December 9th, 2012
David Geffen
Film: Inventing David Geffen

Notoriously press and camera-shy, David Geffen reveals himself for the first time in this unflinching portrait of a complex and compelling man, directed, produced and written by American Masters creator Susan Lacy. Geffen’s far-reaching influence — as agent and manager, record industry mogul, Hollywood and Broadway producer, and billionaire philanthropist — has helped shape American popular culture for the past four decades.

American Masters: Inventing David Geffen, premieres nationally on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 on PBS (check local listings)

  • Amy Pierce

    After watching “Inventing David Geffen” I’m all but speechless. The era depicted is MY era and many of these musicians my inspiration as a singer songwriter from this generation of music makers. I truly didn’t want the documentary to conclude. Clearly, there’s nothing else worth watching, not after this, not tonight. Congratulations on a phenomenal piece of work. And thank you for bringing it to us.

  • Eric

    Hello Mr. Geffen,

    Good job! Spectacular last fifty years!
    You can always look back at what you have done
    and enjoy your outcome and all the lives
    you made better.

    Thank you,
    Eric Sarrafian

  • james traub

    This is who you devote an American Masters to? I guess he must give lots of money to public television. What mastery does he possess? Wheeling and dealing? Yelling and screaming? Vanity and egotism? I didn’t realize that American Masters was the equivalent of a vanity press.

  • Victor Wheeler

    Amazingly moving and inspiration for my own career….

  • Lois

    Will this be shown again soon?

  • Lana

    Very interesting documentary, and great insight into careers that Geffen influenced.
    Hopefully in his lifetime he’ll find true joy, so unlike fleeting happiness.
    Think Proverbs.

    Too bad Geffen was slighted with Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell”, one of Clinton’s
    few good decisions. Really too bad he threw his cash to BO instead of Hillary Clinton.

  • Penny Stradtner


  • Rolf Pedersen

    I woke up to “Inventing David Geffen” playing on American Masters just after 2, this morning. It is a very entertaining, compelling, and instructive documentary. Thank you.

  • Donald Beagle

    Saw yr fine show on Geffen last night, & loved it.Kudos to PBS for reaching behind the pop culture facade to profile a visionary guy who nurtured some great musicians. But it is interesting how unintended truths get told in unexpected ways. Some “suit” sits there dumping on Laura Nyro for betraying Geffen and signing w/ big-business Columbia instead of Geffen’s new Asylum label; then 10 minutes later pivots to praise Geffen for his own hard-headed betrayal of Asylum to hop on Warner’s big-business bandwagon. No, Dr. Suit, that wasn’t a terrible decision for Laura Nyro; that was one of Laura’s wisest decisions, because she was one of the few to see through Geffen’s Southern Cal “shtick.” Laura’s wellspring of creativity was rooted in NY reality; Geffen was bolting NY for that oh-so-cool Southern Cal “self-imagining” thing. Glad it paid off for Geffen–he deserved all he reaped–a true visionary & a business genius who, by the way, sincerely loved the music. But can anyone really see Laura Nyro hopping Sunset Strip clubs? I suspect she ultimately would have agreed with Woody Allen (whether rightly or wrongly) that southern California’s greatest contribution to culture has been “right turn on red.”

  • tom szewc

    Here is a story about a guy who has no end when it comes to helping artist.
    A modern day medici.

  • nightskyaura

    Thanks for all the Laura Nyro footage.

  • M.Oberhofer

    THANKS…. This was great!

  • alvin rose

    First 90 minutes were great!!!

  • chris reimer

    There was an Indian rug on the back of someones chair, red and gray with a unique design and I believe that I have that rug. If any noticed it and has any idea of it’s orgin please contact me. It was shown several times but never in full context however I was able to see enough to regonize it as either mine or one similar to it.
    The show was great and I had no idea of how much David had contribited to the music scene. I always enjoy
    the shows on PBS and hope that it never goes away.

  • chris reimer

    When Gary Burden is first shown at 27:52 into the show there is a blanket shown that looks similar to one that
    I have. It has a real close design but I can tell it is made by the same persons. I would like to have some info
    about the blanket if possible. Thanks, I enjoyed the show and watched it in full on TV last night. Chris

  • don disney

    This show was great.I have watch it 3 times.I will pass it on. I want a Dvd. How / where?

  • john chaney

    Art needs people like David.

  • Sarah Ells

    Dear Ms. Lacy,
    I just watched the documentary on David Geffen and was so moved by the richness of the film, from his amazing accomplishments to his solumn, human journey. Thank you so much.

