Thursday August 11, 2016

Behind the scenes of Hollywood's most powerful talent agency

The Creative Artists Agency talent and literary agency headquarters is shown in Los Angeles.

The Creative Artists Agency talent and literary agency headquarters is shown in Los Angeles. (Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

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David Beckham. Glenn Close. Kanye West. Jennifer Aniston. Cristiano Ronaldo.

What do all these celebrities have in common? Well, they've all been represented, at one point or another, by a very powerful and very secretive company: The Creative Artists Agency

It's one of Hollywood's most influential talent firms: known for aggressively negotiating contracts and landing deals for the biggest stars.

James Andrew Miller is the journalist behind a new tell-all about the CAA: Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency

10 Interesting facts from Powerhouse by James Andrew Miller

1) While trying to get traction in Hollywood, nineteen-year-old Tom Cruise was crashing on Sean Penn's couch. He borrowed Penn's sport coat for a lunch meeting with his future CAA agent.

2) Sylvester Stallone was originally offered the lead role in Beverly Hills Cop, but when he went against his CAA agent's wishes in a dispute over the script, he was replaced by Eddie Murphy.

3) One CAA agent displayed his influence at the studios by turning his martial arts instructor — Steven Seagal — into a huge action star. Seagal's "demonstration" for studio executives was a brutal show of physical force. 

4) In order to ensure that a producer made his flight to Paris, a CAA assistant once delayed the flight by calling in a bomb threat to Air France.

5) After reading the original script for Rain Man, a CAA agent fought to change Dustin Hoffman's brother from an older one to a younger one so Tom Cruise could play the role.

6) A CAA agent found an old rejected movie script in the agency library which would go on to be the pilot for ER, one of the most successful television shows in history.

7) A CAA agent talked a very resistant Sarah Jessica Parker into the lead role of Sex and the City.

8) Cher acknowledged her CAA agent "tricked" her into taking the lead role in Moonstruck, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

9) CAA came up with the famous Polar Bear/Coca-Cola commercial, one of the most successful branding efforts in history.

10) But the agents aren't always the most powerful people in the room. When CAA agents met with their client Prince they were instructed not to look him in the face and have no eye contact. The pop star sat in a different part of the room with his back to the group.