Transcript:

Speaker So tell us how you and David became friends.

Speaker Well, we and we knew each other like, you know each other in Los Angeles kind of running into each other at events or dinners. And then one night at Ron Mayor and Ron and Kelly Myers house, we are all there for dinner and a movie. And it was a buffet dinner. So we we served ourselves. And and I don't even remember who I sitting between us, but I just remember that we spent the dinner talking across that person. And then that person can't believe I don't remember what I don't remember who it was. Stood up to refill their plate. And then we switched and sat next to each other and have been in each other's tribe ever since. There's a kind of tribal feeling about being in David's life, the sense that. That somehow you are there for each other, which is very Greek. You know, I'm I'm I'm Greek, you know, this accent is for real, in case you're wondering. And so it's a very Greek feeling that somehow you are there for better or for worse, in good times and bad times. And it was instant with David. It is hard to explain these things because. What bonds us with people? But, of course, his capacity for intimacy is extraordinary and his capacity to. Make a dog. Trust him is extraordinary and has been, of course, a big part of his career. But as a friend who's never worked with him and I, of course, experience it very fully and I see it with others and I see the closeness that he so quickly and gender's with people so that no matter what you are talking about, even if you're talking about the politics of the day and there is that sense that you are sharing a secret or that somehow this is special. He he he has the capacity to make everything seem special and like lunch time is you in our town is the Virna and in Malibu near his home where we sometimes go over the weekend and which I love because I know Edwarda and. I know what I like. And somehow there is something about that, too. You know them the. Breaking bread and talking. The only problem that he eats faster than anybody else I know and I eat more slowly than anybody else anybody knows. So our rhythms are very different. He inhales his food and and I can have like hours of Greek olive and feta cheese. I remember one night.

Speaker At Nobu in Malibu, he actually started feeding me because he was getting so impatient with me that he is fast feeding me the food.

Speaker I could picture that.

Speaker Well, David, I think is has an incredible capacity for friendship. Those who are his friends talk about loyalty, and that is tribal.

Speaker Yes, I agree. You know quite sure where it comes from because I don't think he had that very much growing up. You know, he he did not have a large family. He doesn't talk to you about his family.

Speaker No, but he is he was very close to his mother the way he talks about his mother. And even when he kind of tells us funny things about her, you know, the fact that she had them in the shop and then that he she never cooked whatever there was on is that amazing closeness and love with her. I think part of it had to do that. I feel that his mother recognized his gifts, that even though he was bad at school and even though he dropped out of college and said I would have been easy to kind of love him as a child but dismiss his abilities. I have the sense from everything he has said about her that she recognized something in him and that it was really special. And it reminds me a little bit of Picasso because I wrote this biography of Picasso and he was not good at school. He was a little dyslexic. And then his mother had this unwavering confidence in him. And so I went, I never met David's mother. So it's it's a little bit of a conjecture on my part. But I have the sense that she would have said what because his mother said, which is that if you goes into the church, she'll become the pope. If she goes into the army, he'll become a gender. But she did call him King David. Yes, exactly.

Speaker You know, I just this is just occurring and we're talking about this because you're one of the first people that I'm well, Nora that I'm talking with is just purely a friend. Yes. Who didn't work with him or whatever.

Speaker What are you getting? Few iPhones. Which now.

Speaker I said, mine it is.

Speaker You can take it away if you love birds, I. That's a BlackBerry.

Speaker Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Let me know when we continue.

Speaker So it just occurred to me it's the first time I thought about this, that, you know, David began his career as, you know, as a manager. He was incredibly devoted to particularly Laura Nyro, who was his first right clients and speak his first arts. And he gave 300 fidgeting and percent of himself. And then when he moved to L.A. and he took on a larger portfolio, Joni and Crosby, Stills Nash Subway.

Speaker I think he I don't think he ever gave quite as much of himself as he did to or because he was kind of hurt by something that happened there with her. But he still gave a lot. And I don't think that the artist always gave back. And I think it's interesting that almost all of his really close friends are people he has not worked with. And it occurs to me that perhaps you sort that out purposely, that he wanted to have a friendship that was not based. You want to have friendships that were not based on. This is what you can do for me.

Speaker Right? I think I think that's I think that's very that's very, very perceptive. I feel that his friendships are not transactional. Even though, you know, he's close friends with Steven and Jeffrey and them. And they and they're. There was a partnership. There was a.

Speaker Very important working relationship. But many of his other friends are. Were people who had no working relationship with you, who have no working relationship with him, and therefore it was just.

Speaker The sharing of. Life and somehow that made it more special. And without anything else there.

Speaker Of unconditional, unconditional.

Speaker And what is interesting is that I know having. Having had a mother who who loved me unconditionally and having the sense that David's mother loved him unconditionally. I know that that is an incredible gift. I feel that his mother gave him a gift beyond anything, a gift so much more than wealth and so much bigger than anything a parent can give materially, because it's that sense of confidence that David has and that he had even before he succeeded.

Speaker And the confidence that. Made him feel that he could do whatever he chose to do. Even if the world around him didn't see it that way.

Speaker Well, you explain that better than anyone else has, because it's it's still amazing to. No matter how much his mother told him he was wonderful that this guy walks into the way Morris mail room has absolutely no I no doubt in his mind that he's going to become successful. And that's a tremendous that really separates the men from the boys. I think most people do not know.