  • Catherine Cullen

    To: David Geffen
    Until American Masters was aired detailing your biography, I never knew there was one brilliant man behind all my favorite music. Joni Mitchell, CSNY, Jackson Brown — all the artists on your Asylum label– were musicians whom you knew to be great. Your genius brought amazing music into which one could escape. Some of us were not using drugs at that time, but we were on that life journey of discovery. The music you brought into our lives gave us moments of intense beauty we had never known. We had only known abuse and suffering, till you filled our lives with songs we would sing for many years. They are a part of me and I am deeply grateful for all you have done. Thank you with all my heart. Your work saved my sanity and, quite probably, my life.

  • David Cutter

    Unquestionably one of the most compelling bio-documentaries I have ever watched. The historical value of the subject matter should make this program an instant classic. Thank you.

  • Michael DeStefano

    This is by far the worst episode of American Masters that I have seen. Other than making money, what exactly did Geffen do to warrant two hours of non-stop praise. He comes across as a moral monster, and all the gushing about how powerful he is reprehensible. Who is next as a subject, Sheldon Adelson?

  • macduggles

    Very impressed! Susan Lacy produced a masterpiece of biographical television. Very inspiring! I never knew who David Geffen was. His was a name you would catch every once in a while on television or in the news. Until I watched this biopic I never new that he was the producer and star maker of a lot of my favorite pop culture music and movies.

  • Ellen Gates

    One of the best and most fascinating “American Masters” ever! Thank you for this exquisite portrait of a powerful and engmatic individual.



  • micki zurcher

    Love Love Love!


  • nightskyaura

    Back when music was music,and it meant something.

    Now its all thugs and bimbo fashionistas.

  • nightskyaura

    Back when music was music,and it meant something.

    Now its all thugs and bimbo fashionistas.

  • James C.

    Thank you for this extremely well done, enormously interesting and powerful documentary. I’ve watched it 3 times!

  • lynn Goza

    when will the David Geffen film be re broadcast in northern California?

  • Ted Eischeid

    Capitivaing, among the best PBS programs I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot! Thanks for the memories, and the new learning!

  • a.d. cruze

    simply put …”inspiring” thank u pbs

  • Patty Paris


  • nightskyaura

    Back when music was music,and it meant something.

  • MLM

    Watched it twice! A true genius.

  • Jeannine Menger

    inspiring – belonging

  • Corban A Williams

    Thanks for this

  • Joe Marelli

    I am one of the guys,(the one in the white hat), holding the banner at the John Lennon Vigil. We were in college at the time, across the river in Jersey, when we created it. We went to the Dakota the night John was killed and spent the evening in the streets with hundreds of others. We were moved to create the banner you see, and bring it to Central Park, which we did. I still have the original banner. It’s a little wrinkled and dirty, but I still have it. Thanks for showing the world again!

  • Sergida Delgado

    How can one send an email directly to Mr. David Geffen?

    I saw a documentary on Mr. David Geffen and would love to have a dialogue via e-mail if at all possible. I fell in love with his life journey. Want to give thanks to the TV program shown by PBS/American Masters. Great job!!!

    Best Regards,
    Sergida Delgado

  • Jim Erskine

    A thoroughly enjoyable two hours. I had heard of david geffen before this but didnt really know anything about him. What an amazing life! He is the ultimate “man behind the scenes” without which much of the music of my generation would have never come to light. An awesome two hours of television.

  • nightskyaura

    Michael DeStefano-What exactly did he do? Bring Laura Nyro to Columbia,for that alone,he deserves praise.

  • Bill Cain

    I really enjoyed watching this! All i can simply say is thank you David Geffen!!! I only wish I had a career like his!! And Thank you PBS!!

  • Alan Kahn

    Was a great show. He was sort of like the real “Forest Gump” of the entertainment industry, at the right place at the right time during many key points of music, movies, then music again, then movies again. The total package or opportunity and action at the right time and place, mixed with human insight of a carrying person and the demons he faced himself. Shows like this is why PBS is the best choice for TV and truly the leader in entertainment.

  • David Momberg

    I was familiar with the name, and esp. the records from the 80’s with the geffen label stamp on them, but had no idea about his beginnings and influence on so much of my favorite era of music-the early 70’s. The video footage and still pics of that era with him and Joni, CSN, Neil Young,Dylan, The Band, Elton, the list goes on and on alone are just mind-blowing. It is first and foremost a fascinating complex study of the real man-endearing, loyal, and ruthless. The most entertaining and fascinating documentary and biography together in one-don’t miss it!

