Transcript:

Speaker Just simply, when did you first meet David?

Speaker I met David in person, I think I may have may have talked to him over the phone, but met him in person shortly after he called me and said, I want you I want to meet you and I want you to come become the president of this company that we're starting. And that probably would have been in 1980, I would think. And how did you have that come about? That came about? I think I'm not really sure. I think there were two people that were instrumental in David deciding to meet me in connection with this job.

Speaker And one was Moyston.

Speaker Mo, I think what what David discovered is that he and I had the same enemies and the same friends and that sort of made it easy. And Mo was definitely one of our mutual friends. I knew Mo because Mo was the head of Warner Brothers Records and I was a lawyer in the music business, usually trying to you know, I was the guy with the sample suitcase out in the hallway waiting to sell him something.

Speaker I also think Carol Childs may have had a hand in this because, Carol, prior to working for David, she she was already an employee of a company that I think literally had two employees. I think there was Carol and this David secretary. But Carol, before that had worked for Richard Perry and Richard Perry was a client. And so I got to know Carol a little bit.

Speaker Through that connection, and I think that she I think she had this grand notion of me and I think she may have sold that to David, I think she may kind of built me up a little bit. He's he's the killer. He's young. And he's going to you know, he's the guy you need or something like that. So I think by the time I met David, he had at least I think Carol may have been an inspiration and then Mo may have sort of, you know, given it his blessings just because no one has talked about her.

Speaker Can you just say, you know who Carol Charles was, that she was the first and our person that was hired?

Speaker Is that true? Yeah, I Carol Childs was certainly an idiosyncratic creature.

Speaker There weren't that many girls in the music business. It was really a guy's world. But she she could watch football and drink beer and curse.

Speaker And so I don't know how she she I don't remember how she met David, but she wound up with a job at Geffen Records. Is the kind of girl that if she saw something and in Variety that David Geffen was starting a record company, you know, she hi, I'm going to come work for you that she had that kind of moxie.

Speaker And so they met and she had that kind of relationship with me. So she was she's a very interesting character. And she became, I think, the first employee of Geffen Records other than Linda. Yeah, well, Linda was his had been his secretary at Elektra Siloam. Linda Lodin.

Speaker God, yeah. Linda, there a big figure in David's life. I know things ended badly, but it was it was obviously I mean, he's had these incredibly strong assistant women by his side. Yeah. His entire career. Yeah.

Speaker You know, Linda was a very capable person.

Speaker So when you first met David in person, what was your first impressions of him?

Speaker Hmm, I wasn't interested in who David was. I was only interested in getting him to agree to simply become a client of mine. So I was so devoted to trying to convince him that the way to do this was simply for him to become a client. I don't think I really gave much thought to who David was because I knew he was incredibly talented and he's glamorous and he's dynamic. So meeting him was just in person was I already knew what he looked like. So it was just there was nothing surprising about meeting him. He he lived up to his reputation. So my my agenda was, how am I going to pull this off? And finally didn't pull it off.

Speaker So I came to work for to continue working in a at a at a lot for entertainment. Not learn from your music. Yeah. And what did you know about David. I mean, what was sort of what do people think they gave the maverick?

Speaker I would say that again, I'm this is all reconstructed because I'm not sure that I gave it any thought. But I think David certainly had a maverick reputation. I don't think anybody at the time thought that David Geffen was here for the long haul. I think everybody knew that David had.

Speaker A nose for glamour and talent and an ability to win it over and that he was very persuasive, he was certainly not the typical suit. Only the music business could have someone like David in it. And therefore, I think David was no one really thought about David as a permanent institution. It was sort of like, yeah, he did it once. Yeah. Yeah, he was. Yeah. He had some success as a manager and it made a lot of money. And Steve Ross loved him and then Electricidad him was a hit and then he went away. And I think just a very difficult creature to define and I don't think anyone really attempted to yet. I don't think people knew that they had to at that point.

Speaker That's an excellent point. And I think one of the things we've asked people is, you know, when David did disappear, you mean to have the whole health scare, whole cancer scare. And then he came back to establish records in 1980, you know, where people sort of saying, oh, you know, we never thought we'd see or hear from David Geffen. Yeah.

Speaker They may have been thinking of it, the thought didn't cross my mind one way or the other, but I think that he was not somebody that people thought they had to reckon with. Then he was simply a guy who was, as I said, a very idiosyncratic person, a creature of the music business who knows whether he'll be here a year from now.

Speaker And what about asylum records? What was the kind of reputation of what he had built asylum records, was that well known?

Speaker Yeah, I think it was. I think if you liked California music, you know, if you liked white California music, you could only admire the stable of artists that he put together an asylum because it was pretty much as good as it could get. You can't have Joni Mitchell, the Eagles and Jackson Browne and call it an accident. It's just ridiculous how how gifted he was at kind of like feeling out what was happening in that culture at the time. So not to mention Crosby, Stills and Nash. Can you imagine we're talking about something that we neglected them. It tells you how incredible those artists were, although they were. No, but David managed them.

Speaker Absolutely.

Speaker So earlier we were talking and you could just give me a little bit of what you said about your own background, about how you grew up around the village.

Speaker My background. OK, I grew up in Greenwich Village. It's like the really early 60s now when I'm a teenager. The Beatles have already come to well, I want to hold your hand is already a hit.

Speaker And and and the more precocious village brats are already starting to grow their hair long.

Speaker Should I stop, look and spend two seconds on it?

Speaker What do you want to start. Say what you. OK, so Greenwich Village, little red schoolhouse, that whole scene. And it's at that time when I mean, folk music was never that big.

Speaker Maybe it sort of was the signature of Washington Square Park. But in the scheme of things, even at the height of folk music, very few people played the guitar or or sang folk songs. And then you're at now that period when whoever played the guitar is starting to think about an electric guitar because.

Speaker They heard, I want to hold your hand and they saw what the Rolling Stones looked like and the Beatles looked like in Greenwich Village. I mean, this may have happened years later in where least in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Speaker But in Greenwich Village, the kids who were playing folk music now started becoming, you know, intrigued by that whole scene.

Speaker And so I wound up becoming a drummer, a little bit of a songwriter and working those clubs after school in the village, like in the in the I'd say spring, maybe winter, spring of 64 into the summer of 64.

Speaker And you open the letters.

Speaker Well, we were man, we sort of got if you could say we got you can't say we got discovered because that lead that that promise is something. I would just say that we wound up being managed and produced by the guys that managed and produced the spoonful because the Spoonful were working next door to us. They were working at this club called The Night Owl, and we were down the block at this place called the Music Hall. I mean, these were dumps and they used to come to see us when they because there's nothing else to do when you're off. And so they decided to take us under their wing and we wound up under their management and production.

Speaker And I would say that that's pretty much how I got into the business part of the music business, because before then it was just about trying to get into whatever jazz club you could get into and see whoever you could. And, you know, listen to Miles Davis and Bill Evans. So but that's when I realized I got paid. I got 70 bucks a week for working at the opening for the Spoonful at the night out. So that was that was music business. Now now you're in the business. And then I would write songs for people and Charlie Koppelman, who was my music publisher, and that it really tells you more about how fantastic New York City was then, because all of the people who who wrote that fantastic wave into the success of the music business in the 70s, they most of them came out of that little culture in New York.

Speaker You might have met David Geffen down there for you while in the same club with him one night, possibly because he was he was the person I know. Phil Spector. I met Phil Spector there back in 1964.

Speaker You know, David met Phil Spector. His very first trip out to California did not did not know no other network when he first moved to California to stay with me. All right. And he mentioned the. A girl whose sister got engaged to Phil Spector.

Speaker OK, so he would give all that. So he was out here and he used to sit in at Goldstar at Sessions, and he met Cher then, too.

Speaker That's how I met you, which I mean, shares that share is a very interesting character in David's life, a very unique character in his life. Only if you're interested. Of course, of you said. When David told me he wanted to sign share and it was entirely his idea, I, I. I was incredulous, I mean, she seemed so. Passé to me at the time, not that that's the word I would have used, but it was like. All right, you know, just let them do it because he loves her and they had a relationship and it's but it was like, are you kidding? I mean, her success at a time when no one was really interested in her is such a testimony to David, both to his loyalty and his determination that one of my kids, they're going to be there.

Speaker These are the greats. These are the and also to his will to make it happen. It's just it was amazing to me.

Speaker And can you just say so that it's clear how much of an incredible financial success those share hits and albums?

Speaker Well, I mean, they they were they weren't certainly our biggest, most successful money earners because, you know, we had some acts that just were kind of literally went through the roof, but they were really profitable records. What amazed me wasn't the degree of profit as much as that he had the balls to sign her at the time and the vision that she could still make it happen for young people, it was just. I didn't see it, but I like her. I enjoyed her, I enjoyed talking to her.

