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Has The Drop In DreamWorks Animation’s Stock Price Created A Buying Opportunity?

Has The Drop In DreamWorks Animation’s Stock Price Created A Buying Opportunity?That’s what analysts are debating today after last night’s lower-than-expected Q2 earnings report — and disclosure of an SEC investigation —  drove shares -14.9% this morning as they hit 52-week lows. Skeptics say DreamWorks Animation is still too uncertain, especially with the additional news of the government probe into the $13.5M writedown in February for Turbo. “This clearly raises uncertainty in a stock that we think already carries  higher risk (both strategic and operational),” Morgan Stanley’s Ryan Fiftal says.

The performance of How To Train Your Dragon 2 — which has generated $166M in domestic box office sales since July 28 — reinforced the bear case, even though DWA says the film will be profitable. Dragon 2 ”should have done better than it did given its high quality, sequel status, and extraordinarily clear sailing in its release window,” Cowen and Co’s Doug Creutz says. Sterne Agee’s Vasily Karasyov adds that the softer-than-expected performance makes it “harder to argue that future sequels will offset soft results from original releases.” Making matters worse, he says, is DWA’s disclosure that its next two films — The Penguins Of Madagascar and Home — will each cost about $10M more than originally planned: $135M not including what DWA calls “incentive-based compensation.” That raises the possibility of a writedown, Karasyov says.

CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said that DWA might reduce its per-film outlays by producing some “on a very different scale altogether, where it’s not incremental changes in the film cost, but the concepts of the movies and the style with which we would make … Read More »

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UPDATE: SEC Investigating DreamWorks Animation Writedown On ‘Turbo’; Shares Fall After Q2 Earnings Miss

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 1:18pm PDT

UPDATE: SEC Investigating DreamWorks Animation Writedown On ‘Turbo’; Shares Fall After Q2 Earnings MissUPDATE: DreamWorks Animation just disclosed the SEC investigation in its conference call with analysts and says it’s cooperating. The company took a $13.5M writedown on Turbo in February. DWA told analysts that it won’t comment further on the matter. Shares were down 8.2% after the news; if that holds tomorrow then it would be a 52-week low.

turbo_posterSeparately, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg declined to comment on the potential impact on his company if its distributor, Fox, acquires Time Warner. “Honestly, it’s way above my pay grade,” he says.

DWA said that it has bought from Paramount distribution rights to its feature films prior to 2013. They’ll now all be handled by Fox.

Katzenberg calls 2014 an investment year for DWA as it builds consumer products, TV programming, digital, and location-based entertainment. He adds that, generally speaking, the film “marketplace has gotten tougher. We’re competing against more movies than we have in the past.” Still, he says DWA is examining the lower-than-expected sales for Dragon 2. Read More »

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Where The Growth Business Is For Jeffrey Katzenberg: Online Video

By | Thursday June 26, 2014 @ 12:54pm PDT

Where The Growth Business Is For Jeffrey Katzenberg: Online VideoSo now we know. After getting roasted by some competing studio heads (if not on Wall Street) earlier this year when he said movies are “not a growth business,” DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg traveled south to Anaheim today to talk about online video, a business he does see growing into the next big entertainment business platform. Katzenberg sat down onstage with Hank Green, himself a prominent video blogger with brother John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars. The brothers are co-founders of Vidcon, the massive industry confab and fan festival filling the Anaheim Convention Center the next three days. Katzenberg used the friendly audience of video creators, distributors and others in the business to talk about why online video, particularly on YouTube, is such a promising creation and distribution platform for a new generation of talent outside traditional Hollywood.

