Nicita Out At CAA for Morgan Creek…Go figure!

RickNicita.jpgCreative Artists Agency top-rung earner Rick Nicita seems to be waving bye-bye to the agency to take a job as Chairman and Chief Operating Officer for Morgan Creek Pictures, according to a company release.

While that may well be possible, it’s an awkward fit at best. Nicita has been a top agent at CAA for years with clients like Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. He’s also married to Cruise’s partner at United Artists, Paula Wagner.

While the Morgan Creek position is in fact a job, it seems a bit unlikely because Morgan Creek is by no means a major production entity and Nicita is very much a top agent. The company has had a deal with Universal since 2004, but the best money-makers of their movies were with Warner Bros., with “Robin
Hood: Prince of Thieves
,” “Major League” and “Major League 2.”

As well, the company has long been run by Jim Robinson, who doesn’t play well with others. When former Hollywood Reporter Editor Alex Ben Block left the Reporter to become head of marketing for Morgan Creek and Robinson, it ended quickly because Robinson demanded that Block be in by 9 a.m.

Who knows whether Nicita’s schedule will be all that amenable to Robiinson and Morgan Creek. For L.A. Times story read on…

Rick Nicita leaving CAA to lead Morgan Creek Productions
The longtime Hollywood agent will attempt to bring the production company back to its glory days of the early 1990s.
By Claudia Eller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
12:15 PM PDT, July 29, 2008
Rick Nicita, a veteran Hollywood agent whose longtime clients include Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, is leaving the agency business after 42 years to become a movie executive.

A partner at Creative Artists Agency, where he spent nearly three decades, Nicita has been named co-chairman and chief operating officer of Morgan Creek Productions, a movie company founded by James Robinson that in recent years has struggled to produce hits.

In his new job, Nicita too will be under pressure to turn around Morgan Creek, which in the late 1980s and early ’90s was behind such hits as the “Ace Ventura” comedies starring Jim Carrey, “Young Guns,” “Major League” and “Robin Hood: Price of Thieves.” But since then it has faltered with more misses, among them “Georgia Rule” with Jane Fonda and Lindsay Lohan,” “Man of the Year” starring Robin Williams and “The Good Shepherd,” a costly thriller directed by Robert De Niro.

Nicita is following a Hollywood tradition that has seen scores of Hollywood agents over the decades–including his former CAA bosses Michael Ovitz and Ron Meyer, and DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen–transition into the executive and producer ranks. Guy McElwaine, who previously held the top movie job at Morgan Creek before he died earlier this year, was a former agent.

Nicita’s wife, Paula Wagner, was also an agent at CAA before leaving the agency to become her then-client Tom Cruise’s producing partner. Wagner and Cruise are now attempting to revitalize MGM’s sister studio United Artists, in which they are part-owners.

Robinson said he got to know Nicita through doing business with him over the years as an agent and as a fellow board member of American Cinematheque. “A couple of months ago we kind of fell into a conversation. I was looking for someone to run the company and he was looking for a new challenge,” Robinson said.

Nicita has maintained close ties to Meyer, who left CAA in 1995 to become president of Universal Pictures, which distributes Morgan Creek’s pictures in the U.S. Morgan Creek finances its own productions as well as print and advertising costs, paying Universal a fee to distribute its films.

Nicita began his career as a motion picture agent at the William Morris Agency in New York in 1968, moving to the agency’s Beverly Hills office in 1976. Four years later, he followed Ovitz and Meyer to CAA. He became a partner in the agency in 1995 after Ovitz left to become president of the Walt Disney Co. and Meyer went to Universal.