Speaker She's you know, I'm sure you've met her by now, but we're going to interview her soon. You're supposed to interview her in Las Vegas last week. Yeah.

Speaker She's also a hard person. She's a completely unique person as well. It's going to be a very, very, very excited for that.

Speaker Chocolate rain has something to do with that, but am I wrong?

Speaker I think he wound up being the another person. And again, only John Carlot, if if John Kalodner endorsed it, it's only testimony to how off the beaten path it was because there was no one further from the beaten path than John Kalodner.

Speaker He was as again, I mean.

Speaker But just I mean, that's such a beautiful thing to think about, like David and right. Yes.

Speaker I mean, the fact that he's he met John Potter, John Connor came into his purview and he decided this is the guy to David.

Speaker David certainly was never bothered by convention. It never occurred, I was much more conventional than they, but it never would occur to David to see somebody walk in with hair down to his waist, hair plugs, a white linen suit, looking like some zazie top reject and not think twice about it because this kid knows how to sign acts. And it's really such a, you know, credit to David that he was so oblivious to those kinds of superficial judgments. Didn't matter. Didn't mean it should him. I learned a lot from David in terms of his absolute tolerance of all anybody's idiosyncrasies and craziness, there was only about are they dedicated? Is their heart in it? Are they going to kill to win? And do they just love it enough to do that? And John is a perfect example of that, even in times of doubt. Yes, Tom. Well, Tom wasn't nearly as eccentric, as crazy as Tom was and as demanding. And I mean, in some ways infantile. He he was nothing compared to John Kalodner in terms of eccentricity. I mean, John Kalodner would just say things that would make your. Eyes turn around in your head and without even a suggestion that he thought this was shocking to you. Oh, I couldn't possibly remember them, but no, he was completely unedited person.

Speaker Absolutely unedited person seems like that's what David loves, that he loves and unedited person he likes, people he likes.

Speaker I mean, I wouldn't limit David's appreciation for people. I wouldn't pigeonhole it that narrowly. But certainly he does definitely have a taste for that in people.

Speaker And it's great.

Speaker That's really how far we're going to be interviewing Jon next month.

Speaker I mean, there were many times when I being much more of a suit than David, even though in the world of suits, I was probably thought of as being a complete heretic. But compared to David, I was a suit. I remember coming up to him and going, David, I got to tell you something. I mean, we've got this problem with Jon or he wants this or that. And David's attitude was, if we can give it to him, do it. My attitude at first was it doesn't seem right, it seems very it doesn't it seems very irregular to do this. And David's attitude was, let's figure out a way to do it because make them happy. Let's what's the difference? Unless it became something that actually was, you know, dysfunctional. But it was a David's perspective was much healthier than mine in that regard. He was making it happen. These are wonderful guys. He said, who cares if they're crazy?

Speaker And he was dangerous.

Speaker David was generous, absolutely, there was there was never how little can we pay him? It was always, if he's worth it, pay him.

Speaker That seems unusual to me.

Speaker Yeah, David didn't he did David definitely didn't have a bean counter mentality.

Speaker No, not even the slightest was that bad. All right. Let me disconnect that. All right.

Speaker So what you were saying, just to finish that thought, I think that David David was never interested in correcting or straightening somebody out. His attitude was, let's create an environment in which this nut can be the nut that he is. Let him let's I want this to be a place where he can be exactly who he is, because who he is is who you're hiring. And in that sense, David really was a patron of artists going back to what we were talking about, you were talking about earlier. And maybe in that sense, he did see an art people as artists because that's the attitude you bring to an artist. But he brought it to employees as well.

Speaker I mean, to me, that seems highly unusual.

Speaker David never had much stock in convention. It never worked for him and he wasn't, you know, head of the football team.

Speaker It was you know, what the convention was never working for. It may have appeared glamorous to him, but it never worked for him. And at some point, he was too smart to think it was that glamorous.

Speaker Is it true that he bought a car or a house for John Carliner?

Speaker I don't know. He may have. I don't know those details. You don't know. But I left when we see him, right.

Speaker So now.

Speaker Here you are, this music attorney, and here you get connected with David and here he's talking to you about starting this new venture essentially. Right. OK, were you thinking this is an awfully big job for me? Am I up to this challenge or. Yes, I'm very excited about this? Or what is this job even going to be? Did you have any expectations? Were you.

Speaker I think the.

Speaker I wasn't really that concerned about what the job would be because. There really was like it was a big company with a defined job. I think I probably pretty much assumed that the job would be whatever I could do because of David's nature and the fact that it was, you know, so embryonic. My concern was more it had more to do with cutting ties, with being an attorney, being a lawyer, having, you know. Letting go, letting go of the very wide, the reason I went to college and law school in the first place, which was I'm not ready to let go. I need to I mean, I'm not ready to sort of be a high school dropout. I'm not ready to be a college dropout. And now the question was, are you ready to be a dropout?

Speaker I.

Speaker I'm stupid about a lot of things, but one thing I'm not stupid about is people, and that comes with being the as we were talking before, being the youngest. You know, you it if somebody I could tell if somebody was valuable, I could see if somebody was a great person to. Go to one, go someplace with. And in the beginning, it was going to jazz clubs with my brothers and they were gods and I and I went, so it was easy for me to go, you know, somebody to go someplace with. And I think that I probably knew that about David before I met him, I knew that about Lisa before I met her. So I think that that's one, you know, kind of sixth sense that I have a sixth sense. Do you think that I have and I think that it wasn't difficult for me to say this is the guy to go someplace with.

Speaker And did you feel sort of like it was a.

Speaker I doubt that I thought about it that way. Change your life. Yeah, but look.

Speaker Is a safe falls on your head, and it's bad luck or you you are, do you find something and it's good luck. I don't really think of the things that happen in life as luck or bad luck, because then you have no responsibility for them.

Speaker It was again, it felt like a from hindsight, of course, it was the smartest thing I could possibly have done, but at the time it was a gamble. It was a gamble, but David has the kind of glamour that appeals to me. Not every person appeals to me, but David appealed to me and also, yes, I had gone to law school and yes, I was one of these determined Herrman straight-A students. But the truth of the matter was, I always knew that I wasn't as good at that as guys whose lives were meant to be practicing, you know, corporate law. Otherwise, I wouldn't have come out here. Coming out here, in a sense, was. Sort of like testimony to my equivocation about do I want to spend the rest of my life being a lawyer, otherwise I state I would have worked in the firm I worked at when I was in school and Madison Avenue. So coming I kind of felt that sooner or later the gyroscope would probably wind up tilting back that way. So it was a little bit easier for me to make that decision maybe than some other guy who was practicing law.

Speaker So what did David see in you and what you need from you guys?

Speaker I had a reputation for an honest staff. OK, what did David why did David want to hire me? I can only speculate. I've heard either from David or Carol or some other person that I had a reputation and I mean this sincerely. I have no idea how I had this reputation of being tough. David had a guy working for him already named Chuck, who was going to run Geffen Music, the publishing company, and Chuck had come from A&M and I did a lot of work at A&M because A&M was a client of ours. And Chuck had come up with this nickname for me called Attila the Hun, which I always thought was the stupidest thing. But for some reason, I then found out that people actually thought of me that way. I guess that means, I don't know, stop at nothing tough, you know, until I don't know. But I think that because of Carol and Chuck, he may have had this notion that this is like he's like a pit bull. He's tough. And he needed that because. Because he didn't need anybody so smart, he there's nobody smarter than David. It wasn't like he was trying to find somebody who was going to teach him something or help him understand maybe maybe be a good maybe be tough enough to say you're wrong. But that's not about being smart. That's about being tough. And I think he just wanted somebody who he knew was going to keep the fight away from him unless he wanted to get in it. Keep the, you know, just be tough enough so that things wouldn't get to him. And you think that was a direct result of well, yeah, we were talking about I think I think that it's not a coincidence that I came on board for a funny expression at the time of the problem with personal best, because I think that David had. Regretted getting involved with it. Because there was no it was there was just no way to win, Bobtown was his friend. Barry Diller was his friend. The movie was costing so much more money, I think, at the time than he expected, and he didn't really want to have to go to war over it himself. And so I think that he may have felt at the time, this is a this is not a good use of my time. Let me find somebody for whom this would be a better use their time, you know, someone who has an appetite. I think maybe David had already lost his appetite for that stuff and maybe he thought that I was, you know, still young enough and kind of green enough to still have an appetite for the kind of, OK, OK, you want to get into this, let's get into it.

Speaker So explain just as briefly as you can, you know, kind of how the the David Geffen Co. deal. Work with Warner, how does that work?

Speaker Well, it began with the record joint venture, you know, essentially a joint venture is just a fancy name for partnership. So, David, what David's entity is a 50/50 partner with Warner Communications. You have a joint venture, as you reminded me, David had gotten involved through Gil Siegel, who was both. Robert Town and David's business manager at the time in putting up money to complete the filming of personal best. The production had begun at Paramount. But then obviously Barry had gotten into some kind of major fallout with Robert Town. And I think there might have been a strike at the time to so influence that influences had conspired to bring this movie to a grinding halt, and nobody at Paramount seemed to be willing to pony up to get it started again. And it may have just. Never seen the light of day, in any event, before I met David, he became persuaded to sort of come in as the white knight and save the day and bail this thing out. With, I'm sure, the best of intentions of Robert Towne, he's brilliant, it's a movie about homosexuality. It's interesting. It was a great screenplay. It's provocative. I don't think David at the time was interested in making, you know, major movies. I think what caught his attention about this was that it was unusual and it was controversial and it was provocative and it did have a small budget and it was Robert Towne. But then, of course, he all of those elements, you know, revealed themselves to be mixed up with all of the. The movie business ego is power plays money, Mike Ovitz, who at the time was Towne's adviser and suddenly found himself in a situation which was he knew it wasn't good for him to be in this hole and trying to dig his way out. And I think he then went to Steve or maybe Steve came to him. I don't know Steve Ross. Probably David went to Steve and said, get me out of this, because David has the courage to say, get me out of this. Meaning I'm this is no good.

Speaker And I think I remember David saying to me that Steve knew that this was a terrible distraction for David and that the real investment was in the record business because there was a record business then. And Steve knew that it was smart to bail David out of this and to keep his focus on the record business. But since David had obviously displayed some nose for the movie business and Steve knew that there was there wasn't a better horse to back than David, he managed to convince David to.

Speaker I'm not saying you had to twist David's arm because I don't remember, because this is literally happening just on the the day before that I got involved with the company. But the upshot of it was here's a new joint venture for David to be responsible for spending money to make movies that Warners would distribute.

Speaker And where are certain restrictions on budgets?

Speaker Yeah, my my memory's not that good, I think at the time, as ridiculous as it sounds now, we could make any movie we wanted up to a budget of like ten million dollars because that's what a medium sized budget was then. Can you believe that. Ten million dollars compared to now.

Speaker Yeah. Which is.

Speaker That number would be 60 now, probably maybe 75. In any event, boom, there's this New Deal. And the first thing I was asked to do was sort of get the paperwork done on this deal and make sure that the paperwork reflected the deal the way David understood the deal. That's the first thing I really did. So in my in my effort to persuade David to simply become a client, despite his overtures about coming and running, becoming the president, whatever that meant of a tiny record company, I said I don't want to just be involved with the record business. And David said, What else do you want to do? I said, I would like to be involved with films. He said, so we'll start a film company. And I said, I think we should do Broadway musicals. So we'll start a Broadway musical company. And I was like, I think he might mean this. I was I was willing to consider the possibility that he meant it and to he could do it, which of course, in hindsight was nothing for him. But at the time it was a ridiculous assumption. But in fact, that will happen now.

Speaker David had besides personal best, he had had a stint at.

Speaker Warner Brothers studios, yeah, I think he was the head of production at Warner, president of production, I think the office of the president and vice chairman something.

Speaker Yeah, but head of production. Yeah. What happened there? I know that again before my time. I think that. David was not used. This is pure conjecture. I think that David was not used to.

Speaker David was used to being autonomous. You know, you can work at it at a at a talent agency and you can have a boss like Freddy Fields or whoever it is, it doesn't matter. They don't get what you do. You handle that. You're if you're managing Laura Nyro, nobody's telling you what to do. You're handling her. And then David started his own management company and then David started his own record company. And David was used to being autonomous. And that's why he was successful. And I think maybe an element of his disenchantment with the film business in terms of that experience was there is no autonomy. When you're the head of production at Warner Brothers Pictures, there's so many it's all you're you're just a glorified secretary running things past whoever is the head of the studio fronting about, you know, that kind of person.

Speaker That's OK. You can say something about, you know, when you're working at a studio like that, there's a tremendous hierarchy.

Speaker I would put it slightly differently when you're working at a movie studio. Your titles are actually great for that. OK.

Speaker So now we're in rush hour.

Speaker OK, so, Roger, when you're working in a movie studio, movie studio, job descriptions are so misleading, you know, head of production, head of production, can't make a movie. So I think that that's not a good environment for David. David's where titles describe much bigger responsibilities than you actually have, because David is going to go I'm going to be the head of production. And that's not the way it works at all. I mean. The head of a studio often can't greenlight a movie. That's a bad environment for David, I think he got frustrated. Frank Wells is a what if I was a corporate suit? Frank Wells was he was spaatz and the three peat three-piece vest. I mean, Frank was even in the world a wonderful guy, I'm sure. But even in the world of corporate jobs in the movie business was certainly the most conservative.

Speaker So that was a bad. Yeah, that was a bad match.

Speaker David and Frank Wells. And Frank Wills had the upper hand there because David didn't have enough of a success record track record in the movie business to win that battle. I'm sure David learned as much from his pain as from his joy.

Speaker At that point, you said to me over the phone, you think you basically learned, essentially learned the only business I think he knew at that point that the movie business, though certainly glamorous and it is and certainly with great highs and you can do great work. The recipe was a different recipe than the record business was much more collaborative in the good sense and bad sense and much less control. It's essentially a director's medium. I mean, it's it's a cliche. Everyone says it. But of course, it's like any cliche. It's true. You hope you get the right director and then from that moment on, it's his movie and if it's not, you're in big trouble, you're really in big trouble.

Speaker And that's one of the reasons he waited so long. What this is I know this is after you had you and David were not working together anymore, but I think that's one of the reasons he waited so long to pick somebody to do Dreamgirls.

Speaker Very possibly. Very possibly.

Speaker OK, so.

Speaker So collaboration, so here here you are now doing your first movie, Risky Business, right, for the first time.

Speaker Yes, that's the first. Well, you could say that Personal Best was the first movie because it got folded into the joint venture. So technically became the first movie of the joint venture.

Speaker But the first movie that that that we greenlit, if you want to use that expression, was risky business.

Speaker And how did that come to you?

Speaker Um hmm.

Speaker My best friend in law school now runs Utøya, one of the top guys, Peter Benedek and Peter Benedict, had a client named Paul Brickman, and that screenplay was put in turnaround by Warner Brothers pictures. And Peter called me up and said, you should read the screenplay. And so I did, and then it seemed to me to have something that the other whatever it was by then, I had read, didn't lact, which was it really felt as if it created a world. It had a kind of voice that that gave tone to this world that the entire movie unfolded in. And so I thought it was it had something. And so I gave it to David to read and he read it very quickly. And he called me up and he asked the most intelligent question, why has Warner Brothers put this in turn around? Right, I couldn't have cared less why they put it in turnaround. I'm not even sure at the time I even knew what turnaround meant. All I knew was I was hoping we would go ahead and make this movie because it seemed like a good, inexpensive movie to make. But David, of course, said, all right, Terry Semel, Bob Dalys, guys in the movie business have passed on this. They put it in turnaround. We've got to find out why, which is very, very revealing of David, which is I want to find out as much information as I can. His ego doesn't get in the way. Ah, I love this movie, I know what a great movie is. Let's make it it was. Let's find out everything we can find out about this. Right. And so I called the OR Terry, I can't even remember. I said, why did you guys put this in turn around? And they said, because it's got an 18 year old prostitute in it. Well, maybe 17 years old, I can't remember, so I went back to David, I said they put it in turnaround because it's got a 17 year old prostitute in it. He says, where does it say her age? I said on page 42, he said, take that lineout. And will cast a girl who doesn't look 17.

Speaker So we decided to make risky business that it's not so yet, the morning did not look like she was.

Speaker Well, she be so.

Speaker David had a good reaction to the script.

Speaker Good enough to say, let's find out why they put it in turnaround, if he didn't have a good reaction to the script, he wouldn't have said, let's find out.

Speaker And so what about the casting, was there something about the original casting, David didn't like it?

Speaker Well, we because it was Paul's first movie, we had the normal controls, which is, you know, approval of our main casting. And so but David wasn't that interested in. I mean, David never went to a casting session. I might have just because it seemed like fun. But Paul more than once came up with kids for Tom Cruise's role, which.

Speaker Didn't make any sense. They. This kid had to be cute.

Speaker Whatever else it hit, the kid had to be cute. He had to have some heat about him. And so the first two kids that Paul came up with. It was like then Paul became convinced by the second one that what we were trying to do was get out of our commitment to make the movie. So that was the first battle. You guys are just doing this because you don't want to make the movie, which tells you what the movie business is all about. And I can't remember how that argument was resolved, but somehow we persuaded Paul to persevere. And then he came in with a screen test of Tom Cruise. And in two seconds it was done.

