||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (October 2012)|
Katzenberg in December 2012
December 21, 1950 |
New York City
|Alma mater||Ethical Culture Fieldston School|
|Occupation||Film producer, CEO of DreamWorks Animation|
|Notable work(s)||The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs. Aliens, How to Train Your Dragon|
|Net worth||$860 million (2012)|
|Spouse(s)||Marilyn Siegel (1975—present)|
Jeffrey Katzenberg (born December 21, 1950) is an American film producer and CEO of DreamWorks Animation. Katzenberg is perhaps most known for his period as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios when Disney produced some of its biggest hits, including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. As a founder and CEO of DreamWorks Animation, he has overseen the production of such animated franchises as Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs. Aliens and How to Train Your Dragon.
Katzenberg was born in New York City, to a Jewish family, the son of Anne, an artist, and Walter Katzenberg, a stockbroker. He attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, graduating in 1969. When he was 14, Katzenberg volunteered to work on Republican John Lindsay's successful New York mayoral campaign. He quickly received the nickname "Squirt" and attended as many meetings as he could. He was described as "kind of a weasel" by one of Lindsay's aides.
Katzenberg began his career as an assistant to producer David Picker, then in 1974 he became an assistant to Barry Diller, the Chairman of Paramount Pictures. Diller moved Katzenberg to the marketing department, followed by other assignments within the studio, until he was assigned to revive the Star Trek franchise, which resulted in the hit film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). He continued to work his way up and became President of Production under Paramount President Michael Eisner.
The Walt Disney Company
In 1984, Michael Eisner became Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at The Walt Disney Company. Eisner brought Katzenberg with him to take charge of Disney’s motion picture division. Katzenberg was responsible for reviving the studio which, at the time, ranked last at the box office among the major studios. He focused the studio on the production of adult-oriented comedies under its Touchstone Pictures imprint, including films such as Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), Three Men and a Baby (1987) and Good Morning, Vietnam (1987). By 1987, Disney had become the number-one studio at the box office. Katzenberg also oversaw Touchstone Television, which produced such hit TV series, The Golden Girls and Home Improvement.
Katzenberg was also charged with turning around Disney's ailing Feature Animation unit, creating some intrastudio controversy when he personally edited three minutes out of a completed Disney animated feature, The Black Cauldron (1985), shortly after joining the company. Under his management, the animation department eventually began creating some of Disney's most critically acclaimed and highest grossing animated features. These films include Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), The Little Mermaid (1989),The Rescuers Down Under (1990), Beauty and the Beast (1991), which was the first animated feature to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994). In addition, Katzenberg also sealed the deal that created the highly successful partnership between Pixar and Disney and the deal that brought Miramax Films into Disney.
When Eisner’s second in command, Frank Wells, died in a helicopter crash in 1994, Eisner refused to promote Katzenberg to the vacated position of president. This led to a falling out between the two executives, and Katzenberg left the company in September 1994. He launched a lawsuit against Disney to recover money he felt he was owed and settled out of court for an estimated $250 million.
Later in 1994, Katzenberg co-founded DreamWorks SKG with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, with Katzenberg taking primary responsibility for animation operations. He was also credited as executive producer on the DreamWorks animated films The Prince of Egypt (1998), The Road to El Dorado and Joseph: King of Dreams (both in 2000), Shrek in 2001, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron in 2002, and Shrek 2 in 2004.
After DreamWorks Animation suffered a $125 million loss on the traditionally-animated Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Katzenberg believed that telling traditional stories using traditional animation is a thing of the past, and the studio switched to all computer-generated animation. Since then, DreamWorks' animated feature films have been consistently successful financially and critically with several Annie Awards and Academy Awards nominations and wins.
In 2004, DreamWorks Animation (DWA) was spun off from DreamWorks as a separate company headed by Katzenberg in an IPO and has recorded mostly profitable quarters since then.
The live-action DreamWorks movie studio was sold to Viacom in December 2005. In 2008, the live-action DreamWorks studio again became an independent production company, releasing its films through Disney.
Katzenberg has been an industry leader in promoting digital 3D production of film, calling it "the greatest advance in the film industry since the arrival of color in the 1930s." When Katzenberg appeared on The Colbert Report on April 20, 2010, he confirmed that from now on "every single movie" that DreamWorks Animation produced would be in 3D and gave Stephen Colbert a pair of new 3D glasses.
