YOUR MAMAS NOTES: In early December of 2008, former talent agent and former Hollywood power player Mike Ovitz listed his Los Angeles, CA house with an asking price of $14,500,000. By the tail end February of 2009 the property had been, according to the peeps at Redfin, de-listed. Thanks to our always helpful informant The Rolling Stone, Your Mama has learned that the property was recently re-listed with a new, improved and radically reduced asking price of $8,500,000.
Mister Ovitz’s decision to sell his long time home in the Brentwood area was not and is not a surprise to any of the many Platinum Triangle real estate watchers who all know about the massive and modern, Michael Maltzan designed mansion he and the Missus have been building in the Benedict Canyon area of Beverly Hills. More on that mansion later but first let’s give a quick run-down on Mister Ovitz’s rise to the top of the Hollywood heap and his subsequent cascade from the good graces of the powerful cabal of movers and shakers who pull the levers of success in Hollywood.
Mister Ovitz, who grew up in Van Nuys, CA and went to high school with the lovely and talented Sally Field, began climb up the ladder of success at the venerable William Morris Agency where he became one of the top talent agents in that notoriously back-bitey bizness. In 1975, Mister Ovitz and a few other folks from William Morris ducked out and started the Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which quickly became the most powerful nexus of talent representation. Mister Ovitz headed up CAA from 1975 until 1995 when he was tapped to become the number 2 man at the Walt Disney Company under his then friend CEO Michael Eisner. Mister Ovitz’s topsy–turvy tenure at Disney lasted only about 16, less time than the hypothetical gestation period for Dumbo. Mister Ovitz was dismissed amid much publicity about his spectacular downfall and his even more spectacular severance package. Although reports differ on the exact numbers, it’s widely believed and reported that Mister Ovitz ultimately received about $109,000,000 in cash and stock options.
Instead of retreating to some far away place to lick his professional wounds, Mister Ovitz used some of his Mickey Mouse money to start the short-lived Artists Management Group. The venture proved an utter failure and in 2002 Mister Ovitz sold his share of the company at the bargain basement price of $12,000,000 to young gun Jeff Kwatinetz who merged the company with his own talent management operation, The Firm. Kwatinetz, a controversial fellow himself, has since left The Firm but that’s really another story for another time. Instead of hiding out in a secluded spot to lick his professional wounds, the unable to keep his mouth shut glutton for punishment gave a hissy–pissy interview to Vanity Fair in July of 2002 in which he very pointedly blamed the “gay mafia” for his dramatic–but lucrative–downfall. While some second guessed his sincerity, Mister Ovitz quickly apologized for what he called his “inappropriate statements during an open and frank discussion with Vanity Fair.” Blah, blah, blah.
Since then Mister Ovitz has done what his big and bruised ego wouldn’t let him do way back in 1996 when he was ousted from Disney: He’s kept a low, low, low profile. However, with the (re) listing of his Brentwood mansion and the completion of his snazzy and showy new crib in Beverly Hills, Mister Ovitz is bound to be back in the gossip pages or, at least, the real estate gossip pages.
According to property records, Mister Ovitz and his long time wifey Judy purchased their Rockingham Ridge residence in January of 1979 for $660,000. Records show that at the time of the purchase, the house measured 8,339 square feet and listing information indicates it has since been expanded by architect Caspar Ehmcke to approximately 13,000 square feet. Now children, 8,339 square feet is a major mansion by any standards and 13,000 square feet is about the size of a small damn school but, if previous reports on Mister Ovitz’s new digs are true, the entire mansion would easily fit into the approximately 15,000 square foot basement of their behemoth Bev Hills crib with a couple thousand square feet to spare. Take a few moments to consider that children.
