One day after telling TMZ — the media outlet of record on Donald Sterling’s Racist Remarks story — she is not interested in buying the Sterling-owned Los Angeles Clippers, Oprah Winfrey let it be known she is interested in buying the NBA team. Because that kind of publicity is a terrible thing to waste. “No, I won’t be buying the Clippers, but I hear Magic Johnson might be,” Oprah told TMZ on Tuesday, after greeting its representative with a chatty, “Chai it up! Chai it up!” – because Oprah’s also got a new drink to sell, in partnership with Starbucks.
Related: Clippers Playoff Game Expected To Clock Big Ratings After Owner Banned For Life
Oprah was cast as the lead in the Whither Goest Clippers saga this morning when ESPN reported she was interested in making a bid for the team with David Geffen, whose interest in buying the team was yesterday’s news – and far less sexy, based on media pickup. Geffen made an unsuccessful bid for the team a few years ago, sans Oprah. Also yesterday’s news: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who today is said to be part of the Team Oprah bid to buy the team that is not for sale but which NBA commissioner Adam Silver has forecast will soon be, because he’s that confident he can line up three-quarters of team owners needed to vote to force Sterling to sell. Read More »
The normally media-shy David Geffen gets the American Masters treatment on Tuesday on PBS. Here’s an exclusive clip from American Masters: Inventing David Geffen, when the media mogul talks about all the showbiz jobs he couldn’t keep when he first came to Los Angeles from Brooklyn — until a co-worker suggested he try a new line of work.
Related: David Geffen At TCA
Co-founder David Geffen converted his 3M Class B shares — which have 15 votes apiece — for Class A ones that only have one vote but that trade in the open market, the company disclosed this morning in an SEC filing. As a result, the filing says, “All of the shares of Class B Common Stock, which represent approximately 61% of the Company’s total voting power, are held by Jeffrey Katzenberg and entities controlled by him.” DreamWorks Animation adds that for the October 2 agreement it had to issue new Class A shares for Geffen and “did not receive any consideration” for doing so. Those shares were worth $20.13 apiece based on yesterday’s closing price. The Class B shareholders’ agreement bars Katzenberg and Geffen from swapping the shares, or selling to a third party, without the other’s consent, according to a summary in the DreamWorks Animation proxy. As a result of Geffen’s conversion, DreamWorks Animation now has 76,521,156 Class A shares outstanding and 7,838,731 Class B ones outstanding.
David Geffen is notoriously press and camera shy. (Unless it’s with Maureen Dowd or Barbara Walters.) But he appeared at TCA today for the upcoming PBS American Masters: Inventing David Geffen documentary billed as an “unflinching” portrait of his life. He was brief with his answers to reporters and critics, emphasizing repeatedly this afternoon that he has little to do with showbiz anymore except for the 3 million-4 million stock shares which his foundation owns in publicly traded DreamWorks Animation run by Jeffrey Katzenberg. (He pointed out that he hasn’t even seen Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Lincoln yet “but I’ve heard it is very good” from DreamWorks 2.0.) Geffen said today it would be “impossible” to raise the $2 billion financing that formed the original DreamWorks which he co-founded back in 1994 with Spielberg and Katzenberg as the first new Hollywood studio in 50 years. “I don’t think it can be done today for a start-up. I don’t think anyone can raise $2 billion, I couldn’t do it today.” Geffen repeatedly spoke about the differences in showbiz between when he was coming up in the biz – and now. One of the most dramatic changes? “The demise of the DVD has a huge impact on the finances of the business,” he said. “The business model has changed. The industry will exist in very different ways than we experience it today. It’ll still be here. But I think there will be industries that will be far more profitable.”
Related: PBS’ Ken Burns ‘The Dust Bowl’ Documentary To Air Nov. 18-19
Specifically about the film biz, Geffen said, “The biggest movies in the world have no stars in them today. Avatar has no stars. Avengers, with the exception of the small role that Robert Downey Jr had in it, had no stars. Today it is the story not the stars,” the mogul said. (He bluntly said Rock of Ages bombed because “it was a bad movie.”) Geffen did say what’s still the same is how hard it is to get into showbiz. “It was very hard then, and it is now. A very hard bullseye to hit.” His own early years as a working class Brooklyn boy in the William Morris Agency mailroom in 1964 spanned into the music industry and his early success Read More »
PBS announced today that David Geffen will be the topic of its documentary series American Masters on November 20, and that Geffen will take part in the pubcaster’s TCA panel next month. The L.A. billionaire media mogul isn’t one for the media spotlight, so participating in a TV doc is a notable piece of news — not to mention that he is taking the stage in front of a roomful of media to promote it. But PBS says it’s true: Geffen will appear alongside American Masters creator/executive producer Susan Lacy on Sunday, July 22 during the TCA summer tour at the Beverly Hilton. As for his two-hour episode American Masters Inventing David Geffen, it will take a look at the “groundbreaking media mogul who helped shape American popular culture for the past four decades as an agent, manager, record industry titan, Hollywood and Broadway producer, and billionaire philanthropist.” Yoko Ono, Cher, Stephen Spielberg, Barry Diller and Rahm Emanuel are interviewed for the piece among others.