Speaker Mean that you guys looked at the tape.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah, I mean, that's something that David is going to get right away if a kid is cute and hot, David's going to get it. And so the minute we looked at Tom Cruise, even with that kind of dorky haircut, because this was not Tom Cruise that, you know, today, this was a Tom Cruise who looked like a suburban. You know, sophomore, senior in high school, and there was no effort to make him cute. You'd be interested in seeing the screen test, you know you know how bad kids look in. And timid Beatle haircuts, it's one of the worst looks you either go with the long hair or you don't have this was one of those timid little Beatle haircuts that's he couldn't have looked more suburban. And but David said, let's go with him. That's good. And I was in favor of it because I thought this is a vast improvement over the first two kids that he had brought to Tom Cruise. Nobody, certainly nobody to us. But interestingly enough, at the first screening. Girls in the front row screamed, and that's when we knew that Tom Cruise may be nothing to us, but he was something to them.

Speaker But we were surprised to know he had done I think he had done maybe taps or maybe a cop killer. I think he had a small role in one of those Coppola movies, you know?

Speaker Yes, I didn't know that.

Speaker Yeah. Sighs Yeah, it may be he may have done The Outsiders first, but he had a he had a relatively minor role in that.

Speaker He was relatively undiscovered.

Speaker Yes, as far as far as we know, I have never officially said the name Tom Cruise, I had never heard it and I didn't see his face and go, oh, I remember this kid. And I don't think David did either. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

Speaker So. So the movie.

Speaker Got shot. Now, my question, I guess, about David's involvement is this is the first real movie that you guys greenlit under Adelia under your deal. So David Stafford said he said he wasn't interested in that. He let people do what they were going to do. I mean, what was his sort of role?

Speaker David was very. Encouraging of Paul to go make the movie. Paul's a smart guy, and you could read the screenplay and see that this was no this was no effort to make some, you know, a rite of passage. There was talent here and the budget was low, fairly young, but fairly responsible producers. And the movie stayed on budget. I mean, John Avnet and Steve Tisch did a good job keeping the movie on budget, and Paul was mindful of that, too. And the dailies look pretty good. And so David let people do their thing until the issue arose, which I'm sure you know about, about the ending of the movie, because Paul decided to rewrite the ending of the movie after we started shooting it.

Speaker I can explain when you read the script. First time, what was the ending?

Speaker I can't remember exactly what the ending was, but it was more or less what the ending is on the movie, which is it had an upbeat, positive ending involving Tom Cruise getting into Princeton and fulfilling that desire, if not by a highly unpredictable route. You know, it was filled with the irony of the movie. But at the end of the day, you know.

Speaker Life applauds you, and that was the end of the movie, Paul, for reasons which you could speculate about until hell froze over, you know, I have my opinion became insecure with that ending. I think he felt that cheapened the movie. It was it was what you write to get the movie made. It's what our studio now will make the movie, because if the ending's too grim, they won't. And I think he became insecure with it and thought that the movie will be taken more seriously and completely understandable. He's a first time director with a lot of talent, and he.

Speaker He's he wants to be. Taken seriously, the problem is that it. It was a depressing ending. So you have a desperate, huge fight, huge argument, um, Paul walked off, wouldn't you? You got to back up, OK?

Speaker It's normal procedure to have a test screening at a test screening test.

Speaker Now this is before test screening time because the movie hasn't been assembled yet. The pages come in, I go over them with David, I can't remember. It's way too long ago to remember, but David is. Sends me on an unequivocal mission. This is not a good ending for this movie. My memory's not good enough to know whether or not we had this battle, as I'm thinking before we actually showed the movie for the first time or whether we showed it and then went back and reshot it. It's possible that we actually screened the movie with that ending and it did not score well. And it was a pity because the movie was beautifully rendered.

Speaker I think what happened, although I could be wrong. But just to refresh your memory, I think what happened is you guys read it, right? Even with Paul, not a test screening for it. Just for you. That's right. And it had that new ending.

Speaker Right? I get that. I think you're right. I think David, with great reluctance, allowed Paul to shoot his ending. That's right. I think that's true. And then it just wasn't working. And so. We told Paul that he has to go back to the original ending and shoot it both ways and that we would screen it both ways and really go with whichever one was better. And I think David even said to Paul, if it's a draw, we'll go with your ending. And even if you're even if the original ending is marginally better, we'll go with your ending. David was pretty tolerant of it and very supportive of Paul. I'm not sure Paul felt that way, but. Then after that, we said, you have he said it can't be done. You can't now bring there's no way to. There's no way to reshoot the original ending, and David assigned me that job of doing that, of convincing Paul or helping him do it. And Paul said, I'm not going to do it. You want to do it. You write it. You rehearse them. I actually was put in the ridiculous position of rehearsing Tom and Rebecca on the changes of the script to accomplish the new ending. And it was so uncomfortable. But it was an exercise that we had to go through because Paul, that was, you know, that was his move. I'm going to walk off. You do it. And when he saw that, then he couldn't the notion that someone was actually going to rehearse them and direct them without him, he had enough maturity and and sense to come back and say, all right, all right, I'll make this work. And we worked together and he made it work. And then we went down to San Diego and screened the two versions back to back. And there was just no comparison.

Speaker Now, wasn't there some I mean.

Speaker After the first screening, I think it was maybe like a first test screening, but it had to be Paul preferred ending and afterwards.

Speaker I mean, was David just.

Speaker Did he have a confrontation with Paul?

Speaker I mean, I think I had little to compare it to, so it wasn't like I could say he handled it in in a in a in a character. And I think he just handled it very. Honestly, I think he was always utterly straightforward with Paul. I don't think he was any guile involved, any strategy. I think he simply told Paul exactly what he felt and and was good to his word.

Speaker And he wanted the military success.

Speaker I think he also believed there was a better ending.

Speaker I think this was not some artistic compromise from David's point of view, nor from mine.

Speaker I think it was an artistic compromise, but I also think Paul was being honest, I think Paul thought this was a this was a cheap this isn't the way the world is. Paul Paul can be grim. And Paul felt this is this is a compromise, this ending. But it wasn't like we were sitting there saying, who cares? Let's do it. It'll make money. I think that I think both of us felt there was a better ending. I know David did.

Speaker And business went on, too.

Speaker You know, for a ten million dollar movie. It it not only was. Successful financially, but it also. Made Paul the hot young director. I mean, despite Paul's fears. He was the young up and coming director from this movie at that time, certainly Tom got a lot of it was a stylish movie and it definitely made Tom a stylish star for sure. Maybe not. I don't think it necessarily foretold how big an action star he was going to become. I don't think, you know, the minute you saw that, you went, oh, my God, he's going to be Tom Cruise. But you knew that he was going to be a star. Yeah. Oh, good.

Speaker So.

Speaker Yes, David realized after that that probably every movie has its own idiosyncrasies and every movie is difficult, not just for that, probably so.

Speaker Probably so, and if it's so, I'm sure he knew it then I'm sure he knew it before then. I think he thought since Paul's not a, you know, Robert town, it's one thing Robert Town was, but Robert Town was already a legend in his own mind and God knows he had done some great work, although clearly unpredictable guy who took his name off of Chinatown because he thought it was such a piece. I mean, how can you figure that, but but nevertheless, I think that David thought it can't be as hard working with a brand new first time director writer as it is with Robert Town. And in fact, it wasn't only because David was confident and he gave David gave me the confidence to. Handle those guys correctly, because David had the confidence to do it, and in the end, it was easier dealing with Paul Brickman than Robert Towne. But that doesn't mean it was easy. It was just easier because you didn't have the ego is involved and people telling Paul he should, you know, fight for final cut, I mean, you didn't have mikovits, you know, coaching him. So it all turned out well, although from what I understand, Paul may still feel bitterness about this. I don't know.

Speaker You'll find out when you see that. Um, listen, it couldn't have been another movie. You made another movie. Right. You want to say that? Um.

Speaker David had so much faith in Paul and Paul's irascibility and defiance and whatever and didn't discourage us from making another movie with him, a movie that was not very commercial at all. And proved to be not very commercial at all, but David believed in Paul and let Paul make whatever movie pretty much he wanted, which was Man, don't leave. Not a bad movie, but just not not a commercial movie. After that, I just didn't really I have to act like he wrote something after that because I remember reading it and I can't tell you. I mean, I visited him maybe two times up in Santa Barbara after that, but I think he found directing an absolutely unpleasant experience.

Speaker Collaborative media.

Speaker I don't think he had the I don't think he felt the he had the Constitution for it, honestly. Very talented kid, though. So.

