"But perhaps the primary failure at DreamWorks was simply one of will. Of the three founders, only Katzenberg wanted to actually head a studio; now he is, at DreamWorks Animation. Spielberg's first love has always been directing, and he has spent the last year on sets making 'War of the Worlds' and 'Munich' back to back. And Geffen has always been upfront about his distaste for the movie business. What both men wanted, it seems in retrospect, was the power and freedom of owning a studio, not the burden of running one. And who can blame them? If you were Steven Spielberg, would you want to sit behind a desk, fretting about profit-and-loss statements? Didn't think so."
I had breakfast with Jeffrey Katzenberg on the morning of his last day with Disney. We met at the Penninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. The meeting was set up by Bill Block, an agent and my business partner at the time, and his boss at ICM at the time, Jim Wiatt. Wiatt was friends with Katzenberg from way-back. You could tell because he snatched a newspaper that was sticking out of Katzenberg's back pocket and hit him with it. Most people in Hollywood can't do that.
We talked a long time, by Hollywood standards, about the video game business. Over an hour I think.
Katzenberg said lots of things I won't repeat, but one worth repeating was that, as he was about to leave Disney, people were offering him incredible sums of money to start something. He said something about people offering to drive a Brinks truck up with a billion dollars in it.
And that's what happened. And Dreamworks SKG was founded.
And now it's sold, but Katzenberg gets to hold onto his first love, running an animation studio.
Which is good for us, because he was the powerhouse behind that run of great Disney animated hits, including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. Pocahontas would have been better if he had stayed around to re-edit the hell out of it, as he is prone to do. So we can look forward to more years of clever and funny and adult-tolerable animated films, with a higher proportion of potty-humor than the Pixar films.