(Photo: Getty Images)
The clearance still leaves Sony waiting for the Federal Trade Commission, which is expected to take a few months before deciding whether to approve the $2.2B deal. But it’s still a big step forward for Sony’s ambition to make its Sony/ATV subsidiary — a joint venture with Michael Jackson’s estate — the No. 1 owner of music publishing rights. EMI’s catalog includes standards such as New York New York, You’ve Got A Friend, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Over The Rainbow, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Singin’ In the Rain, and The James Bond Theme. The EU said that it would approve the acquisition once Sony divests four catalogs — Virgin UK, Virgin Europe, Virgin US, and Famous Music UK — and works by 12 contemporary songwriters including Gary Barlow, Ozzy Osbourne, Robbie Williams, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Placebo and The Kooks. With that agreement, Read More »
Leo Wolinsky was brought in after several rounds of layoffs at the trade, and now he was pushed out after less than a year in the job. Before coming to Variety, Wolinsky had spent many years in senior level roles at the Los Angeles Times. But, as I wrote back on December 8th, why in the world would that newspaper’s errand boy be named editor of Daily Variety (both the LA and NY editions) because the guy knew nothing about the entertainment biz. I registered surprise at what a bad choice this is. He was long considered a joke at the LA Times and infamous for secretly helping wrangle billionaire potential local backers like Eli Broad, Ron Burkle, Richard Riordan, and David Geffen when then bigwig editors were fighting with Tribune Co. (Finke/LA Weekly: Baquet’s Billionaire Boys Club). He briefly sat atop the LA Times‘ entertainment and feature sections as a seat-filler until he was let go. Nevertheless, Wolinsky was made responsible for all Variety editorial content for the print edition and began January 2010 reporting to Variety Group editor Tim Gray. Meanwhile, Variety is sending out for an LA Press Club panel about the trades some junior box office reporter who was an intern until recently. Also an article in the Los Angeles Times about show business news coverage barely even mentioned Variety which is now behind a pay wall. Out of sight, out of mind?
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that five well-known Hollywood Democrats — David Geffen, Bob Iger, Peter Chernin, Haim Saban, and Ari Emanuel — are hosting a November 4th fundraiser for Ari’s brother Rahm Emanuel in his bid to become Chicago’s next mayor. Rahm, a former Democratic U.S. Representative from Illinois’ 5th Congressional District (2003-2009), resigned as President Obama’s White House Chief Of Staff on October 1st to throw his hat into the mayoral race following the retirement of Richard M. Daley whose last name more or less owned that political office the way most families would takeover the dining table. The Hollywood fundraiser will be held at Saban’s palatial Beverly Hills home.
For those keeping score, Geffen is the former DreamWorks SKG partner and longtime music and film mogul. Iger is the CEO of the Walt Disney Company. Chernin is the former No. 2 of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and now a busy Fox TV and film producer. Saban is a private equity investor and entertainment producer best known for making the Power rangers into a worldwide hit and co-owner of the largest Spanish language media company in the U.S., Univision, as well as one of the Democratic party’s single largest donors. And Ari is the co-CEO of WME Entertainment, one of the largest Hollywood talent and literary agencies and now expanding into marketing and investment banking. All the men are Democratic Party donors, with Geffen, Chernin, Ari Emanuel, and Saban the most … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Fox, Fremantle, and 19 Entertainment are locking in their American Idol judges with each passing day. But I’ve learned that the show really wanted but didn’t snag the best judge possible — David Geffen. My sources say that, about 4 months ago, Idol producer Simon Fuller of 19 Entertainment first approached the one time founder of both Asylum Records (Jackson Browne, The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Linda Ronstadt) and Geffen Records (Donna Summer, John Lennon, Elton John, Cher, Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel, Guns N’ Roses, Lifehouse, Nirvana) and former principal of DreamWorks SKG. The two men met twice, and Fuller tried his best to talk Geffen into taking the judging gig left vacant by Simon Cowell. I hear the multibillionaire who rarely gives interviews or appears on television asked Fuller perplexed: “Why should I do this?”