“I think the opportunities ahead are so immense,” Katzenberg said. “This platform is in its infancy. Monetizing that is still a struggle. What we will see in a very short period of time, that will all start to migrate up to the top of the pyramid. I believe in five years, 95 percent of the value will come from the top 5 percent” of video creators. Read More »

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DreamWorks Animation Acquires Felix The Cat And Unveils High-Tech Santa Greetings For Malls

DreamWorks Animation Acquires Felix The Cat And Unveils High-Tech Santa Greetings For MallsFelix the Cat, created in 1919, is “known everywhere” and is “especially popular in Asia,” CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told the Licensing Expo in his keynote address today. And the feline character “goes beyond evergreen status and rises to something even more uncommon, as he is a true icon. We plan to make him one of the most desired fashion brands in the world.”

He also disclosed his plans for “DreamWorks’ DreamHouse,” a location-based entertainment initiative scheduled to begin this holiday season. Shoppers “will be treated to a fully immersive story that will appeal to parents as well as kids,” Katzenberg says. “It will be hosted by our characters and will include a thrilling four-minute flight on Santa’s sleigh to visit the big guy in his home at the North Pole.” The studio is already talking to mall owners to cut deals for them to offer what the CEO calls “a complete overhaul of the Santa experience, utilizing all of the high-tech gadgetry in our storytelling toolbox.”

Image (1) obama-katzenberg__130903221945.jpg for post 577183Katzenberg’s announcements  buttressed a larger point about his belief in brands and retailing — where brick-and-mortar store owners have been struggling to compete with online rivals. Although the Internet “has added a whole new dimension to shopping,” the DreamWorks Animation chief adds that “the cyber experience is limited. You can’t try on the clothes, you can’t interact with people … you can’t meet Santa.” He says that the “Chicken Littles who have predicted that online shopping will destroy retail remind me of the doomsdayers who, time and again, have predicted the demise of moviegoing.” They were wrong because  ”People like to get out of their homes and, equally important, theater owners have continually upgraded the experience with enhancements like digital projection, 3D, great sound as well as quality food and beverage offerings. In much the same way, retail will continue to flourish … because people enjoy getting out and interacting with their world, and because you continue to make the shopping experience more inviting and dynamic.” Read More »

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Cannes: Jeffrey Katzenberg Becomes Commander Of The Order Of Arts And Letters In Festival Ceremony

Pete Hammond

Rounding out a successful Cannes launch of How To Train Your Dragon 2, DreamWorks Animation‘s Jeffrey Katzenberg this Cannes2014_badgemorning became a Commander of the Order Of Arts And Letters in a Palais ceremony presided over by French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti. Cannes Film Festival programming wizard Thierry Fremaux also attended the ceremony and joined KatzenbergOrderin photos with the pair afterwards. The minister lauded the professional and humanitarian achievements of the DWA chief before he accepted the prestigious honor. “I actually have too much to say here but I won’t make it too long. I have found a second home here in France for 40 years. I have so many things to be grateful for the inspiration and the mentorship for so many things that originate here in France, which in many ways not only is the birthplace of cinema, but also culture. I have been blessed to be a part of the Cannes Film Festival commander-of-the-order-of-arts-and-letterswhich is the greatest platform and home of prestigious cinema anywhere in the world. To be on that red carpet, to be in that Palais I think is  really the greatest honor any filmmaker can have.” Katzenberg also acknowledged retiring President Gilles Jacob and Fremaux, who he said has brought “great artistic vision to the festival. His welcoming of animation well over a decade ago made history.”

Related: Cannes: DreamWorks Animation Celebrates 20 As ‘Dragon 2′ Breathes Fire On The Fest

He also mentioned his own relationship with the incoming president of the festival, Pierre Lescure , who was also in attendance today. “As the next president of the festival, it only insures many more decades of success,” he said. “To receive this is really a great honor and one that I am greatly appreciative of.” Read More »

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Cannes: Jeffrey Katzenberg Says MPTF Actively Looking For New ‘Night Before’ Home But Beverly Hills Hotel Employees Being Fully Compensated

