Transcript:

Speaker Everybody. So there you go. OK. So you think you have to go too far back in memory? Tell me where you first met David and what did you think about when you first met?

Speaker Well, I first met David. I know it was in the late 70s. And it was most likely through my friendship with Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw, I had an acquaintanceship with both of them. And I remember one point Ali introduced me to David Geffen at Ron Fletcher's workout salon, where I actually signed up to actually do my very, very first regimen of of of helpful exercise.

Speaker I wouldn't call it bodybuilding. That's never in my stars, but helpful exercise. That's right. I first met David. Was he exercising? Yes, he was on the floor exercising. Yes. So we first met exercising next to each other.

Speaker That's when I had something. We gave him these questions. And in a conversation, they come up short.

Speaker Sure. Anything you don't want to talk about? Sure. Absolutely. Thank you.

Speaker So what did you think of it? Did you like each other?

Speaker Yeah. Instantly. I liked for one thing, you know, he had you know, he had that very recognizable fire in his belly that I had that I really kind of associate with a lot of people who have talent and have vision and have ambition. And he was just he had more energy than I ever thought I could develop. I mean, he was just like a real kind of bottle fire and was very interested in everything. I mean, he was asking a lot of really interesting questions and and, you know, and, you know, had known of me through my association with Universal because we found that we were friends with some of the same people.

Speaker What was he doing when you met him? What was it? What stage was he out of his career?

Speaker He was he was in the music business. So the fourth one? I believe so.

Speaker So did he ask you did did you feel you had a fire in his belly in that movie?

Speaker I thought he had a fire in his belly.

Speaker Just about the arts, you know. You know, life, art, architecture, film, theater and music. It just he he just had so many different interests. Many more, you know, different interests than I really possessed at that time.

Speaker Did you start spending a lot of time together then, or was it sort of an exercise in that friendship?

Speaker No, we were just acquaintances. It was just sort of, you know. But but we were going to be pulled back together again through countless, you know, people who we both knew. When did your relationship sort of begin to solidify?

Speaker We know there were there were a couple of things that David did that really helped me in my life. I guess one of the earliest things he did for me was to get me an amazing architect. And we just lost you know, Charlie quaff me recently, and that was the first I ever heard of Charlie and his art.

Speaker And that was because David said, I hear you're looking for an architect. Go look at my apartment on Fifth Avenue. Go up there if you like it. That's the guy you should hire. That's exactly what I did. And Charlie and I have been working together. We worked together, you know, from the early 80s until his last project, which is an office building in Tribeca that he just completed for my company.

Speaker You know, I knew him pretty well as my first husband was president.

Speaker So, OK, but I didn't say yes for a long time. Yes, it was a shock to me.

Speaker And the second thing that I remember, David, for in the very early years was David said, you know, we'll come an our collection. Do you have? And I said, I've got three original covers of Mad magazine, you know, and I've got some original more trucker artwork from the inside of the magazine.

Speaker He said, you what you have, that's not art.

Speaker You know, how can you bring that up in the same breath? That's not art. Do you know anything about art? And I confessed to him now, not a lot.

Speaker So I looked at some of his paintings and there was one painting in particular that I loved. It was by Margreet, and it was this rather large apple filling the entire space of a room. And David sold me my first painting. That was the first painting I ever purchased.

Speaker And he gave me a really good deal to give me to David.

Speaker Give me a good deal. Looking back on it now, it was a great deal. But probably at the time it was probably a fair deal.

Speaker Oh, because the story that I read and, you know, we don't we don't believe everything that he gave you pretty good price that you found out and you said like it's a good deal. He said, because I know one day you're going to be really into collecting. I did enjoy watching you collect it.

Speaker Well, it's true because he helped me build a collection. David always. I was very mindful of what's coming up at auction of what's being sold by private collectors, and he always let me in on it. He never just, you know, did this in secret or just for himself. He he he spread the advice and he spread the opportunities among people who really work, you know, forming a passion for art, which I was basically because of his tutelage and and got me really started.

Speaker Now, do you ever I have a big art collection. Yeah. What is it?

Speaker It's some American expressionist. But but. But also French. French, you know. You know, impressionism from 19th century and of course, the. The oil and water of my art is. I love Norman Rockwell. I love American illustrations and illustration art. I love that so much. So it's very eclectic to see my collection. I guess it wouldn't pass any kind of a real test because you don't mix those two. But I do.

Speaker Well, that's what makes it you know, as you what I know also that wonderful scene where you play a large part of this on yourself. We're just talking to you getting your makeup today. This is what you think. You know, we look back on David upbraiding dates back then as well. I think it was very different. Know was probably more suburban. It was the streets of Rome. Where do you think David's ability to become? Did you know something?

Speaker I don't know. I don't know. David has always existed as David for me. And, you know, the power of David and and his power of persuasion and his very uncharacteristic respect and admiration for telling the truth, which sometimes is a little hard to take because it doesn't mince words and he doesn't piecemealed out. He tells you what he thinks is is rare in a business I've been now in since professionally since 1969. And David stands out really as somebody who will tell you absolutely his point of view, which is his truth, doesn't have to be everybody's truth, but it's absolutely the truth. David believes and it's what I have found in my association, professionally and personally with David to be the truth and all the. All of my instances of working with David. It's always been the truth. He's always been right.

Speaker Mm hmm. Do you ever talk about his childhood? Because I think you had some shared experiences. Childhood were unusual. Your interests were not like everybody else was interested in you.

Speaker We had strong Jewish moms and we had a lot of similarities growing up. You know, we both sort of knew what we wanted to be from a very, very young age. And I didn't have to be a page, you know, anywhere or I didn't have to be in the mailroom. But I you know, I started making little eight millimeter home movies. And David started from his from his bootstraps. And, you know, and learning how to tie his own shoelaces at a very early age. And found his own opportunities. Made his own way. And I think we've often talked about how we both kind of made our own way. We both admit it takes luck and it takes, you know, as they say, being in the right place at the right time. And I think we're both lucky people. But I also think that we when we didn't have the luck and when it wasn't going our way, we made the opportunities happen for ourselves and David. And I've often talked about that because it doesn't have that talent.

Speaker Tell us that you are. I don't know. We can talk to Mr. Roth. Obviously, you know, he played a role in your life. Other people may talk about this from Steve Ross.

Speaker I spoke with Steve Ross was the greatest movie star never to have been a movie star.

Speaker He just happened to fill that bill. He he in his aura, he was Cary Grant and and a little bit of Gary Cooper. He was Walter Houston, you know.

Speaker And at the same time, you know, there was there was just a little bit of Clark Gable, that kind of roguish Gable esque side of Steve Ross. And we all just admired him the way you would admire a an iconic movie star from the 1930s and 40s, the golden age of Hollywood. But he wasn't that at all. He started off in the undertaking funeral business, you know, found a way to turn hearses into limousines and started finding the Kinney parking lot, you know, company and which led to the acquisition of Warner seven Arts. But I mean, he had a very interesting road, but it led to show business, which is a place that he always belonged. And I just admired him. He was my best friend from the day I met him to the day he died was a very short span of years. Knowing Steve, whom I met Steven, 81.

Speaker And I was with Steve just the day before he passed away, which was when I blocked it when I was little. Yeah, it was. But you didn't you never actually work in the company. I did.

Speaker I did. I did a lot of films at Warner Brothers as a producer and as director. Roderick The Color Purple and Grit and Empire of the Sun at Warner Brothers, I produced Tony Tute Adventures and Amedi X, you know, peaking in the brain for Warner Television and produced The Goonies and and Gremlins and a whole number of pictures from Warner Brothers. And I had I had I had two main studios that I really sort of camped out and worked for and with. And one was universal with my friend Sid Schreiber and Lou Osment. And the other one, of course, was Warner Brothers with Steve Ross Terry, someone Bob Daley.