As soon as Cowell announced his departure from Idol to bring his own music show The X Factor to Fox, the network and 19 and Fremantle sought a new judge who was a music mogul, like Tommy Mottola, Guy Oseary, and Jimmy Iovine. But Geffen would have trumped them all. “It would have been his if he’d wanted it,” a source tells me. “Because Cowell is a bad imitation of David.” I couldn’t agree more: Geffen would have been a natural: he’s often brutally honest, he is a legendary talent spotter, and he’s forgotten more about the music biz than Cowell will ever know in a lifetime. … Read More »
I’ve written here again and again how much David Geffen wants to own the Los Angeles Times and put it back under local control as well as make it a real must-read. But the Hollywood mogul was rebuffed first by the Tribune Co’s CEO Dennis Fitzimmons and then by current owner Sam Zell. Now Geffen may be looking for a third chance to buy the paper. I’m told by a source that Geffen and Zell are “in serious discussions” regarding a sale. It’s all very hush-hush, but my source tells me: “Cash flow is not being met for the bankers, revenue is in freefall, and the potential liability on the Combs story is huge. Sam feels he bought a bill of goods. Geffen is back in the mix and he’s going to get it for a deep discount. They’re in serious discussions.”
UPDATE: However, Geffen has been on his yacht vacationing in the South Pacific for weeks. And a Geffen insider insists that the DreamWorks partner and Zell haven’t spoken in months.
Some background is needed. I’ve reported previously that, not long before Dean Baquet became the LA Times editor in July 2005, Jeffrey Katzenberg sought a meet-and-greet to announce that Geffen really wanted to buy the newspaper. Baquet was shocked. “How’s he going to feel the first time we review a movie or … Read More »
2ND UPDATE: Michael Ovitz on the witness stand at the Pellicano trial today pointed an accusatory finger at his former friend and CAA partner Ron Meyer, now president/COO of Universal Studios, and at his longtime nemesis David Geffen, the billionaire co-founder of DreamWorks. Ovitz testified that he suspected they were the sources behind those co-bylined New York Times articles damaging to him and his AMG business written in 2002 by freelance writer Anita Busch and staff writer Bernie Weinraub. So he says he hired Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano and paid him $75,000 to find out.
Ovitz: I called him because I knew he was sourcing the articles. Not the people writing the articles. He knew a substantial number of people in the West Los Angeles business community. He was working with people I was having problems with — Ron Meyer, David Geffen.
Cross-Examination by Chad Hummel, the attorney for defendant LAPD Sgt Mark Arneson: Did you believe these two individuals were sourcing the articles?
Ovitz: I did.
Hummel: What did you want to know?
Ovitz: When I was going to be ambushed. When the other shoe was going to drop… He told me I had a huge problem with Ron Meyer.
On the subject of Anita Busch:
Hummel: Did he [Pellicano] give you embarrassing information about Anita Busch?
Ovitz: No. He was rather dismissive of her.
Hummel: Did he give you embarrassing information about Bernard Weinraub?
Hummel: Did you ever hire Mr. Pellicano to put a fish on Anita
… Read More »
Apparently it’s news to The New York Times — though to no one else in Hollywood – that there may be friction when Paramount and DreamWorks try to unentangle themselves. What’s a better story the newspaper could have written for Thursday’s edition? That DreamWorks can finally shop itself around starting May 1st. Or that Steven Spielberg has the right to terminate his contract as soon as October, if David Geffen is no longer there, even though the producer-director’s pact on paper goes to 2010. (Even Dreamworks Animation has an “out” clause after 10 films.) But I’m really surprised that the newspaper of record doesn’t know what I know: that Spielberg has the right to elect to be involved in any project that DreamWorks has developed at Paramount. As an ex-Paramount business affairs source once told me, Steven’s so-called “Amblin deal” would apply even if he chooses to leave and is no longer under contract. He’d still make 7.5% of the gross and 50% of the profits to cash break. And if it’s decided the projects won’t be made, they have to be offered to Steven in turnaround. So, tell me, given the choice that if he stays he’s paid nothing, and if he goes he’s paid a lot, who in their right mind would think Spielberg sticks around?