Speaker Just going back for a second to your first kind of fast friendship with David, I guess I know if that's a fair characterization, but you certainly you guys bonded. You mean can you just characterize those days or tell us what that was like? I mean, you guys were you suddenly over to the other houses every night? I mean, how what did you become best buddies?

Speaker I mean. Well, it certainly wasn't like a normal boss employee relationship. But then again, David didn't have those kind of relationships.

Speaker This is, what, 30 years? OK, so we were young, we were young, and David was I wouldn't say David was wild, but he certainly was out there more than he is now. He's you know, he lives a more conservative lifestyle now than he did then. And I I was always more conservative than David, but I was much wilder than that I am now. And so it was just the only way to describe it. It was easy because David had tons of energy. David had. Lots of will and lots of determination and and taste everything. It's not that I believed in everything that David wanted to do, but none of it was tawdry or classless or it was all a world filled with people who were Joni Mitchell or potential Joni Mitchell. It was always it's good. I don't know whether it will work, but it's good. So for me, it was very easy because. I was the youngest of four brothers. I was always interested in, you know, supporting something that seemed like a classy, great idea. And let's do it what what the hell? And so I just kind of assumed the task of listening to what he wanted to do and trying to think if it was happening or not, and if I thought there were elements that were hairbrained, maybe kind of bring those elements to his attention. And there weren't often hairbrained elements, but sometimes and as as headstrong as he was, he was able to go, did you know, OK, I didn't think of that or let me handle that. So it was easy for me. We spent the weekend, it was just kind of assumed that we would whatever we were doing, more often than not, we would just do it together. He didn't have a family, and so we became his family.

Speaker So, you know, we would work nonstop, 24/7 during the week. And now it's maybe one o'clock in the afternoon on Saturday. And it's not like he's got kids to take care of. He's up there in Marlo Thomas, his old house. And it's like, what are we going to do? Let's you know, we had so much fun during the week. What what? Why not have fun now?

Speaker And so we would we would go out with whoever I was with and whoever he was with. And often other people at the company like Carol, I mean, not everyone at the company hung out with us on the weekends to an equal degree because some people wanted to. Some people did, and some people weren't cut out for that. But we were together a lot. And there was what made it easy was there were no real lines drawn. It wasn't like, oh, it's eight o'clock now. It really made no difference what time it was or it's Saturday now, it made no difference because whatever we were doing.

Speaker Made no difference whether it was a weekday day, night or weekend, so everything was very easy, very fluid, and we spent a lot of time together.

Speaker This is before you were married and you have family, right? So the next movie after Risky Business was.

Speaker What little shop of horrors now may be, I can't remember whether it was after hours or Little Shop of Horrors, it's hard for me to remember after after hours because after I after hours would be released today.

Speaker OK, so now Scorsese, Marty Scorsese, he meant nothing at that time.

Speaker You can't ever say nothing because, of course, he had done mean streets. He had done maybe done Raging Bull by then. I mean, he had done phenomenal work. But Hollywood, you know, it's like, what have you done lately that's made money. So trust me when I tell you that Marty Scorsese, we didn't have to get on line to give Marty a job then as crazy as it sounds. But the idea of doing something with him for David and me was just. Incredible what I mean, we felt, oh, my God, we get to do something with Marty Scorsese, but it wasn't like he was a real hot commodity then. This was maybe the lowest point in his Hollywood stature. The movie, I can't remember how I remember that Griffin Dunne and a girl named Amy, what was Amy's last? Oh, I can't believe I forgot her name. She's a great girl. She was in mean streets. They brought the project in. And it was so offbeat and so quirky, but so beautifully. It was so it was just like a delicious read. And of course, we didn't have the same criteria of, oh, my God, you can't make money with a movie like this. We read so much. That if something was written well, it made you stop and go, oh, my God, it was, it was those kinds of scripts were so few and far between for us. So here was a script that was beautifully written and again, in its own world, really consistently rendered. And Mardu, I think, was already attached to Amy. And Griffin's a very charming guy. And we said we met with Marty and it was a really low budget movie and it was sort of like already we have a certain kind of niche for ourselves in in in moviemaking in Hollywood. And this fit the bill. So boom. Yeah. Well, you know, movies that studios weren't competing with us for, movies that maybe were a little bit more artistic, a little bit more offbeat, a little bit more mature and not necessarily easy to market. The fact that Marty Scorsese, he didn't have a lot of currency in Hollywood then meant nothing to David, to David, he was still Marty Scorsese and I certainly felt the same way. We were so off the mainstream of Hollywood that whatever they were thinking, we weren't even necessarily conscious of, although we knew if we had a chance at him, it must be the way that his his you know, his stock wasn't hot, but it didn't matter to us because we loved his movies. So Marty made a certainly made a big difference. I can't tell you what would have happened had Marty not been attached to that project. It might have gotten made, but it might not.

Speaker A great movie. Definitely a cult classic.

Speaker Yeah, a better example of that is, is Beetlejuice, because Tim Burton wasn't Marty Scorsese. Then you talk about that. Well, if you want to understand the niche we were in, I mean, Tim Burton. From Hollywood's point of view, the entire success of Pee wee Herman is big adventure was Pee wee Herman. He became, oh, my God, he's bankable. They were chasing him around for another Pee wee Herman movie. And I'm not saying that we wouldn't would have turned down a movie with him, we probably would. Wow. You know, he's you know. Nobody was interested in Tim Burton.

Speaker Nothing, no one, no one even. It never occurred to anybody that Tim Burton was the reason behind the success of Pee wee's Big Adventure. So Tim Burton was not.

Speaker A Hollywood commodity, but for but because we were so blissfully out of the loop of Hollywood, we thought, hey, he's getting better. How bad can he be? It's an imaginative movie. So we had the advantage of not being in the at the watering hole when all of the consensus were being arrived that that this was Pee wee Herman success. You follow. That's what I just wanted to use that as an example. Same with Marty. It was like we we didn't know that his star had fallen or care.

Speaker And it's good to be out of loop. Yes. So let's talk about. So how did that script come to your attention?

Speaker I think David Bombeck, an absolutely exquisite human being who was then the production guy. He was head of production for us, which meant that he was really in charge of chasing scripts that were available. He. I think he was there then, I think they came in and he said he asked me to read the script, I think it was David Bombach again. I can't really remember because my memory's not that good. But in any event, I read it and I thought it was good enough to say this is you know, this is interesting again. Offbeat, to say the least, and. I guess it could only have gotten made because I liked it enough to bring it to David and to say, David, could you read this? I think, you know, I think we should do this. And he read it. And again, to his credit, he went because, believe me, it's not like everything I brought him. He said, let's run and do. But he he definitely saw enough in it to go, OK, let's let's let's pursue this right now.

Speaker It was written, but I can't even remember the names. Very quirky guys.

Speaker But Tim was involved for sure. I think Tim was. I think Tim either oversaw the writing of it or knew these writers. It had Tim's fingerprints on it from the very beginning, although we didn't really necessarily know what Tim's fingerprints were. But he it was it was his project.

Speaker And you met with Tim Burton and you were impressed with them.

Speaker Loved him because he saw my cup of tea. He's so odd and so completely sui generis. I mean, there is no one else in the world like Tim Burton couldn't can't finish to say that.

Speaker Nope.

Speaker And I'll tell you what, Lisa loved him. He's I mean, even even more, my cup of tea was Tim's Lisa's cup of tea. Oh, my God, they were just became like like that because Lisa collects. The most uncollectable people in her life is filled with people who, when she met them, they were just the most eccentric people. They may have gone on like Tim to become gigantically successful. But Lisa is a connoisseur of people like that. So love Tim.

Speaker So just go back and say when, when what, either when David and I or just when I met him, we thought he was you.

Speaker When David and I met him, I think both of us, for different reasons, were attracted to for me. I loved that he was so quirky and so offbeat. And Lisa loved him so much and they became really good friends right away. I think David's appreciation for him had more to do with, you know what? You can't direct a movie and have nothing to do with its success. And if Pee wee Herman was this, it was this good. I don't care that Hollywood thinks it's. Pee wee's Great Triumph, this kid must have something to him, and I think David was more interested in betting on Tim. That Tim had there was something to this guy. You look at the more successful yeah, Tim is Tim is what it's all about, Tim is a true artist. I think David knew that Tim was a real artist that he had he wasn't an imitator. He wasn't he wasn't trying to get a movie made. I think he knew that this guy had a vision. And, you know, I think he saw Tim probably more clearly than I did, but I loved him.

Speaker That reminds me of this quote that I saw in this article that. I thought really great that David.

Speaker David understands the difference between taste and judgment.

Speaker Takes a subjective judgment is the ability to avoid letting your taste influence the decision more than it should. In other words, Geffen never forgets that he's a businessman, not a patron of the arts. I think he set his sights higher than the likes of Pakistan.