Speaker Tell me, what's your first actual you and David? Friendship each other. But is it the case that you really, really began to have a relationship or work together with DreamWorks? And as it first thing. Yes. First thing. Yes. So let's do something is extraordinary achievement. Did you know Jeffrey Katzenberg very well before he approached you?

Speaker Well, no, not very, very well. I knew David Geffen very, very well. Jeffrey was a acquaintance of mine and I worked at Disney Executive producing Who Framed Roger Rabbit. And I produced another picture called A Far Off Place for the Walt Disney Company when he was there. And I actually did some work for Jeffrey and Michael Eisner when Michael Eisner called me and said, you know, we'd like to come over to Disney. Can you call the board of directors? And he called me and George Lucas and about a dozen other people. We all called the board members recommended Jeffrey and Michael fought for those positions. But I didn't know Jeffrey all that well, certainly not compared to how well I knew David.

Speaker At the at the time.

Speaker But what we did. But but let him go back a little bit further that this I'm talking about now in the 80s.

Speaker But Jeffrey and I decided to do something together, which is a little offbeat for two people who work in movies. The two of us probably became really close friends when we opened the restaurant together called Divx exclusively serve submarine sandwiches.

Speaker And this was a cockeyed scheme. One day I was I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn't get a good sub in Los Angeles. And so I went out and a lot of my assistants were all over L.A. We found all the subs we could. Geoffrey came over and we'd sampled subs everywhere, from everywhere. And we didn't like any of them. And then I said, you know, I wish we could do something, you know, and like a little drive through. You know, you drive in, drive out sort of a hamburger, get a sub sandwich. And Jeffrey said, why don't we start a business together and we'll call a dive.

Speaker I said, yeah, we'll have dive ins and dive outs. And Jerry said, No, no, let's not do the drive in franchise yet.

Speaker Let's do a flagship. Let's really do a kind of a ride, a sort of real, you know, celebration, you know. Well, well, glitz, a lot of art direction, you know. And Jeffrey and I literally got into the restaurant business before we got into the DreamWorks business, whereas where was the restaurant? There were about five of the restaurants. One was in Barcelona. One was in Vegas, L.A. But but now there are no dive restaurants because it was a failing enterprise. It actually Jeffrey and I probably together lost more money in dive than we ever did in the movie business.

Speaker Yes. Why, with your names attached to them, they could just flop.

Speaker Well, but the people weren't eating speel burgers.

Speaker They were eating big sandwiches and, you know, and we were not in the best venues. I don't I think our location is centricity kind of hurt us.

Speaker But we didn't have the best venues, but we had a pretty good idea and we had a blast doing it together. And we'd learned from that that we could do more together. We could produce more films together. We can work together without getting into creative, you know, arguments. We realized that we had a future between us.

Speaker So when tell us how Jeffrey first proposed this idea. As I understand it, he was after he left Disney. You were on vacation in Jamaica. You were on the phone. Is that.

Speaker Yes. Yes, I was. I was I was at a friend's house in Jamaica with my wife. And Jeffrey had just been fired from the Disney company. So my friend and I, Robert Zemeckis, the filmmaker, picked up the telephone and we called Jeffrey and we were kind of razzing him. We were saying we're not going to wear Mickey Mouse shirts anymore. And, you know, we're going to Bernard Donald Duck shirts in effigy and that sort of thing.

Speaker And then at one point, Bob said, make us says, hey, you're out of work and Steve is not doing anything right now. Why do you guys, like, form a studio together? And we all had a big laugh about it on the phone.

Speaker And I got home from Jamaica a few days later and there was a call waiting for me from Jeffrey. And Jeffrey said, you know, before anybody ever wrote for the mouse, but a studio, that's exactly what I want to do.

Speaker And that's what I had been planning ever since I was let go from the Walt Disney Company is something I've had on my mind for a long time, not just a couple of days. I'd like to talk to you about that. And Jeffrey came over to my house and he actually proposed starting the first studio in something like 65 years. And I didn't want to do it at first because it's a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. I'm not a business guy. You know, I'm a I'm the movie guy. And I pick the scripts and develop the screenplays and find out. I like to cast movies and TV shows, but I don't have a business degree. And I never ran a studio before. Jeffrey had Paramount and Disney. I hadn't.

Speaker And then I got a call from David Geffen saying, you should do this. You and Jeffrey need to do this. And he gave me the Geffen monologue, the soliloquy, the aria about why I should do a studio, a real studio with Jeffrey Katzenberg. What's the art? Well, the audio is just his sort of operatic, you know.

Speaker You know that, you know, I guess you could call them bullet points on why this was a good thing for me and a good thing for the industry as a whole. And how I shouldn't just walk away from this was a great opportunity. And David was insistent that I do this. So I was insistent that David come to the next meeting. And so we met a second time at my house. This time David came along. I think he brought Richard Sherman with him. And we all sat down and talked about this. And David kept saying, you guys are going to make a great stew together. You two guys are gonna do this really well. Look, Jeffrey's got this experience. He complements you there. You've got that experience. You compliment him here. You and I turned around. David said, What do you mean, you guys, I'm not doing this without you. And Dave said, No, this isn't for me. This isn't a lifestyle change I'm seeking right now. I don't want anything to do with it. And I basically said to David, well, I don't want anything to do with this at all unless you're a member of this, you know, you know, crazy crew.

Speaker Why do you feel that? Because David, I realized, was the grown up between Jeffrey and I.

Speaker We're still kids. David was the grown up. And I thought that David had the experience. He started many companies from scratch. In the past. He's been wildly successful. He knows that the checks and balances of this entire industry, how everything works. You know, he knows, you know, how to finance something like this. And I just didn't wanted to do it away from David. And I think we were able to talk him into joining us and becoming the third partner.

Speaker So how would you describe the three of you and your individual skills and what you think of that? I mean, part of setting the ground up? I think you have to say, you know, we're like the kids.

Speaker And he survived the house and made you feel that you each had something that Tom Hanks is a wonderful description of, Gene.

Speaker Mm hmm. I think so. A meeting of what the three of you would give it to me, how it all went.

Speaker What way? Remind me, because I know I've heard was terrible.

Speaker Just. It was other that basically they just want to join us.

Speaker And if you don't, you don't like me.

Speaker They say here is a little place and all of us all made up work.

Speaker And you say like the way that planet was standing on the edge. Yes. Well, that's what you did with that and all. It happened at twenty two.

Speaker That is pretty much an exact description of the dynamic relationship between the three of us. Inside the DreamWorks model, that's exactly how we function. I would really enjoy listening to David and Jeffrey argue, and these were bad arguments or negative arguments. These were creative arguments. These were points of view being shuffled around to see what other cards rose to the top of the deck, you know, and Jeffrey thinks really quickly on his feet. David's the same way he thinks quickly on his feet. In business terms, I think quickly on my feet in terms of telling stories. And and so my job was just Aspey, the audience. Listen to those guys. And I went along pretty much with what David and what Jeffrey, you know, you know, came out with when they came up with an idea. It was usually the right idea. And I went along with it.

Speaker I didn't have a lot to do with the modeling of DreamWorks. My job kicked in later.

Speaker But tell us that, you know, you had several meetings and then you were having a hard time finalizing, actually getting in the same place.

Speaker Jeff laughs.

Speaker Well, you know, we had had, I think, the third meeting at my house, and this time the attorneys came with us. My rep representatives, Jeffrey Representatives, David's representatives, that I knew this was serious, but I still hadn't decided to do this. I was still talking to my wife about this. She kept saying, are you still going to get home for five, 30 dinner? This sounds like you're not gonna get home until five thirty a.m. for breakfast when everybody still asleep. Are you sure this is going to be.

Speaker We have a lot of children. We have to, you know, think of them first. You know, directing is hard enough, but you only do that maybe once a year. This sounds like a six day week job. And there are certain you know, there's certain rules that Kate and I, you know, assembled together that we presented to Jeffrey and David to say, I can do this only if it's come to the office till nine. I can get home between five thirty six for dinner. You know, I read all we can any ways that we can turn a problem. And that was all fine. But we didn't formalize anything. We had just sort of vetted everything.

Speaker And we kind of kick the tires of this this great new beast as it was about to turn out.

Speaker But we we didn't know if it is going to all come together because I hadn't read decided. So we decided that the next time we were all going to be in the same state together was in D.C. during the Boris Yeltsin state dinner, during the Clinton administration, which we had all been invited to.

Speaker And we were going to meet right after the Ellson dinner. You know, we were going to meet at the Hayes Adams Hotel. So the second dinner was over. Jeffrey and I went over to the Hayes Adams and went to the suite and waited for David.

Speaker David didn't show up an hour, went by hour and a half, went by two hours, went by Sunday. I got a call from David and David said, I'm trapped in the White House. What do you mean you're trapped in a White House?

Speaker I can't get any. The doors are locked. I'm I'm staying here for the night. You know, I stayed behind with the president at, you know, at the dinner for another extra hour. Then he brought me back to the White House. We got talking and now I can't get out of the White House. And Jeffrey said, well, can't you go find a Secret Service guy to open the front door? The White House does have a front door. He said there's nobody awake. I can't find anybody. I'm stuck here.

Speaker So he, David, could not get out of the White House. He was a prisoner of the White House. He didn't unwitting unwittingly. And he was in there all night. And the course the next morning, we met at 6:00 a.m. at the Hayes Adams and I committed. And we all shook hands. We and we made a deal.

Speaker Just think that the most extraordinary new business venture in Hollywood. Sixty five years was almost fell by sword like my kingdom for a horse.

Speaker Yeah, but no, it's really nice to know that they actually lock the front door of the White House. I like knowing that, don't you? I guess sleep better at night knowing they actually lock their doors at night.

Speaker It's a very funny thing. Well, you know, we got back to you. This is a what changed?

Speaker Well, he decided I was not going to do it without David. And David knew that I meant it. I mean, David can pretty much talk me out of almost anything. He can't talk me into everything. We can talk me out of most anything. And in this case, I don't think David wanted to really in the back of his mind, talk me out of this. I think he was he was tickled by that whole Busby Berkeley, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland. Let's put on a show. Come on, let's do it. You know, and I think the trial and David, the the creative genius and David the entrepreneur and David the showman. And David followed his tical right to that moment at the Hayes Adams, where we all show camps.

Speaker Wonderful. He is wonderful. Did you know the things, David? One of the game with David Focus child was Roger this story?

Speaker Yes, I do know. But I just know, you know, that he admires that very much, that rags to riches story to be mayor.

Speaker And it was something symbolic, it seemed to me. This being something he's now doing in his career is following in the path of these Hollywood moguls whose lives he devoured as a child.

Speaker Yeah. You know, David, I read the same books we read about Sam Goldwyn, about Harry Cohn, about Thalberg. Louis B measured the Warner Brothers. We've you know, we read a read about all of them. But I never was attracted to that position. I never wanted to be those guys, you know. I wanted to be the Michael Cortis, the Victor Flemming's. I wanted to be the kind of workhorse director. Not not. I didn't want to be Frank Capra. You know, I never wanted to be Alfred Hitchcock and never wanted to be Francois Truffaut, the directors of individual style that distinguished themselves through their voice. I didn't want to have a singular voice. I wanted to do everything. I would do a little bit of everything. So so that's where my interest was. I wanted to be more of a blue color director and like like those guys like Henry Hathaway and Ralph Walsh. And, you know, I just I just admire those guys. But Bettinger, although he was pretty singular, but he did know how to make a great Western.

Speaker And so David had that kind of ambition, you know. You know, to go the way of Louis B mayor. And I just had the ambition of letting them set up the company and give him me a job.

Speaker You have to let those guys that every time you see a break from the 40s and I'm not quite sure that you actually did. You know, it's going to be one of those guys have a way of deflecting whatever his name is. Yeah. It's another way you get the vicious.

Speaker Oh, there is. There's of course, he wasn't a workhorse. He was very much as George Cukor. But he was had his own voice, like Capra, like Sturges. They had their own voices because he was kind of a little bit of a little boy. He wasn't eclectic, though, you know, he he he were pretty much, you know, recorded romantic adult, you know, comedy dramas. And he was great at that. Like The Philadelphia Story.

Speaker Yeah. We did a good film on comprehensive. OK. Oh, this is so nice. So you had all these meetings secret. What was the reason for all the secrecy and what happened to David, the president?

Speaker Well, you know, the secrecy was basically just that we didn't want any presumptive advice from the town itself.

Speaker And I didn't really want to be dissuaded by my friends who, if given a chance to try to talk me out of this, because I'm basically a director and a producer of movies and not really a studio head. Now, I feel like I'm very qualified to run the studio. But back in 94, you know, it was something that I had only run my small company with Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy called Amblin Entertainment, and we only formed that company after E.T. in 82. And so and we had a great run of films then, but that was a very small company. It mostly made three movies a year. One year we did made for that was it. Now we're talking about making 10 to 12 movies year with a huge business plan. And David's genius, he came to the table one day and he said, well, the first thing he said about DreamWorks is he said, you know, I every single Start-Up Studio has failed over the last six to five years. And Jeffrey and I said, Why David? He said, because they've been underfunded and we're going to over fund DreamWorks. He said, it's the only way we have a chance, a snowball's chance in hell to succeed. We have to be overfunded. And he led the way to do that. And thank goodness for David finding Paul Allen.

Speaker Yeah, I think that he definitely is.

Speaker I think it's a table as I'm looking forward.

Speaker This is creaking of it, so I won't do that.

Speaker Jeffrey was telling us that. Let's it is part of it. Don't look at this scenario, success, this scenario. Five years to figure out because he had a company that tells us and that took a while to become successful. The Geffen Records. He understood that it doesn't come right, not necessarily coming out of the box. Companies need time to find their, you know, to find their way.

Speaker What David from experience knew the government records wasn't an overnight success. It had to earn its way through history. And it did. And it became enormously successful. But it didn't come out of the gate that way. And David said, look, we're going to start five businesses. And this is something that Def Jeffrey and David had, you know, decided. They asked me what businesses I would choose to start. And I said, well, are really only two things I'm really interested in doing that I know how to do is movies and television. So we already knew we going to start a TV and movie company. What we didn't realize, what I didn't realize at the very beginning was we're going to have a complete music company, which made sense because of David's experience and success in that area. And we were going to have an animation company, which I thought was an uphill battle that would hardly be achieved because all the good animators were spoken for and they were already working, usually most of them at Disney.

Speaker And a third company we were gonna have would be interactive mini video games, which held an interest for me. So we went to start five businesses. On day one.

Speaker That's crazy. But David and Jeffrey found a way to do it. Yeah. I had nightmares about.

