Steve Martin: Well, I met David in the mid 60s, I would say at the Troubadour probably. I don't remember the exact moment, but that's where everyone gathered. That's where the Long Branch Penny Whistle was, who was going to turn into the Eagles, and sorry, who is going to turn into Eagles.I found out their name is not The Eagles, it's Eagles. And David had an eye for talent. And he had I don't know the chronology of when he started picking up artists, whether it was the Eagles first or Loren Nero, Jackson Browne, all these sort of legendary people. I don't know how he did it, but he certainly had the ears for it. And I I was nobody. I was just a comedian who was working around. And then I got a job on the Smothers Brothers being a writer. So I had a little more prestige when I go into the into the Troubadour and later on in the in the sort of early 70s, he had a record company. I think by then, Geffen Records, I'm not sure. And it wasn't Geffen Records. Could it could it have been.

Interviewer: Asylum Records. His first record company.

Steve Martin: Yeah. He had Asylum Records. Dithered about doing a comedy record, but it didn't quite work out. I don't remember all the details. I didn't even know he was interested. So but he was a force. He was an energetic force, but he was a little bit out of my world. So I didn't really have daily talks with him or I just knew him, knew him as a nice guy.

Interviewer: Did you see him kind of operating around the Troubadour? Was he there every day?

Steve Martin: I don't know. I really don't know that.

Interviewer: I know you. Did you. Is this right that you opened for Linda?

Steve Martin: Yes, I opened for Linda Ronstadt. And I think David was managing her at that time. Right?

Interviewer: She ended up on Asylum.

Steve Martin: Right. And she was one of the most potent live talents you ever saw. She wore silver lamé dress that was cut so short you couldn't believe it. She wore no shoes and had that great, great voice. And David had an eye for her.

Interviewer: And you met the Eagles there too like you said?

Steve Martin: Yes.

Interviewer: Sorry. Eagles.

Steve Martin: I met Glen Fry there and.

Steve Martin: And I'm sure David was hovering nearby. But I remember when Glen Fry was trying out the name on me and he'd say, What do you think of this name? Eagles. I'd say, yeah, the Eagles. That sounds great. He goes, no, Eagles. I say, Yeah, the Eagles. That really sounds good. No Eagles. I went Eagles.

Interviewer: I still call them The Eagles. So were you living in Laurel Canyon there?

Steve Martin: I was.

Interviewer: Can you I mean, I know it was all mixed up between the Troubadour and Laurel Canyon, what was happening there and what what was happening at the Troubadour.There was a huge pool of talent happening there.

Steve Martin: There was and I was a bit of an outsider. I was in the TV world and they were in the music world and there was Joni Mitchell and all kinds of people. I can't remember all their names, but you could probably remind me of them. And I was desperate to meet Joni Mitchell but I never could. Of course, David had a big influence on Joni Mitchell or vice versa.

Interviewer: Absolutely. They ended up living together at one point. So, I mean, was the Troubadour was sort of like the Greenwich Village of the West Coast?

Steve Martin: The Troubadour was the center and you you went there, you saw shows. You know, I saw Richard Pryor there. So many acts. I saw Elton John in his first United States gig and there was about 20 people there. And, you know, when you signed up at the Troubadour, I don't know much you want me to keep about the Troubadour or about David.

Interviewer: It's very interesting for us because the Troubadour is very involved in David's career.

Steve Martin: All right. The Troubadour was run by run by Doug Weston. And when you signed up, you signed up for five weeks. So the first week you would make maybe 250 dollars a week. Then the second week, not continuous weeks. It would be spread out over a year or two. You would have an option on you. You would make five hundred and then you make 750. Then you make1,000 and you make 1250 or something. And I think he had he had that option on Elton John. And literally one minute later, Elton John went from nobody to a huge act. And I think Elton John had to buy out the contract from Doug Weston. I was the only one who profited from the five week Doug Weston contract because at the end of this year, something I was still nowhere and I couldn't believe I was making a thousand dollars a week, you know. So.

Interviewer: That's really funny. Yeah, I think later on when David opened the Roxy with a bunch of people, they were all kind of angry with Doug Weston because they thought he was taking advantage of the artists.

Steve Martin: Yeah, there was a break away. But I frankly didn't know David Geffen was involved in the Roxy. I heard it was. Who's the other?