Speaker I think, of course, we all have moments of doubt. That's only human and but not letting his doubts or his fears get in the way of where he was going. Not let his doubts and his fears stop him is really that great quality that he has. And and the fact that he is so convinced of what he believes and I have. Hurt him, trying to convince someone else, for example, of who they should hire. And I remember being mesmerized. It was either lunch and then I was in the middle between these two men and it was like watching a phenomenal Wimbledon match. And there is that intensity. I mean, I had no doubt that by the end of lunch, this man would hire this special like there was no question about it, because David was so mesmerizingly convincing that there was no way out. Now, if he had any power over the other man, another few could make him do it. But just nothing more than the power of who he was, the power of his conviction and the power of his expression.

Speaker What do you think he has? We all do. But if you had to identify what you think some of his vulnerabilities are, what would you say they are?

Speaker I would say that because he's a lawyer and they zollars the vulnerability of is the person that I'm so close to are going to be loyal back. And it's the vulnerability of not knowing because there are never any guarantees. Anytime we give of ourselves, any time we give in a deep way, we run the risk of being hurt because. Nobody has yet managed to give us any guarantees for forgiving our hadaway, and he does if he's hadaway to his friends and them. So that's always a vulnerability.

Speaker And as I said before, I think he's experienced that to some degree with this with some of the artists that he used to represent who may not have always been so happy that David became as successful. They thought that they were the ones who should be having the billions of dollars. And, you know, so that wasn't the basis of those relationships, I think was always, what can you do for me? Right. What I can do for you. And I think very little thanks actually for the fact that he didn't make so many of them so incredibly successful.

Speaker And that's something good, so different in the way David reacts, because David doesn't take things for granted. I remember the first Christmas know after we became friends. And I was wondering why do I gave him a Christmas present? And I remember him having told me that his favorite poem was Ithica by the great Bob Cavafy. And then. I saw I took the pod and the images do that again. So I took the podium and headed calligraphic graft in multiple ways. You know, as some of that I framed as a bookmark, something he could put in his wallet. You know, just multiple ways in which you could have the poem around him. And he was so grateful, you would have thought I had given him something unbelievably precious. And. And that's a gift to be grateful, you know, especially when you can get yourself whatever you want and not take anything that anyone gives you for granted.

Speaker Well, I think you give me so personal and so thoughtful. That's what he was appreciative of. It's much, much more wonderful to receive a gift like that than another great value.

Speaker But you don't really need anybody to get it right. Do you have a poem with you? I do. Can you can you read something?

Speaker Actually, as as I went back to that poem, which is a poem that was very boring to me in my childhood. And when David told me it was his favorite poem, I went back and looked at the poem from the point of view of David, you know, what did it mean to him as opposed to what it meant to me. And then when I looked at it again today, I just see how much it sums up David. The opening of the poem is when you set out on your journey to Ithaka. Pray that the road is long. Full of adventure, full of knowledge. And these are two things that have always been so important. David's life. You know, the sense of adventure. What are we going to do next? Where are we going to go next? And also the quest for knowledge. It's not surprising that some of David's closest friends are journalists and or people who are thinking for a living. In one form or another, including directors, you know, people who are dealing with their intellect on a constant basis because he loves that. He loves engaging with ideas. He also loves to gossip, but he also loves to really delve into what's happening. I mean, David was actually the first person I remember with whom I discussed Nuriel Rubinos and. Economic theories about why we are in trouble, about why the economy was going downhill. And David, for example, we table Charlie Rose and watch everything and discuss it after he's watched it and delve into the Sunday shows and read books constantly.

Speaker You know, he.

Speaker Absorbs them. Now, course, he has his multiple Kindles. He reads them on the Kindle, which I don't quite get because I would like to underline books, but so that those two lines in the poem, the sense of adventure and the quest for knowledge were. A big part of David's life and continue to be. Then there is a I'm not going to read the whole time. Don't worry. But then there is. And that line about the Leslie Ghanians and the Cyclopes all kind of different demands that we carry in us. And the fierce presider you will never encounter if you do not carry them within yourself. And that's against such a profound message about our lives that in the end, greatest enemies, the greatest obstacle. In the end, our greatest enemies, the greatest obstacles are those we carry in our heads and in ourselves. It's not the obstacles that we encounter outside, but what we carry in ourselves. And again, you know, David has done a lot in his life to try and understand himself, both deep analysis for years and years and asked. And connecting with people who have a real interest in spirituality, even though he claims he doesn't believe in God or an afterlife. In fact, he constantly teases me because I do. But I feel he also wants me to talk about it. Yet he enjoys the conversation about these things, even though his mode is of a non-believer. He's kind of drawn to it nevertheless. And now let's start this conversation, because I'm so interested in I remember one lunchtime at the boat having this conversation around the table and nobody agreed that there is an afterlife or that there was God, but everybody was interested.

Speaker And so it's. Really, the fascination.

Speaker And that longing to understand, even if we reached different conclusions, you know, that longing to make sense of life wasn't to say the spiritual quest is not always about necessarily a divine being.

Speaker It's, as you said, finding that place within within oneself.

Speaker Absolutely. The spiritual quest takes many forms. And I wrote a book that I call The Forth Instinct about the spiritual quest. And in it, I have chapters about. Art and about healing and them about relationships and really through all these different avenues. We tried to make sense of life to find some meaning in life beyond our careers and our families and live sobs and ours. Do you and David talk about these things? We do, yes. And them and we talk about them when things are not going well. Like, he was very bond in my life when my daughter went through an eating disorder. And that was such a hard moment for me. And and David is incredibly perceptive. He helped me deal with my own guilt and he made it worse sometimes when he was.