Speaker You know, Jeffrey David walking into my home office and really asking me to sign a contract to be the third head of DreamWorks. I kept having nightmares about that.

Speaker Now, my memories are only wonderful and my memories are, you know, just nostalgic. Now, the nightmares, you know you know of the first iteration of DreamWorks, you know, you know, long since left me after the first year of our company. But it scared me. This was a huge vision that could only have been created by two out of three guys that had huge appetites. Jeffrey has a he's insatiable. David is insatiable. I'm insatiable when it comes to directing film. But this was a new animal for me and I had become accustomed to it.

Speaker So, see, I understand and you did something really smart in that one of the reasons that you all wanted to do this, and I think is probably the name is it gave him total control. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker And and I'm telling you some things you can kind of I know exactly what to say about that, David.

Speaker Not wanting one company to put up the money and wanting to spread it around so that nobody has said you guys.

Speaker Yes. Well, you know, David, the key reason I did this and join Jeffrey and David in their ideas of how to form a movie studio, was it I realized I would never again have to give a screenplay or a story idea to a studio head and wait for them to say yes or no. That was the main reason I did this. I would be able to greenlight my own pictures.

Speaker Now, I had become so accustomed to sitting down with people who were my friends in the business, including Jeffrey Katzenberg, when he ran Disney and said Scheinberg entry someone Bob Daley, I was very accustomed to just, you know, to auditioning my ideas, me. E.T. was turned down to Columbia before Universal said yes. And University was give me a hundred percent. Yes. I said, you know, go raise the money, we'll do a negative pickup deal with you. So it wasn't you know, I wasn't slam dunking my greenlights. I was having to earn them, fight for them, which is important for me to fight for what they believe in. But I wanted an easier time of it. I wanted my intuition to tell me when to push the button and not someone else's. And that's what DreamWorks gave to me. And that's why I said yes.

Speaker One of the things that's fascinated me in reading about what you wanted to do in the studio is that it was at it. If you say Lili, that wasn't exactly. But there was an earlier model called United Artists where, you know, creative people got together in a studio, but you wanted to do something really different. This one is fascinating. Is it you want to have profit sharing with your employees? Yes, actually, yes.

Speaker We actually had profit sharing. I'm not qualified to talk about that. Did you say it was a goal? But but what did one of the initial goals was to offer profit sharing incentives to our employees at the new company.

Speaker And that was something that I hadn't really didn't really exist, you know, in the old Hollywood or even in the new. And that was something that we wanted to do it not just as a way to show our gratitude, but also as a way to provide some incentive to include a secretary, include assistance.

Speaker We don't call secretaries secretaries where we call them all assistants, who included all the assistants, all. Runners, the pace that had that would be with us for a certain amount of time and and it made everybody feel like they they had a piece of the rock. You know, that DreamWorks was you know, the work they did was their dream as well. Wasn't just our dream. But we shared the dream together and it really worked. And it created an esprit de corps, which I hadn't even experienced in my smaller Amblin company.

Speaker That's why I would ask the impossible. Also, there was and I think we have a press conference. Yes. Did you? Yeah. You were making a statement as well. You are saying it's time for to change. How is it going in the right direction? Spies work and saying something different. Comfortable.

Speaker Yeah. You know, Dave was terrified that press conference was like looking forward to having all four wisdom teeth pulled at the same time without any native of anesthetic. And I think that's what David felt about any press conference, especially this one. But he he did very well once he got up there and began answering questions. He was he was great. But, you know, I wasn't bothered by the press conference call. I had done so many of them.

Speaker There was a lot riding on this one.

Speaker But I return the cynicism that was brought into the room by the media that came very cynically armed. And we were forewarned, of course, because I've been in this business long enough to know that anybody tries to start an upstart studio after city five years is going to have to slug or suffer the slings and arrows of hutzpah, which is what we brought to it and what we were being what was being thrown back in our faces. And I also knew that we were going to be accused of too much sizzle, too little steak, because I said to my partners and Paul Allen and the ZFS and a lot of Micky and Jay Lee and a lot of our investors and the banks that I had at least four movies already in production and going into production that I just couldn't abandon from my pre DreamWorks life. I couldn't walk out of these pictures and I knew that the first DreamWorks movie was going to be delayed until these were put in the hands of directors or post-production supervisors. And then I could really say goodbye and move on with my life. And that's exactly what happened. We were late getting started with our first picture. So I went to that press conference knowing that wherever we said was going to be thrown back in our faces and it was you.

Speaker Didn't you make a statement conference as well about how it needed to be a change in the way the direction that the bean counters is beginning to run the show?

Speaker Well, you know, I just talked about, you know, how I think it would be a little bit different having, you know, a director and two other creative directors running the show, you know? And we had we had we had really good CFO and we had, you know, Ron Nelson. We had a really good group of people that would do the, you know, the job of of constructing and floating this tremendous, you know, you know, ship. But the people that were going to be at the helm had made music, had made movies and had made animation. And we knew what we were doing. And I thought it was gonna be a wonderful and it was kind of an opportunity for filmmakers to work with filmmakers.

Speaker And that way it was a little bit nirvana for me because it also gave me the chance to hire people that had never worked in those particular fields. I was able to give our directors, cameramen, film editors are, you know, you know, was able able to give actors their first chance to perform in a major movie directors, their first shots. The first movie ever made was directed by a first time director, a feature director Maemi leader. When we did Peacemaker as our first DreamWorks picture with George Clooney and and Nicole Kidman. And, you know, giving Sam Mendez I found San Meant seminars on the London stage directing over at the National Theater that I saw the cabaret and thought he was a film maker, even though he was creating amazing kind of visual concepts on stage. And I gave an American Beauty. I said, right, you cut your teeth on this. It was his first movie. Those were the chances that made DreamWorks founding worth it to me.

Speaker How involved was Dave in those? I know that you had an agreement that you didn't all have to agree on some. Yes. You wanted to say yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Say, you know what, poppy consulting. I know. What did we do, David?

Speaker David got involved in a surprising way, not so much in the daily decisions of what films would go into development, although he would read the development reports and he would be calling development. Seconders with his opinion, David did interact creatively with the motion picture division. But we're David really focused. His time and attention was when I decided I was going to direct something. David was looking out for me. He was sometimes trying to save me from myself. And he was sometimes trying to encourage me to do something that I was too afraid to do. But whenever David heard I was sniffing around of script that I was thinking a directing, he wanted to see that script immediately. And he would give me invaluable input on that. So in a sense, David was like not only my partner in the Cup Cup and he was like my personal manager. And he would get very protective and possessive when I decided I was thinking of directing something. And if he didn't think I should direct that picture, he would tell me in no uncertain terms. Did you have a disagreement? Yes. Yes. And sometimes of what I had directed in any way. But I always was a value in David Wood. Suddenly, Dave was sensing something. His gut was telling him this may not be right for Steven.

Speaker Is there a specific example of something you didn't think you should do? Did.

Speaker What was it?

Speaker I have to think about that and we think about that. But it was much more about the music.

Speaker David was very involved with, you know, Mostyn and Michael Austin money moniker on them, on the music. And he really was the backup for best.

Speaker I said before going down, OK, before you absolutely felt you could sign off on this. Yes. Can you talk about that line, what role they played in your life?

Speaker Well, you know, Sid Sheinberg discovered me. I was in college at Long Beach State College. And Sid saw my short film, Avalon, and he signed me to a seven year contract when I was just around 21 years old. It was it was it was crazy and wonderful and at all the same time. And I owe so much, they said. And, you know. And when somebody does something like that for me, I never forget. And and therefore, I've been on the universal lot for most of my life. And when Jeffrey brought this concept of starting a studio to me and David then became a part of it and all of us were talking about it.

