The studio’s being “pretty aggressive” about at least one potential venture and hopes to have “news to share pretty quickly,” CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told analysts this evening following his company’s Q1 earnings release. He didn’t provide details, but offered his comment in response to a question about TV opportunities with a traditional cable channel, a possible DreamWorks Animation channel, and online. “There are too many plates spinning right now and we don’t have certainty on which will be the best,” he says. Cable presents a “complicated set of challenges and circumstances,” and while he’s “not close to concluding a deal” there “we continue to have interest.” DWA’s three shows on Nickelodeon make a “negligible” contribution to the company, mostly from licensing and merchandising. But the studio has equity in Dragons on Cartoon Network which is “a more advantageous model for us.” Plans for a Netflix show based on the upcoming movie Turbo provide “another set of economics that have opportunity.” Indeed, he says that with Classic Media’s 450 titles “it is a meaningful place of opportunity for us.”
One reason for the increase is that the DreamWorks Animation CEO collected $365,386 in salary, up from his traditional $1 — an amount that many tech entrepreneurs take to illustrate that they want to help their new companies conserve cash while they make most of their wealth from the large amount of stock that they own in their companies. (Katzenberg controls 61% of the voting shares.) The new contract Katzenberg signed in October will guarantee him a $2.5M annual salary and a bonus of as much as $4M, according to the proxy filed today at the SEC. The board says the change recognizes that it’s no longer a young company — it went public in 2004 — and “determined that Mr. Katzenberg should receive a more traditional overall compensation package.” The DWA chief still did well in the stock department last year, collecting $4.5M, up from $4M in 2011, along with other compensation of $375,331 The “other” benefits largely went to security services for the CEO which the company says it doesn’t consider to be compensation but includes “in accordance with SEC guidance on this issue.” Katzenberg’s compensation was 1.8 times higher than the median for his company’s other top executives, well below the level (3 times) that corporate governance watchdogs consider to be out of whack.
Cory Booker hasn’t officially said he’s running to become New Jersey’s next Senator but Hollywood is planning to shovel money into his campaign treasure chest. Anointing Booker as Hollywood’s new favorite politician, invites went out this week for a “Special Evening In LA” April 25 fundraiser for the Newark Mayor at the Beverly Hills home of producer Jerry Weintraub and girlfriend, producer Susan Ekins. The event has a marquee host list that cuts across party lines and into deep wallets. It costs $5,000 a ticket to attend the fundraiser with the money going to Cory Booker For Senate. The event is one of eight the telegenic Democrat has lined up in the next two months in anticipation of a 2014 run to replace departing fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg in the heavily Blue state. The Beverly Hills fundraiser certainly shows that backing a potential winner cuts across party lines. Republicans like Bush family confidante Weintraub and Bruce Willis are listed on the invite but so are avowed Democrats like Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was one of the largest single contributors to Barack Obama’s reelection, Steven Spielberg and new Star Wars director J.J. Abrams and their wives Kate Capshaw and Katie McGrath.
Guests at Jeffrey Katzenberg’s 11th Annual ‘Night Before’ Oscars Fundraiser benefiting the Motion Picture and Television Fund tomorrow won’t have to worry about crossing a union picket line after all. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to ignore …
UPDATE, 8:34 AM: The union that represents healthcare workers at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s care facility and hospital is planning picket lines this week but the organization’s CEO says “progress was made” in the last set of talks between the two sides. “We were encouraged by this past week’s bargaining session with SEIU and a federal mediator,” said the MPTF’s Bob Beitcher in a statement today. In the February 14 meeting, the MPTF offered to open up their books to provide the SEIU will a full sense of their negotiating position, says a source close to the situation. The union, who won a strike authorization vote from their members on January 30, is planning to picket MPTF offices and the Woodland Hills hospital on February 21. More visibly, the SEIU is considering a picket line at Jeffrey Katzenberg’s February 23 ‘Night Before’ charity event for the MPTF at the Beverly Hill Hotel. Read MPTF CEO Beitcher’s full statement here:
We were encouraged by this past week’s bargaining session with SEIU and a federal mediator. Progress was made in resolving a long list of open contract points and both parties were actively engaged in narrowing the discussions to a few key issues. To facilitate additional progress, MPTF and SEIU continue to comply with additional information requests and MPTF has agreed to provide an educational workshop for SEIU’s bargaining unit. We are hopeful that the next bargaining session on March 7th will take us even closer to achieving a mutually satisfactory 3-year agreement.