Speaker Have you noticed how you eat? Have you noticed how you kind of notice everything you eat? You know, you've you've made it. Whereas my you would both sort of confront me.

Speaker Lovingly but very, very honestly, which I so value because otherwise why I have friends if they don't tell us the truth. But also just help me see my own guilt. And he constantly teases me. When my daughter almost went to Vaasa, you know, he would say, you know, Soriana is going to be getting a little apartment in Poughkeepsie now and movie. And so the way that when you know someone, you can see their vulnerabilities, I feel he can see mine. And then and in that way really helped me through difficult times.

Speaker Tell me, at what point in his life did you and he become.

Speaker So that was I'm. It does. I can give you the exact date.

Speaker But it was here where he was basically in the DreamWorks chapter of his life, such as relatively recently, and it was in there eye since I moved to Los Angeles. I moved here in 1997.

Speaker Did he ever talk to you about his his scare with cancer?

Speaker Yes. And. He scag with cancer, I think, was incredibly significant because it it helped him understand. And what stress was doing to his life. And in a sense, I think his decision not to throw himself into another big project. It has a lot to do with. His understanding of how he deals with stress, and I think that's really an. Very interesting because so many very driven man. Don't have that awareness. And if David did not have that, I wonder if he would have ended up with a heart attack or with some that we see all around us. You know, we take it for granted that so many successful driven men end up with heart attacks, you know, but it shouldn't really be taken for granted. I mean, we should wake up to what we're doing in our lives, in a sense, through that scare, which, as you know, turned out to be not real. But nevertheless, through that scare, he was really able to understand himself better to to make some very important decisions about his life. And in a sense, it was a blessing and very much in disguise. But but definitely a blessing. And I think somebody from which he drew a lot in terms of how he's dealing with his life now.

Speaker Did he ever talk to you about because he's talked to us about to me about that he was one person before and he was a different approach, has tried very hard to be a different person since.

Speaker Yeah. Talk to you about. Yeah. That's that's part of the spiritual.

Speaker Absolutely. That is very much about the spiritual quest. And it's also very much about recognizing that we can keep going deeper and deeper in ourselves and in the process changing ourselves. And and then and redeeming whatever characteristics were there that we were not proud of or we didn't want to keep in our lives that we wanted to transform. So that transformation is really. Part of life, and there's something else in Ithaca which is relevant to that. AM.

Speaker So pray that the road is long, that the summer mornings are many. When was such pleasure with such joy?

Speaker You lanta ports seen for the first time and that, of course, became all them all that much more significant. When David and got the Rising Sun together with Larry Ellison and so spent so much time visiting new parts are the same parts, but seeing them in a new way.

Speaker And then the poem goes on about perfumes and amber and Ebony and other sensual pleasures and. And that is such a big part of David, too, you know, he is such a visual sense.

Speaker He.

Speaker Walks into a room and he sees a meeting. What needs to be done with that room? I know he's done that to me every time, you know, he comes here and looks around to change his curtain. So you need something else? Yeah, I think you need to put some more trees in the garden over here.

Speaker And and it's like instant. He has that incredible visual sense. And I'm not a particularly visual person, so I really kind of appreciate when somebody can come in and see at a glance. What needs to be changed at all? When something needs to go? What about this room? Did he have anything to say about this? Oh, yes. I think he he moved a few things around when he first came there. Remembering the dining room here.

Speaker He said, you know, the floor is not even it's not even the floor. Was just absolutely right. But I thought, oh, well, the floor is not even having there. But then he said it several times that I fixed the floor so hard.

Speaker I mean, this became such an important part of his life. It was something he grew up with. Now he's got this extraordinary art collection. So it sounds like you would put the art in. His love is real love of art. Now, as part of this spiritual journey.

Speaker Absolutely. Yes. Yes. Well, first of all, as you know, he he spent a lot of time understanding and studying art. Around the time when he had the scare and the scare and that he had cancer. And when he therefore wasn't as crazily busy and then could devote more time into learning about art. And again. He learned about art. I mean, he really started it. This was not just lackadaisical collectors understanding of art. That was a very deep understanding of art, of what he liked, of of what he wanted to collect. And so.

Speaker When he decided to to sell some of his art, he does again when things then speak to him as much. And also just again, his real business sense of the fact that the economy was going downhill. There were things in his house which. Didn't have the same charge for him that others did.

Speaker So this is a good time to sell them and of course, it is an unbelievable time to sell them, you know, if you're trying to sell them at any other time. He could not have sold them. And I successfully buy these antiquities. Yes. He sold quite a few. He saw the what?

Speaker Tell me some of the things he sold, the de Kooning said.

Speaker And he his he sold more than that. He sold. I think we should own it. And I don't remember exactly. So I think we should go back in and look at them. But he sold quite a few paintings from from his house in Beverly Hills, which were not as significant to him as the pieces that he kept. But I remember also when when he started going to on the boat and then.

Speaker But even before he bought half the boat sanding paintings for Larry and to put on the boat because again, he had already started rearranging the boat. Even when he was there as a guest and taking over the kitchen and deciding what what should be for dinner, unless, of course, Nora Ephron was then in which case she was in complete charge of the menu.

Speaker He they wanted to get to. OK. That's what we should be doing when, you know, you and he share a very.

Speaker Rare place in this world that you both yield enormous power. Yours is more quantifiable in the sense that you have this huge, you know, media empire now that is so influential.

Speaker Davis is a little more subtle. Can you talk about his power and how he uses it, how he got it, what it means, what it means to him? Just all those things, because that's really a huge part of who he is.

