Ron Meyer named President of MCA -- Speculation on how and why the CAA agent was offered the spot

By Anne Thompson
Updated July 21, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Once again a CAA honcho is the talk of the Polo Lounge — but his name isn’t Mihael Ovitz. It’s Ron Meyer, 50, a high school dropout and ex-Marine who stole the spotlight from his boss last week by being named president of MCA. Only a certain British actor’s misadventures came as more of a jolt. ”It was like white lightning,” says Sony Pictures Marketing president Sid Ganis. ”Like many of us, I had no idea.” Hollywood is already putting its own spin on the move. Among the prevailing views:

Meyer was the unsung hero of CAA
Though once willing to play the man behind the man, Meyer happily emerges from Ovitz’s shadow. ”I loved being an agent,” says Meyer, who left CAA for a reported $75 million-plus package. ”But this was an extraordinary opportunity.” Can he run a studio? ”[Ron] understands what it takes to put movies together,” says producer Joel Silver. Adds client Sly Stallone, ”He’s the most valuable piece of manpower MCA could have acquired.”

Bully for Edgar Bronfman
In the space of four months, the Seagram’s heir has bought MCA from under the noses of such interested competing suitors as PolyGram, cemented a deal with DreamWorks SKG, and brought over just-fired Warner Music chairman Doug Morris to revitalize MCA’s record division. Also, by giving Meyer what amounts to the entertainment conglomerate’s No. 2 job, Bronfman has shown he wants to run the company with Meyer and a cadre that includes newly appointed MCA vice chairman Tom Pollock (who’ll no longer oversee the studio), former MCA chairman Lew Wasserman, who’s been named chairman emeritus, and outgoing president Sid Sheinberg, who gets his own MCA-financed production company.

Stormy weather for Ovitz and CAA
The good news: Meyer promised Ovitz he wouldn’t raid CAA’s exec pool. The bad news: Rival agencies are in hot pursuit of Meyer’s stable — which includes Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, and Demi Moore. Meanwhile, Ovitz, who has done more high-level deal-making than hand-holding lately, is left with the daunting task of keeping the agency intact. Is he kicking himself for not taking Bronfman’s $250 million offer? Many believe he’ll find a way to be the talk of the town again. ”History will tell you,” counsels Jeffrey Katzenberg, ”never to underestimate Mike Ovitz.”

Additional reporting by Judy Brennan