Speaker I think that that's true.

Speaker I think that David is not as vulnerable to falling in love with what he likes blind to. What is it that makes something good? I mean, David's willing to recognize that if something is successful, it must have something good about it. He's not a snob. He's not in love with his own opinions. I'm more of a snob than David is for sure. And I had to learn that from him to be mindful of, you know, the sort of the arrogance and the danger of your own taste.

Speaker But, David, whenever I can't see him making Corky's, he wouldn't be interested in porkies because.

Speaker It's not that David doesn't aspire to do great stuff, it's just that it great stuff is not defined by his taste alone. His David is. David is aware of what his taste is as opposed to. That's right, David can distinguish between his taste and what's right. I was much more apt then to think, no, it's not that that's my taste. It's that. That's right. You follow David could see there's a difference between then maybe a bad taste. He actually has a really good taste, but he knows there's a difference between his taste and what's right.

Speaker What I was trying to get to is that, David, when you decide to make a movie just because he thought it would make money, period.

Speaker I mean. First of all, you never know if a movie is just going to make money, you know, I'm not sure you can pose the question that way, because if someone said, make this movie and you'll make 100 million dollars, you make the movie, you just don't know that. So you're going to say, if I got to roll the dice, if I have to, if I have to put my ass on the line and take a risk, is this worth taking a risk for? And I think he was able to say this is not good enough to take a risk for.

Speaker But that's different than saying I wouldn't do it even if I thought it would make.

Speaker Money because David's a businessman, I know, but I still have the sense that there's a certain line that David wouldn't cross. Well, I wouldn't read a script. He wouldn't read the script. I don't I'm trying to take his life something that is just so purely commercial and has no or no he wouldn't.

Speaker You might be right. But I would say that he wouldn't like that script and he wouldn't believe that this script could make a gigantic amount of money and the risk of it wouldn't be worth it to him because you're still making crap. It's not it's not a lot. And it's not just an uncompromising thing. He does have good taste and his tastes, like anyone else, limits his ability to bet on something. But he knows the difference between his taste and something that is a good idea.

Speaker Well, as proven by his Geffen records, I mean, I think a lot of the music that was absolutely some of that music, he liked a lot more than others.

Speaker But he is one example, I think maybe of what you're talking about, came up with a horrifically violent. Pornographic. Record that came to us through Rick Rubin and. This was at a time of great transition in the music business. This was at the very beginning of when rap was becoming the only thing that was selling. And Rick was a rep as a terrific guy. And we loved Rick. And Rick came to us and we made a deal with him because there was nothing about Rick not to like. But Rick delivered a record under the deal that involved endorsement of raping women, killing cops and.

Speaker I remember saying to David, David. If we don't have enough success and enough money right now to turn this down and not put it out. Who does and David?

Speaker Believe me, that alone would not have persuaded David of anything, I think David said, OK, I hear what you're saying and then listen to it. And then on his own came to the conclusion, I don't want put this out. And at that point, there was something that was so.

Speaker Below his standard that he said. Even if we make money on this, I'm going to put it out. But.

Speaker We had then to devise a way to get out of it, which was because we had this relation, we had an obligation with what they call an output deal, we had to put out what Rick Rubin delivered to us unless we couldn't. So I called. I can't remember whether whose idea this was. It may have been David's. It may have been mine. I don't remember. And I said, Mo, look.

Speaker We've got this deal with Rick Rubin. If we're.

Speaker Refuses to distribute this record when we can't distribute it and mow this record, has these lyrics in it, it's promoting cop killing and women raping. And he said, well, call Henry Jones, who was then the head of. So I get on the phone with Henry. I say, Henry, look, here's we don't want to put this record out.

Speaker We need you to refuse to put it out because then we're not in breach of contract and he wouldn't do it. He wouldn't do it, and we have to give up Rick Rubin and the whole deal tomorrow. Because they would put it out, which was a very surprising.

Speaker Conversation, I remember one of the rare times in my life when I literally had nothing to say.

Speaker It took me a while to say. Kitting.

Speaker So we were willing and David, of course, only David could make this decision, I may have been prudish about it and said, I don't want to do this, but only David could make the call and he made the call. Don't put it out. I don't care. Even if we lose it and we lost them.

Speaker And so what happened happening, so Rick Rubin went on really because I think he put that record out on the Warner Brothers.

Speaker Good for you guys.

Speaker I mean, now, mind you, anyway, and but coming back, it's not like someone said to us, if you don't put this out, you're going to lose 100 million dollars. It was, again, who knows how much money it's going to make. Maybe it'll make some money, maybe it won't. But this is not worth a roll of the dice. This is an opportunity to just go, not worth it.

Speaker So we did.

Speaker Now, I'm little confused by tonight, were you you were running the movie division?

Speaker Well, I mean, I was working for David Rice, doing my best to make sure that the movie company ran the way that he would like it to run. Yeah, well, you also get. Yes, I wasn't involved with. Sitting in on an NRA meeting, although if I did, my involvement with Geffen Records had more to do with if it was a big distribution deal, then I would be responsible for getting that done. If David said. I think we as we talked about before, David said, we're going to move our foreign distribution from Warner Brothers to CBS, it's going to be a huge thing and it's going to be a battle, but we're going to do it. I would be the one would have to do that. It's not like I would make that decision. David would make the decision, but then it would become my job to make sure it got done and got done properly. That's not something he would necessarily involve anybody else with. But maybe there was some answer. Guys like Kalodner, who I was very close with, he would come up and play stuff for me, not because he needed to, because he wanted to. And we would talk about it because he knew that I had, you know, something of a musical dialogue with him. But Eddie Rosenblatt ran the day to day operation of the record company. And unless there was something unusual, I wouldn't really have that much involvement with it.

Speaker OK, let's see what else we need to cover. We still have a little bit to go, but not too much.

Speaker Um.

Speaker So just you need to talk about Broadway, and I'm not sure whether to talk about that or talk about Little Shop of Horrors first, because obviously one feels right.

Speaker But I met with David. DreamWorks, Dreamgirls, I think, was the first thing we did.

Speaker It was through Michael Bennett that, OK, I'm not positive about this, but I think Dreamgirls was the first show that we did against Michael Bennett is a perfect example of somebody that David would cultivate. Tim Burton, Michael Bennett. They're just birds of a feather. They're just these. People whose talent David recognizes and believe me, it wasn't like everybody in Hollywood knew Michael Bennett was. I didn't know who he was. I was completely ignorant of what was going on on Broadway. I'd been out here for I don't know.

Speaker 15, 20, I had no idea, but David, his Geiger counter was always picking up anybody who was talented, no matter where they were, and David had this relationship with Michael.

Speaker And I think that it was through, Michael, that we wound up getting involved in Broadway musicals, Michael love David as much as David love Michael.

Speaker And I think Michael really loved the idea since this was a play about the music business. Who better than to have involved than David? And he was right.

Speaker And so.

Speaker And by the way, no more wonderful, dear. Person in the world than Michael Bennett, despite his talent, zero ego, just dedicated to everything about what he was doing. And by the way, going back to Martin Scorsese exactly the same way, the most of all, the directors that we ever worked with and we worked with many first time directors. No one was more interested in what you had to say. More cordial and made that whole process of look, let's talk about this more pleasant American city in every way in the filming and the writing, in the editing, there was never a time when he wasn't looking for something that might be interesting. And open to what you had to say and willing to discuss it in a kind of meaningful way. Michael Bennett was same way. So he and David were just they just couldn't wait to do something together. And Dreamgirls was the hit. And so, boom, as a result of that, suddenly we were involved with the Shubert's and financing or partially financing very risky ventures, because, believe me, those musicals were risky because they had never been musicals with those kinds of costs involved.

Speaker So this was kind of a new movement that was happening on Broadway. Things were getting more.

Speaker Yeah, I mean, again, I'm I wasn't I wasn't savvy enough about Broadway to have a point of view about that, but I knew enough to know that these were the ante was going up with these kinds of productions.

Speaker And yet Jim Cross was very successful. Yes, hugely successful.

Speaker And so David got a taste for a successful news musical.

Speaker And after that, I think.

Speaker No, I don't think that's what's next, but again, I'm not there. My memory is my memory of.

Speaker I can tell you what I remember about each production and the people involved, but I can't remember the order, what David's involvement was, because one thing I find curious about Untaken is that he always says, oh, you know, I don't know anything about that. I'm not I don't you know, that's not that's not my job. That's not what I do. And yet it seems like he made a significant creative contribution to almost every project that he's been involved in, including people's.

