Michael Ovitz has indicated that he has not yet decided whether to shut down Artists Television Group, his television production company that reportedly has milked him of the better part of his severance package from Disney. In an interview with Friday's Los Angeles Times, Ovitz said, "I don't know what's going to happen next. I'm just trying to keep the company functioning. ... Emotionally, it's really tough ... I don't know how it's going to end, if it ends." On Wednesday, Ovitz was forced to lay off 18 of his 38 employees as he continued to look for new investors but continued to come up empty-handed. The Times quoted former Universal president Sidney Sheinberg as saying. "I presume the advantages he thought he brought had to do with leveraging important client relationships But if your shows are not any good ... then those relationships only go so far." Ovitz received considerable notice a year ago when the fledgling ATG placed shows on five of the six networks. Not a single one of them survived.
While Ovitz continues to maintain that the troubles of his television company will not affect his artists' management operations, the New York Times indicated Friday that should the business collapse, Ovitz's other operations could be affected as well. The newspaper quoted one unnamed agent as saying, "When a portion of the company goes out of business, it spreads enormous doubt through the rest of the company. It puts everything up in the air." In its report on ATG's difficulties, the New York Times commented: "Mr. Ovitz has lost his powerful perch, at least for the moment, and over the years he has made numerous enemies who are almost eager to see him fail. No power broker in Hollywood matches Mr. Ovitz for the number of powerful people ... who actively dislike him."