Speaker Yes, and it's very it's very subtle. Because it goes beyond wealth. And we all know a lot of very rich people who don't wield power. And then and it also goes beyond physician. It goes beyond the job. You know, there are very few people in the world who are fascinating. And no matter what they do or whether they do something or nothing at all. And I think David is one of those people because who he is and what he radiates.

Speaker And the reason why people enjoy being with him is independent of his wealth, his position or any kind of job. And I love that because I think in the end, who we are so much more important than what we do. And yet our world so much revolves around what we do. But the people who really want to be with the people who radiate a sense of being because most of the time what they do is not as relevant to the time you're spending with them. And David is a classic case of that. And that's why. It doesn't really matter what he does, and it's it's some combination of an incredibly natural wisdom like.

Speaker I've seen it with myself and I've seen it with so many of his friends who have an enormous amount of people who can advise them. But whenever there's something really important happening, they'll go to David. And and he can sort of cover the gamut. In terms of advice and also he's so present. And again, I can talk about my own experience, but I can also. Recount. Endless conversations that I have been like. I've been around like, say, on the boat when he would be talking to another friend. And he would be a hundred percent present and they would be talking about a career issue or a relationship issue.

Speaker And David, who is fact, this wise man like completely there, nothing else existed. And listening and giving advice and then getting completely invested in the advice, like then you had to do what he advised because that was the best thing you could do. It wasn't just idle chatter. And then I know, like with me, when he decided that the market was going down. That was it. The market was going down. It was like everyone, morning, Joe.

Speaker Are you out of the market? Are you out of them? Like, I had to act quickly and I did thanks to him. And a lot of his friends would be very grateful.

Speaker We should all be very grateful that he was so present about what was happening to the market and that he was dying and he had had this need to share and yet need to share it.

Speaker And that if he wanted his friends to do the right thing for them because he really cares. And also.

Speaker I really owe him so much when it comes to the launch of the Huffington Post. There's one more thing about the poem, which is. The end order always keep that in your mind, do arrive, there is your ultimate goal. But do not, Harry. The voyage at all. It is better to let it last for many years and to anchor at the island when you're old, reach with all you have gained. On the way, not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches. So for me, again, that's so profound because at some point, I don't know exactly when David realized that that none of his achievements would be his eighth Akha, that these are all goals along the way. But it wasn't going to be DreamWorks or even buying the L.A. Times or The New York Times or whatever may or may not be in his future. That was going to be the ultimate. Fulfillment. And that that fulfillment had to come from himself. And I know that's something which we all kind of know intellectually, but I feel he really knows it much more deeply than that. And that's why he's made the choices he has made. And that's why he gravitates towards some. People who are obviously fine, but also can deposit some of that wisdom that he is constantly seeking.

Speaker That's beautifully said.

Speaker And of course, we all know it somewhere deep inside us. But not all of us have six and a half billion dollars and can say, oh, none of that matters.

Speaker Right. But in the end, you know, you can actually I mean, we can all act on that knowledge on a lot less than that. You know, really, it's not for many people. It's not a matter of money. And obviously, most of us have to work for a living. But that's not the reason why many people continue to be driven to distraction and exhaustion and heart attacks beyond what we all need in order to make a living.

Speaker What we were saying before we were interrupted was actually I think I'm done with the pun. Glad you remember. Are you attracted by The Hair is about the Huffington Post?

Speaker Yes, yes. Yes. So I remember. That the idea for the Hovenden bus was born in this room and after the 04 election, I brought together a group of friends, including David, to discuss what we learned from the election, because all of us in different ways were so involved in that election. And suddenly George Bush had gotten re-elected and them and there was a sense that what had the media done? What had happened? Being elected was one thing. Being re-elected seemed like a very different thing, but had to be explained. And we were sitting here and I remember David and I were in front of the fireplace and there was a general discussion and. Some writers, activists, some a large group of people, about 40 people. And we started talking about new media and online media. And Candy Lir was my co-founder of the Huffington Post, was here from New York and. It was really, I remember on the back of an envelope, although it was not literally an envelope, it was a blank page where we started writing about what could an online newspaper effectively be like. That would include, you know, opinion and news and commentary. And as we started thinking about that and Kenny and I decided to go ahead and do it at every step of the way, I would run everything by David.

Speaker And I remember we'd be having dinner with my arrive piece of paper to show him the design. You know, or I would take him online.

Speaker When we constructed it and he would say to you, you need to have a blog of your own. It's now originally, for example. I didn't have a blog of my own. And he did. And I just like welcoming people to your home. You need to have something there where you you tell them what to expect, where you are. So we redesigned it with that. And then I was writing every day. And then he started telling me, stop writing every day. You don't need to be writing every day. You know, you've established having them pass. Now you've established your voice. Nobody wants to hear from you every day.

Speaker I would say to you every day and comment.

Speaker We talk a lot. Yes. And so he was so right. And somehow the farther it took me a while, it took me like three months of him saying stop writing every day for me to stop writing every day or so. Liberating. And of course, I didn't have to be writing every day, but I thought I did. And he kept saying, Starbridge don't write tomorrow. And I ended up writing three times a week. You know, the third one is a much smaller kind of roundup of the week. And it was liberating. And it also meant that I could. I had the time to develop other parts of the Huffington Post and to help it grow. So it was it was a great idea, both passionately and business wise, because we could really grow it much faster. But again, he almost like. Made me trust that it would be OK. You read and write every day or. I remember having lunch at his house on a Saturday. It was just the two of us. And I said, you know, I really need to launch a book section. I said, I think because he and I are both such bookworms and we are constantly reading and talking about books that we need to have a book section. He said you should do it together with the New York Review of Books. He said that they have such great content, but they're not online. Just just called Bobzilla literally just like that. And I remember I called Bob Sessions and he said, great idea. And the guy's a long story short. We launched our book section with a New York Review of Books.

