Who better to tap into the confounding mind of embattled Hollywood exec Michael Ovitz than the actor who portrayed him on the small screen? Treat Williams, who starred as Ovitz in the 1996 HBO satire The Late Shift, admits that the ex-superagent's recent exposé in Vanity Fair in which he blamed his fall from power on a small group of entertainment bigwigs he called the "gay mafia" (he later apologized for the crack) didn't blindside him.
"I'm not shocked by anything anymore," he tells TV Guide Online, adding, "I was more confused than shocked."
Although Williams admits that Late Shift hardly made him an Ovitz expert "I was really just playing a guy off the page" a few chance encounters gave him some insight into the man behind the myth. "I've heard stories, but the man that I met was a very kind man and a gentleman," says the upcoming star of the WB feel-good drama Everwood. "He's not what people talk about or what I read in interviews. He's this extraordinarily gifted agent who's probably the best agent that Hollywood has ever seen. So, who this person is... I'm kind of confused about it."
Ovitz even had a healthy sense of humor about Late Shift. As Williams explains, his alter ego offered the following critique: "He said, 'I really enjoyed your performance, but two things bothered me: First, I don't wear white suits, and second, you have nicer hair than I do.'"
These days, Ovitz probably has very little to laugh about. Tinseltown insiders say his Vanity Fair tirade was the final nail in his coffin. "He's done. It's over," influential talent manager Bernie Brillstein told the Los Angeles Times. "He shouldn't work in this town again."
For his part, Williams isn't ready to stick a fork in Ovitz and he thinks his La La Land contemporaries shouldn't be so quick to do so, either. "This is a town where we all are in the same industry and we should all be pretty forgiving of each other," he says. "Besides, we're creative people, and creative people tend to be a little nutty."