Baby, You're A Rich Man

WE WOULDN'T CALL HIM A PARTY animal, exactly, but Michael Ovitz does have a playful streak. It's just that no one saw it behind the carefully tended image of the grim, all-knowing fixer. When he left his job as president of Disney after a failed 14 months (albeit with a reported $90 million settlement), it was apparent that the image had actually hurt him.

Ovitz captured the public imagination because he was an old-fashioned schmoozer-agent, the guy who made everyone think he was manipulating everything. He operated on charm and blue smoke. But at Disney--a multibillion-dollar company that markets lunchboxes to the world--this didn't count for much. No-nonsense executives resented and resisted him. It was yet another reminder that the big entertainment companies now are run by nuts-and-bolts operating executives like Bill Mechanic of Fox, Frank Biondi of Universal, Jonathan Dolgen of Paramount. There's room for the schmoozers, but they don't run the joint. When they do, as Peter Guber and Jon Peters did at Sony Pictures, the place caves in. Ovitz is likely to take his bruised image to some venture where relationships and style still prevail. He's said to be thinking of buying into a sports team.