Speaker I kept thinking, well, oh my God, I've been working for Universal for so long as I sit and look and feel this is a betrayal. Are they going to feel that I'm jumping ship? And and I remember David Jeffrey both said to me, no, they're gonna think you finally grew up. And it's time to leave home when it's time to start your own family and have your own life. And you'll still love your your your dad's. But, you know, you got to go on your I got to leave the nest. And that was something that they've been jefferey both impressed on me and many conversations. But I insisted that we sit down and tell Sid and tell Lou at the same time. And we three sat down with Lou, Osmond said chambered, and we broke the news to them.

Speaker And they were completely split and they were totally supportive. I think Sid thought we were crazy, but said, but I'll back whatever you decide to do. You guys have guts. Not one part I want to be in on. This is crazy. I think you are. I want to be in on this.

Speaker We had a great piece that I have to set up. 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. I know it's tough. This is again, jumping back, but then moving forward. How did you come up with the name? Did you have, like, crazy names before you came up?

Speaker Yeah. The name that I was most wedded to that I came up with was I wanted to call the company bandwagon. It's a musical. I happen to like and think it's a great name. You know, you always say, come on, jump on the bandwagon. You know, it's a great way to move the bandwagon through Hollywood and get people jumping on making pictures for us. But nobody like that hit me. I'm the only one like Vanderwagen. And I believe that an outside company that we contracted came up with a lot of different names and on their list were different iterations of DreamWorks.

Speaker And I think that's how we cherry picked it. I don't believe that any of us came up with the name DreamWorks, I think was come up. It was an outside firm that was hunting for names for our company, came up with it.

Speaker It was very art. And let's J. I really.

Speaker David had already done Dreamgirls because David took me to the premiere. I was his guest, Steve Ross, and I went with him when Dreamgirls debuted on Broadway.

Speaker So I got to see the opening night and loved it. And so that was pretty much in David's court even then.

Speaker Did you I'm find to take up difficult things that I know that David would say he wondered. He was very surprised. That's one of the team because. His movie, My. That was the least part of his career at that point in actually being exactly what studio. Are we aware, obviously, but they give you any pause.

Speaker I said I said to David, I said, you know, the movies that you have produced that you're responsible for. Didn't you? From Interview with a Vampire to Risky Business to Beetlejuice. I said I would have directed those movies.

Speaker I mean, these are great movies. These movies are already in the kind of part of the American songbook of motion pictures and. And you really have great taste. He's a tastemaker. He's an entrepreneur, as we all know. But he's a real creative guy.

Speaker And when you see the movies that David developed and got made and how well they did and how well they were accepted and how they were stood, the test of time. This was a guy wanted to be part of this group.

Speaker He does have a really good eye.

Speaker He's got a great eye. You know, he's like those great casting directors, you know, the walks into Shrub's pharmacy and finds like Natalie Wood and Lorna Turner.

Speaker I mean, he just has a great eye waiting. Charles, into material. What what do you think draws him to specific material?

Speaker I know it's it I think what draws David to this material is, is just what draws all of us to material where the material speaks to some part of our nature or some part of our past, something we're familiar with, something that we've always wanted to be or a subject we've always wanted to probe. And it just depends. You know, David just simply has a very rich life and history. And I think that is part of what you need to be a tastemaker to be able to make selections like that. You need. You know, you know, had a complicated life. I mean I mean, David was told he was going to die. David was told he was not going to live longer. He he wasn't in to see the New Year come in. And he was told this by reliable people. He was shown tests and he began to close his life down. He began to just do all the things you do when the end is in sight. And when he finally got the news that this was a terrible mistake and he was going to live to be over 100. It changed him. Şeref a record. It. When David heard this news, this great Hosanna news. It still changed him forever. I can't say that word. OK. When David heard this amazing news, he was going live to be 100. I think it changed him more than any single event has changed. Either myself or Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Speaker You talked about that the press conference is just something that is amazing to me, that there is this guy who never had doubt in his mind for the moment he stepped out of the world. He's going to be successful with so nervous at that press conference. There's an interesting duality.

Speaker David, why take an all artists, you know? You know, if people don't fight with us and don't create the struggle, then we have to create the struggle from within, because the only way creativity really happens is from the sparks that fly and end. And David, we'll start a fight with himself. He'll try to fight with somebody else. But from that will come something of value to David and usually something of value to the project that he's working toward. And in that sense, we all have the shpilkes whenever we have to get up and say we're going to do something. And and as you can't stop us, we're gonna do this. And we're announcing it here today takes a lot of guts to do that. Whether whether it's Barack Obama announcing a health care plan or whether it's three Jewish guys, not a studio, you know. You know, there's a lot of thought and anxiety and worst case scenario weaving that goes into that moment. And and I think it's just how we have gone through all of our lives. You know, we're always sort of struggling inside to figure out how to present stuff. You know, how can I make the best movies and put the DreamWorks name on them and be proud of the DreamWorks and the movies are going together.

Speaker You know, I've noticed something and, you know, obviously spent a lot of time thinking that David, his career patterns. And he's a guy who clearly, you know, just this hands down genius. I think it's good if you've get somebody else to do is to support these people. And then a lot because he loves that work. There's something about the genius of you, genius, Joni Mitchell, the genius or era that he wanted to be a part of. And he fought like the devil. Nobody has ever been loyal. It's your show. You experience that, too. It's completely fascinating to me because David has this reputation of being kind, is tough with this business guy and yet really deep at heart. He's like the guy. You know, I've been nice to my friend.

Speaker Yeah, he does, because it's just a wonderful chain. Well, you know, I really never knew what it felt like to be represented. And there's only three people who I can name who I really felt knew how to represent me. The first Viscid Sheinberg. And the second was Bruce Raemer, Bruce pointing the shark after that's how long we've been friends in a business together. And a third but equal to the other two is David Geffen. And and I'm spoiled because of those three individuals.

Speaker And David always says to me, you're just spoiled. You're a spoiled brat. And I always say, I know I'm spoiled, David. And guess who spoiled me? You did.

Speaker Because David really, really, you know, made me get what I demanded. And I'm talking about decisions I make as a director of this, that I'm talking about big life decisions.

Speaker You know, David would always say, you deserve this. You need to do this. Why are you holding back? Why are you denying yourself a pleasure in this life which doesn't last all that long? What is wrong with you? You want something? I know you want this. You need to get it. And if you let me, I'll get it for you.

Speaker This is my history with David.

Speaker That's extraordinarily. I mean, she and other good friends, but a very generous soul. He has a generous.

Speaker Yeah. David has a very generous soul. He's always had a generous soul.

Speaker And a lot of people don't see that because they sometimes see the blather and the dust that rises, you know, inside of a disagreement or inside of knocking heads with David. But David has a very gentle soul and he guards it and he must guard it. You know, he's very protective about it. And he's but he's also protective about the people he cares about. And he will throw himself on the barbed wire for you and he'll just say, yo, Joe, just run over my back and, you know, get to the high ground.

Speaker I mean, he'll do that. He's done that again and again. And when it's time to get out of something, David's the first person to say now we've had a great run. Now it's time to say goodbye. We're gonna get out while we're ahead.

Speaker You know, I get the sense that, you know, sometimes we become the people that we wish we had that in our own lives. I get the feeling that they have. That's. I don't know. I don't know. I really don't. His mother was a teacher. His mother. She helped him. David says he was kind of this keen on his own.