PREVIOUSLY, FEB. 15: Jeffrey Katzenberg’s 11th Annual ‘Night Before’ Oscars Fundraiser benefitting the Motion Picture and Television Fund on February 23rd could suffer a pre-strike union picket line. That’s because of a stalemated bargaining session Thursday between the MPTF and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. I have learned that the powerful union is “strongly considering” going out on the line at the charity event at the Beverly Hills Hotel. That would present guests with a dilemma because some notables also belong to unions — Hollywood guilds — and won’t want to cross the picket line. The gala has been protested before – but by families and concerned friends of the long-term care hospital and units when Katzenberg decided to close them. The guests in limousines simply whizzed past the demonstrators barely giving them a glance. But last year’s fundraiser went off without a hitch when a compromise was reached to keep the long-term care facilities open.
Flight director Robert Zemeckis was sitting next to me at Saturday’s fourth annual Governors Awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences saluting Hal Needham, George Stevens Jr., D.A. Pennebaker, and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian winner Jeffrey Katzenberg. He asked what I thought the news coming out of tonight would be. I quickly replied, “It’s become a very big place, perhaps the biggest in the season, for Oscar campaigning.” No question since this very important event is taking place closer than ever to official Academy voting (which begins December 17th and runs through January 3rd – 10 days earlier than usual). So contenders were out in force. What better place to be seen than in a room full of Academy voters? “Now it begins. This is the first really big one of the season,” one studio marketing executive said about the very impressive turnout.
Zemeckis noted the heavy studio presence making a big difference in star turnout. Studios this year have more Oscar hopefuls than usual, and many potential nominees eager to talk were at those tables: Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal and co-star Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty); director Juan Antonio Bayona, stars Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland (The Impossible); Bradley Cooper, Jacki Weaver, director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook); director Nicholas Jarecki, star Richard Gere (Arbitrage); John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt (Promised Land); John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, director Ben Lewin (The Sessions); writer Tony Kushner, director Steven Spielberg (Lincoln); director Tom Hooper, Producer Eric Fellner (Les Misérables); Omar Sy (The Intouchables); Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann (This Is 40); director Joe Wright (Anna Karenina); Kristen Stewart (On The Road); Amy Adams (The Master); Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas (The Dark Knight Rises); Writer Chris Terrio (Argo); Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained). And this is just a partial list.
Tarantino had come directly to the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood And Highland Center from his DGA screening of awards-buzzed Django Unchained. The violent spaghetti western homage had not screened in its finished form to an audience anywhere until Saturday afternoon – and it reportedly received two standing ovations, immediately erasing fears that it wouldn’t be ready in time for its Christmas Day release or that it was over-hyped as a serious contender. Twitter reaction is pretty ecstatic, too. Tarantino was clearly in a good mood, saying it was the first time he was able to screen the film to anyone other than the same “8 people” who’ve seen it over and over. “It was really great. They seemed to get all the jokes, and it played very well,” he told me. “You have to see this film,” Sony Chairman Amy Pascal told me as I came over to talk to Tarantino. (Sony has international on the film while The Weinstein Company retains domestic rights.) Film nerd that he blissfully is, Tarantino seemed just as excited when Governors awardee Needham came up to say hello. “I think Smokey And The Bandit is one of the best first-directed features to this day. And it is a real Southern film,” he said to the honoree he would later be toasting. Bradley Cooper, attending his first Governors Awards, noted how great it is that events like these allow people in the industry to talk to others they really admire and respect. Of course the real reason for this event was so the industry could take a good deal of time to honor their own with the highest awards they can bestow.
It made for quite an emotional night. Academy President Hawk Koch began the evening describing the congratulatory phone calls he made telling the four recipients that they had just been voted an Oscar. “I can still hear D.A. Pennebaker asking in disbelief, ‘Are you kidding?’ And George Stevens Jr saying, ‘Oh my God!’ True to form, Hal Needham gave a giant ‘Woo hoo!’ And Jeffrey Katzenberg, believe it or not, was speechless,” Koch said before describing what the evening (flawlessly produced by Don Mischer, Cheryl Boone Issacs, Charlie Haykel, Juliane Hare) was really all about. “The definition of who deserves an Honorary Oscar is simple. Each one of these people we are honoring tonight has made a difference to every single person in the film community, here in Hollywood, and all over the world. They have redefined our art form. They have changed how our movies are made and the impact on our lives.”
