I mean he rewrote the SP a book we do a lot of sports media stuff our show. What you thought right now on the currency the SP it's funny were doing the radio show this morning and I'm watching. As I do you know without sound. In seems to me now exports that are continues try to do. Is build these personalities to really aren't funny these personalities they're trying to do what they did twenty years ago. And it's just not working something just c.s force right now and I'm watching sports center for examples particularly in the morning. Well you know the problem is that a lot of good news. I'm sure like me I mean I'm getting their economic policy as a wakeup. I'm getting. Scores after every three innings of my favorite baseball teams on my phone I'm getting I can watch the highlights in my own. So it its value proposition. To you and many others is so different you know went on right entity that can hook. And I'm really drilling down like on that. Danny keep days in. You know that they used to go to commercial and say when we come back we're gonna tell you what I have with the giants and the Padres last in tonight it's like you've had. Now how might drag you be watching the highlight with with with Joseph Borg doing you know warriors kings highlight then you had some suspense helical who won this game. I was a mystery that. But you. There. But I think that's anymore I do feel like they and Amy you get older maybe do this but I don't I'm watching ESPN today in the morning and at night. In I don't see Patrick's an old woman's pain kill boards in eyes and I don't see those detection duration breaking out like this generation did dissent is that a fair assessment. What we're not trying to do it which I think you know quite frankly. Looked a lot more people over there but I personally think that in ways that we had the personalities even. Bob Lee and Charley Steiner Robin Roberts at 630 and keep Indiana obviously Craig and I can handle that people that you just mentioned. You know I think that this sport that should be a bit like Jimmy Fallon. In this instead. Deirdre personality that you wanna hang out and you're gonna get discordant. You know but you'll also get. Really great analysis that you can maybe get April and that personalities so when you wanna know. I mean with Jon Stewart did war politics. There's got to be Jon Stewart out there could do that report and what sports. And you know if you do that I think people gonna watch but if it. People that. You don't particularly go and don't have any outside. Personalities. And you're delivering information acuity you know and I'm not sure that that's compelling opportunities. You know world with so many different options. Is her chance at ESPN and this is kind of my theory as he experiences you know what that's that's a good idea Jim it's not a bad idea be no rather just kinda. Keep it safe stay the fairway and you know what we might lose a cup is is subscribers a year true usual but the money. But the average ticket you know she going to England people are so (%expletive) he is in the with a hole the flaky thing but argument spent the whole time well. You know what trying to football you know watch the masters you can watch the rose bowl of course she wore ESPN's not gonna go not that I gonna go anywhere it's gonna continue to be. The deplete cash cow. Oh yeah well listen that that's a whole different thing now look inflating. You know one of the things that John skipper did. Really really well I like TD width you know programming TDs like exports thinner and. They got when it comes to light TV they got a pretty big Mo. Doubt skits and save the money they're still spending on these things although if you look at it now that the diameter afraid you may be tweeted this somewhere else. All the deals right now or are just signed up forever for all these guys to be big at the Monday Night Football they have baseball they have the Rose Bowl they have all these things lined up for next. 67 years. Yes I mean he went on that side huge spending spree and you know quite frankly it's almost impossible. Two I think. You know way of like literally going toe to toe with them and trying to do to win I think that. You know. In DC and other and they thought they figured out that they don't necessary have to go. Turncoat to win he make money in and still have a thriving. You know I writing sports and. What is your what is your take and you like him I urge on this point just a couple days ago and you've written about them a lot what's your take so far and Simmons TV show. And the rigor. Yeah I mean look I I'm very I did not review it you know adventure I read a way I'm a big builder I'm a big belief and. In building things in giving people a chance to. You know get settled in. I mean what are things that I can tell from the TV show are ready is that there. You know figuring things out and trying to. See what really works for them let alone a viewer. There ringer you know they're they're just a bunch of really really talented people there and didn't have DES PN. Platform to launch it I mean building is pretty. Do big dose so. I mean you can't bet against them. Do you think there are an M in my lifetime save next. Twenty years do you think you're ever gonna see a viable challenger to USPS fox sports one is it's not gonna happen I think we know that CNN tried years ago. It didn't work easiest pin just too big it'll never be challenged I mean legitimately challenged. Well yeah I guess that's what I mean which is. What is challenging because if you're just trying to create. You know another sport entity that's probably a fifty billion dollar valuation to it. And you know. What shall exist I don't discharge to say like sort of a morning talk sports structured yeah I'm Boston. A child should be instead of ESP and being the faulting when I walked in the morning with the faulting at the gym or I go home to flip on sports center. To have that second option in my head to me you know fox sports one in three years I think it's been around that is not presented an alternative yet. Now does that make sense. Yeah I think that's true and I think that. I mean looked so. That means in BC edit with the Olympics. You know they have a every two years at the Olympics. And I think that they haven't on Sunday night I think pocketed and CBS says that on February. I decided the only thing I mean look obviously it's sort of thinking are we just trying to engineer now bring skip Bayless server and others. That kind of provocative quite. Conversations in the morning so it's determined you know TV in the morning injured the turned to fox I mean look he's successful with that. Then now what happened only because. I don't think ESPN. Right now is going to. Outside of you know Steve and I am acts. You know they they did have a lot. To combat that just questioned whether he can be as successful with it there. Given the money. Is at stake it's. It's the prettiest thing to watch. Yeah it's pretty wild as you wrote yes and no book which was grad actions might give one to three books like doctorate I love yes and no one the SP one I guess I really enjoy to. You could almost write in beat me will you go bust right do you complete books and I think you up tedious and I want to Chico was right you complete books about where you left off. It you know those two books to today. I mean is embodied this puts so much drama at both places particular ticket ESPN you can write ticket right Ford of pages today on the last three years in the SP. Very true my giving you is this is assess how familiar to decide they're now. Yet the popular I thought sure tired tired have been does that next visit is next to you. You know I can't really popular right now the you know. But you know there's going to be going on. Cowboy for quick yes or no question I don't know if you still talk to me if you if you deal with them all. How much longer to warm Michael's keeps doing this. Let's see what. Forever really. I just acute I just I don't know call me crazy but I just I just not thinking I can't imagine that day one. I learned just says forget it. I don't know I just don't. I don't see it I mean lord willing these days copy and you know he's certainly. Partnering in this I don't think there's anybody out there right now. Hasn't for a while it can take his place. Yeah I don't know I think that this is this is this is going to be. It's gonna continue for quite awhile. You formed a pretty good really ship at least through those two books with with Murray it seems like you did Maher he's another guy who never talks you've got Marta talk. Extensively now at two of these books. He's at peace there since the best. I think this facility the other day says I literally anywhere in the world if you were. Having a wedding and you won't you could pick one person to get the test that you're letting. I don't even have a number two is bill number is like you know he's got to be the person that you know I hate. He's he's he's really unbelievable and I feel really really fortunate. You know you talked. But the book is powerhouse that's a look at its CA it's a great book. Pick it up it's doing fantastic not surprised to hear that. Jim I really appreciate it it's a time out here to talk about the good luck and good luck with the next book which I. Hope would be hearing about so. Art thanks so much of thanks as always for listening to me enough about me podcast if you want more podcasts like this would just like Artie Lange. We're so close to have a party laying in put him Bob Bryant on the same podcaster. The report noise and John mossy. If what was the podcasts like this good iTunes. Stitcher go to WEEI dot com into the mobile app. When you go to iTunes lever rating believe eerie view and subscribe. That's gonna help a shuttle lot if you want more of these. Leave a raving leave they review and subscribe make short you do that form that is a command now do.