Speaker I just think that David needs to be the champion. He needs to be. He he's a champion, all of us. And I'm sure he has role models and and people who, you know, for maybe a moment, he says, wouldn't it be great if that person championed me? But I don't think he would ever let that person champion him because that's what he does.

Speaker And that's that's that's that's that's his impetus in life. And that's what makes him get up in the morning to tune in at. He had the nickname The Fireman.

Speaker Yeah. Because we gave him that nickname the Fireman. Because he put out somebody's fires, you know. And sometimes David would turn to me and said, yeah, you're the pyromaniac. You know, you're the one that started all the fires that I'm having to put out.

Speaker Do you think that the story of the financing is an interesting story, particularly this one story? Like, I thought it was really quite smart. I mean, earlier for David to spread the word, to not have one company be financed. He wanted. He wanted. Yes. As he put it, they wanted three three thousand pounds in real estate and then one night.

Speaker Right. And I'm not qualified really to talk about that because I just wasn't sort of I wasn't listening when they told me everything, by the way, because I had to hear everything. But most of it is went in one ear and up the other.

Speaker Let's do this. So did DreamWorks turn out the way you wanted to?

Speaker Yeah, it did. We had a great run.

Speaker Now tell me. Oh, well, never mind taking you on top of that. Well, what's what's.

Speaker What's the story? What happened? I mean, I you know, I like. I am not a business person and I really tried to follow in every month. You had a deal with Universal, right. Why did you sell it to Paramount? Yes. The next day.

Speaker Yes. What happened was that that Paul Allen had had the right because he was so generous and had really launched our company financially and believes in us the whole decade. But he had the right after 10 years to get his liquidity back. And we accommodated him. One way was to take DreamWorks Animation public to the IPO. But that wasn't enough when we realized that DreamWorks was going to. We were excited Major was going to fly on its own. And I didn't want to make 10 to 12 movies a year. And we had never done a single year with 12 movies, which was part of our business plan. We never got to twelve. I didn't want to make that many movies anymore. And David said, well, this is the time to sell the company since you want to cut down and make only six to eight movies at most a year. That's a big difference between six and eight and eight and 12. That's a big difference. If you're not going to be making 10, 11 movies a year, then we shouldn't have to pay for it. International domestic, huge distribution engine. We shouldn't have to make contribution to the U. IP Universal Paramount distribution engine overseas when it existed and we certainly shouldn't have our own domestic distribution is just a waste of money. Let's sell.

Speaker And and my first choice, of course, was universal because that's my proverbial home. That's sort of my homeland. And my roots are sunk very deep there. No matter who's running the studio, I feel my roots are still there. And so David began talks which have Immelt of General Electric, who owns Universal NBC.

Speaker And we had a deal, and then the way David explains it, you know, he reneged on the deal in the sense that they wanted to rewrite the deal using a movie that had come out and failed called The Island as a reason to pull back a few hundred million dollars from the offer. And David played chicken with them. You know, when you take a car, you drive into each other. The first person to blink and turn off is the chicken. And David feels that Universal thought we were just negotiating with them and didn't think there was another suitor, when in fact there was certain there was Sumner Redstone and Tom Freston and Brad Grey waiting at the rink wings, who had already talked to David and said, we will give you what Universal will not give you. We'll give you every cent Universal has reneged. And that was the reason at the last minute that Paramount was able to buy DreamWorks and the library was part of the reason that it didn't work at Universal is that said, I will no longer call the shots.

Speaker Were Sid Lew weren't there at all? There were no Sindelar weren't there at all. They had since divested themselves, Miss Patricia, to have the divested itself of MCI Universal and then Edgar Bronfman come in and you remember the French company Vivendi came in.

Speaker And so it had already changed hands twice, I believe, before, you know, G.E. was in a position to buy us, but then decided they didn't want to pay what they had promised. They they wouldn't pay us back.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah, I know. I know. But I try sticking my head so that so that. Now you sold it to Paramount. What's happened since then?

Speaker Well, you know, David made once again, David and I have to give some credit to Bruce Reamer and Harold Brown, who represent me as my my attorneys. They made a pretty amazing deal with Paramount where if there was ever a separation, I would be able to retain a percentage shape, first dollar gross percentage of the films in development should Paramount proceed with any of them. And it was an amazing deal. And which meant essentially that if I decided at some point to leave Paramount, I could leave a year early because David had an out clause if David quit. That triggered my exit from the Paramount family, Viacom family. And Stacey and I, Stacey was contractually attached to me. The two of us had the right to leave the company. And when I decided that the best thing for DreamWorks would be to start over again, once again, not with a distributor, but independently financed, which is something that here again David put together along with several people at CAA and went with Simpson. And I think some of Jeffrey Katzenberg advice we were able to raise the money yet again to do is to just to make movies, not to do video games, not to do music, not to have animation, just to make movies and eventually television. And this was a dream come true for me because we could start, you know, owning our own negatives again because we own 50 percent of the company. And at Paramount, we just worked for Paramount. We didn't know anything.

Speaker And it was this the point at which David decided to leave.

Speaker At that point, David decided to exercise his rights and leave DreamWorks with which triggered my exit from Paramount, Viacom and Stacy's exit, too.

Speaker How did you feel that David decided that hopefully I was ready to go and it was great.

Speaker David gave stationary opportunity just to once again start over again.

Speaker How did you feel that David needed to.

Speaker I was you know, I tried to get David not to leave DreamWorks. I tried to talk him out of it. And David said he's retiring from the whole movie business. And he had other things you want to do with his life, especially in the area of philanthropy. And and I was very sad by this. I mean, I had come to depend on David Jeffrey. Now, Jeffrey was, you know, running a public company. So I really couldn't interact with our feature division. David decided not to come back and to pretty much retire from film. And I felt really bad. But then I realized something. I had all of David's telephone numbers and all I had to do is use him. And he'd be there as a configured area, but he would be there.

Speaker That's the word I was thinking to myself.

Speaker He's like, yeah, he is kind of like a.. What's the guy's name? The Godfather Tom. Godfather Frente Farnsworth's not Tom.

Speaker Yeah. Roberts. Yeah. Tom. What's his last name.

Speaker Oh, damn it. Anyway, now the time that they make this decision. He was describing lots and lots of articles as the most powerful man in interest. Why do you think he had. He was thought of that way. What did he do that. Be that person to achieve that reputation? Do you think it's true?

Speaker Well, I don't know about these powerless. You know, I don't really powerful. I don't subscribe to any of these, you know, these trends about who's the most powerful man in Hollywood. I mean, it's so cyclical. And and a person who is given power is because others don't feel they have it. And so they they give it to the alpha male or the alpha female. And and I really think that it's meaningless. And I think it's meaningless for David as well.

Speaker I don't think David wants that reputation. He doesn't want to be called the most powerful person in Hollywood. He loves DreamWorks. Get out of Hollywood. Now, if you call David the most powerful person on the high seas that he may accept, he may go for that, but not Hollywood.

Speaker I don't think it was something that he aimed at. But that is how the press has often referred to, particularly at time, is a lot of shock that, you know, people don't understand it because he had such a coveted position. What would you think would be, you know, what's most well, what were the highlights for you, if you can talk about that and try to distinguish your babies? But whether highlights over the 15 years that you can point to and say this, it's Claus's became routine in the James.

Speaker I mean, every year was a highlight. Every picture we made was a highlight. I think winning three Oscars for best picture back to back, you know, it was American Beauty, Gladiator and Beautiful Mind the last two as co-production with Universal. I mean, that was a highlight. It was a highlight starting people who had never directed professionally. It was a highlight when David Geffen made the Cap City deal and get our TV series jumpstarted with Mr. Murphy and Mr. Iger at ABC. I mean, I mean and Spin City was an instant hit out of the gate. You know, I you know, I think, you know, the memories of our monthly meetings in the little at the little DreamWorks dining room in my building on the universal lot.