It was reported that Katzenberg receives an airfare allowance of $1.5 million per year, which was the most of all media-company CEOs.
Katzenberg is a long time supporter of Barack Obama. Reportedly "smitten" by Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Katzenberg pledged his full support to Obama in 2006 if he decided to run for President. During his campaign, Obama praised Katzenberg for his "tenacious support and advocacy since we started back in 2007."
Katzenberg has been an avid fundraiser for Obama, doing so while much of Hollywood was still supporting the Clintons. His fundraising prowess has reportedly allowed him to become an "informal liason" between Hollywood and the White House. Katzenberg co-hosted a fundraiser for President Obama at the home of actor George Clooney in May 2012. Katzenberg said that the event raised almost $15 million, which would make it the most profitable presidential fundraiser in history. It was reported that Obama campaign officials were not happy about some of the requests that Katzenberg had made. In particular, they were bothered that Katzenberg, who reportedly had made himself "indispensable to Obama", required that the President spend time talking at each of the 14 tables.
When the details of Oriental DreamWorks emerged, Jennifer Rubin noted that Post the Obama Administration's potential involvement in the deal would not be an issue if not for Katzenberg's May fundraiser for Obama and his “huge campaign donations.” It was reported that Katzenberg was Obama’s top bundler, who, along with Andy Spahn, had contributed at least $6.6 million combined for both of Obama's campaigns. In an MSNBC interview about the donations, Nicholas Confessore noted Katzenberg's desire to build movie studios in China, saying that he would need help from the Obama administration to get this done and that "[e]veryone has interests at stake." Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation suggested that Katzenberg's long history of financial support for Obama may have influenced the movie deal being "fast-track[ed]" by the White House, noting that Dreamworks Animation "never registered to lobby the federal government."
It was reported that Obama arrived in Los Angeles on October 7, 2012, where he joined Bill Clinton at Katzenberg's Beverly Hills home for a private meeting with several deep-pocketed Democratic donors. Obama's campaign indicated the meeting was to thank supporters, but some members of the campaign finance committee said that it involved the pro-Obama PAC Priorities USA Action. Members of the White House press corps who had traveled to California with Obama were kept in the garage of Katzenberg's mansion and one reporter called the meeting "unusual". Katzenberg, who had previously donated $2 million to the pro-Obama PAC Priorities USA Action, donated an additional $1 million in October 2012.
The Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation in April 2012 into accusations that Katzenberg had bribed Chinese officials in an effort to obtain distribution rights, as Joe Biden was negotiating a deal to increase film quotas.
Katzenberg took a leading role in pushing the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which Hollywood reportedly saw as "an existential threat." When the White House announced its opposition to the bill in January 2012, Chris Dodd, the former Senator and head of the Motion Picture Association of America, the film industry's lobbying organization, contacted Katzenberg to obtain more information about the president's plans. When Dodd reportedly asked him to intervene, Katzenberg declined, but "sought to soothe hurt feelings and lay the groundwork for a deal more friendly to Hollywood." Katzenberg's office contacted Obama and urged him to contact other studio chiefs in order to reaffirm their support. Obama would take the advice, making Katzenberg one of the few Hollywood executives working on brokering a compromise with Silicon Valley.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced in September 2012 that the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award would be presented to Katzenberg at the Oscar ceremony in 2013 in acknowledgment of his role in “raising money for education, art and health-related causes, particularly those benefiting the motion picture industry.”
Together, Marilyn and Jeffrey have been highly active in charitable causes. They donated the multi-million-dollar Katzenberg Center to Boston University's College of General Studies, citing that the school gave their two children the "love of education." They also donated the Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Center for Animation at the University of Southern California.
In addition to serving as Chairman of the Board for the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation, Katzenberg sits on the boards or serves as a trustee of AIDS Project Los Angeles, American Museum of the Moving Image, California Institute of the Arts, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Geffen Playhouse, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and The Simon Wiesenthal Center. Together with DreamWorks Animation, Katzenberg founded the DreamWorks Animation Academy of Inner-City Arts in 2008. In recognition of his efforts, Katzenberg received the 85th Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2013 American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Governors Awards Presentation on December 1 at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center.
Katzenberg has an estimated worth of $800 million according to Forbes. Katzenberg is reported to have donated over $3.5 million in political contributions since 1979: 33% ($1.171+ million) to Democrats, 66% ($2.33+ million) to special interest groups without party affiliations, and less than 1% ($7,000) to Republicans.
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