  • Mike Hessian

    David: What a great journey of life you have traveled.
    I will never get the opportunity to meet you but it would be awesome to hear about all the things you have done! What is your next adventure? You can’t quite doing projects at your age! Get going! What ever it might be I’m sure it would be Top Shelf!

  • Bruce Silverman

    This could’ve been a theatrical release like “The Kid Stays in the Picture.” First rate. I too have watched it three times. Kudos to PBS and the entire production team for an extraordinary effort. And my sincerest admiration for Mr. Geffen…one of the most storied careers in modern American culture. Truly the Steve Jobs of the entertainment industry.

  • PrimaDonna

    Thank you for posting this. I was going out of town and missed this! Eli & 13th Confession is a masterpiece. Thank you, David.

  • Jonathan

    Talk about a ‘Forest Gump-like’ life: brought the American music scene the likes of Joni Mitchell, the Eagles, CSN&Y, Jackson Brown, etc., fell in love with Cher, was with Yoko on the night John passed, was the inspiration behind ‘A Free Man in Paris,’ founding partner in Dreamworks, etc. Really an amazing story. Thanks for making me aware of what Mr. Geffen has contributed (primarily behind the scenes) to the American culture.

  • Lucy Wilde

    Dear David Geffen,

    I am Lucy Wilde who started as a receptionist at Lookout and then moved up to Asst. Mgr. there.

    I am still trying to figure out why you fired me just after your bust right after I picked you up from LAX to take you back to the office. Was it something I said? Thank God for Amet who, apparently, saved my ass. I must sort of that you as well for phoning me up next day to hire me back.

    You asked me, “What do you want to do here?” and i replied nervously that I wasn’t quite sure at that point.

    Hey David, I brough in the Eagles to Eliot and you. Wasn’t that enough?

    Thank you in retrospect.

    Lucy Wilde

  • Pam English

    This was such a great documentary. I learned more about my cultural icons by learning about a man I’d never known much about. Amazing work, thank you Susan Lacy!

  • Russ

    Incredible documentary on a truly major player in show business as we know it. THANK YOU PBS for giving me the opportunity to see this inspirational man reflect on and very inspirational life!

  • Jeremy Chipps

    There’s a silver lining to this story. Any person on a career path or wanting to achieve something could learn from this. Certain principles underscored in Geffen’s life show that no matter what happens around you, endeavoring to stay the course in what you truly believe can lead to good things and effect many. Want to have impact on your industry or people around you? Geffen is a great example. Love the music and the history, but we found his story and the quality of this PBS production more than inspirational. Well done Mr. Geffen. Thanks PBS. JC

  • Michael Daysh

    At last someone has told the David Geffen story visually. Thank you so much

    Auckland, New Zealand

  • Eke Kanehoa

    I applaud PBS in their work that portrays Mr Geffen as the root of what is wrong with our Culture. Mr Geffen glorifies immorality. Lie to get a job, commit mail fraud to deceive, falsy accuse others who are doing their job, demonstrate anger to become an elitist. He will condem you when you fail to walk to his tune.

    The benefit of his lifestyle is that he will not naturally reproduce.

  • Tom

    David, if you can see this email, I am totally humbled. Thank you.

  • carole sherman

    Mr. David Geffen is a legend who will be remembered as a crucial part of history for his courage, streght, underdog,
    against all odds a man who we should all aspire to be giving to our world through thick and thin, sick and sin, a hero who never gave up and failure was not concievabable as everything he did was a success loser meant winner for he defines what a real role model should be. if he lost a penny he found two always turning risks into winners.
    the expression if at first you don’t succeed, try try again was in David’s world if you succeed becuase you tried try, try again and build your success helping yourself and others. never give up, i know first hand what an amazaming man he is and will forever pray for forgiveness , publicly apologigize about my msa regarding gays, be grateful for his wisdom and patience answereing my questions when he would call my ex and i wanted to know how he got so smart. his contributions so impress me, if he had cancer he would find a cure, he saw the brilliance in my ex husband who for all the nasty divorce stuff i’m so truly proud of. David is so unique that i propose schools have mandatory classes to study and learn from him. i think he is going to forgivie me i m grateful and proud to thanks to my ex, have learned first hand what genius can do. history books should along with kennedy, einstinen, jobs buffet to name a few thank you mr. geffen.