Interviewer: Lou Adler.

Steve Martin: Right.

Interviewer: David, Elliot.

Steve Martin: Oh right.

Interviewer: There's a bunch of them.

Steve Martin: Yeah. I played the Roxy, too. That was that was a fun club. That was another lines around the block place. I guess it was pretty potent at the time that the Roxy could now get those acts and muscle them away from Doug Weston.

Interviewer: And the Roxy was kind of a different scene though. Things had sort of changed. It was the 70s.

Steve Martin: Yeah. It was a little more upscale, The Roxy. You can even tell by the title. And but going back to the Troubadour for second, I you know, so many incidents happened there. The famous John Lennon insulting the Smothers Brothers. It was a great. It was a great place. And it's typical terrible dressing rooms for the performers. And I guess there was drugs. I wasn't into drugs, but I guess there was. And the Troubadour bar was just I would stay there till 2:00 a.m. and drag myself home.

Interviewer: Sounds like fun.

Steve Martin: Yeah.

Interviewer: So now, I know you and David didn't exactly have any professional involvement over the next while. I mean you knew each other, and probably your lives somewhat intersected.

Steve Martin: Yeah, they did. And I really didn't know that David even liked me. I mean I didn't even know he remembered me. We would talk occasionally. One, we would talk about paintings. Another thing, I was in a little shop of horrors and it was interesting. So we have the film and now they're going to screen it. And the original Little Shop of Horrors has this tragic end where everybody dies. And I call and there's a screening. I call them up. I say, how did it go? And said, it went fantastic. Went absolutely great. And then I heard later that they're reshooting the ending so people live. And I talked him about and he said, I believe it's perfectly OK to lie in defense of your product, especially in Hollywood, you know, where rumor can kill you off and people will jump on it in two seconds. And but, David, I actually learned something from David at that time. In that vein, he in the mid 70s, I would talk to him and he would tell you negative things about himself first. So and this was very rare because there was a lot of gossip and rumors and who's gay and this and that and who's got a good movie, who's got a bad movie. And he always told the story about himself first and it aborted all kinds of gossip. And it was the first time I ever heard anybody do that. And it's a great style. And it's it's I mean, it tells you he tells me, you know, I I told Joni Mitchell not to go to Woodstock. He laughs. He laughs, you know, he says, I told her it's going to be you probably heard this. I told her there was going to be mud there. you know. Why do you want to go?

Interviewer: Very disarming characteristic.

Steve Martin: Yeah, it really is.

Interviewer: It's almost like a honed and tried and true technique?

Steve Martin: For, yeah.

Interviewer: I mean, he you know, people talk about how David is a very disarming person and that you feel intimate with him you know almost right away.

Steve Martin: Well, when he talks you, he looks right in your face and he can. It's fascinating to hear him talk. It's like you want you want to wind him up and say, start. There's a few people like that in the world, Mike Nichols, of course, you know, and of course, me, but David is very charming. He has an ability to talk to artists and businessmen alike. And most people are one side or the other. And he's he's he's the go to person for advice, whether it's financial or career. And I've called him many times. And he has never been wrong. One time he asked me, this was my career was sort of medium. It was like the 80s and had a couple of movies that didn't work. He said you ought to go back on the road, your comedy act. And I said to him, Yeah, but I don't have anything to say, which is the truth. And I, I never did go back on the road, but I got his point.

Interviewer: David does seem to love giving advice. He seems to give advice to everybody. He seems to really relish it. He takes his friendships very seriously.

Steve Martin: Yes, it's fun to listen to him on the phone when he gets excited. And it's a world I know nothing about when he's. I'm trying to think of a good example because without mentioning names, but you can hear him steam up. They told us what? They said that to us. Well, I'll tell them. Blah, blah, blah. Which I would never do in a million years ago, being a sort of wasp from Texas. But he he's in such a great place in his life right now where he can fully use his gifts as essentially an interpreter for people to interpret the world. You know, the financial world, the artistic world. Yet he does. He's not invested in detrimentally to himself. He could just do it for fun. And he he's, over the last few years, has extracted himself from all business. And I wondered if he was gonna be happy. But he seems really, really happy. I recall an incident, not an incident, a period. I don't remember the year he sold his MCA. a stock which I believe made him a billionaire.

Interviewer: 90, 91.