Pete Hammond

At the DreamWorks Animation party Friday night in Cannes celebrating 20 years of DWA movies as well as the World Premiere of How To Train BlrODSUCEAAhyxA Your Dragon 2, Jeffrey Katzenberg told me he and the Motion Picture & Television Fund are actively looking for a new venue for the Night Before Oscar party in February. The Fund announced on May 5 that they were moving the glitzy, star-studded charity event to a new location after the Sultan Of Brunei (who owns the Dorchester Hotel group. which operates the Bev Hills and Bel Air Hotels) instituted harsh new laws against gays and women in his country and sparked a firestorm of protest in Hollywood, prompting lots of events to flee the property. The action forced the MPTF to pull its party, which Katzenberg, who is Chairman of the MPTF, made famous. Conceived 12 years katzenberg_gi__120906071528__130216010903__130223001221ago, it has been held every year since on Oscar weekend at the Beverly Hills Hotel to benefit the fund. It has earned multi-millions for the MPTF over the years. “It’s very sad,” Katzenberg said. “The Beverly Hills Hotel has been a part of Hollywood iconography for over 100 years, so to leave is sad but absolutely a must.  In this day and age, to have that level of intolerance and prejudice is something that none of us in Hollywood can condone. It’s a shame.” He added that the employees of the hotel –  innocent victims of all this — won’t suffer.

Related: Cannes: DreamWorks Animation Celebrates 20 As ‘Dragon 2′ Breathes Fire On The Fest

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Cannes: DreamWorks Animation Celebrates 20 As ‘Dragon 2′ Breathes Fire On The Fest

Pete Hammond

Among other things, Cannes this year might as well be called the Jeffrey Katzenberg International Film Festival. He’s had his cast and starCannes2014_badge dragon from How To Train Your Dragon 2 cruising the Croisette looking for paparazzi — and finding them. He’s had his cast, including new Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, working the press. He’s celebrating in style the 20th anniversary of DreamWorks Animation here with a gala World Premiere screening in a prime Friday night Out Of Competition slot in the Grand Lumiere Theatre, where fest topper Thierry Fremaux broke all precedent at this by-the-book festival and personally000_dv1727981 introduced the film and its players. DWA threw a big bash at Baoli beach featuring a special exhibit of concept art with more than 100 pieces from the film – and the weather cooperated. Perfect night on the Cote d’Azur. On Saturday at noon at the Palais, Katzenberg will be the recipient of a rare Commander of Arts honor presented by the French Minister Of Culture. And best of all he’s getting tons of worldwide publicity in advance of the June 6 launch of the sequel to one of DWA’s biggest hits, and one I think should be a major Best Animated Feature Oscar contender. It really manages to top the 2010 first film in terms of heart, laughs, action and pure exhilaration. And it won a major ovation at its official screening Friday. On top of all that, Katzenberg’s “date” for Saturday’s Vanity Fair party at Hotel du Cap is Harvey Weinstein. Yes, they are going together. “I told him he will be the missus — Mr. and Mrs. Katzenberg,” he laughed.

Related:
Cannes 2014: A Look At Hot Titles; Was It Over Before We Got Here And Paramount Made Record Deal?
Harvey Weinstein Defends Actions On ‘Grace Of Monaco’

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UPDATE: Conan O’Brien Rips Donald Sterling & CAA At Shoah Foundation Event Honoring President Obama

Obama at ShoahWRITETHRU: President Obama accepted the Shoah Foundation’s Ambassador of Humanity Award from Steven Spielberg tonight during a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. Following some jokes from host Conan O’Brien and acoustic takes on set from Bruce Springsteen (“The Promised Land” and a haunting “Dancing In The Dark”), Spielberg presented the president with the honor, after which Obama gave a heartfelt and somber speech before a crowd of about 1,300, according to the White House pool report. He didn’t touch on any subjects directly related to the entertainment industry, but the crowd that included many Hollywood heavy-hitters was moved by its universal themes of violence, war and intolerance. “The work of this foundation,” he said, “the testimonies of survivors like those with us tonight, also remind us that the purpose of memory is not simply to preserve the past; it is to protect the future.” It was the second stop on the president’s visit to Los Angeles. Earlier in the evening, he spoke at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser hosted by Alan and Cindy Horn at their Bel-Air home. The mood was much lighter for the roughly 90 guests, including Jeffrey Katzenberg and Barbra Streisand, who shelled out $64,800 a couple. They heard the president give what amounted to a stump speech that also eschewed any mention of showbiz. Obama will stay overnight before leaving for San Diego in the late morning. A full transcript of his Shoah Foundation speech is at the bottom of the original post.

