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David Geffen At TCA: “Impossible” To Raise $2B To Start DreamWorks Studio Today

By | Sunday July 22, 2012 @ 7:34pm PDT

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 »

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TCA: Producer of New Woody Allen Doc Talks About Filmmaker Hitting The Top At 75

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

Bob Weide, producer of the forthcoming four-hour Woody Allen documentary that carries the working title Seriously Funny — The Comic Art of Woody Allen and premieres Nov. 20-21 as part of PBS’ American Masters series, appeared this morning on a TCA panel to hype this show. Flanking him were Manhattan star Mariel Hemingway and Oscar-winning Mighty Aphrodite star Mira Sorvino as well as American Masters creator and exec producer Susan Lacy. Notably absent from the panel: Mr. Woody Allen himself.

Hardly a shock.

“He’s in Rome right now shooting a film,” Weide reasoned.

“Or he’d be here,” Lacy quickly added.

“Right. Sure he would,” Weide shot back. “As a matter of fact, I have Mister Allen right here backstage … along with Marshall McLuhan.” Read More »

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After Venice/Telluride Premieres of ‘A Letter To Elia,’ Should Martin Scorsese Start Writing An Emmy Speech?

Pete Hammond

After its World Premiere in Venice and North American Premiere at Telluride, the Martin Scorsese/Kent Jones documentary A Letter To Elia will debut on the PBS series American Masters on October 4. The hour-long documentary chronicles the life and career of director Elia Kazan. Just as that was being announced, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment revealed the doc will be featured in a DVD gift box set of 15 Kazan films that include On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire and Gentlemen’s Agreement. The set hits the streets November 9.  The fascinating film was shown Saturday and repeated yesterday, and received enthusiastic response from the cinephiles gathered at Telluride. That included director Alexander Payne, who told me it was his favorite film at the fest (at least up to that point).   Scorsese said he and Jones spent many years on the project, “looking at the films, talking about them, looking at  the life, the fame, the infamy, and finding the tone, the balance that felt right for this picture.”  From an awards standpoint, the PBS airing, and the upcoming launch of his HBO series  Boardwalk Empire (debuting September 19th) put the perennial Oscar nominee and winner (The Departed) a hot prospect for next year’s Emmys. He adds that he’s very excited to also have the doc included in the DVD collection, particularly because five of the films have never before been released on DVD: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1945), Read More »

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