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The troops at CAA are just back from the agency’s annual retreat at the Ojai Valley Inn, where agents and other staffers listened to presentations from speakers as diverse as the legendary Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels.
There was also a “young client” panel consisting of rapper will.i.am, L.A. Clippers star Chris Paul and actress Selena Gomez. The panelists shed light on the client experience and the use of social media. (At 37, will.i.am is not quite a spring chicken but one of those who heard him speak declared him “a genius.”)
An insider says a highlight of the event was a presentation from EBay CEO John Donohoe, who happens to be a CAA board member. He expounded on the concept of “hot” versus “great,” noting that Silicon Valley is great at hot but not great at great. Few companies survive “the disease of being hot” because it leads to resistance to change, he said.
Also appearing was NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, who spoke without notes for more than an hour. Apparently Burke didn’t shock the room but did make the point that cable networks throw off much bigger piles of money than the movie business.
Hollywood talent agencies have always been able to score superstar guest speakers for their company retreats.
In January, WME had its retreat at the La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. The agency’s Ari Emanuel not only got his brother Rahm, the former President Obama chief of staff and current mayor of Chicago, into a room with Karl Rove, but they engaged in a heated 75-minute debate moderated by PBS host Jeff Greenfield. Other heavyweight panelists included Al Gore, former Google chief Eric Schmidt, former Morgan Stanley head John Mack, former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, Michael Milken and Napster co-founder Sean Parker.
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