Steve Martin: Was it. I thought it was before that. But anyway, I remember the year when he sold his MCA stock, which, you know, I don't know quite accurately, but I think it made him a billionaire, which I think was a goal. And I never saw him more depressed. And I interpreted. I don't know if anything personal was going on, but I interpreted it as you achieved your goal and now you don't have anything to do. And he recovered from that, I think was like six or eight months. And he recovered from that. I don't know if it was caused by that. You know, like, I'm done. I'm done. I achieved a at least one up one of his goals. And but then he recovered from it beautifully.

Interviewer: I need to definitely rethink what goals I set for myself. Well, you said so many interesting things in there about David. I mean, it's it's it's true. And I always wonder, too, like, how could a guy who has so much ability be happy being extracted from all his business prospects?

Steve Martin: Well, I. I knew that he loved paintings, loved art, in fact, that was our biggest conversation, was art and the art market and the art world and good pictures, and he has unquestionably the best eye for certainly abstract expressionist pictures of any collector out there as proven by his collection. That was, I'd say, the highest price to pictures that were sold in the aughts. Jackson Pollock, and he still has them. They're just so beautiful. And so he has he has great interest. And I think he he likes. He always knows what's going on. I don't know how he knows what's going on.

Interviewer: He knows everything.

Steve Martin: And he has great friends. So it's the greatest thing happen. I've always observed that as we all get older, we either turn into our best selves or our worst selves. And I know people who who are still bitter or angry or something. It just grows, grows and gets worse and worse. And other people, their generosity grows. And I think that's what's happened to David. His best self has come out in his 60s.

Interviewer: It's a wonderful statement. It's a wonderful statement. I mean, you know, David is candid with us as anybody, and he says, look, I don't I'm not proud of everything I did. And I think in some ways this is a process for him of letting go of a lot of stuff in the past. I mean, he had tremendous ups and downs, tremendous feuds, you know. And it's hard, you know, you sort of wonder you try to sort of reconcile, you know, this person that you meet, this incredibly disarming, intimate person who would do anything for anybody. And yet he has this tremendous reputation is like don't mess with David Geffen.

Steve Martin: I never heard. Let me rephrase that. I never saw any, you know, negative behavior from David. But I wasn't involved with them in business except a couple of times, but I never thought I'd hear stories. But who knows, I. I didn't know. I didn't know it. I would be invited out to his house in Malibu for lunch. There would be Elizabeth Taylor and her little puppy. And it was just a very nice life. He became social. I think I don't know how socially was 70s or 60s. I really don't know. But now he's he's has a lot of friends. And yet he's still a private kind of person. But I think he's on the phone a lot. That's what I guess. There's one thing David has. I would call him up, you know, like maybe some painting sold at auction and say, hey, did you see what the so-and-so brought? He would talk to you for half hour. And I'm going, how does he have a half hour to talk to me? You know, especially at a leisurely pace of this and that. And he seems to be never in a hurry. And it's it's the strangest characteristic because I know there's 10 people waiting to talk to him.

Interviewer: And he's always unhurried about it?

Steve Martin: Always unhurried.

Interviewer: Amazing. I always wonder about that because he had the reputation of spending hours and hours and hours and hours on the phone. I mean, all through the 60s and 70s, deal making with everything and now with e-mail adapting. I mean, he definitely emails.

Steve Martin: Yeah.

Interviewer: But like was it Nora? she said, he's one of the few people left the calls me still.

Steve Martin: Oh, that's nice.

Interviewer: Just going back to talk about art for a second. So, you know, I mean, David obviously is an incredible businessman, and I mean that undisputed and one of the most incredible businessman ever. And yet, boy, does he have an eye for the visuals.

Steve Martin: Well, I actually. This is one of the big questions in my own life I'm trying to answer. Why do billionaires have eyes for paintings? How do they know what curators know? And the answer is, of course. Well, some don't. Some have terrible, terrible feeling for paintings. But it is amazing how that's why paintings sell for so much, because rich people spot them. I mean, the painting is struggling to get it into a museum and a billionaire just not yet, come here.

Interviewer: It's amazing. I mean, I, I, you know, I, I think. Was it in 92, I don't know if you remember when David officially came out or if you were aware of that.

Steve Martin: I don't know it was an official moment, but.