Related: Obama Rips Cable News & Joel McHale Bombs At White House Correspondents Dinner

4TH UPDATE, 10:15 PM: Host Conan O’Brien kicked off the Shoah Foundation event where President Obama was being honored with a few zingers. “Whoever Steven [Spielberg] suckered to tell jokes at this event is a true idiot,” he said in his opening remarks. The late-night host teased Obama about the traffic gridlock his visit caused. “You left Washington six hours ago, but I left Burbank seven hours ago.” But O’Brien got one of USC Shoah Foundation's 20th Anniversary Gala - Showthe night’s biggest laughs when he mentioned Spielberg’s efforts to record Holocaust survivors and other victims of genocide. O’Brien said the filmmaker “was recording evidence of intolerance long before Donald Sterling’s girlfriend.” Obama was seen laughing at the remark. The TBS host also acknowledged the philanthropists and other humanitarians in the room before reminding everyone of the true nature of Hollywood. “I’m also told there are some people from CAA here, so that evens it out,” he said to a huge laugh. “They don’t represent me, so I don’t care.” He then introduced Bruce Springsteen, who played a couple of acoustic numbers including a haunting version of “Dancing In The Dark.” As he introduced Spielberg after the performance, O’Brien recalled a lunch they’d had when he first moved to LA in 2009 for what ended up being a short stint hosting The Tonight Show. “Steven took me on a tour of his awards,” he said. “It took 5 hours.”

Spielberg then took the podium. “Everywhere from Syria to southern Sudan, the world has yet to learn the lessons,” he said of genocide and war during his introduction of Obama.”This program exists because we know the future can be re-written.” Then he introduced the president, who gave a somber and heartfelt speech that ran about 15 minutes.

obamahollywood__120118234033-1__120615023234-1-6__121008025841-200x150__121105180912__130424210450__140430225506“Memory has become a sacred duty of all people of good will,” Obama said after accepting the Ambassador of Humanity Award from Spielberg. The president passionately praised genocide survivors in the packed ballroom as “inspirations of hope.” He also praised the foundation’s work capturing on video the survivors’ stories “Recording the memories that would be lost to time. … They turn never forget into never again.”

He later said, “It’s up to us to search our own hearts for those stories that have no place in our world.” The president asked the crowd to “erode” the destructive forces of anti-Semitism and other bigotry and injustice. “Drop by drop by drop … never forget, never again,” said Obama, who mention in closing the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria and the civil war in Syria. Read More »

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Jeff Bewkes Challenges Jeffrey Katzenberg’s View That Movies Aren’t A Growth Business

Jeff Bewkes headshotOuch: “Maybe it is for him,” the Time Warner CEO said when asked in an analyst call to respond to the DreamWorks Animation chief’s comment this week that “movies are not a growth business.” This was an easy punch for Jeff Bewkes to throw: Warner Bros had a record year domestically last year and just reported strong Q1 results helped Jeffrey_Katzenberg__120906063125by The Lego Movie and 300 — while DWA shares are down about 11% today after it took a $57M writedown for Mr Peabody & Sherman. Jeffrey Katzenberg’s company “doesn’t make many movies,” Bewkes says. “We’ve been doing fine in movies.” He predicts “continued growth overseas” for his studio’s event films. “We do have some tough comparisons given the great year we had last year.” Even so, “we do think we can grow the business over time. We don’t agree with (Katzenberg’s) view” although he acknowledged that “the business they’re in is quite different.”