Next came a one-hour dinner break which became the Super Bowl of table-hopping as overworked awards consultants made sure their contenders were moving around the room for meets and greets with the Academy crowd.
After dinner U.S. Senator Al Franken came on to extoll the virtues of 87-year old documentary filmmaking legend D.A. Pennebaker, whose career spans music docs for the likes of Bob Dylan and David Bowie to penetrating political docs like 1960′s Primary and The War Room. One of his films even profiled Franken himself (2007′s Al Franken: God Spoke). “He was a pioneer in the use of cinéma vérité and the use of moving, even jerky, camera moves that has changed the way filmmakers shoot their movies. And his body of work has influenced us all, not just because he’s a great filmmaker but because his films feel so honest and true,” said Franken. Academy Documentary Governor Michael Moore echoed those sentiments in introducing Pennebaker by saying, ”Tonight we are honoring a man who invented the modern documentary.” The night’s first honoree,Pennebaker said referring to the Oscar, “Everyone here probably has one of these already… New York is a long way from here and people who make films in New York never even expect to go to Oscarland, much less even get one. And there’s also the distance between the 16MM and 35MM and the 70 film, so it’s a long stretch – and being here now I am trying to kind of deal with it. It’s hard.” His speech ran very long but was sincere so the audience went with it. But even he asked if he was overstaying his welcome.
Academy Governor Annette Bening introduced Honorary Oscar winner George Stevens Jr, saying there’s no single word that describes this man of many talents and strong Hollywood heritage who founded AFI and later the Kennedy Center Honors. “He has elevated the act of honoring others and made it a sublime art. He is a true enthusiast for the art of film in all its forms and we have all benefitted from his dogged determination to preserve, promote, and elevate filmmaking,” she said. Sidney Poitier then appeared to a standing ovation and spoke of his long friendship and association with Stevens Jr. who directed him in the TV movie Separate But Equal. Stevens spoke a terrific thank you, telling of going to the Oscars several times including once when his father won for directing A Place In The Sun in 1951. “On the way home I sat next to him in the car with the Oscar between us on the seat. He said, ‘We will have a better idea what kind of film this is in the next 25 years.’ He was talking about the test of time… I thank Dad for that and opening the door for me to a creative life that that has been so rich, and gifted me with so many wonderful friends in our profession,” he said as he clutched his brand new Academy Award.
Perhaps the liveliest presentation was to stunt man/director Hal Needham whom presenter Tarantino noted was only the second stunt person to receive an Oscar. (The first going to legendary Yakima Canutt.) Producer Albert S. Ruddy followed Tarantino with an absolutely hilarious tale about the making of a Needham film called Megaforce which caused major destruction on the Goldwyn lot where it was shooting. A very large missile built for the film inadvertently misfired sending a giant hole into an adjacent stage that then burned down. That didn’t stop Needham, who continued making the film despite personal injury and calamity. (“It was a very interesting movie. When you say ‘interesting’ as a producer it means it didn’t make any money,” Ruddy joked.) “You’re looking at the luckiest man alive and lucky to be alive,” said Needham in an emotional acceptance in which he also remembered his late mother. He told of early jobs including a fortuitous budget meeting with director Billy Wilder on his first gig as a stuntman, The Spirit Of St. Louis. “I want to thank the entire Hollywood community for allowing me to be a part of it.”
Last up was Katzenberg whose presentation also was responsible for the biggest starpower of the night (Spielberg, George Lucas and Kirk Douglas were among those sitting at his table) with both Will Smith and Tom Hanks offering their assessments of why Katzenberg is so successful as a philanthropist. “It’s not just a phone call, it’s the invitation to breakfast,” said a deadpan Hanks. “It’s the lunch that lasts exactly 47 minutes. It’s the follow-up phone call. It’s the visit to the office. It’s the tour of the facility. It’s the follow-up phone call. It’s a letter to remind you you had a phone call and a tour of the facility. And finally it is a thank you for the contribution you made.”
