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Falling Power

Alone again, naturally

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Once a name synonymous with power, Michael Ovitz, dismissed from Disney last year with a controversial $100 million buyout, now lives like Napoléon on Elba — in exile. Insisting he’s not plotting a comeback — though he’s rarely met a plot he didn’t like — Ovitz, 50, is doing fund-raising (especially for UCLA hospital) and getting acquainted with a quality not often seen by those who worked with him at CAA and inside the Magic Kingdom — humility. We couldn’t resist checking in with the man who was once the most feared in Hollywood.

On his status: ”I don’t belong on your [Power] list. I don’t deserve to be. I’m retired … [and] just enjoying my life right now. I’m sure that will irritate everyone. I know I should say that I have to go out and beg for money — ‘It’s very rough; the weather out here has been so awful, and I stand on the street corner with my tin cup.”’

On life out of the business: ”I was in it for 30 years. It was fantastic. I don’t have much more to say. I’m not a recluse — my life is just not controversial. I’m involved in charitable work and spending time with my kids … But I’m not in the entertainment business anymore.”

On whether he’s still friends with Michael Eisner: ”I will always be friends …” [He stops, abruptly changing the subject.]

On how things ended at Disney: ”I’m not bitter. I have no complaints. The only thing I miss are the relationships I had with the people at [CAA].”

On those gleeful about his downfall: ”Anyone can say whatever they want. It’s all irrelevant. Judgment day comes at the end of all your days.”

On his past power: ”I don’t think I ever was powerful. It was a figment of everyone’s imagination. I don’t perceive power the way everyone else does.”

On his next move: ”You want some announcement, like I’ve decided to become the head of a local trash company. I’ll tell you what: Next time I’ll think up something really juicy. Only it’s not gonna be true.”

On his sense of humor: ”I’ve always been a funny guy. People just didn’t realize it. I guess I used to be a little more serious. In the last two years, I’ve been able to laugh at a lot of things.”