Speaker So it's a and it's constantly coming up with ideas, with suggestions, making it seem really effortless. And. And then I. I just follow through as as I did with many of his ideas for the having been passed. And he has that incredible instinct for what? Is right for what will work.

Speaker Let's talk a little bit about you mentioned the L.A. Times and The New York Times. What do you think the impulse was for him to want to buy both of those newspapers?

Speaker Well, he loves journalists. Some of his best friends are journalists, and he loves every part of journalism, from the highbrow to the lowbrow, from the big discussions of policy to page six. You know, just everything on the boat. You know, here he has this software that produces newspapers. And so that sort of will be having breakfast. And you can have the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post. And again, that's what helped me understand. All are. Desire for real newspapers. Even though my work is online and that's my medium, there is something in our DNA that likes having breakfast and passing the newspaper around, then it's not just because we don't want to get marmalade on our PowerPoint. There's just something about the tactile nature of newspapers. And so what we decided, in fact, to have a tagline for The Huffington Post, which at the beginning we had a kind of humorous tagline which was delivering news and opinion since May 9th, 2005, which is when we launched kind of making fun of ourselves a little when we grew up. Our tagline was the Internet newspaper. And so. Their recognition that. Especially those of us who are of a certain age. Loners like newspapers was something which I saw very clearly when. David introduced me to software actually produces real newspapers. So I think his love of newspapers, his love of journalists is what made him want to have a newspaper and see what he could do with it. It would be like another big adventure.

Speaker Do you think he's concerned? This is a stupid question because I know the answer. But I'm concerned about the future of journalism and the future of newspapers and the future of reporting. Does this have something to do with his desire to kind of create a place in which the marketplace is not influencing?

Speaker Oh, yes, absolutely. He's very concerned about the future of journalism, the future of investigative journalism, and then the reason why he wants to. I have a newspaper that's a major newspaper and but is a not for profit newspaper and is because then all these considerations am dependent on advertising, on subscriptions and on what the market will bear. It would not be the determinant determining considerations. It's a very lofty goal. It is, and it's very consistent to what he loves. That's the other thing I think he recognizes that there's no point in doing anything that he doesn't absolutely love. But he is also very realistic about the pressures. And he recognizes that it's unlikely that he could just say by The New York Times that he's interested in buying The L.A. Times any more. But let's say he were able to buy The New York Times, which would depend on whether the family would want to sell it. I think they have 80 percent. Yes, exactly. They have this special class shares that would make it difficult or impossible to buy it without their cooperation. But let's say he bought The New York Times. He knows himself well enough to know that he couldn't do it lackadaisically, that he would really throw himself into it now, that he wouldn't hire an editor and let the editor or an editorial, but that he would be very, very engaged. And so he also is aware of the level of stress that he would reintroduce into his life. And right now, I think he's really loving the fact that he can have a life which is full of. The things that he wants and now that he is in love. That, of course, makes it even more special. But without having to. To have the daily stress of having a huge project.

Speaker It's hard to imagine, though, that the last act in terms of David's contribution to the world has has has played. I don't believe that. Do you?

Speaker Well, I don't. I mean, I know how much he loves it when he's involved in them. What's happening right now here? When he went to Washington, for example. I don't know if you've talked to him about it. And he went to the state dinner and and then he you went to David Bradley's house and and spoke and had a discussion with a group of journalists. And he loved it. And they loved him. I mean, I've heard from so many friends of mine who were there and how utterly fascinating he was and and how would you help us?

Speaker And he sent me the letter that Bradley. Yes. Comparing him to the. Oh, my God. So, yes. And all I can say today was why didn't she tell me this was happening? We could have filmed this very hard time.

Speaker No footage of him. Kind of. How do you.

Speaker Make the case for someone's inflow. Yes. Without having any thing to hang it on it visually.

Speaker Ah, what about. And I always said ISIS, it offers hope. Somebody filmed that. He's afraid not. I want. So what did you tell him? They didn't even tape it or nothing. I said, would you like your doctor, David Bradley. Oh, I'm sure we could talk. I mean, he hasn't told me to talk to. But what I mean would have been very nice to have. Oh, yeah. Something like that is happening that, you know. That would have been passed. I mean, great. I couldn't believe it, but it might be good to do and do at least talk to some of the people who were there just to get their sense.

Speaker Because, you know, the David Bradley made is kind of amazing. And, you know, David Bradley is not easily impressionable. Right. I mean, his. So but that's one thing that you may be able to get. Because I think they did record it was this 90 second straight. Why am captains of industry. Yes, I was there that night. On that night. And so, as Maureen, you know, that is the inception of the column. Have you.

Speaker Dr. Murray, I've talked to I've talked to her. I went to Washington to meet her, to talk about what she was comfortable talking about. And now that interview is going to happen hopefully in combination with an interview with Rahm Emanuel. And I'm hoping. But great. You know, I know that David would like that very much to happen. Right. Working on it. But talk. Let's talk about the Maureen Dowd column, because that was such a credibly important and influential opening salvo in what turned out to resulted in one of the most historic things that we're going to talk about. Roll with that. The inception of that or what, your perception? Yes.

