By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
People tend to forget this. Last month, the word on the street was that former Disney employee Ovitz was dead as far as his local NFL adventures were concerned. He’d publicly garroted his Carson-based Hacienda Stadium proposal — the one that was going to look like a giant taco stand in the middle of a shopping mall.
Indeed, it’s barely a week since Carson City Councilman Darryl Sweeney, whose political career may not survive the consequences of his actually believing Ovitz’s pledge to bring the NFL to that town, said, "The city of Carson refuses to be used as leverage in the battle for NFL ball." This statement confirmed that Ovitz had already done exactly that: By abruptly ditching Carson — whose hopes of NFL glory Ovitz himself had engendered — the mega-agent turned meta-manager bought himself a seat on the Roski-Broad Coliseum squad.
At first, that position didn’t amount to much. A month ago, it was reported that Ovitz wasn’t even invited to an A-list Roski-Broad promotion party. But as of last Sunday, Ovitz’s seat suddenly became a throne. There, right on the bottom of the front page of the L.A. Times, right where the likeness of Ovitz’s Carson Taco Dome had appeared last year, beamed the latest Ovitz-inspired architectural rendering of the NFL Stadium To Come: the "Coliseum in Exposition Park." Its main difference from the Roski-Broad Coliseum proposal was that it would offer structured parking. Building this parking facility would cost the public hundreds of millions of additional dollars.
The shiny color drawing ran with a story that proclaimed that those doddering titans who constitute the NFL owners are now listening to the Mickey Mouse Man, rather than the two doughty zillionaires who spent the late 1990s making the Coliseum into a viable proposal. I found myself feeling for these unsympathetically wealthy entrepreneurs. Roski and Broad had, after all, with the help of Councilman Mark Rid ley-Thomas, done the steep uphill work of selling the NFL — and the sports world — the despised, 75-year-old Exposition Park hulk as a viable venue for a new team. Between them, the pair have enough money to buy that team and revamp the site.
Ovitz, on the other hand, to judge by published accounts, barely has the resources to buy himself into AA baseball. And he’s only linked himself to the Coliseum project since April 14. For all that he’s caught the NFL’s ear and is returning calls to the Times— and for all that the Times, as it did last year, is uncritically promoting his latest football fantasy — Ovitz’s major enterprise at present is unrelated to pro sports. It’s an exceedingly aggressive entertainment management partnership called AMG, which might as well be called the Leonardo DiCaprio group, after its major client. To whom, one reads, Ovitz has promised much.
Just as he’s promised much to pro football. Indeed, promises are what Michael Ovitz does best. But Ovitz’s perennial problem is the upshot of these promises. Just remember what he promised the Japanese conglomerates Matsushita and Sony when he got them, respectively, to take over MCA and Columbia Pictures — to their immense eventual cost. You could ask the folks at his old talent agency, CAA, to whom he promised an amicable parting prior to dragging away some most-favored clients for his new business. Or query the folks in Carson as to his Taco Dome vows.
Or, same time next year, you might ask those NFL titans just what the latest Ovitz pledge turned out to be worth.