Speaker Just what, David? Just what. Jeffrey just that myself. Just like it was at the Hay. Adams Just like it was in my house when they were trying to get me to do this with him, you know, and I realized that the most important thing is we're friends. We got through business and survived success to be even greater friends. And that's something that I value for the rest of my life.

Speaker You can watch a movie drive and you watch me. But what worries me is that all these new delivery systems, because nobody knows what's on the financial system to get higher. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. The thing that the industry could really suffer with the industry is it's already suffering.

Speaker You know, we're suffering. People aren't buying DVD anymore the way they used to, or 40 percent down this year over last year, except for a couple of titles. Usually Pixar films or and DreamWorks animated films usually can hold their water, but other films can't.

Speaker That's because I a case they make really good guest onto the gifts that keeps on giving the animation.

Speaker All those grand here I grab get sadly heavy handed grandpa. Now I know. No, I know. I'll grant you that.

Speaker Half that. What do you do. What do you learn from.

Speaker I've just learned from David, you know, to take a stand for what you believe in. And don't be afraid of confrontation, which is something that I don't like to do very much. I like to agree to agree not to disagree. But. But when you do disagree and you really believe in your position, you've got to stand firm on your beliefs. And. And David released what it taught me to, you know, just the opposite. Think before you act. David taught me. It's something I've already known probably from my mom and dad. My mom, especially David's, reinforce in me that when I have a little whisper that tells me I should do something, I should interpret that whisper as a loud direction and listen to it. And and he really has always said, you know, that little bird in your ear only comes around once in a while, doesn't speak very loud. But when it does speak, you better listen because it knows the truth.

Speaker I think he like that. But he did learn that from his mother. Well, it's I read it again. Tell me this. Well, is that why he looks at a deal that way and why he's offering a deal? Unless you know who is with the people. Right. His mother was said to remember the person with the. Check, this isn't always right. That's right. Like that, right? The biggest check isn't the water.

Speaker It's exactly that's true.

Speaker I find it fascinating that none of you actually had. I mean, you did eventually. But at the time was that you had college degrees. Not even college graduates. No.

Speaker No, we weren't. We all we're all dropouts or we never went. I mean, I dropped out after my second year to direct movies at Universal. I was 21 or 22. Yeah. We none of us had a college education, which just goes to show you that we were just taking after our founding fathers from the silent era, from the Nickelodeon days.

Speaker You know, the immigrants that came in here without an education and started the little borscht circuit of movies. And absolutely. You know.

Speaker But I did graduate. I can now proudly say that of the three of us, I finally eventually I think about eight years after we formed treif. First I got my diploma.

Speaker I think 2002. It was 2002. Right. What would you you know.

Speaker If you had to say a couple of things, though, I think gave his vulnerabilities are people who say hurtful things about him and especially when they do it behind his back. I think you mind so much if it's in a in a honorable way to him. But when it's behind his back and he knows who set him because David knows who says everything. It's amazing. He's got this talent for knowing that if you're one of those unnamed sources, a newspaper article, David knows it's you.

Speaker David knows exactly who said it. He's got it down. And he's right 100 percent of the time.

Speaker I think he's very vulnerable to that. And I think is far more to the fact that these people aren't brave enough to just come out and say it to David, but had to say it to a blogger or to a reporter in total anonymity because they're afraid Dave doesn't have any respect for that. But I think it also makes David very sad. He's piece titled Cheerios. Sure is all that well.

Speaker I think that's the thing with the thing with David's wealth is, I mean, look, he gave two hundred million dollars to UCLA, you know, to the hospital there. I mean, David knows how to spend his money. He doesn't spend it on himself. Very few things David spends money on. That has to do with him. One is art and the other is this beautiful boat, which he loves so much. But. But David gives most of his money away. He always has. And ever since I've known David, he's been giving his money away. When David formed DreamWorks, he said. And when especially when we sold it to Paramount for a lot of money. And David, I don't know about you guys, but I'm giving all my money away. He did every cent that he got from the acquisition of DreamWorks by Viacom.

Speaker Speaking with congratulations, you made them realize. Yeah. We did all that. It's all done. Help. It took like a couple years.

Speaker No, it only took a year because we're about to make the deal in September. And then all the banks, you know, melted down. And when the economy began to decline and then began to nosedive, a lot of banks we were talking to, you know, a lot of them liquidated and.

Speaker And if only only because of that, it took us a good 11 months to finally put the rest of the financing together. And the economy had to slowly recover. The banks had to regain their confidence that we were in a form of recovery. And then we got her. We got her. But but Reliance never, never wavered. They never got cold feet. They never even hinted they may be looking for the exit. They stayed with us the entire time. The economy globally was melting down. And finally, the banks came through and we finished our deal.

Speaker Today, the reliance.

Speaker David brought reliance in along with many new ideas at CAA. The two of them brought Reliance to us. I didn't know who Reliance was until David called me up and told me and said that he would never ask me to leave Paramount unless he could build a bridge for myself and Stacey. And he said, and I think this is the bridge. I think these are good people. These are reliable people. They're trustworthy. And I think you're in good hands. I would never put you in with people who weren't going to treat you with respect. And we're going to have patience with the whole process of how long it takes to be successful as a company.

Speaker And he found Reliance to be just that company was in keeping with a newspaper's anonymous source. As he said, he obviously knew that that reliance. I never heard him before.

Speaker I think a lot of people in business knew about Reliance because, you know, they're the biggest company, if not the biggest the second biggest corporations in India. But I don't read the Mumbai Times, so I don't know.

Speaker When David was introduced at the APRA awards ceremony, this honor publicly came out for the first time. One day I introduced him as a captain in the industry with the soul of an artist.

Speaker Yeah, I think so. I think he's a captain of industry with the soul of an artist, as Warren Beatty perfectly ascribed to him.

Speaker You know you know, David's David's a massive talent. I mean, what David does, you have to be talented. You don't do that because you can count. You know, you don't have. You don't get those abilities because you're good at matching people with projects. You get that because you see it from all angles. You get that way because you see the big picture. David's always seen the big picture like a filmmaker. We see the big finish picture. Now we have to work to achieve the picture that we have in our heads. David's the same way he gets an idea like Dreamgirls. It just dates for a long, long time. He finds a director. He finds a cast. He puts the whole thing together. And it turns out to be one of the best pictures of that of that year. He's that way, you know, on a specific example, like Dreamgirls. And he's that way in building a company and matching that company with the right people to run it.

Speaker That takes talent. Were you there when he got there? No, I wasn't surprised. I mean, no, no, no. So I also said that night I mobilized David Geffen is someone you are working for a not against. Did you talk a little bit?

Speaker Oh, well, you know, look, I know David's never worked against me. He's only been worked with me.

Speaker But, you know, David's been mad at all of us. And and it's my fun. And it's not fun when David's got a bug up his butt and he wants you to know about it and he wants you to do something about it. And sometimes it's hard and sometimes it's based on a disagreement and sometimes it's based on, you know, an oversight, something that I didn't say or something that I said too much of. David has never censored himself with me or with Jeffrey. And as much as it stings, sometimes we couldn't live without it.