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Jeffrey Katzenberg: New Animated Films Have To “Check Off More Boxes” Following ‘Peabody & Sherman’ Loss

Mr-Peabody-Sherman-Official-Trailer-9The DreamWorks Animation chief sounded like he’d prefer to have a root canal than talk to analysts about how his studio hopes to avoid another failure like Mr. Peabody & Sherman — which just resulted in a $57M write-down for Q1.  Three of the studio’s past four films failed to deliver, Jeffrey Katzenberg noted, which he blamed on “inconsistent execution” and other factors tied to marketing and scheduling.

As the market for kids’ films becomes more competitive, “we have to focus on the creative side of the business” to find “ideas that have the broadest global appeal” and stand out as must-see experiences. “Playability honestly is just not enough today. … We feel a different level of criteria in terms of the ideas we’re picking and the marketing of the ideas.” He’s hot on sequels and says DWA has more in the pipeline than ever, with plans to release at least one a year. Read More »

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“Movies Are Not A Growth Business”, Jeffrey Katzenberg Tells Confab

“The business of movies as a traditionalkatzenberg business has been challenged on many levels and it’s not a growth business,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg today at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference in Beverly Hills. “TV is a growth business. Short form content is a growth business. Movies are not a growth business,” he added of the shift in the industry in recent years.  The DreamWorks Animation CEO was joined by Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei on a panel at the annual boardroom confab on Entrepreneurial Leadership In the Corporate World. “The stakeholders are trapped in an enterprise that can’t get out of its own way,” Katzenberg added. “For it really to grow it needs to break out of the windows that have existed for many generations. And I think that’s 10 years away.”

Related: DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg Made $13.5M In 2013, +157%
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DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg Made $13.5M In 2013, +157%

By | Monday April 28, 2014 @ 3:18pm PDT

katzenberg jeffreyDreamWorks Animation had one box office hit in calendar year 2013 in The Croods and one disappointment in Turbo, but it was a good year for CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. His total compensation was $13.48M, up from $5.24M in 2012, according to an SEC filing today. The two catalysts came from his new employment contract inked in late 2012: an increase in salary from $365,386 to $2.5M, and non-equity incentive plan compensation of $6M. His compensation included $478,148 for personal security services which DWA says it only notes as part of the package because the SEC requires it. Former Chief Marketing Officer Anne Globe, meanwhile, who exited the company in August, would have been one of the three highest-paid DWA execs had she remained. She earned $1.44M for 2013 including $356,987 in severance payments. DWA took a $13.5M write-down on Turbo in Q4 2013 after it underperformed, but Katzenberg said in February that the franchise will be profitable eventually with its Netflix animated series.

Related: DreamWorks Animation Beefs Up Netflix Lineup

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CinemaCon: Industry Icon Tom Sherak Remembered And Honored At Emotional Pioneer Awards Dinner

By | Thursday March 27, 2014 @ 1:00am PDT
Pete Hammond

The 73rd Pioneer Of The Year Dinner in honor of the late Tom Sherak just may have been the most emotional and moving event the philanthropic organization has ever thrown, certainly of those I have attended in the four years they have been held during CinemaCon. As 20thF Century Fox President of Distribution  and President of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation Chris Aronson said, it was also “historic” as it represented the first time the Pioneer Of The Year award was presented posthumously. That was not the plan when they selected Sherak, who passed away in January, for the honor several months ago. The dinner raised over $1M for the Pioneer Assistance Fund. Sherak’s widow Madeleine told me Wednesday evening that he was thrilled to be getting the award and was well aware of it before his passing. Still, she noted it was very bittersweet. ”When Tom died he didn’t leave anyone in charge. There isn’t a vice-president of All Things Tom. But what he did leave was a piece of him in everyone he touched. He didn’t have a number two, he had a number hundreds. We all have watched him through the years, we were mentored by him, he taught us to ‘do’,” Aronson said in opening remarks.
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Jeffrey Katzenberg Says ‘Turbo’ Franchise Will Be Profitable Even Though The Film Isn’t