  • Tony Dollars

    I’ve always wanted to meet David Geffen. Now that I’ve watched this video, I want to meet him even more. There may be more, but now I know that he is the one person that will see and get me and my mission. He is the one person I will be able to have a good conversation with about the goals. I want to meet David Geffen.

  • Gid Lockhart

    Fascinating man that helped shape the music I grew up with and listen to today. My kids grew up with it through me and they listen to it today as well. Love the whole faking the college degree thing, genius. Well done Ms Lacy.

  • Josh Polhans

    Incredible documentary of David Geffen. What an amazing American entrepreneur!!

    -Josh Polhans

  • Ernie Price

    I can’t remember the last time I was so moved over a documentary. I didn’t want it to end.
    David Geffen is such an interesting person. The story was well told and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    There seems to be more to the person…….Great Job PBS

  • jaime malzman

    This was a quintessentially Jewish immigrant story. Hats off to his mother who lost her whole family in the pogroms of the Ukraine and against all odds produced a great person. An awe inspiring tale of a drive for survival, vision, hard work: and value of expression and art. Thank you Susan Lacy for honoring Geffen with honesty. Thank you David Geffen for bringing us the music and supporting people and candidates dedicated to life, art and freedom.

  • Stella

    The show left out a lot of the facts re: the Laura Nyro situation. If everything had been presented – and the information is easy enough to find – it would have been obvious that it was Geffen who screwed Nyro over and not the other way around. Also interesting: Geffen says he regretted his lawsuit against Neil Young and dropped it – and yet, he did the same thing to Joni Mitchell three years later… oddly, not mentioned in the show.

  • cata

    I don’t think 2 hours is enough time to examine the legacy of this man. I found I wanted to know more about the good, the bad, and the ugly that is Mr. Geffen. As Stella says, there must be a more thorough mention of his realtionships, but I recognize he was not a perfect person, but a fascinating and drven person for which that I admire.

  • Donetta Lawson

    What a wonderful man who continues to give back to others. I often see inspirational plays at his theater across the street from UCLA. Again, a wonderful man.

  • Dan Woods

    David Geffen is a pioneer. His story, his accomplishments & legacy will be eternal. I consider him one of the wisest people in the entire history of music. On paper, you cannot step to David, he is top shelf and he earned it, he worked for it.

  • Amy Parmegiani Reingold

    I loved every moment of David’s story. He became a success doing what he LOVED and I love all he has done. I said to God, ” If I DO have to come back to a human life on earth again, I want to Be David Geffen ” !!

  • Jeffrey T. Strauss

    David Geffen is one of the smartest, most dedicated, most loving persons that has walked the earth. If you get in his circle of love, you have been blessed. If you get in his way you will be shocked at how quickly and forcefully your location will change. If you cross him, you will wish you hadn’t. You might wish you were dead.

  • Lisa Rezowalli

    Thank you Mr Geffen. You are a genius. Caring on. And thank you PBS.

  • Jeannie M

    Narcissistic is more like it. David Geffen has screwed over more musicians in the music business than anyone. What he did to Laura Nyro was a crime. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell both felt his greed. He learned it from Azoff, but he then got Irving back when he sold the Eagles right’s to Warner’s. The only bizarre move was when he ripped off Don Henley for millions, then Don went back to him and he did it again. Don asked for that and finally learned from it. It goes on and on. Nice guy? Not. Egotistical? Absolutely.

  • Ng

    I found David Geffen’s story fascinating, scary for those young up and coming talents with no guidance, so different from what the general public knows about him. I remembered him from dating Cher so I remembered that time in history where the story picks up, but boy did I not know anything about him. The relationships in the entertainment business are so intertwined that its really a small group that controls the power. I enjoy reading and watching biographies and documentaries and from I see a lot of powerful moguls were born dirt born and were driven to achieve greatness. Example: Steve Ross (from Brooklyn, New York), Lew Wasserman (Cleveland, Ohio), David Geffen (Brooklyn, New York),The Warner Brothers, Louis B Mayer, Irving Thalber, Samuel Goldwyn, etc. Only thing with David Geffen is that he worked in several of the arts, music, movies, Broadway, and now philanthrapy. After watching this documentary I went out and checked out his biography at my local library. What a fascinating and driven life.

  • Zari Harat

    Unfortunately here in Hamburg, I cannot see the film. There is a message stating that it cannot be viewed here. What a pity!!!!


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