Interviewer: He was receiving an award and it was the first time he said I am a gay man. And Warren Beatty introduced him that night. And he had said something interesting. He described him as a captain of industry with the soul of an artist. And I just wonder, what if you have any reaction to that rings true at all?

Steve Martin: Well, I don't know how much David's artistic eye and his business eye intersect because to me, paintings or art was very different from business. So I don't know if he's he's he's not. I don't think he's in the editing room going, you know, but this we've got to tighten this up and do this. I think he leaves that to them and. So it's hard to say is, is he an artist in business? It doesn't sound right to me. It sounds like his sensitive side is is personal. Certainly. He said the greatest thing to me once. He said, when people ask me, you know, what do I think about art? I say, look, I'm just a fan. And it was a perfect kind of description because he didn't go to some intellectual thing about it. He just could had a feeling for these beautiful, beautiful paintings. And I like the way he put it. I'm just a fan. I'm not going to rhapsodize.

Interviewer: I think that's excellent description because it rings true with other areas of his, his life in terms of finding artists. He's always said, you know, I never picked an artist because I thought they were the most avant-garde... I picked them because I just like them. And I just thought hey if I do, you know, that other people are going to feel the same way.

Steve Martin: Yeah, he was it's a great feeling when he called me up one time when he said we just watched Bofinger on the plane. it was killer. It was so funny? You know, you just get a real thrill because gee that's the idea is to make people laugh. And I don't think he does that routinely. He doesn't lie. He really doesn't lie, that I'm aware of.

Interviewer: Some people have a problem with that a bit in Hollywood, it seems.

Steve Martin: Oh.

Interviewer: He might be a little too candid.

Steve Martin: Well, you know, Hollywood is a place where you say you say to somebody, hey, would you think after a screening, what you think of the movie? I loved it. And then you say, and what you really think? They say, oh, well, blah, blah, blah, you know, because, you know, artists are quite sensitive and you might not want to know the truth about something. So you have to ask twice because everybody's trying to be kind because an unkind word can really destroy an artist at work. So you have to wait for the artists to ask what they want to know, how much they want to know it.

Interviewer: People always say David is famously candid, even in matters of advice. You know, when he's giving people advice. He says no that's a terrible idea, don't do that. He's very outspoken.

Steve Martin: Yeah, he is.

Interviewer: He doesn't a lot of a filter.

Steve Martin: Yeah. One thing is, he's very clear cut. I mean, that's that's you know, he's not Hamlet. He's he really has an answer right away. And I think he's working on instinct and experience.

Interviewer: So just going back a little bit, did you see David at all in New York in the 70s?

Steve Martin: No, was that the Cher period?

Interviewer: He dated Cher in the early 70s but then he moved to New York in the late 70s.

Steve Martin: Right.

Interviewer: He was going through kind of a health crisis.

Steve Martin: Oh, that. Yeah. He told me about that. I learned about that afterwards. He told me about that and how his life he was selling everything and how he was emotionally changed and, and that wasn't a cancer diagnosis. That was an error. But I was closer to him after that.

Interviewer: Did he have anything to do with you being Little Shop of Horrors project or film?

Steve Martin: I don't know. I actually I mean, I auditioned for Frank Oz. I mean, it wasn't quite an audition because. But it was showed him how I'd do it. And he said, yeah, OK, good. I remember Frank Oz came to my house and I said I was thinking like this. And he said, yeah, that's good. I just wanted to make sure.

Interviewer: And what did you think about him changing the ending? I mean, did improve it the film. Did you think it was better?

Steve Martin: You know, a film like that is an entertainment. So whatever works, in my opinion, I have no problem with them changing the ending. You know, it's a little different when it's a little off Broadway production, but when it's a big, expensive film, I think you especially wouldn't call it an art film. I would call it an artistic film, but it's meant to entertain. So I have no problem with fixing it any way you can. And it was a surprise. You know, the result was a surprise to the audience, to to the filmmakers that the audience just dropped off right at the end when everybody dies. So they had to reshoot it.

Interviewer: David generally was an hands off producer. It was not like he was involved with the set.

Steve Martin: As far as I know. No, I never saw David on the set. Of course, we were shooting in London, but no. No.

Interviewer: So just going back a little bit again to talking about David when he officially came out, I mean, were you surprised when that he came out?