Speaker You know, we need that in our lives. You know what? You get to a certain point in your life and everybody is afraid to tell you the truth. You know, people work for you for maybe 10, 12 years. And they realize if if they if they're honest with you, maybe you will fire them and then maybe they come out and they say something that's been bothering them. David, is that way from the first day he meets you. If he likes you, he doesn't like you. You'll never have a second meeting with him. So I have to worry about it. But if he likes, you know, there's a relationship. Warming day is going to be brutally honest. And it's always a constructive thing, David Davis honestly is not tearing down. That's always building toward something he has to where he's been with me for over 30 years.

Speaker Does David have a relationship with your kids? We know that he has relations with Katzenberg kids. No, no, no. That's that's something that needed which I did not know that he would like to take kids. Yeah, I did have family. Yeah. I don't think I mean, I. Oh, I ask everybody this question. OK, three words. Scott.

Speaker Big, friendly giant.

Speaker Probably. Now, is there anything you want to say, I didn't ask you to come. There's other specific stories and something funny. Any of that kind of stuff?

Speaker No, this is great. Yeah, I mean, you covered this so well. Thank you, sir. Anything you didn't ask me.

Speaker Cash.

Speaker No one was really funny story, you know. They're all good.

Speaker He is funny. He had to be there. You have to be there. You can't tell a funny story about David. You have to experience the story for yourself because it's usually what makes you laugh. It is personal. It's not that David talks about something else or is he's telling you a story about something that happened to somebody else. And you laugh and you say, oh, what a great raconteur. Well, he's so funny the way does the story. It's not that way. It's the situations that we get into with him that involve all of us to make us laugh.

Speaker Well, you know, he's almost no funny. Can you imagine the challenge?

Speaker You know, I know there's very low 40s and I can't find that footage. That was I can't find it anywhere we've looked at. I have a huge archive in L.A., Michel Vendetti.

Speaker My archives has been through everything. She can't find it. The shot. I shot it. I shot it. And this is off the record. So was put my hand up like that. I shot it.

Speaker It was the it was the stuff where Michael Jackson and J. And and Quincy Jones and David Geffen and me and Quijada and Rasheeda, two of Quincy's kids were playing Jaws and Steve Ross the swim pool.

Speaker And I took my my my big Betamax Sony video camera wrapped in plastic laundry, you know, and went underwater. And we took some red food coloring to make blood in the pool. And I and I basically my camera eight, Michael Jackson, a Quincy's two kids, a David. I mean, it was that kind of thing. And David was there. I know he was the pool, but he was there during off. And I had great videos of David laughing and pulling us out of the pool and I can't find it.

Speaker We're still looking.

Speaker He they take photographs of this. No, just my video camera. It's breaking. My heart is just my birthday.

Speaker I have a lot of really. And we can't we can't find it anywhere, you know, but we just.

Speaker But, you know, because because when there's also off the record. When my first child was born, Max, in 1985, Michael Jackson went to the studio and he composed and performed a song for four max.

Speaker He brought the song over to our house and we brought Max home from the hospital. Michael was there and gave me the cassette with the song he recorded the night before. Mike and I were very, very close for many, many years. Then we had a falling out and we haven't spoken the last ten years. But when we were very close and we just found we just found it and.

Speaker And we thought we had lost it after all these years and everybody was searching and couldn't find anywhere. It turned out that my my former wife had it in her archive and I didn't even have it at all. She had it, not me. So she just sent it to us and now we've recovered it. I have a feeling that we'll get the videotape back the same way. There's a possibility I'd lent it to somebody without making a copy and they've got it in their pile. So we're still looking. We're still looking.

Speaker And there's a lot more we can do to help. You know, your staff. Yeah. Call these people.

Speaker No, I think it's better. I do it. We do it quietly because I know who might have. It's only a couple of people, but we're going to try to see if we can find anything again.

Speaker Oh, you did. She's married to. You can't. Yeah, I can't. He's a great guy. Yeah, he's a John fortune.

Speaker He he. Yeah. Well, he wrote it. Yeah. Yeah, he was initially.

Speaker But we didn't directly the John Ford film. When I first met Ken he was working it.

Speaker He was his idea. Oh well together it was such a sad thing and not doing anything. I was trying to do the Grateful Dead. I used to write stories to share ideas. So I find that I used to do it, keep her. And I was trying to get from that, which is still eventually going ahead. Yes. Yeah, they don't they don't happen overnight. Complicated. Bad. And he came see me. He said, you have no idea. I am. The person has to do it.

Speaker I know everything about them. Susan, nice to come with you. I got to do this. I we really thought we were it.

Speaker And I said, you have to make a choice. I don't know that I got the deal, which I can't do at the same time.

Speaker And so I'll take I'll take and that through. And I already have another director, so, you know. OK, that's good. And it worked out fine. But he finished suppressing Sturges film a lot that we did that year. Years ago. I have no see. I like to see that. Oh, it's nice. I haven't seen any good chems.

Speaker I should see something of Ken's you. I just saw him two weeks ago. We went to see Amy in Class Menagerie right here at Guildhall.

Speaker I went three days later. You see it too? Yeah. We all had dinner because I got here as well. OK.

Speaker I thought she was extra. I think it's the best thing I've ever seen her in onstage because she didn't play herself. She was so outside of her strength, I thought. And she found new strength that I'd never seen before with it, not just with the act, simple with that character, with the rhythm of the speaking. I was so impressed.

Speaker I wish you can go to Broadway to do this. They should take it to Broadway, should they want to. It's definitely Broadway where it is. But I think you have ideas across the menagerie that's getting in there first. Too bad.

Speaker I don't think whether I have to wait a few years, just wait, because that's when they're doing this from right there. That's great. Yeah. How about the kid that played her son was amazing.

Speaker I thought they were all good. Yeah. I think the daughter Laura has come out too. Yes. Yeah. She's wonderful. The end of me. She's a nice, sweet presence. I thought so. Yeah. I loved it.

Speaker I loved everything about it. Jessica and Emma isn't anything. I didn't come up.

Speaker They said too many things, said, you give me what you did.

Speaker No. No, I don't.

Speaker I you know, I did remember, but I decided not to bring it up because I don't think David would like that in the end, the documentary people.

Speaker Is that interesting? What do you think you should be proud of?

Speaker Oh, yeah. You think he thinks that stuff? I mean, what do you think he would say? I mean, look at his kids.

Speaker I think the prep I think I think if I'm just making a kind of guessing assumption here. But I think the thing that David is probably proudest of is being the first person to bring to our attention.

Speaker Barack Obama, when he gave his speech at the DNC, the Democratic National Convention, and David merely called Barack on the telephone and said, you're going to be president and you going to be president next and I'm going to do everything I can to get you there. And I think he's probably proudest of being the first person to ever mention Barack Obama's name anywhere in Los Angeles and New York City and really getting people to pay attention to this junior senator from Illinois.

Speaker Thank you for telling us that. I didn't ask you then. I don't think that's possible. But thank you. Because I think the same thing.

Speaker I think that I think he's I think he's proudest of that and that he was in a position with his doing.

Speaker Yes, exactly. Exactly. Well, you're okay. But he was in a position at that time as a kingmaker. That his opinion about Barack Obama, even way back then, meant something.

Steven Spielberg
Interview Date:
2009-08-11
Runtime:
1:20:59
Keywords:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-696zw1965c, cpb-aacip-504-cr5n873j47, cpb-aacip-504-gh9b56ds9z
MLA CITATIONS:
"Steven Spielberg, Inventing David Geffen." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 11 Aug. 2009, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/705
APA CITATIONS:
(2009, August 11). Steven Spielberg, Inventing David Geffen. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/705
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Steven Spielberg, Inventing David Geffen." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). August 11, 2009. Accessed January 28, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/705

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