Speaker Well, it started in New York at the 90 second Street Y when David was being interviewed and he was asked a question about the Clintons and. His relationship with the Clintons and he was very outspoken about Hillary Clinton and her role as the potential nominee. And I remember Lloyd Grove was there and was at the time writing for the Daily News.

Speaker And then.

Speaker And life comes after marriage as well. That is quite a bombshell as it yes. As though you're writing about it. And he said, yes, I am. And so Lloyd wrote about it because otherwise, you know, it would have basically disappeared.

Speaker So that was the first kind of salvo from David, which went largely unnoticed in the room. But people like Maureen and Lloyd and I, people who are sort of more sort of in tune with what was happening with the potential of of a Hillary Clinton run. And I thought it was significant. And then sort of flash forward to an Obama. Running and running against Hillary and Maureen was here for the Obama fund raiser that the Davíð then Spellberg and Katzenberg were throwing. And Maureen actually convinced him to talk about it and.

Speaker And I remember. The night of the fundraiser and when the column went online and.

Speaker We were at David's house after the fundraiser for dinner and and Obama was there and them. And David. Just read me parts of the column as it had gone online, and I thought this was amazing, amazingly brave. And when we say brave, what we mean, you know, we don't mean that anything would happen to David. But so many people are so cowardly about speaking the truth or their truth and losing access. And after all, at the time. Hillary Clinton was the prohibitive front runner, and nobody practically believed that she would not be the nominee. And it's hard to remember now what it was like back in February of 2008. But. David basically took the risk that this would be the next president of the United States and he just made her into an enemy.

Speaker Do you think that. What influence do you think that had in the outcome?

Speaker It had the kind of influence that the fairy tale of the little boy who said that the emperor wore no clothes had. As so often in life, we all got along not saying what we're thinking. And the conventional wisdom as a result prevails. And he was the little boy who spoke something that many people were thinking. And by speaking, it gave permission to others to think it loudly. And that was a pretty remarkable moment. And I'm not saying that just because I happen to agree with him. I think even those who didn't agree with him recognized that it was a significant moment. And. When you look back the way that the Clinton campaign reacted, which was. Just very unnecessarily virulent. It shows that they also sensed that this is an important moment.

Speaker And a very good example of. A use of power that you can't even.

Speaker Describe in words. It's so pervasive, it's such pervasive power. And that's what I'm trying to get. Are there any other examples of that with David that you can think of?

Speaker Well, in the end, that's the power of truth telling. And is the power of using a platform that you have an. By virtue of who you are or what you've done to actually speak your truth. And that is.

Speaker The very profound and sometimes it's in public and sometimes it's in private. And when you have certain insights about your friends or about what's happening and you share them even at the risk of maybe upset upsetting them. I think that's also something which is.

Speaker So significant. Why do you think people are so fascinated with David?

Speaker Because he is fascinating and he is an. He's an amazing combination of somebody who is an enormous amount of fun to be with. And who has this incredible capacity for intimacy and for being really present with you? M., who is very smart and more important, very wise, because we all know so many smart people and we wouldn't necessarily want to spend. Endless amount of hours with them, because we might as well be reading a book after a while. And so that's why I talk about wisdom with David rather than Smuts. And that's why people are drawn to as well as.

Speaker There's ride the wave, you know, his incredible enjoyment of life. And his. Absorbtion of everything, like a sponge, you know, even now when he is in his 60s, I can just imagine what he was like as a teenager in his twenties, that everything becomes raw material.

Speaker Well, you know, the famous story of how he got started it way more.

Speaker Yes. It you mean with the fabricated.

Speaker Which is kind of delicious. I love it. But David is is trying to. If you can, because you're so poetic. I'm going to ask you to try to do something. You could put up a. Some words around that in some ways, David, is really epitomizes.

Speaker The classic story of the immigrant boy, in a way, even though his first generation, when he is a. Who comes from humble beginnings, who really attains the American dream?

Speaker Against all odds. And if you could kind of talk about that, because, I mean, it's not the most interesting part of the story, but it is a part of it.

Speaker And it's something that I think is one of the reasons that people are so fascinated. I mean, he's this is Norma's legacy, credible power, incredible wealth. And he basically came from this credibly humble beginnings. And it's sort of. And yet he stays very much behind the scenes. I think it's part of the mystique of brain interest. Let's talk a little bit about that, because you also are I mean, you're actually I mean, really, you're the real immigrant, the first generation.

Speaker There is something funny about that I just remembered. I'll I'll answer your question, but I just remembering of really immigrant. I remember sort of early in our friendship, we were talking on the phone and I said something about how it's gone, New York City's New York, not New York. He would say to me.

Speaker And then. And then he would he would sort of blow Professor Higgins with my accent. And then he told Warren once he said, you know, you should have.

Speaker And then I talked to Arianna, you know, how I met talks. And I said, I'm not on that. I can't I can't change Max. And he said, no.

Speaker I said, I want you to change your accent, but be absolutely clear when you speak. And I remember that.

Speaker M..

Speaker Talking to someone, I can't reveal how we found them, I think he recommended them to do work with me on vowels and so difficult, David.

Speaker I gave up after a little while because it was like a hopeless exercise. But it was very funny. And it was again. I don't want you to lose your accent, but I want you to be very clear with your vowels and and where you and the consonants.

Speaker Tell me some other funny stories about David that you can think of that are revealing and juicy about him.

