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"It's cataclysmic." That, in the words of one Hollywood insider, pretty much sums up Michael Ovitz's move from chairman and power broker-in-residence at Creative Artists Agency to MCA chairman.

As of Friday, Mr. Ovitz hadn't moved anywhere. But everyone is expecting he will. This week. As soon as Seagram Co. concludes a deal to acquire MCA from Matsushita Electric Industial Co., or maybe as soon as you read the new issue of Newsweek.

In fact, news of Newsweek's feature story on Mr. Ovitz this week was significant news last week for the magazine's competitors. The buzz was the elusive Tinsel Town wizard was going on the record with the weekly to announce his new job.

The author of the buzz, insiders say, was Mr. Ovitz himself, said to chat with the media far more often (albeit off the record) than his carefully crafted legend would have one believe. As of late last week, Newsweek editors were debating whether to put Mr. Ovitz or the war in Bosnia on the cover, leaning toward the more important story. Bosnia might have to wait.

Since Mr. Ovitz founded CAA in 1975 with Ron Meyer and Bill Haber, it's grown into the most powerful talent agency in Hollywood, representing the likes of Madonna, David Letterman and Tom Cruise.

In recent years, Mr. Ovitz has guided CAA into unchartered waters, taking on the Coca-Cola Classic ad account, consulting for Nike on sports marketing and bringing Bell Atlantic, Nynex Corp. and Pacific Telesis together to form the Tele-TV new-media venture.

Now, insiders speculate, Mr. Ovitz will take his co-founders and all the executives he hired to handle CAA's non-traditional businesses with him to MCA (see related story on Page 46).

Mr. Ovitz was said to be wooed to MCA by Seagram's starry-eyed president, Edgar Bronfman Jr., with the promise of fulfilling Mr. Ovitz's dream of being a hands-on creator of all things entertainment. A compensation package reported at $250 million couldn't have hurt either.

At MCA, this means that Sidney Sheinberg and Hollywood institution Lew Wasserman, the studio's current president and chairman-and admitted foes of Mr. Ovitz-will soon be out, as will many other top MCA executives. Insiders say Shelly Hochron, who with Len Fink runs the Coca-Cola Co. business at CAA, has the line on being chief marketing executive at MCA. DDB Needham Worldwide, Los Angeles, MCA/Universal's agency, could lose the account because of past history, in which Seagram dropped DDB Needham.

But time will tell. Or Newsweek will.



Michael Ovitz

BORN: December 14, 1946

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Chairman of Creative Artists Agency, where he consulted Sony on its purchase of Columbia Pictures in 1989, and brokered Matsushita Electric Industrial's takeover of MCA in 1991. Agent at William Morris Agency from 1968 to 1975; tour guide at Universal Studios while attending UCLA, from which he graduated in 1968.

PERSONAL: Married to Judy Reich; three children-two boys and a girl.

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