In the old days, to be a board member at the William Morris Agency, you had white hair, a slight stoop, Red Buttons as a client, and pants pulled up to the waist. As of today, the Morris board is much younger, almost hipper, suddenly rockin’. Who’da thunk it? Now the ten-percentery just added seven agents to its 20-member governing body and upped them to the rank of executive vice presidents. Morris once was a TV cash cow on the one-time strength of the syndication market, but its influence in television (especially scripted network shows) has waned. Its motion-picture department has always been an insignificant profit center. So the agency is relying on the powerhouse music division to bring in the big bucks, with clients like Kanye West, Foo Fighters, the Eagles, the Killers, Amy Winehouse, Weezer, Pearl Jam, the Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine and Rihanna. (WMA booked more than 22,000 dates last year alone.) So chairman and CEO Jim Wiatt jokes that he now finds himself among the oldest on a board of many newcomers in their 30s and 40s.
Ovitz Back in Control ... Sort Of
The old CAA building designed by I.M. Pei, complete with its Roy Lichtenstein mural, is back in the hands of Michael Ovitz. His ex-partners, Ron Meyer and Bill Haber, recently sold to him their financial interests in the Beverly Hills landmark at the corner of Little Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevard. Ovitz, who personally brown-nosed Pei to design the monument to agency power, was desperate to gain sole custody. I hear he’s probably leasing office space to Sony BMG Music.