Steve Martin: No, because like I say, he was using that sort of defensive interrogation. I don't know what you'd call it. So but I had no idea he was gay. I just didn't know. Just cause he was dating Cher and everything. And then but then eventually, just one time, he said, you know, because you said in private, you know, we're in a small group he was gay. And I think I had heard rumors. And then it just and there were no more rumors. You know, it was a great thing to do. It's probably a socially and politically a great thing to do for the for closeted homosexual people. And I think was a great thing for him personally.

Interviewer: Changed him?

Steve Martin: That I don't know. I mean, I don't know. I think. I think he really got to a point where he did not care what people thought of them. I think when he I sort of a feeling like after the MCA sale, he was invulnerable and all his enemies,could not harm him in his mind. And I think it's absolutely true, because if you don't care, you can't get to you. I'm trying to think about somebody great quote, like a Mark Twain or something, but. If you care, if you don't care, they can't get to I don't know. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, there was a there was a great line in the sting where rght at the right at the end of the movie. And I think, you know, Paul Newman says to Robert Redford, no, Robert Redford says to Paul Newman says, When do you think we had him? And Paul Newman says that the day he decided to be to be somebody. Anyway, I think David truly, you know, he could go after his enemies like Mike Ovitz. And he was invulnerable.

Interviewer: Interesting position to be in, to be an invulnerable person. There aren't too many people in the world in like that.

Steve Martin: You know, I've seen him hurt. You know, I think he was hurt. I don't if he was hurt or angry about the biography that was published about him. I never I never read it. And mainly because I know David. I know enough about him. You know, I don't need to read somebody who's being evidently twisting and trying to bring him down or hurt him.

Interviewer: There's a lot in the book. I think that was part of the problem. Davi gave them a license to write and didn't quite realize what he had unleashed in a way, you know. And he said, like I said, he said to Suzanne. He said to us, you know, I'm not proud of everything I did.

Steve Martin: Yeah.

Interviewer: Things that are in there aren't necessarily untrue. I just don't necessarily remember them or, you know. And also, people also have different memories of the way things happened. Of course. You ask people the same story.

Steve Martin: Right. Absolutely.

Interviewer: And they're gonna come up with a completely different result. You know, but it was it was sorry that was so hurtful for him. Everybody said the same thing.

Steve Martin: They said it was hurtful?

Interviewer: Yes.

Steve Martin: Yeah.

Interviewer: You know, every almost everybody we've interviewed who knows him well says that that was a difficult period for him. So that's a sad thing for us. Hopefully we'll rectify it by doing something, he'll be proud of.

Steve Martin: So, you know, just to say that David is really loved by his friends. He really is. And. It's never unkind word in the circle of people who know him that I ever hear. So and I think that is a result of his personality now. And it may not have been his personality then. I don't really know.

Interviewer: Because you didn't know him that well before?

Steve Martin: I didn't know him that well. But we talked. But I was never in business with him. So I don't know that side of him.

Interviewer: Well, Mike Nichols said something interesting, well you might find interesting. We asked him what word would you use to describe the David Geffen story? And he said the transformation story.

Steve Martin: Oh, really? Mm hmm. That's good.

Interviewer: Which is interesting. We sort of looked at each other, like transformation, really?

Steve Martin: Well, I really think that, you know, he did do a lot of, what do you call it? A kind of psychological investigation through EST. And he did different minds spring or something and these different things, and he really got a lot. He got excited by them. And I know he had shrinks for a long time. And who wouldn't? And but then he's just he just mellowed. And I really think he's a guy who finished his work and finished his work well and then said, OK, it's really time to relax and enjoy life. And it's a very hard thing to say what enjoying life is, because for most of us to stop work would be to stop enjoying life. But he hasn't stopped work ecause he hasn't stopped talking to everyone, advising, listening to what's going on. You know, he tried to buy the L.A. Times a while ago. And so he does put his hand in things. But I think he's really untouchable. But he could be hurt by his friends, of course. But we all could.

Interviewer: And you had said earlier when we were talking that the boat changed his life in some way. Can you put that into words?

Steve Martin: Yeah, you knowm the boat.

Interviewer: Can you just describe it?

