Media Money with Julia Boorstin

Hollywood's Most Powerful Agency Loses Big Client


Everyone's talking about the New York Times piece on Creative Artists Agency losing Hasbro. Now everyone's wondering if CAA's trying to do too much for too many. CAA has said its going for 100% market share. But does that really make sense in an industry where you don't want to be represented by the same company as your competitor is.

Nicknamed, the 'Evil Empire' for its ubiquity and wide-reaching power in Hollywood, CAA has doubled in the last five years to some 300 agents and execs, some 700 total employees. And its representing not just of actors and directors, but also of companies, like Hasbro(or Coca Cola ) who need movie placement. Oh, the agency is also notoriously tight-lipped, and just moved into a gleaming new marble headquarters, that looks eerily like the Death Star.

The hubbub is all about the upcoming 'Transformers' movie-- which was effectively brokered by 'CAA', which doesn't technically act as a producer, just helps put deals together. This is how they did it for this Dreamworkspic. CAA connected Paramount, Dreamworks, and Steven Spielberg with Hasbro. Spielberg is a client of CAA as was Hasbro--who also is the owner of Transformers. All of them were 'teamed up' with CAA-client writers, and several CAA-client stars. CAA's final tally? 10 credits for CAA clients. But Hasbro fired CAA to move to William Morris, which represents Michael Bay, who directed "Transformers."

CAA's size- more than 2,000 clients including Coke, Delta , and eBay-is the reason for its dominance, but it can also cause problems. Is CAA distracted? Is it servicing its clients as well as it could be? Does its new strategy distract from its expertise? Hasbro told the New York Times "We're moving to William Morris as an entertainment client".

CAA's most interesting work is its packaging-- virtually producing -- films. But as companies like Hasbro change, CAA may need to treat them more like stars and less like corporate clients in need of marketing.

Check out the Times story-- and Deadline Hollywood's skewering it. The truth is somewhere in-between!

Questions?  Comments?