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.
Hollywood is jetting to the annual Allen & Co investment conference in Sun Valley starting today. I’ve just been emailed the in-room schedule by a participant, and this year showbiz is back in favor because of an “Entertainment Panel” consisting of Barry Diller, Peter Chernin, Jeff Katzenberg, and Bobby Kotick (the CEO/president of Activision Blizzard for those who are joystick challenged). Ken Auletta, the CEO pornmeister, moderates. No Friday night dildos. No sandwich boards for out-of-work moguls. Gawd, Camp Allen has become such a showbiz snorefest. Just look at the sked:
– “Women In Technology” – Tom Brokaw moderating, with panelists: Ursula Burns and Anne Mulcahy from Xerox and Sheryl Sandberg for Facebook.
– “Modern Europe” – Tom Friedman moderating, with panelists: Lionel Barber from the Financial Times, Mathias Döpfner, and Niall FitzGerald from Thompson Reuters, Jean-Bernard Lévy from Vivendi
– “Social Internet’ – Erin Burnett of CNBC moderating with panelists: Marc Andreessen, Reid Hoffman and Mark Zuckerberg.
– Lunchtime Panel – “Understanding The Brain”
– “Global Risk” – David Ignatius moderating, with panelists consisting of military dudes.
– “The Business of Running a City” — Charlie Rose moderating with panelists: Mike Bloomberg, Cory Booker, and Richard Daley.
– “The New Breed Of Companies” featuring Square, Pandora, thinged and groupon.
– Untitled Panel moderated by Anderson Cooper with panelists: Warren Buffet, and Melinda and Bill Gates.