Speaker I don't I couldn't I wouldn't be the right person to talk about that, because David's relationship with Michael was so direct, it wasn't like David had no relationship with the guy who was producing. I can't remember his name, that lunatic who was who was the producer of Man of M. Butterfly. I mean, David never would speak to him, Stewart someone or rather I had to deal with him all the time. But David loved Michael and their relationship. David's relationship with Michael was direct, so I wouldn't know what kind of dialogue they had with each other. But I know that Michael had the utmost respect for David and certainly David had the most utmost respect for Michael. So I'm sure they talked about everything involved. Much to Bernie Jacobs displeasure, Bernie got very jealous of David's relationship with Michael and Michael's relationship with David to. As a threat? Yeah, I mean, because Bernie was so parental to Michael and so didn't want my brother wanted Michael to think of himself as this completely naive flower that if anyone got near it, they would crush it and only Bernie could protect it. So Bernie definitely was uncomfortable with how much Michael invited David into his life and how smart and strong David was. And believe me, you had to be strong to deal with Bernie Jacobs.

Speaker So.

Speaker Genaro's did very well.

Speaker Yeah, and you want to talk about some of the other well, the others, I mean, Little Shop of Horrors, obviously completely David's doing. I don't remember how David became aware of it. Was Cameron Mackintosh involved a little shop? Maybe. Um. I don't remember how David became aware of little shop, how it came across his desk, but again, it was totally his call, totally his.

Speaker Again, a very quirky oh my God.

Speaker And I'm sure David had a lot to do with Steve and Bill and all of those guys. I mean.

Speaker Being certainly being in the movie. It was a tiny little thing and, you know, an off Broadway thing. And David loved it.

Speaker And he had enough foresight about fast to get the movie rights.

Speaker Oh, well, that was maybe that's what gave us a little bit of an edge in competing for Broadway because not many Broadway producers had any connections in the movie business. But everyone knew if we got involved with producing the show that they had this open. Channel to getting the movie made, so I think that that was an attractive part of doing business with Geffen if you were a Broadway producer.

Speaker So, I mean, are you able to say or can you say, you know, when he when he financed the umpires, when you could use a number of hours, he acquired the movie.

Speaker Anything we did, we acquired the movie rights to Dreamgirls. We acquired the movie rights to soundtrack and movie. Those were not Givens on Broadway, but when we got involved, not only did we insist upon it as part of the deal, but it was almost as if they were happy that we were asking for it because as opposed to just wanting the rights, we were actually uniquely a company that could do it. So it was like, yes, we want you to have the soundtrack and the movie rights. Please take them, because there was some promise that it wasn't just a clause in a contract that it promised that this could happen. So always we did and.

Speaker Some of them, I mean, not huge successes, but. They they were profitable.

Speaker And David love Broadway. I mean, he was a kid, I think, from the time he was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, Broadway musicals always had a glamour for him. So I think he loved soundtrack albums. He loved cast albums and he loved.

Speaker I think he loved the environment. But he knew it was very difficult.

Speaker I mean, sort of like the fulfillment he's fulfilling, he's fulfilling all these different dreams. One by one. I think you said something to me on the phone about how some people can can dream or set their sights high, but you know who who actually achieves all these things?

Speaker Well. Again, I think it was in the context of David.

Speaker David's response to when I told him I just didn't want to come at a record company, I didn't want to run a record company, and there was nothing about it that seemed that appealing to me if it was just going to be that. And he just said, what do you want to do? OK, so we'll do it. And somehow or other, there was this sense of.

Speaker It's going to happen. He's so determined and he's so willful that if he says, we'll do it. Maybe we'll do it as opposed to just. A bunch of nonsense, so I think that David is truly unique in his willfulness. There's no question that he his dream, his vision for things is bigger in scale than other people and more thought out and strategized than other people and maybe even further long term than other people. But I don't think that that's really what distinguishes him as much as his belief and confidence and will and determination to eliminate the obstacles in the way of getting there.

Speaker More practical than anybody.

Speaker More fearless and determined and practical than anyone I've ever met.

Speaker I think it's a it's a really interesting. Set of characteristics to have in Hollywood.

Speaker Because, sure, everyone doubts themselves with what their first failure. Everyone just loses confidence.

Speaker Enough people would have been afraid to have made risky business simply because Warner Brothers put it in turnaround. Why would we want something that Warner Brothers put in turnaround?

Speaker David's not blind to that. It's worth it's worth. Sussing out, but it's not like he doesn't have the confidence to figure out let's go make it, let's get rid of her age, you know, a tiny little example. Is what he's about.

Speaker So what about but also here's the dream, let's do Broadway shows. I think I had suggested doing some show with Randy Edelman, it was like. David, the dream never dictates what David does. It's the dream, and then you wait for a Michael Bennet. Or it's the dream, and then you wait for a Martin Scorsese or a or a Paul Brickman or a.

Speaker Joni Mitchell, you know, it's it's recognizing how to achieve the dream that makes them incredibly unique because his first foray into musicals was with Michael Bennett because he believes in talent as opposed to I have a dream. I'm just going to go do this. And that's. That's his wisdom.

Speaker It's probably why he.

Speaker That's probably why he decided to do the movie at DreamWorks, because he had Spielberg.

Speaker Well, to do the movie of DreamWorks, no, I wouldn't say that that had to do oh, to do the make.

Speaker Oh yeah, you know, I definitely oh yeah.

Speaker I mean, Steven was so important then. I mean, he's still an incredibly talented guy, but you wouldn't then his his star was so ascendant. It was so gigantic. He was he was Michael Jackson.

Speaker Yeah. Anecdotes about Broadway. I remember David being tough enough to take on Bernie Jacobs and seeing once again, even even in a. And in an environment that he was completely unfamiliar with, he could spot.

Speaker While a person out. With total confidence, she has no Tom but Bradley Jacobs.

Speaker No, I know what you're talking about, your relationship.

Speaker Probably, probably. There's something not fair about that deal.

Speaker I can't remember the specifics as much as he's taking on Bernie Jacobs. And he's right. And didn't matter that he's right, because people are so deferential in Hollywood that, you know, it's it's it's the original Emperor's New Clothes business. And so you just told Bernie Jacobs to come. You know, it's like. Huh? You know, and he had the ability or the confidence to do that.

Speaker Now, Steve, I mean, this is quite fascinating.

Speaker But on the other hand, I'll tell you another anecdote. Take this guy, Stuart.

Speaker What's his name? Who was this? It was trying to dine out on M. Butterfly because it was the only horse he had and he was such a nudnik and such a pain in the ass, and of course, I had to deal with him. But and David, it wasn't that David didn't know that he wasn't a neck and a pain in the ass. David was happy to have me deal with him. The show turns out to be. A Tony winner and a great, great piece of work and. We were really happy that we had gotten involved with it may have been the first nonmusical that we did, I can't remember. I just can't remember. In any event, it wins a Tony, and now it comes time to do. To mount the English production of the show.

Speaker And.

Speaker Stewart sends the budget for the English production and I'm going through it and I notice that he's got himself booked into the Savoy. In a suite for the entire run of the show. This is a show that has already been running in New York for God knows how long, it's like a Swiss watch, it needs him there. Maybe it probably isn't even there at all. But for a day maybe.

Speaker And I call him up and I go, Stuart, I am not paying for you to live at the Savoy in a suite for the run of the show. This it's this is not. This is an artistic. Adventure, this is not a money machine, this production can't afford that, and he starts explaining to me how crucial he is to the to the mounting of this play, but that's exactly who he was. And I had zero patience for it. So I go later that afternoon. Among the things I've got to talk to David about is I go up and I go like Dave, I there's no way I can. OK, this this is so ridiculous. His ego is so out of control. He doesn't even have to. And David, attitude was, how much is it going to cost?

Speaker Let them do it.

Speaker Because he was tolerant of people in ways that I wasn't and he just said, let them do it, what's the difference? It's not like there's a lot of money involved where I would get involved with the principle of it. And I did learn that from him slowly. Does it matter? Doesn't it's not about it, yes, it's wrong, yes, it's stupid, but.

Speaker Let him have it.

Speaker And I would have to go. But that's a that's another side of David. He could say Bernie Jacobs and I would go, oh, my God, you can't do that. On the other hand, he would indulge this guy.

Speaker Now, why I mean, why was David so unafraid of making enemies?

Speaker I don't know.

Speaker I mean, you have to admit he has zero fear when it comes to confrontation, more so than any person I've ever met.

Speaker I mean, I've known some guys who will take on people. My Skip Britain had my partner went to law firm. He took on Freddy Fields when Freddy Fields was the top agent in town of Placekicker. So I've known guys that are that way, but no one like David who took on Ovitz when he was God and. I don't know why I'm sure it's there's no simple explanation for it. I think it's a it's it's part of his complexity that he.

Speaker Is a battler and.

