A year or so ago, at a dinner of media executives and a few journalists, one of the guests told this joke:
"Rupert Murdoch, asleep in the middle of the night, is awakened by a flash of light. He sits up, rubs his eyes and sees Satan standing at the foot of his bed.
" 'What are you doing here?' the mogul demands.
" 'I have come to offer you any deal you can imagine,' the devil responds.
" 'What do you want in return?' says Murdoch, clearly intrigued.
" 'You can have any deal in the world you can imagine,' replies Satan, 'and, in return, all I ask is your immortal soul.'
" 'Any deal?' asks a skeptical Murdoch.
" 'Any deal,' purrs the devil, 'but in return, I take your soul.'
" 'Hmmm,' muses Murdoch, 'what's the catch?' "
If you spent any time around Hollywood a few years ago, you might have heard the same story told about Michael Ovitz, then head of CAA. With or without satanic assistance, the super-agent's dreams of world domination ultimately came to naught, but as Michael Wolff's often fascinating, sometimes frustrating new biography, "The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch," shows, the 77-year-old head of News Corp. still is at the top of his game.