Then Hanks became serious about the humanity of Katzenberg
OSCARS: Jeffrey Katzenberg On Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award — “I Don’t Feel Like This Is My Award”
On Saturday night, four shiny new Oscars will be handed out at the fourth annual Governors Awards being held at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. Those receiving Honorary Oscars this year are legendary stuntman-director Hal Needham, documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker, and producer and film champion George Stevens Jr. And receiving the prestigious Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award that has gone in recent years to Jerry Lewis, Sherry Lansing and Oprah Winfrey is DreamWorks Animation head and philanthropist Jeffrey Katzenberg, who tells me he was “almost totally” surprised to be getting the honor.
Related: Academy Names 2012 Governors Awards
“There were two people who shall remain nameless who had said over the summer, ’Hey you know there’s a little bit of talk that maybe this is the right moment, the right time to acknowledge the work you’ve been doing’, but honest to God it didn’t register,” Katzenberg said. “I tried to be humble and gracious and say I appreciate it but no need. So when (Academy president) Hawk (Koch) called me, I had no idea they were meeting. I was floored. I get this urgent call at 10:30 PM from Hawk and I was genuinely taken by surprise.”
So what does it mean to him?
“I am gonna talk about it on Saturday night because I have had time to think about it like I hadn’t before”, he said. “What I really believe is in a way is this is a reflection back on our own community. The real fact is all I did was ask, and it’s Hollywood that has done the giving. I really feel I am receiving this on behalf of Hollywood and our community and the extraordinary generosity that we have for the real world that we live in. The Oscars are given out for great work in the fantasy world that is moviemaking. And the Hersholt Award is about the great work that is done in the real world that we actually all live in together. I don’t believe there is a more generous community than ours. I don’t really feel like this is my award. I don’t feel this is me. I feel this belongs to all of us together”.
DreamWorks Animation Channel Idea Is “Being Realized”, But Katzenberg Also Wants To Be On Fox In Primetime
Sounds like CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has a lot on his agenda when he talks to his new distribution partners at Fox. He told analysts this evening that international execs at News Corp’s entertainment arm have “enthusiasm” for his effort …
The director and DreamWorks Animation CEO’s contributions to the Super PAC Priorities USA were revealed today in a filing to the Federal Elections Commssion. The electronic filing shows that Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg made their donations on September 24. Katzenberg, …
Los Angeles, CA, (October 16, 2012) – In an extraordinary commitment, the three men who created DreamWorks SKG: Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, are each donating $30 million to the MPTF Campaign as announced today by George Clooney, MPTF Board member and co-chair of the Campaign. The total commitment of $90 million is a major shot in the arm for the $350 million Campaign announced earlier this year to build the endowment and support the charitable operations of the industry’s charity.
David Geffen Swaps Out Super-Voting Shares At DreamWorks Animation, Solidifying Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Control
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. …
UPDATE: President Obama Thanks Katzenbergs For “Tireless” Support; Weinstein, MacFarlane & Clooney Also At Donor Dinner After LA Concert
2ND UPDATE, 9:37 PM: President Obama tonight thanked Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg for “being tireless and stalwart and have never wavered through good times and bad since my first presidential race, back when a lot of people still couldn’t pronounce my name.” Obama’s remarks about the DreamWorks Animation CEO and his wife came during the $25,000-a-ticket dinner for 150 donors at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown LA. Harvey Weinstein, newly named Oscar host Seth MacFarlane and George Clooney, who gave some shout-outs from the audience, were also there, according to the White House pool report. Clooney also spoke today at the 30 Days Until Victory concert at the Nokia Theatre at LA Live. Read the edited and condensed pool report from the dinner plus excerpts of the president’s remarks from the White House Press Office here:
W.H. Pool Report - Shortly after 8pm pool went through the lobby to an elevator at the adjoining Ritz Carlton and to the 24th floor, arriving at the aptly named WP24. Attendees seated at about a dozen round tables, 10 people per table, were finishing plates of dim sum as pool arrived in the dimly-lit room, with views outside blocked by dark curtains. Bold faced names spotted by poolers: George Clooney, newly-minted Oscars host Seth, and Harvey Weinstein — all at the same table closest to where POTUS spoke. POTUS entered the room at 8:25pm, along with Mayor Julian Castro, who made a brief introduction.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat. First of all, you just heard from the future of the Democratic Party — the great Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro. (Applause.) We’re so proud of him.
There are so many people I could thank tonight, so I’m just going to focus on three individuals. First of all, my unbelievable Southern California co-chairs — John Emerson and Ken Solomon. Please give them a big round of applause. (Applause.) They have been tireless in their efforts. They have been unbelievable.