Speaker It doesn't matter how big you are, if you are if you it's not that he won't tolerate somebody being a jerk. This must be he has to find something lovable about the person, something endearing about the person, something that makes the person worthwhile. But if that isn't there and it's just that everyone is buying into this person, then no matter how big that person is, it's not going to stop him from. Basically, same.

Speaker I mean, how much of this new thing came from seeing seeing Batea, this where you're going to go?

Speaker You know, I wish I percha was alive when David and I were close and I met her many times, never for extended period. What describe small. Wig.

Speaker Firebrand.

Speaker Keep in mind, so much of what of the of the impression I formed of her was fed by David. I mean, by the time I met her, he had told me more than enough of what I needed to. I mean, it was basically what you know, this is who she is, you know, wasn't like David had delusions about her, you know, like some people have about their mother. She had no delusions about her whatsoever. He loved her and he knew exactly who she was. And he would tell you, this is who she is. When I met her, she was in the middle of a brawl with Jimmy Woods because he was her neighbor and they were having some kind of brawl over the the the hedge that separated their property. So, of course, it was like, perfect. She wasn't going to take Jimmy Woods and David didn't even think she was right, by the way, but he just sat there she is she's not given up. She's in this brawl. I can't even remember whether Jimmy Woods was right or wrong about you. And I don't even remember how David felt about it. It's it wasn't the issue. It was just she's and she's in a brawl.

Speaker She's not backing down.

Speaker So, of course, she was a comical character to me, but of course, you know, a little bit of the tree from which the apple doesn't fall far from, which is what you're hinting at.

Speaker I know. And I'm sure that's true. And I'm sure Dave would be the first to tell you. She was she was a scrapper.

Speaker Does that mean.

Speaker So David bought our house, she was living out here. Mean how big a part of his life was she? Was she at the premiere? Is was she I mean.

Speaker She may have been a bigger part of his life than I was aware of.

Speaker He didn't dote on her, he just took care of her. He knew who she was.

Speaker He had no, no, no illusions about her and loved her and took care of her was a you know, I think he just felt responsible for her. And if she got into a fight with somebody, he would intercede and try to make it work and talk her off the ledge, you know, worthless like that.

Speaker OK.

Speaker So do you remember when and he would talk about how much she loved him? He would talk about how much she loved him more than he would necessarily talk about how much he loved her because he didn't really have any need to tell me how much he loved her. But I think he knew that she always gave him a lot of confidence and always, you know, called him little David. You know, he was the giant slayer and. Little David who flung the rock, right?

Speaker Yeah.

Speaker Oh, she called him King. Yes, King David probably eventually became king today. Right.

Speaker But who always was little David compared to Goliath, right.

Speaker So.

Speaker Where should we go next?

Speaker The things I want to talk about are when David got his company, his 50 percent of the company back. Let's switch gears and talk about that.

Speaker OK, so just set up for us what was happening with Geffen Records to be that time period. And it was so profitable.

Speaker OK, we had the Geffen Records was initially in a five year joint venture agreement with Warner Communications, which essentially meant Steve Ross. And it got off to such a. Meteoric start. If for no other reason than the tragic death of John Lennon, which turned into selling nine or 10 million albums at a time when that was major, and so from the from the get go, it was pulling in big numbers. It was incredibly profitable. Joint venture for Warner Brothers. But, you know, the record business, any company is it's cyclical. You're hot, you're not. You're hot, you're not. And I think around the time that we were in our fourth year, it wasn't that we weren't making money. It's just that we weren't making as much money. And so everything's about.

Speaker The trend and there was there may have been some doubt now, you know, were we doing those numbers without having the gigantic success we had at the outset, people probably would have been more than satisfied. But all of a sudden it's like, oh, they got lucky. They they were you know, they had it. They had a, you know, a couple of breaks.

Speaker And so there was probably some doubters about how successful we would be in the future at Warner Communications. But nevertheless, the deal was coming up and. I was. They wanted to resign the deal, they definitely wanted to renew it, there was no question about that, and I was pushing for getting a big cash guarantee from them, you know, an advance against royalties and advanced against our participation, you know, so a cash guarantee up front, you know, like a. Like athletes signing and David thought that might be a good idea, and we talked about it and we started negotiating for it. And again, this is too long ago for me to remember the details, but Steve wasn't enthusiastic about that. Because of the fact that our, you know, the wind wasn't behind us at that time, and so at some point in the negotiations, David suddenly came up with a proposal. And I don't even think I knew he was going to do this, but I can't remember. He said, tell you what, don't give us anything. Just agree to give us back your share of the asset. When the when the new five year term is up and Steve. Said, OK, because I think he was very relieved not to have to. Bank on our success, he didn't want to have anything he gave us would have cost him nothing in the end because it was not like give us 50 million dollars, it was give us an advance of 50 million dollars. So when success, it would have cost him nothing, but it would have been a gamble. It involved risk taking. And I don't think he had and his people, whoever he was talking to, wasn't encouraging him to do that at the time. And so he agreed to. Give us back his fair share of the joint venture at the end of the five year term. In lieu of giving us a cash advance going into the new five year term, and that proved to be a very costly error for Steve.

Speaker Mr. Bush. So do you mean that so, OK, get starts in nineteen eighty nine, you renegotiate I mean well nineteen eighty four because you don't wait till the last year.

Speaker Oh right.

Speaker So then in other words, the 50 percent was to go back in 1990.

Speaker Yes.

Speaker You're splitting profits, money, you sell a record, you got costs, the costs come off the top, whatever's left is profit. We're splitting it 50/50. Nothing changes except what they agreed to do was we would own the Masters at the termination of the second term so that it no longer was an asset that we had a joint interest in. So if sold, we would split. The value or the price of buying us, it was they gave it to us in lieu of a cash advance.

Speaker I got you. But that does not mean that at the time of the sale, the they got nothing.

Speaker They got nothing because they had given us their they had bargained their half of the of the masters, the assets, the copyrights, the distribution, the distribution rights. They had bargained that in order to avoid having to bet on us.

Speaker To get to renew the deal now, wasn't there something about that?

Speaker Well, Austin did not do this, but somehow David went directly to Steve.

Speaker Do you mind?

Speaker Yeah, you know, the deal was a feather in Mo's cap in the beginning because it was making his numbers look good. And Mo had a long standing relationship with David and and was happy that all this money was coming in to Warner Records. But remember, Moe doesn't own Warner Records. So what we do might affect his bonus.

Speaker But it's not like it's his. They reached a point where Geffen Records had become so successful that we would maybe hotter than Warner Brothers. A dynamic there's a kind of dynamic shift when that happens, it's sort of like.

Speaker OK, your son becomes an actor, and now he's more sort of like, you know what people speculate about Goldie Hawn and Kate. I mean, it's like you you can't help but wonder, oh, she's so successful, you know, they must be so happy for her. And at some point you go, it must be tough on her.

Speaker No. No, it's just it's speculation and that dynamic may have occurred with Mark because when we got bigger and bigger, there were there were moments when we felt we're not dealing with our partner anymore. We're dealing with a competitor. I can't give you specific examples of it, although Henry DROs not agreeing to.

Speaker Refused to take that album to me was. You've got to be kidding me. You're just trying to set you're just competing with with us for for Rick Rubin, David caught wind of it much sooner than I did. And David sensed it. And it created the need for a different relationship with Mel. He realized that. And I don't think he anticipated it and by the way, I don't think I anticipated it. I think it's just the nature. Of the beaches, and it's the nature of business that. We were not competitors with Warner Brothers, and there was more there was some downside to Moe of how successful we were and that changed things, and Steve became the only person who David could. Really talk to as a partner.

Speaker And Mark. It's really that.

Speaker So why was it such a costly mistake for Steve to give up?

Speaker Because if we sold the company to Universal for 10 percent of universal stock and Universal's market cap at the I'm sorry, OK, if we sold the company to MCE for 10 percent of their stock, their float and the market cap, and I can't remember what it was, but roughly say say seven.

Speaker That 10 percent was 700 million dollars, that's what the purchase price was at 10 percent of their market cap. That caused Steve Ross 350 million dollars. In order to avoid an advance that he would have recouped, that would have cost him nothing. Now, now, here's a company that he put the seed money up for, in a sense, he took 100 percent of the financial risk. Yeah, David was putting his time and talent into and, you know, telling us what to do when making the company. But Steve and Warner community, they took the risk and they walked away with nothing but the profits that are generated during 10 years and none of the asset value of the Masters. And at that time, Masters had asset value. I know that's hard to believe, but at that time they did. That's what they were buying. So Steve gave up three hundred and fifty million dollars.

Speaker Now, do you think, which was a lot of money then go back in 60s, when when obviously and you know, I don't know how you can safely tell this because it's a complicated story.

Speaker But, you know, David basically wanted to sell it