'Mr Hollywood' to join Disney

Microsoft cements TV alliance as Disney appoints new boss

Michael Ovitz, the Hollywood wheeler-dealer, is to become president of Disney, the company disclosed yesterday.

Having failed to reach a deal worth more than $360m (pounds 225m) to head MCA, the Hollywood studio, Mr Ovitz, the man credited with forever changing the way Hollywood does business with its stars, may earn even more than that at the helm of Disney.

Mr Ovitz, the 48-year-old founder of Creative Artists' Agency, is expected to receive a salary in excess of the $5m a year MCA's new owners, Seagram's, had been prepared to pay. He will also get stock and stock options.

The appointment, which pushed Disney shares sharply higher in New York, immediately catapults Mr Ovtiz over the heads of his studio executive rivals. Rather than just a Hollywood studio, he will run Disney's theme parks, consumer products division, and its film and television interests, which include ABC, the US network being bought by Disney for $19bn. "Michael's background and skills will complement those of our current strong Disney management team and business unit heads," Michael Eisner, the chairman and chief executive of of Disney said.

Mr Ovitz replaces Frank Wells, who was killed in a helicopter crash last year.

Mr Ovitz became the first agent in Hollywood to package stars, directors and producers from his own stable, and attach them to studio projects. His clients included Barbra Steisand, Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks. He extended his power, and earned the name "Mr Hollywood," through, among other deals, his successful negotiation of the sale of MCA to Matsushita, the Japanese electronics company, in 1990, earning his company a hefty fee and staking out his claim to a corporate role. More controversially, his agency won the advertising account for Coca Cola against stiff competition from the advertising industry.

After the breakdown of the MCA deal observers speculated that Mr Ovitz was waiting for an opportunity to run Time-Warner. "This is a much more powerful position," said analyst Harold Vogel at Cowan & Co in New York "now that Disney is the largest company in the World. Here he has a shot at being the second in command at the largest media company in the world."

Mr Ovitz, who starts on 1 October, will immediately have to convince doubters about the wisdom of paying a premium price for ABC. While the move puts Disney ahead of nearly all challengers it could be a drag on the company if the hoped-for management and product synergies fail to materialise.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones