THE '80s A Special Report :...

As the old studio system collapsed in the 1950s, power in Hollywood defused and decentralized. Michael Ovitz took center-stage in the 1980s, leading the shift of power into the hands of Hollywood's talent agencies--especially Ovitz's influential Creative Artists Agency.

The 15-year-old CAA developed extraordinary muscle by perfecting what is loosely known as "packaging," a device by which agents match movie or TV scripts with stars or directors before selling the projects to a studio or network.

In the beginning, aggressive CAA beat competitors to the hottest books and scripts. Big-name directors and stars followed the material, turning CAA into Hollywood's most influential holding tank for talent. Before long, to hear Hollywood insiders tell it, hit-hungry studio executives were kneeling at Ovitz's feet.

The Taste Makers project was edited by David Fox, assistant Sunday Calendar editor.

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