By | Tuesday February 25, 2014 @ 2:32pm PST

The DreamWorks Animation CEO still has a lot invested in snails — with Netflix carrying the studio’s animated series Turbo FAST — and says the film’s failure doesn’t mean the TV show will skid off track. TurboWe believe the overall Turbo franchise…will be a successful and profitable piece of business for years to come,” Jeffrey Katzenberg told analysts in a call to discuss Q4 earnings. He noted that Netflix says Turbo FAST is “one of the most popular kids series ever on their platform.” The DWA chief called the $13.5M writedown on the film “a modest impairment charge” needed because it “fell short of our expectations,” especially overseas. But the loss stung: When an analyst said it was small enough to constitute a rounding error he fired back that “it’s not a rounding error for us,” adding that the company wants to be transparent. Distributor Fox will recoup its costs for Turbo in the current quarter. The spinoff TV series may still complicate DWA’s 2014 financials. It expects to deliver a big slug of episodes to Netflix in Q4 and will have to rev up spending to market them. But DWA said that will pay off in 2015: It raised its TV revenue forecast for next year to more than $250M from more than $200M.
Related: … Read More »

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NY Governor Cuomo Tells Mogul-Filled Fundraiser He Wants More Production In Empire State

By | Thursday January 23, 2014 @ 8:34pm PST

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Gives Annual State Of State AddressPartially in jest and partially dead serious, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tonight told a mogul-heavy big ticket fundraiser at the home of Fox’s Jim Gianopulos and his wife Ann that NY was the birthplace of film in America. He also said he has no qualms about trying to bring more of the film and TV business back to the Empire State. With tickets going for up to $50,000 a couple, a crowd of over 100 tonight packed the “intimate evening” fundraiser for the Democrat’s reelection held in the Gianopulos’ backyard, which had been set up with tables and heat lamps. Introduced by the MPAA’s Chris Dodd, who himself was introduced by Gianopulos, Cuomo spoke for about 20 minutes. Among a number of topics, the Governor stressed on the importance he puts on protecting Intellectual Property. Having helped lure The Tonight Show back to NYC last year, Cuomo also discussed the value he puts on what the industry can contribute to the NY State economy. New York has a film/TV tax incentive of more than $420 million – the highest in the country.  Even with a reelection war chest estimated at over $33 million, the over $600,000 raised tonight was a hefty contribution to Cuomo’s campaign.

One of a growing number of pricey midterm election fundraisers being held by moguls, the Cuomo gathering tonight was strictly top tier. DreamWorks Animation boss and Hollywood … Read More »

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UPDATE: Obama Teases Jeffrey Katzenberg During DreamWorks Animation Speech Touting Hollywood Biz

By | Tuesday November 26, 2013 @ 1:27pm PST

UPDATE, 1:27 PM WRITETHRU: President Obama took to the stage today for a speech on the economy at DreamWorks Animation, the company run by one of his biggest Hollywood bundlers Jeffrey Katzenberg. After being introduced by Mellody Hobson — the DWA board chairman from Aerial Capital Management, a Chicago native and longtime friend — he thanked Katzenberg for inviting him before launching into a pro-Hollywood and pro-economy message tailored to the crowd estimated at 1800-2000 that included DWA employees and pretty much every entertainment mogul in the city. “His place in the entertainment business is legendary … don’t need to puff him up too much he has a healthy sense of self”, Obama joked about Katzenberg, with the president adding that “my ears were the inspiration for Shrek”. The president called the entertainment biz “one of America’s biggest exports” and “one of the bright spots of our economy”, adding that he’s figured out what his next job will be. “I told Jeffery I’d like to work here”, Obama said to cheers from the crowd. As he wrapped up, after his customary “God bless America” line, Obama said, “Can’t wait to see your next movie”.

