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The Two MichaelsHollywood agent Michael Ovitz and...

The Two Michaels

Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz and imprisoned junk-bond wizard Michael Milken crossed paths some 30 years ago as schoolmates at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys.

Now they are crossing paths again, albeit indirectly.

Actor Robert De Niro, a client of the Creative Artists Agency that Ovitz heads, has snared the rights to “Highly Confident,” a book on Milken by writer and CAA client Jesse Kornbluth. Ovitz has played a key role in the career of De Niro, who is expected to play Milken.

Ovitz and the slightly older Milken weren’t close in high school, although one picture from Birmingham’s 1964 yearbook shows that they did serve together in a Boys League service organization.

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Speaking of Milken

Expected in November is yet another book on the financier, this one by Milken nemesis Ben Stein.

Stein is a Los Angeles writer, economist and actor (he’s in the new “Honeymoon in Vegas”) who frequently rips Milken in Barron’s articles. Stein says his book, “License to Steal,” concludes that Milken junk bonds were “fraudulently overpriced.”

The book is coming out amid a nasty feud between Stein and Kornbluth. In “Highly Confident,” Kornbluth accuses Stein of distorting facts, suggests Stein’s nastiness toward Milken stems from being spurned for a job and recounts some embarrassments in Stein’s life, including the infamous incident in which Stein, using the pseudonym Bert Hacker, wrote an unflattering, phony magazine story about comedienne Joan Rivers.

Stein suggests that he’ll answer back in his book.

“He said some mean and hurtful things about me that aren’t so,” he said.

Kornbluth said his accounts are accurate. As for Stein’s book, he said: “I hope he finds an audience of hundreds.”

Needless to say, Milken’s friends aren’t looking forward to Stein’s book. “He lied about Joan Rivers using a fictitious name, and he lied about Michael Milken using his own name.

What else can I say?” said longtime Milken lawyer Richard Sandler.

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Waving Him Off

How chintzy is CalifornIOU these days?

Herbert K. Mihan, co-owner of the English Shop clothing store in Princeton, N.J., found out when he decided to commemorate the National Governors Assn. meeting there earlier this month. Mihan wrote to every governor, asking for a picture and small flag that he could display in the store’s window.

Nearly all states obliged with a photo and postcard-size flag, but not California. In a letter to Mihan, Patricia T. Clarey, deputy chief of staff to Gov. Pete Wilson, said that “California does not have funds allocated to buy flags.”

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Briefly . . .

UC Irvine’s management school is trying to fill the “Taco Bell Chair in Real Estate Management” . . . The “Packaged Ice Assn.” donated some 100,000 bags of ice to Hurricane Andrew victims . . . A new Florida investment firm co-owned by economist Arthur Laffer says it “applies supply-side theory to investing.”


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