EXCLUSIVE: To overhear Jeffrey Katzenberg’s private conversations these days, Comcast supposedly wants to buy DreamWorks Animation and make him head of NBC Universal. But at last week’s Camp Allen — Sun Valley’s annual Alllen & Co investment conference attended by the Who’s Who of tech, Internet, entertainment, and media industries — Comcast’s Brian Roberts and Steve Burke were telling a very different story. They mentioned to several power players that Katzenberg has been pursuing them to buy DreamWorks Animation and lobbying them to make him head of NBCU. (“Because they’re the new guys in town,” one of my sources explains. “Even though Steve and Jeffrey never got along when they both worked for Disney.” Burke, the son of former Capital Cities/ABC president and icon Dan Burke, spent a dozen years in key Walt Disney Co positions before quitting in 1998 to go to work for Comcast.) I heard that the Comcast guys told various Camp Allen bigwigs that they aren’t interested in DWA or Katzenberg — emphasizing that Burke is going to be very hands on with NBCU.
I’ve been hearing that Jeffrey already has offered up DWA to every Hollywood studio, but they and their parent companies have passed. Before Comcast, the most recent “no” came from Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes. Meanwhile, DWA has two years to go on its distribution deal with Paramount but also an “out” clause after 10 films. Then again, Katzenberg can always obtain DWA’s freedom by buying out Paramount’s deal share himself.
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