Steve Martin: Yes. The boat is this huge 450 foot yacht. I describe it as like being in a five star hotel and having different towns brought to you every morning. And it's big enough that people can be isolated. And yet they'll they'll be group lunches and group dinners with, you know, except for me, the most fascinating people that he knows. And it goes, the guests range from range from business people to show business people, to funny people to musicians. And, you know, they're actually quite interesting. It's not, people aren't invited because of their position, I don't believe. They're actually invited because they're interesting. And I've had some of the most fun nights I've ever had sitting around that dinner table listening to Nora Ephron and Tom Hanks and Marty Short. You just, you go, oh, this is like the great one of the great nights of my life, you know?

Interviewer: Politics, just briefly, I mean, I know there's not too much to say other than that David has certainly exerted himself in politics in some ways, in ways that mattered to him.

Steve Martin: Right.

Interviewer: Has that impressed you? Have you been?

Steve Martin: Well, you know, he has the kind of confidence to call politicians, talk to them and give money to them. I don't I don't think he tries to sway them. I do know once he asked for a favor from Clinton in the world of pardons. I can't remember the guy's name, the Indian. What's the name? Indian.

Interviewer: Leonard Peltier?

Steve Martin: Yeah, Peltier. In the Leonard Peltier case he asked for a favor and didn't get it. Hewas a little upset, but. He was the first one out there for Obama. I mean, that was huge. I mean, that was Obama was like a voice in the wilderness at that point. And and he was right out there. I don't I don't know the background of why maybe he just spotted them, maybe he was angry at Hillary. I don't know.

Interviewer: Maybe a combination.

Steve Martin: Pardon me?

Interviewer: Maybe a combination.

Steve Martin: Yeah, Yeah.

Interviewer: You know, he he came out with a statement in Maureen Dowd's column about how the Clintons lied about him struggling and talking about Obama. That seemed to be sort of a turning point in some ways for at least the Hollywood community, certainly.

Steve Martin: Right. Well, you know, imagine if Hillary had won, which there was at that point, there was no doubt Hillary was going to win. It would have been, you know, his political access would've been completely cut off. But I don't think he cared. Like I say.

Interviewer: David does what he want. Where does this confidence come from?

Steve Martin: I'm not his shrink, but I do believe he feels insulated by his position, by his money, by his retirement. I mean, he's a guy who really benefits from having money. He's not one of the lottery winners who's depressed, you know on Prozac and having lost everything in three years. I do believe it is something psychological for him. And and he does spread it around. He's very generous. And I think he's he's done his accomplishments. He's not trying to accomplish anymore. He loves to read. He loves to laugh, loves to talk to friends. Loves to get on the phone. Loves to e-mail, loves to check things out. It's a funny thing, you know, here's a guy who's so successful and he still enjoys gifts, like I say. David would love to thank you for having us on the boat. What if I got you this new computer? He'll go Oh, that would be great. I would think it's Steve don't bother. But, you know, here's a little computer and he's got very excited to get it, you know. And one time we bought him a little desk set. Oh, yes. I'd love to have this this thing. He's just genuinely excited.

Interviewer: That's so sweet. I have a couple more questions.

Steve Martin: Yeah, I'm fine.

Interviewer: I think you introduced David in some kind of human health crisis in 97.

Steve Martin: I might have.

Interviewer: You did something very funny, which is that you took a letter from his name, like each letter of his name, and you said something very funny about it. Do you remember this at all?

Steve Martin: I remember doing it from Mike Nichols. Oh, yes, I did do it. Yes, I did. I remember that was the first time I ever did it. Oh, I wish I had the.

Interviewer: I have it.

Steve Martin: Oh, you do?

Interviewer: Do you want to see it or hear it?

Steve Martin: Yeah I'd like to see it.

Interviewer: I laughed.

Steve Martin: This was at Carnegie Hall, as a matter of fact.

Interviewer: Yeah at Carnegie Hall, exactly.

Steve Martin: I wonder who has. How'd you get it? I don't even know who wrote

Interviewer: One of our.

Steve Martin: How many of us? What do you want me to do with it?

Interviewer: I don't know. It's just funny. Just say, you know, if you want to just talk about it, I was gonna just say that, you know, he has been incredibly.