The Glendale stop, on the second day of a two-day LA fundraising swing, drew a who’s who of Hollywood moguls including CBS Corp’s Les Moonves, NBCUniversal’s Ron Meyer, Jeff Shell and Robert Greenblatt, Sony’s Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton, Paramount’s Rob Moore, Fox’s Jim Gianoplulos and Peter Rice, Lionsgate’s Jon Feltheimer, Warner Bros’ Kevin Tsujihara, Disney’s Bob Iger, Alan Horn and Anne Sweeney, LA Film Czar Tom Sherak and the MPAA’s Chris Dodd. Those execs participated in a closed-press meeting with Obama ahead of his speech, with a White House spokesman describing it as an “opportunity to discuss the economy and highlight the entertainment industry as a bright spot in our growing economy. The President discussed the impact that broader economic conditions has on the industry. He also touched on piracy and intellectual property rights, which are chief concerns of participating film industry leaders.” The moguls were hard to pin down on the meeting, with Meyer telling me only that “it was great, really great”. Read More »

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UPDATE: VFX DreamWorks Animation Protesters To March Tuesday; Katzenberg, Obama Not Target Of Rally

By and | Monday November 25, 2013 @ 6:20pm PST

President Obama DreamWorksUPDATE: Organizers of the VFX artists’ protest scheduled during President Obama’s visit to DreamWorks Animation on Tuesday say they now plan to march between Griffith Manor Park and the street. The group has also announced the name of its CVD campaign coalition: Association of Digital Artists, Professionals & Technicians (ADAPT).

PREVIOUS, 1:34 PM: Barack Obama’s visit to DreamWorks Animation tomorrow will be matched by a protest by the VFX professionals behind an anti-subsidy tariff campaign, but the organizers say they don’t have the president — or DWA head Jeffrey Katzenberg – in their sights. “We are not trying to embarrass DreamWorks Animation at all,” the industry blogger known as VFX Soldier told Deadline. “This is about raising awareness about what is happening outside the walls of DreamWorks: The absolute collapse of VFX employment.”

Obama is in town today and Tuesday for midterm election fundraisers as well as his DWA appearance. After a studio tour and a meeting with industry leaders, Obama is expected to speak about the economy and the strength of the entertainment industry in his DWA address scheduled for 12:15 PM Tuesday. During his DWA visit VFX supporters will gather just under a mile away at Glendale’s Griffith Manor Park. The VFX activists are aghast that Obama would praise employment at a studio hit by layoffs in the last year to an animation and VFX community that’s struggling to survive. Pink slips delivered by DWA earlier this year were the result of changes in the studio’s production schedule, not outsourcing or similar activities. Sources tell Deadline that many of those let go from DWA have since been rehired as the studio has new films in the pipeline. Still, everyone in VFX feels the instability of the industry. “We’re trying to prevent the embarrassment,” said VFX Soldier. “Why would you go to L.A.? This is ground zero.”

Related:
Obama Traffic Snarl Alert: Street Closures Set
‘Good Dinosaur’ Delay Leads To Pink Slips At Pixar

DreamWorks Animation Obama VFXWhile the president won’t see the protesting VFXers, the White House is clearly sensitive to perception about Obama speaking at the HQ of his biggest donor bundler. “DreamWorks obviously is a thriving business and is creating lots of jobs in Southern California and the fact of the matter is Mr. Katzenberg’s support for the president’s policies has no bearing on our decision to visit there. Rather, it’s an opportunity to highlight the success of one business and the success that they’re having in creating jobs in Southern California,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest today on Air Force One according to pool reports. Similar to the fundraiser last week for Gov. Jerry Brown at Disney Studios boss Alan Horn’s home, a number of other studio chiefs such as Warner Bros’ Kevin Tsujihara and CBS’ Les Moonves are expected to attend Obama’s speech at DWA.

