Saturday, October 08, 2016

Powerhouse by James Andrew Miller

Powerhouse by James Andrew Miller was an interesting oral history on Creative Artists Agency, the firm that, along with other businesses it's in such as corporate consulting and marketing services, represents many Hollywood and professional sports stars.

The agency was started in 1975 by five agents who left William Morris and Miller particularly covers Michael Ovitz, one of the five and the man who became CAA president. There was great detail in the book about how Ovitz to further his career both prepared and hustled, with anecdotes about him as a junior staffer at William Morris noticing that the company president always came back in after dinner, so Ovitz would make sure he was also there, ready and willing to help with anything needed, and out of this became the assistant to the president at twenty-two years old. In terms of Ovitz's preparation and ferreting out of information, Miller devotes quite a bit of space in the book to how CAA got into corporate advising when they figured out a Japanese corporation interested in buying a studio and set up the deal, collecting $46M in fees in the process.

Also interesting in Powerhouse was material around how Ovitz and Ron Meyer, one of the other co-founders, had styles and strengths that very much complimented one another and then around how Ovitz seemed to become corrupted by the power he held and just how messy his leaving CAA was. He had negotiated a deal to leave CAA and take over Universal, but made things so difficult the deal eventually fell apart and Ron Meyer was offered and took the job. Ovitz then left to work under Michael Eisner at Disney, with that relationship fairly immediately running into trouble and Ovitz out within about a year.

The book's later part covers what CAA has become since Ovitz, with it a powerful corporation in huge competition with the agencies UTA and the much larger WWE/IMG.

I found Miller's book on ESPN, These Guys Have All the Fun, to be more interesting due to the subject matter, but Powerhouse was a solid read for anyone interested in the machinations of power and the entertainment world.

The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey

The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey was an interesting read that I heard of from an article by Chris Ballard for Sports Illustrated titled "The little-known book that shaped the minds of Steve Kerr and Pete Carroll."

Gallwey's book is subtitled The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance and in it, he writes of how "every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and inner game, that which takes place in the mind of the player, and is played against such obstacles as lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt, and self-condemnation."

This inner game is written of by Gallwey as being one that can easily hurt us, with our "telling self" judging results, and distracting from our "doing self" completing activities. In terms of simply doing, Gallwey writes of how if we focus on having a clear picture of what we want to accomplish and then just act, we'll likely be happier when all said and done. This clear picture can be formed by observation, of both others and ourselves, with a non-judgmental awareness of our movements.

It's a short book from Gallwey and one with some compelling ideas.

The Hike by Drew Magary

The Hike by Drew Magary was the third book, and second novel, I've read from the author who also has written extensively for GQ and Deadspin.

The Postmortal from Magary imagines a society made completely different than it is today and The Hike starts with an average guy getting lost in the woods, and then departing from the world we know into a dystopian alternate universe.

I found my interest in the book waning a bit at times, but it did wind up with a really interesting and unexpected ending and including magazine and website pieces from Magary I've read and posted on, I find him to be an entertaining writer.

Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen

Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen is the latest installment of fiction by the Florida-based writer on characters in his wacky state and just like the prior books below I've read from Hiaasen, quite the entertaining read.

- Skink: No Surrender
- Bad Monkey
- Star Island
- Nature Girl
- Skinny Dip
- Basket Case
- Sick Puppy
- Lucky You
- Native Tongue
- Stormy Weather

Additionally interesting to me about Hiaasen is that his writing can also be found in the Miami Herald in the form of a recurring column.