Steve Martin: That's where I took a letter from each took a letter from it. I made up a little homily for each letter in his name. D is for dog faced boy, the only group on Geffen Records that didn't make it. A is for Ave Maria. David told Dogface Boy not to record it. V is for vampire. When David produced Interview with the Vampire they said Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise was wrong for the part. But David said, How else am I supposed to meet him? I is for iconoclast. It's a tasty rum drink that makes you say negative things about Mike Ovitz. D is, I like this one. D is for double entendre. That's what David thinks the phrase it's a deal is. Blah blah blah. Oh, G is for go fish. That's about the only thing left for the Japanese to do after David got through with them or something after they bought Geffen Records. E is for elegiac. David doesn't know what it means and I don't either. I like this one, too. F is is for French franc. He was a guy David dated for a while. E is for eyelash curler. Oh, sorry. That was from my Liza Minnelli tribute. Anyway, the is a great, great thing about that night. Here's here's a dinner, I mean, an evening honoring David. And he said, I'll only do it if it's not black tie. It was great. You know, everybody could show up and have fun. Everybody sitting there with black tie it, t's a little more stiff.

Interviewer: Yeah, there's I think there's some story about the first time he showed up to an auction, to like a Sotheby's auction or something, and, you know, everybody's in their finest. David shows up with a cap on backwards, the white t shirt and the jeans and the Nike's. And somebody asked one of the auctioneers, you know, what do you think of David Geffen coming? He said, hey, you know, if you think you can pay for thing come on in.

Steve Martin: Well, I remember him telling me said I will never wear a tie ever again. And then, that was 15 years ago. He says this is it. This is what I wear. And and then one night we invited him and his friend Jeremy to go to the Magic Castle, where you have to wear a tie to get in. And he put on a tie. It was nice, but it looked funny on him. I just never see him like that.

Interviewer: Have you been to his house in the Warner?

Steve Martin: Yes.

Interviewer: Wow.

Steve Martin: It's it's a beautiful, beautifully done house.

Interviewer: Another extension his incredible taste. I dont know. Anything else?

Steve Martin: No, I'm fine.

Interviewer: Do you feel like? Because I remember before we were talking that there were some things I want to say. I just wanna make sure we didn't miss anything.

Steve Martin: No, I think I covered those. And but, you know, David. I'll say one last thing. David was the first person I met where everything mattered in the decor around him, meaning he liked to live among beautiful things in the best way, a Tiffany lamp here, a galley vase or paintings, you know, well crafted houses. And he he that's catching.

Interviewer: Right. I just thought of one other thing that I forgot to ask you. But just about DreamWorks. I mean, when you said, you know, when he sold his when I guess, MCA got sold to Matsushita, and he became fabulously wealthy I guess you would say. He was sort of like he'd reached a point where what else can you do? Well, start a studio.

Steve Martin: Right.

Interviewer: I mean, what did you think of it? What did Hollywood think. What was the perception of what they were doing?

Steve Martin: It's this is not my area, really, I don't really understand anything about producing or business or. And I'm glad I don't actually, because it keeps me from having to worry about a lot of different things. But it was a golden trio. Spielberg, Katzenberg, Geffen. I mean, it's it's perfect. And I remember David talking about it and actually being concerned for the investors and wanting to return them profits. And this was a big issue for him. He didn't want people to lose money on it. He was very, very earnest in trying to make the company work. I mean, I heard him say that a lot. I don't want to sell it at a loss or I don't if they were ever in that position. But I don't want the investors to lose.

Interviewer: All right, so one thing we ask everybody. All right. Two things we ask everybody. One is what any perception of what you think David's proudest of all the different accomplishments that he's.

Steve Martin: I believe that David right now is proudest of his friends, of his coterie of people in that that. Sorry, I'll say that again. I believe that David is proudest of his friends and the people he communicates with. And I think that's where he gets his energy from.

Interviewer: You're not the only person that said that.

Steve Martin: Really?

Interviewer: Yeah. It's pretty amazing. I mean, of a guy that has accomplished so much and done so much. That is a common theme that comes back time and time again. His relationships matter to him. It's kind of touching. Three words to describe, David Geffen.

Steve Martin: Three. Certainly involved, energetic. Can I have four? I would say involved, vigorous and joie de vivre.

Steve Martin
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-ht2g737r9p, cpb-aacip-504-sq8qb9vw59
"Steve Martin, Inventing David Geffen." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 25 Sep. 2009,
(2009, September 25). Steve Martin, Inventing David Geffen. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Steve Martin, Inventing David Geffen." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). September 25, 2009. Accessed January 18, 2022


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