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Obama Traffic Snarl Alert: Street Closures Set For Today & Tuesday

If you aren’t attending the two big-ticket fundraisers President Obama is headlining in Beverly Hills tonight, you might want to stay out of West LA today. Because of Obama’s two-day visit, the LAPD says there’ll be street closures from the 405 Freeway to La Cienega Boulevard and from Santa Monica Boulevard south down to Venice Boulevard today from 4:45-10 PM. There will also be closures from Fairfax to Western and from Beverly Boulevard to Pico from 8-10:45 AM Tuesday for a Hancock Park fundraiser. Also expect delays in the Glendale area from 10:30 AM-1:30 PM when the President heads over to big bundler Jeffery Katzenberg‘s DreamWorks Animation for a speech on the economy and the entertainment industry.

Related: Obama Set For DreamWorks Animation Visit Nov. 26

Today, Obama is set to fly into LAX at 4:30 PM and then chopper over to the Veterans Administration building at 11000 Wilshire Blvd near UCLA. Coming to town from San Francisco, POTUS will head first to a $2,500-$15,000 a ticket gathering at Magic Johnson’s Beverly Hills house; Obama is scheduled to speak at the event around 7:10 PM. Staying in the neighborhood, the President will then head to the home of Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl for a $16,200-a-person or $32,400-a-couple dinner. A longtime Democratic Party supporter who had an event with Hillary Clinton last month at his house, this marks the first fundraiser the Power Rangers billionaire has held with Obama directly. After delivering remarks at 8:20 PM, Obama will head to a hotel, likely the Beverly Hilton, for the night. Read More »

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The Day JFK Was Shot: 50 Years Later, Hollywood Remembers

(A version of this story first appeared Sunday.)

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was a defining moment of the 20th century. That is even the case for someone like me, who was born after November 22, 1963, in the shadow of the president’s murder. Most of my generation can tell you where they were when they learned of the shooting of John Lennon and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, but everyone of a certain age can tell you where they were that tragic day in Dallas. With the passing of the WWII generation and memories of Pearl Harbor, only 9/11 is as seared into our souls now as much as 11/22. In remembrance of the 35th president, I asked some of the industry’s most notable and insightful individuals — a few of whom had seen JFK just before his death — where they were when they heard the news of the shooting and what they experienced that day. Here’s what they told me:

Ron Meyer – Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal
I had just gotten out of the Marine Corps and I was living in LA. I was working at a men’s clothing store and we heard this news. You know, I was in the Marines during the Cuban missile crisis, during the blockade, so we really felt we knew him and that you had direct involvement with him because, at least during that time, everything that happened to him affected us. We could have gone to war if he’d ordered it. So when he was killed, you felt that someone who had been an integral part of your life, my life, was gone. I was young, 20 years old, but it was the most unexpected loss. You know, my family escaped from Nazi Germany – so to us, he represented the hope of the world. It was tragic.

Jeffrey Katzenberg – CEO, DreamWorks Animation 
I try to focus less on November 22nd and more on November 8th, the date in 1960 when Kennedy was elected president. I was only 9 at the time, but that election, with its down-to-the-wire finish, suddenly made me aware of the excitement and possibilities of politics. Three years later, Kennedy’s assassination was devastating beyond words. But, for me, it further heightened the impact of his 1,000 days. While I was still in middle school, I went to work for another dynamic young leader, New York Mayor John Lindsay. JFK’s example inspired me then, and it inspires me still.

Related: Dan Rather To Narrate ESPN Special Commemorating JFK

Bill O’Reilly – Host, The O’Reilly Factor; Author, Killing Kennedy
Back in November of 1963, I was a 14-year-old freshman at Chaminade High School in Mineola, New York. I was sitting in Brother Carmine Diodati’s religion class when the loud speaker crackled, and the school principal announced that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. He then put the CBS radio report on the loudspeakers all over the school. The students were stunned. Few of us said anything.

When I got home that afternoon, my mother was watching CBS on television. Her mother, my grandmother’s name was Winifred Kennedy. So the O’Reilly family had a direct emotional tie to the much more famous Kennedy clan. In the weeks that followed, life got back to normal for the teenagers on Long Island. But my friends and I will never forget the first time we heard of the treacherous assassination.

Related: ‘Killing Kennedy’ Draws Record Viewership For Nat Geo Read More »

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