The other person that I want to acknowledge in particular — because I said this to them privately, I’ve got to say it publicly — Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg have been — (applause) — they have been tireless and stalwart and have never wavered through good times and bad since my first presidential race, back when a lot of people still couldn’t pronounce my name. (Laughter.) And I will always be grateful to them for just the incredible support that they’ve given. So thank you very much. (Applause.) Thanks, both of you.
Some of you are aware that — well, all of you are aware that Michelle and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary. (Applause.) And the actual anniversary date was not that romantic. (Laughter.) There was some speculation as to whether this had an impact on my performance. (Laughter.) But I did make it up to her on Saturday. We went out to dinner, a date night. And it was a wonderful evening. It was a private room, because people kind of lean over and start listening if we’re in the booth next to them. (Laughter.) And Secret Service gets nervous. (Laughter.)
And we had this wonderful young waiter, and he brought us all our stuff, and he was patient with us as we were dawdling over the menu. And we were milking it for all it was worth because we don’t get out that often. But at the end of the dinner — it was very professional, very unobtrusive — but at the end of the dinner he just said, I wanted to just say how much I appreciate you because you saved my mother’s life — because my mother had a stroke, she wasn’t yet qualifying for Medicare, and because of the Affordable Care Act, we were able to get her coverage that allows her to take her medicines and is keeping her alive. And it reminded me of why we do this. I am a fairly competitive guy. Clooney has played basketball with me. (Laughter.) And I don’t like to lose — especially not to actors. (Laughter.)
MR. CLOONEY: We were on the same team. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: We were on the same team. I put him on the team — and we did win.
MR. CLOONEY: That’s right, we did.
THE PRESIDENT: And so sometimes during the course of campaigns, we get caught up in the sport of politics, and the ups and the downs, and doing the this and the that, and how much money did we raise and how many doors have we knocked on. And all that’s important, but it is in service of that waiter, Anthony’s mom….
W.H. Pool Report – After the remarks concluded pool immediately ushered out and to the vans. Motorcade was rolling out of downtown at 8:45pm.
UPDATE, MONDAY PM: Jon Bon Jovi, Jennifer Hudson and Stevie Wonder have joined the performance lineup for President Obama‘s concert fundraiser next month at the Nokia Theatre at LA Live, Deadline has learned exclusively today. More names are expected to be released soon as organizers lock down final plans for the October 7 event. Bon Jovi, Hudson and long time Obama supporter Wonder join the previously announced Katy Perry and Earth, Wind & Fire on the bill, dubbed the 30 Days To Victory Concert, which is being put on jointly by the campaign’s Entertainment Advisory Council and veteran Hollywood special events producer Ken Ehrlich. Tickets remain on sale, we’re told.
PREVIOUS, FRIDAY PM: The Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill down at LA Live will be serving President Obama and some big donors October 7, a source with knowledge of the fundraising event told Deadline tonight. Jeffrey Katzenberg will be co-hosting the now $25,000 a ticket dinner scheduled after the 30 Days To Victory Concert at the Nokia Theatre. Harvey Weinstein may also come on board as co-host for the intimate meal between the incumbent and his wealthier supporters.
Nothing has been formally announced by the campaign, but President Obama is definitely coming to town October 7 for one last grab of Hollywood cash before the election. A 30 Days To Victory Concert And Dinner, as it is tentatively being called, has been booked for the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on that date. “This will be a large-scale event with multiple performers and speakers preceding the President’s remarks,” read an email that went out from the Obama re-election campaign to donors earlier this week. The venue may be locked but performers and speakers are still being lined up, a source close to the event told Deadline.
After the show, Jeffery Katzenberg will co-host an exclusvie $40,000-a-ticket get together at a nearby but as yet undetermined downtown location. John Emerson, co-char of the campaign’s Southern California Finance Committee, is also expected to be a dinner co-host. Seems the dinner won’t just be for big donors: As it did with the recently announced dinner with Obama, Beyoncé and Jay-Z in New York on September 18, there is a lottery to attend the October 7 dinner. The campaign’s website put up a Dinner With Barack page earlier this week in which people can donate as little as $5 to enter a chance to break bread with the President and First Lady. This particular contest, which ends September 20, does not specify where winners will be flown to for the dinner, but the timing fits the LA event almost perfectly.