Speaker I remember sitting on the boat, you know, he doesn't like the sun and I love the sun. So we're sitting legs so that I could be in the sun and he would be in the shade. And he looked at me and he said, there's too much green in your hair.

Speaker Watch it closely, Kyra, to do your collar. There is always an answer when he identifies a problem. There is always a solution. Somebody who can help you with your accent or somebody who can help you with your haircut and them.

Speaker And indeed, I went to Loosley Cari. And you may have noticed that my hair doesn't have the kind of red it had at one point or another that I prefer it. And again, that is. David's doing making me want to go to him. You should go to him. He's I mean, your hair looks great, but I. He's terrific.

Speaker Well, I like hundred percent grey. So it's, uh, it's showing.

Speaker But if I let it grow.

Speaker But I didn't want to go to it because I know it's very expensive and I have to have it done every three weeks. I know you don't.

Speaker No, no, no, no, no. Here you go. He'll get it right. And you don't have to. And he's both here in New York. He's back and forth and say that David and Ariana said, oh, Sancerre did.

Speaker She now blogs for us. Like everybody, all the people who blog for you first.

Speaker No, not not anymore. But obviously, when we started.

Speaker Did you have any idea when you started this, how incredibly influential this was going to become?

Speaker No, of course not. But I remember that that reminds me of another David story and the day we launched. I was in New York and I was flying to Boston and. And this review came out by Niki Fink in AM. That is, you know, not the L.A. Weekly, actually, she wrote it and it was devastating and it had things like. The Huffington Post is the movie equivalent of Geely, Ishtar and Heaven's Gate all rolled into one. And this failure is simply unsurvivable.

Speaker And I remember calling David saying this is this is so terrible. This is the most thorough review. And he was like, amazing. He said, Don, give it another thought.

Speaker He'd want mean a thing. You know, he was like, so sorry. Assuring. So, you know, this is like a few hours all as a baby and suddenly being massacred.

Speaker And I remember just how amazing it was talking to him, because, again, it's what you said about. His ability to say something and the weather was so convincing that I literally hang up. And I felt. Like a new person. Everything was going to be that everything was going to be OK. I had been reassured that everything was going to be OK.

Speaker And I completely believed him while I saved my mother had told me that I would have said, oh, I love cars. You are saying that because you had to make me feel better?

Speaker Well, you know, David said his ups and downs with that with the press and the media. I mean, he certainly hasn't. I mean, I think he's kind of untouchable in a way now. But the. Yeah, you probably do know that he came. He had some very bad articles written about.

Speaker Oh, yes. And the book, of course, that was so upsetting to him. Does he ever talk to you about those things? Yes. And about the book. Tell me what his what he said about it. Yes. Well, them. What does the book on the outside? The operator, the operator. Yes. But that book was deeply hurtful for two reasons. One, because he had.

Speaker He had talked to him. And so, you know, you feel differently.

Speaker When he had let him them there, his friends talk to him. And so it was a kind of betrayal and I mean, now that you expect people to. To only write good things if you talk to them. But that this book was so was such a caricature of David and that. That you had that sense that. Clearly, that the writer had sort of some kind of ax to grind, so it wasn't just a case of. It's a mixed review, so to speak, of your life. And. I think to look at to have your whole life written about. And. In a way which was like seeing the worst in everything. And this must be a. And pretty painful experience. You know, I mean, I've had bad articles written about me, but it's one thing to have a bad article and I have a bad book where your whole life is seen through that lens. But I also think in the end. And it does. One of those experiences that he, having processed, it helped him become stronger and wiser, which. Is always true. But again, you can't just say you are stronger and wiser. You have to go through that process and through that sort of purgatory and come out the other way. Well, of course, it is the American dream. But it's the American dream in a deeper sense than just coming from nowhere and succeeding.

Speaker And it's the American dream in the sense of constantly learning about yourself. And about life, about the world. Constantly. And reaching your life beyond material wealth.

Speaker And that in the end, for me, is the lesson of his life. It isn't just all the obvious trappings of success and wealth and power. But that.

Speaker Constant journey to EPICA. And that. Longing to understand and make sense of life and find meaning in life and transcend whatever the ups and downs of life are. I think that's really that the biggest legacy that he's going to leave behind.

Speaker And reinvention in the best sense of the word. Use the word transformation, which also. Mike Nichols talked about. So that's that he thought the defining. Characteristic description of David's life was transformation, which in its reinvention in another and other work.

Speaker But transformation is the right word because a transformation has depth to it. And you can reinvent yourself in sort of superficial ways. But when you transform yourself, it's like you transform the essence and you get closer to who you really are. And then you're not as caught up. In the surroundings, and that's harder when the surrounding Subotica, beautiful and luscious, it takes a. It takes an extra amount of effort.

Speaker Is there anything you'd like to say about David that I haven't asked you?

Speaker Now, what was great is that things kept coming up. You know that I think that I had what I love God, this interview is that you've you've gotten to the soul of Dave.

Speaker That is ultimately was going to make this an interesting film, not just that he was a great businessman, right? Is that he was he had this enormous impact on the. On our culture, which I would like to talk a little bit about, but that, you know, we don't get a sense of who he is as a human being. And the film is going to be anemic. So thank you very much for that. I appreciate.

Speaker Thank you. Well, I just loved the opportunity to talk about somebody that I really love.

Speaker But in terms of his cultural legacy, how would you describe it? I mean, I know you were there for that part of the journey, but you must know of that. How is he thought about in terms of his legacy, how different the world is because of David Geffen cultural?