Your Mama is not sure if Mister and Missus Ovitz have moved into their new mansion but it’s clear from the listing photos, that show the house completely empty of furniture, art and day-core, that the pair have moved from their Brentwood home. The gated driveway winds through a large, flat park-like front yard with meticulously manicured grass and a stand of matures trees. The drive terminates in a brick motor court that looks a wee bit cramped to comfortably turn Your Mama’s big BMW around without doing a three or four point turn. Listing information reveals Mister Ovitz’s Brentwood manse, which looks to Your Mama like a neo-Georgian married with Colonial, includes 7 bedrooms, 7 full and 2 half bathrooms, 6 fireplaces, garaging for 4 cars and parking for many more.
The interiors spaces, which look surprisingly ordinary, lackluster and dated, include formal living and dining rooms, den, library, office, family room, wine cellar, a state of the art projection room–natch–and a huge art studio/gallery where the noted collectors displayed works by Picasso, Jasper John, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichetenstein and the fab abstract expressionist Franz Kline. Your Mama read somewhere–and we can’t recall where–that Mister Ovitz was a voracious collector who used his collection to impress and bully. A potential talent management client, we read, once asked Mister Ovitz why he/she should sign with him rather than someone else and Mister Ovitz allegedly said, “Because I have a Picasso and he doesn’t.”
The incongruously and unharmoniously articulated backside of the house opens to the rear yard that terraces down the hillside and features a brick patios, covered balconies, a couple of flat patches of grass, and a heated swimming pool and adjacent pool house.
Mister and Missus Ovitz will be trading their huge and decidedly traditional digs in for a much larger and far more modern mansion at the top of itty bitty Leona Drive. Mister Ovitz’s new Xanadu, designed by architect Michael Maltzan, is comprised of 4 lots that cover almost three acres on a promontory with sweeping, 180-degree views of the city that once prostrated itself with fear and envy at his feet. Much like the work of architectural radical Zaha Hadid, Mister Maltzan’s highly sculptural, uber contemporary and usually quite challenging designs have a puzzle-like sophistication that rarely resonates with the architectural feint of heart. His eponymous firm is responsible for the re-do of The UCLA Hammer Museum, The MoMa QNS, The Feldman Horn Center for the Arts at the fancy-schmancy Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, The Inner-City Arts compound in downtown Los Angeles, and a building at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.
Mister Ovitz’s new residence is described on Mister Maltzan’s website as a “series of simple boxes…linked by a lattice of interior passageways and exterior courts.” One Los Angeles Times writer in an article from May of 2004 described the planned, multi-winged residence that includes a detached guest pavilion as looking, “more like a college campus than a house.” According to that same writer, the modern manse was scheduled to clock in at a colossal 28,059 square feet, which includes a 13,974 square foot basement area. Other planned amenities of Mister Ovitz’s new dee–luxe digs were previously reported to include garaging for 13 cars, a 2,400 square foot covered tennis pavilion, a yoga room and an art gallery. Some of the well-heeled neighbors–who include Bruce “The Boss” Springstein–planned to protest the scale of the project and to get 9 kinds of loud about the years of construction disruptions that would harsh their mellow and destroy their high-priced residential sanctuary.
Listen puppies, if anyone were to ask Your Mama, and of course no one did, we’d posit that Mister Ovitz’s new hotel-sized house–which practically hovers over Miss David Geffen’s 10-acre compound on Angelo Drive–is nothing more than mad Mister Ovitz using his Disney Dollars to gleefully flip the big bird at Hollywood. If that house could talk, we think it would scream at the top of its lungs, “Looky here all you fucktards, you may have bullied me, black balled me and squashed me like a freaking bug, but I’ve got a house with a basement bigger than your entire fucking house.” We’re just sayin‘…
Anyhoo, property records show Mister and Missus O own a number of other properties including a couple of adjacent ocean front properties on star-studded Broad Beach Road in Malee-boo and a 177+ acre ranch out in Ojai where the couple raise horses of some kind. Records also show that the Ovitz’s own a 7 bedroom and 8.5 pooper ski chalet in swish Snowmass Village, CO.