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The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorksby Nicole Laporte
Synopses & Reviews
For sixty years, through Oscars and earthquakes, the lineup of Hollywoods majors varied little, with Universal, Warner Bros., Fox, and Paramount heading the list. Then came the circus maximus created by director Steven Spielberg, billionaire David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg (who gave us The Lion King). Nothing in decades had approached the excitement surrounding the empire called DreamWorks, where hype, glory, and investors vying to kick in billions gave way to blowups, battles, and betrayals worthy of The Godfather.
Nicole LaPorte reveals for the first time the delicious truth of what happened behind the scenes. From a previously unequaled vantage, we see the slightly otherworldly Spielberg, so rich and famous that the borders of reality, much less his admiring new partners, can barely contain him. As Steven spends, offers lucrative contracts to friends, and makes blockbusters for other companies, Katzenberg attempts to create an animation kingdom that will become the new companys cash cow and annihilate his old rivals at Disney. (His shock comes when the one movie he does not micromanage — the tale of a green ogre called Shrek — becomes a four-billion-dollar franchise while his own projects tank one by one.) After hes charmed investors (including Microsofts Paul Allen), Geffen hovers above the fray in his Gulfstream IV, occasionally jetting in to zap enemies who violate his rules of business, a code less flexible than omerta.[add accent grave to a]
There are clashes between Spielbergs blue-jeaned troops and Katzenbergs steely, Disney-trained warriors, and the seduction of stars such as George Clooney and Nicole Kidman (who cant believe the mess made of DreamWorks first movie, The Peacemaker). LaPorte shows us the making of Oscar-winning triumphs, including Saving Private Ryan, American Beauty, and Gladiator, a box-office crowd pleaser whose star, Russell Crowe, threatened homicide in bizarre late-night phone tirades. Behind the high jinks, however, is the very serious business of producing films, among Americas biggest exports. Yet we watch as the partners alternately obsess and ignore their company as it burns through billions. We see Geffen showing his mettle against superagent Michael Ovitz, and staging a fireworks display during the negotiations that ultimately took DreamWorks to Paramount and then to Disney.
Here are three larger-than-life personalities, moguls that hark back to the days of Mayer and Goldwyn, making moves that remind us that in Hollywood, big business calls for memorable performances.
LaPorte goes behind the hype to reveal how Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg joined forces to create DreamWorks.
The cinematic saga of DreamWorks where three Hollywood legends — alternately friends and rivals, brilliant and savage - created a studio which proved that in Hollywood business is always a grand performance.
Former Variety reporter Nicole LaPorte draws from years of inside-the-filmmakers-studio access to spin a smart, gritty tell-all about a clash of industry titans in The Men Who Would Be King.
DreamWorks—the mega-million-dollar brainchild of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen—heralded a new age of entertainment empires when it launched in 1994, and their competitive strategy was fierce. For avid business readers, among others, seeing David Geffen in action as he seduces investors like Microsoft's Paul Allen and takes on CAA's Michael Ovitz is worth the price of admission. Their creative battles cost them untold billions on the way to the box office, but this is no rags-to-riches story: in fact, as they grow DreamWorks into one of the most influential film brands operating today, these rich men get richer, even as the stakes get higher.
For sixty years, since the birth of United Artists, the studio landscape was unchanged.Then came Hollywoods Circus Maximuscreated by director Steven Spielberg, billionaire David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who gave the world The Lion Kingan entertainment empire called DreamWorks. Now Nicole LaPorte,who covered the company for Variety, goes behind the hype to reveal for the first time the delicious truth of what happened.
Readers will feel they are part of the creative calamities of moviemaking as LaPortes fly-on-the-wall detail shows us Hollywoods bizarre rules of business.We see the clashes between the often otherworldly Spielbergs troops and Katzenbergs warriors, the debacles and disasters, but also the Oscar-winning triumphs, including Saving Private Ryan.We watch as the studio burns through billions, its rich owners get richer, and everybody else suffers.We see Geffen seducing investors likeMicrosofts Paul Allen, showing his steel against CAAs Michael Ovitz, and staging fireworks during negotiations with Paramount and Disney. Here is Hollywood, up close, glamorous, and gritty.
About the Author
NICOLE LAPORTE is a former reporter for Variety, where she covered the Hollywood movie industry for several years. She wrote "The Rules of Hollywood" column for the Los Angeles Times Magazine and has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times, the New York Observer, and W Magazine. She is currently a West Coast reporter for the Daily Beast.
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