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A Brief History of Hollywood | by Profound Whatever
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A Brief History of Hollywood

The son of Russian immigrants, Lew Wasserman joins the Music Corporation of America (MCA) under its founder, Jules Stein, who made a name for himself booking big bands during Hollywood’s early years. Stein sends Wasserman to Hollywood in the late 1930s to expand MCA’s reach to include actors. As an agent, Wasserman earns a fearsome reputation as a quick-thinker and fast-talker, allowing MCA to merge with or buy out the competition. By the mid-1940s, MCA represents nearly half of all major players in the movie industry, earning the aggressive agency a nickname: “the Octopus”.


But the agency’s reach would ultimately be its downfall: when MCA acquires Universal Pictures, the U.S. Justice Department deems the agency an illegal monopoly for owning both the stars and the studio. To protect its Universal deal, MCA dissolves its talent division, splintering the agency into a dozen smaller firms, the remnants of which can still be seen in the talent management agencies of today. Wasserman maintains control of Universal and reigns as the last true mogul of Hollywood, until selling his companies off in 1990 for $350 million.



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Taken on November 5, 2013