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|Born||Sidney Jay Sheinberg
January 14, 1935
Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.
|Residence||Los Angeles, California,
Corpus Christi, Texas
|Alma mater||Columbia University (B.A., J.D)|
|Occupation||Hollywood studio head, Lawyer|
|Years active||1958 – present|
|Known for||Discovering Steven Spielberg,
Responsible for Jaws,
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
|Home town||Corpus Christi, Texas|
|Board member of||See Boards and Honors|
|Spouse(s)||Lorraine Gary (m. 1956)|
|Awards||See Boards and Honors|
Sidney Jay "Sid" Sheinberg (born January 14, 1935) is an American lawyer and entertainment executive. He served as President and COO of MCA Inc. and Universal Studios. He, along with his partner, Lew Wasserman, are sometimes credited with forming the studio system in a career spanning more than five decades.
Early life and education
Sheinberg, the son of Jewish immigrants, a Ukrainian mother and a Polish father, grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas where he was born on January 14, 1935. In 1955, Sheinberg graduated from Columbia University and subsequently attended Columbia Law School, as both a Harlan Fiske Stone and James Kent Scholar, where he obtained his JD. Sheinberg is a recipient of Columbia Law School's highest honors awarded to alumni, the Medal of Excellence and the John Jay Award.
In the summer of 1958, he arrived in California where he accepted a teaching position at UCLA School of Law. In 1959 while awaiting the results of his California Bar Examination, Sid joined the legal department of Revue Productions, the former television subsidiary of MCA Inc., and began his career in the entertainment industry.
In June 1973, Sheinberg was elected President and Chief Operating Officer of MCA, Inc. / Universal Studios and served alongside Lew Wasserman. Sheinberg is credited with discovering director Steven Spielberg and hiring him into the MCA/Universal Television division. Sheinberg served as President and COO of MCA and Universal Pictures, releasing the highest-grossing films of the last three decades of the 20th Century. Those pictures being Universal/Spielberg projects, beginning with 1975's Jaws, 1982's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and concluding with 1993's Jurassic Park.
Other high-performing films credited to him are Schindler's List (1993) and Back to the Future (1985). Sheinberg famously wanted to change the name from "Back to the Future" to "Space Man From Pluto" despite the film having nothing to do with outer space, spacemen, or the dwarf planet Pluto. His battle with Terry Gilliam over the final cut of the movie Brazil was the subject of a book and documentary entitled The Battle of Brazil.
Sheinberg was known for his tough, shrewd and honest approach to business.
Sheinberg saw significant opportunity in the music industry and led MCA Music Entertainment's (later renamed Universal Music Group) acquisition of Motown  in 1988 for $61 million and Geffen Records in 1990 for $550 million.
In the late 60's Sheinberg had seen Steven Spielberg's first short film, Amblin, and signed the director, then 20, to a contract. Sheinberg gave Steven Spielberg his first job in 1968. Having the benefit of being guided by Lew Wasserman, Sheinberg acknowledged that an essential part of being a mentor is having confidence in the people you're guiding and mentoring. In 1982, Thomas Keneally published his historical novel Schindler's Ark, which he wrote after a chance meeting with Pfefferberg in Los Angeles in 1980. Sheinberg sent director Spielberg a copy of the book along with a New York Times review. Sheinberg greenlit the film on condition that Spielberg made Jurassic Park first. Spielberg later said, "He knew that once I had directed Schindler I wouldn't be able to do Jurassic Park." The picture was assigned a small budget of $22 million, as Holocaust films are not usually profitable. Spielberg forewent a salary for the film, calling it "blood money", and believed the film would flop. The film ultimately brought in north of $320 million at the box office and is considered a historic motion picture that poignantly captured the holocaust.
In 1982, Sheinberg was quoted saying, “You’d better start saving money to pay your attorney’s fees, I view litigation as a profit center” during a meeting to get Nintendo to pay Universal to pay royalties for Nintendo's Donkey Kong franchise. Later when Universal sued Nintendo, this quote was brought up in court. Nintendo was found non-infringing, and it was also revealed that Universal knew King Kong was in the public domain all along. See also, Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd.
Sheinberg departed Universal in July 1995, following the takeover of the studio by the Seagram Company. He produced several feature films through his production company The Bubble Factory over the decade that followed.
Boards and Honors
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Sheinberg serves on the National Board of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Pitzer College (one of the Claremont group of colleges), the Board of The American Jewish Committee, the Board of Research To Prevent Blindness and the Board of Trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is Vice Chairman of Human Rights Watch and is co-founder of the Children's Action Network. He has been honored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for his life's work in civil rights and inclusive support of the LGBT community.
He received Columbia College's John Jay Award in 1981 for distinguished professional achievement, the American Jewish Committees Human Relations Award in 1982, the National Conference of Christians and Jews Humanitarian Award in 1983, and Pioneer Of The Year Award in 1984 from the Motion Picture Pioneers, as well as the rank of Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1984 bestowed by the French government.
In 1987, he received the DeWitt Carter Reddick Award at the University of Texas in Austin, and in 1989 he was named a Lifetime Honorary Member of the Directors Guild of America for his decades of service on the DGA-AMPTP Creative Rights Committee. He received the AIDS Project Los Angeles Commitment to Life Award in 1991, the Medal of Honor from the American Academy of Achievement in 1994 and the GLAAD Media Award in 1996.
Sheinberg Place (a street on the Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles), was dedicated in his honor February 4, 2008, at a ceremony honoring the former studio chief. David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg were among those attending.
Sheinberg has been married to actress Lorraine Gary since 1956. They have two sons, Bill and Jon.
- Bernard F. Dick (1997). City of dreams: the making and remaking of Universal Pictures. University Press of Kentucky. p. 173. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
- City of Dreams, page 173
- "MCA paid its president about $4.5 million in 1985". LA Times. March 26, 1986. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
- Sue Vander Hook (2010). Steven Spielberg: Groundbreaking Director. ABDO Group. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
- Matthews, Jack (1987). The Battle of Brazil. ISBN 0-517-56538-2.
- BATES, JAMES (1988-06-29). "Berry Gordy Sells Motown Records for $61 Million". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- Jr, JUBE SHIVER; CIEPLY, MICHAEL (1990-03-15). "MCA Buys Out Last Major Independent Record Label : Entertainment: In a much anticipated deal, the giant conglomerate will get Geffen Records for stock worth $545 million.". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- "The New York Times: Best Pictures". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- Higgins, Bill (December 16, 2010). "Steven Spielberg and Sidney Sheinberg". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- Weinraub, Bernard (July 12, 1995). "For MCA and Hollywood, a Generational Shift". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
- Cieply, Michael (April 10, 2011). "It Came Out of the Viral Media Swamp". Media Decoder. The NY Times. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
- "No on Prop 8 Ad HIts California Airwaves". The Bilerico Project. September 22, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
- "Los Angeles Leadership Awards 2008". National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. September 22, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
- "Humanitarian: Sheinbergs to Receive Award Sunday". LA Times. January 12, 1995. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
- "Steven Spielberg's mentor has street named for him". The Economic Times. February 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2011.