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Hollywood heavy Ovitz to launch Net start-up

Michael Ovitz, the Hollywood powerbroker and former Walt Disney Company president, is helping to launch an Internet business dubbed CheckOut.com.

Michael Ovitz, the Hollywood powerbroker and former Walt Disney Company president, is helping to launch an Internet business, principals in the start-up said today.

Ovitz is teaming with Richard Wolpert, a partner for the Yucaipa Companies and former Disney Online president, to start CheckOut.com. CheckOut.com is an entertainment-focused network of e-commerce sites, including CheckOutMusic.com, CheckOutVideos.com, and CheckOutGames.com.

The executives announced the venture today, and it is set to launch this summer, according to Wolpert.

CheckOut.com will combine content and commerce along with personalization features. "Each of the areas within CheckOut.com--CheckOutMusic, CheckOutVideos, and CheckOutGames--will become destinations in their respective categories with access to live events, community, news, streaming audio and video, and personalized content, among many features," the start-up said in a statement.

Said Wolpert, "If you're a fan or an actor or a musician, this is the place to go."

The Web site address for CheckOut.com shows only a logo.

Wolpert added that CheckOutMusic.com will feature downloadable music files on top of its artist merchandising. He said the company would remain "platform agnostic" and support a variety of audio download formats, including MP3, as well as the Secure Digital Music Initiative proposed by the Big 5 record labels.

CheckOut.com also will develop its own Internet investment portfolio, which will include acquisitions. The company recently invested in Web chat community Talk City and plans to announce two more investments within a month, Wolpert said.

Ovitz headed Creative Artists Agency, a talent agency for many of Hollywood's best-known actors, before briefly being named Disney's president. He left after Disney's top executives were disappointed with his performance.

Wolpert helped launch Disney's online product for children, dubbed Daily Blast. He left Disney last summer after launching a search engine called Disney Internet Guide, or Dig. Yucaipa Companies has helped complete 16 mergers since being founded in 1986.

News.com's Jeff Pelline contributed to this report.