Speaker Well, again, it's the fact that he he spotted things, whether it was artists or cats or Dreamgirls.

Speaker He says that he has that eye and that. And when we say that, I don't mean just visually. And that gift.

Speaker To spot things. And then to act on that. And to create out of his own intuition and out of his own instinct. To both have that instinct. And to be able to. Take all the steps that turn an idea into reality is his gift as a businessman.

Speaker You know, there's a little bit of a Zelig quality of that, David. Maybe you could talk a little bit about that. I mean, every, you know, important point culturally since the 70s, you know, there's David Geffen. You know, he had a picture of it.

Speaker He'd always be there. We'd like John Lennon's death.

Speaker Yes. Only person that Yoko call. This is David. So he's there at these critical points culturally along the way. Could you. Could you talk a little bit about that? Be great to have somebody talk about that Zellick quality.

Speaker The Zaarly qualities is really fascinating. You know, the fact that Yoko Ono called him and after John Lennon's death is again. Another demonstration of how close people feel to him, which is not, again, a function of what he does. And also. His. Decision to come out and deal with his homosexuality. And and then the way he didn't just contribute to AIDS causes, but he actually became really engaged in that moment in our history and was another demonstration of his willingness to get really involved in something, not just to write a check, but to get involved.

Speaker And again, another demonstration of how.

Speaker His influence.

Speaker What beyond the act? Do you know of say, yeah, this is it had this enormous impact on lots and lots of young young men in America who could say, well, David Geffen here. I guess it's OK. You know, that's I think that's why he did that. I think he just felt like he couldn't. I don't think he ever really hid his bisexuality, you know. But I think there's a big difference between being open with your friends and making a public step.

Speaker Oh, absolutely. There's a huge difference. And and, of course, it would be less important now than it was then, because with every year that passes, it becomes more. So what? But it wasn't. So what then? Were you there that night? Now. I didn't really know him well. That.

Speaker More Ebadi introduced him. And he said two very interesting things in his introduction. First, he said that galvanized David Geffen. Somebody you wanted working for you, not against you.

Speaker But you think he. What do you think he meant by that?

Speaker Well, that was probably that the pre cancer scare, David.

Speaker And when when people were more afraid of him because he he could exact a pound of flesh. But as he says himself, you know, the cancer scare was pretty transformational. And he set out. To learn from the fact that his life might be ending and it is kind of amazing that. Almost like a Greek myth that you take on the steps and then it turns out that it wasn't true.

Speaker And then in a sense, for me, that's. That's an incredible lesson in a sense that we all need to act as though we're going to die at some level. And he acted like that because he was told he was not going to die. Then at least he was facing a life threatening disease. And in the course of that journey, he.

Speaker Was fundamentally changed. Wonderful. Three words. Fashion passionate. President.

Speaker And courageous, anybody have just practiced. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. What what do you think he would think was his proudest accomplishment?

Speaker I don't know. I think that's a very hard question, because one of the great things about David is how how much in the present he seems to be.

Speaker Even though he's a fantastic raconteur and he can has an extraordinary memory and can recount stories from the past and and really kind of draw you in like Arabian Nights are listening to the stories.

Speaker And I almost have a sense with him that.

Speaker That's who he is, is beyond his accomplishments. So I can't pick one accomplishment or define him by because I think in the end his biggest accomplishment will be not what he did with his career, but what he did with himself. And that's the biggest lesson.

Speaker Thank you.

Speaker Thank you so much.

Speaker Back to the edit room if I'm running and I feel like I really could use another thing from Arianna. We could call you, right?

Speaker Oh, of course. Yes, absolutely. Whatever. Wonderful. Thank you so much. That was so wonder. How far does that mean?

Speaker I'm trying to get at for the average 14 year old who may not know what it is about David Geffen, that he's almost like a watchword.

Speaker I was like, David Geffen dies. Do you know why? What do you think?

Speaker Again, I think it's sad. I think even for people who haven't met him. And the his name evokes something about the way he is and the way he lives his life and the passion that he brings to what he does.

Speaker Whether it's. Work or theater or art or friendships.

Speaker And in a sense, it's something we all want. You know, we all want to lead passionate lives. And I think his name kind of evokes that now, because that's that's sort of the hallmark.

Speaker Yeah, but I think goes beyond that. There are a lot of people who live a passionate life, but they don't say that, Arianna. She has lunch.

Speaker You have lunch with them together.

Speaker There's something that separates him from most people.

Speaker I think that's definitely something. And. About coming from nowhere. That is very romantic. And in our culture, that.

Speaker You.

Speaker Have a father who, you know, as he says, really never did very much of his life. A mother who adored him and who kept her citizenship papers as the most proud possession in them in then the safety box that he had to break into. When she died because he didn't have a key. And Obinze, the safety box and there her citizenship papers. And so suddenly, there you are. You know her son and you've become part of American life and you will be an American master. You know, that's. That's a great achievement and a great recognition of how everything is possible in this country. Wordlist was.

Arianna Huffington
Interview Date:
2009-12-09
Runtime:
1:12:14
Keywords:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-zs2k64bn55, cpb-aacip-504-g15t728162, cpb-aacip-504-ks6j09ws7n
MLA CITATIONS:
"Arianna Huffington, Inventing David Geffen." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 09 Dec. 2009, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/684
APA CITATIONS:
(2009, December 09). Arianna Huffington, Inventing David Geffen. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/684
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Arianna Huffington, Inventing David Geffen." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). December 09, 2009. Accessed January 27, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/684

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