- Dec 21, 1950
- New York, New York, USA
Bio: Jeffrey Katzenberg (born December 21, 1950 in New York City) is an Jewish American film producer and CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG. He is perhaps most famous for his period as studio chairman at The Walt Disney Company, and for producing the movie Shrek (2001).
Katzenberg tried being a talent agent briefly, but in 1975 ended up as an assistant to Barry… More Bio: Jeffrey Katzenberg (born December 21, 1950 in New York City) is an Jewish American film producer and CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG. He is perhaps most famous for his period as studio chairman at The Walt Disney Company, and for producing the movie Shrek (2001).
Katzenberg tried being a talent agent briefly, but in 1975 ended up as an assistant to Barry Diller, the Chairman of Paramount Pictures. Diller moved Katzenberg to the marketing department and then the television division where Katzenberg was assigned to revive the Star Trek franchise. He was successful with Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). He continued to work his way up and became President of Production under Chief Operating Officer Michael Eisner.
In 1984, Eisner became Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at The Walt Disney Company. Eisner brought Katzenberg with him to take charge of Disney's motion picture divisions, including its ailing Feature Animation unit. As the studio head, Katzenberg was responsible for turning the studio around and creating some of the most critically acclaimed and highest grossing animated features that Disney released: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991, the first animated feature to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994), the highest domestic grossing animated film of all time until 2003. He also sealed the deal that created the highly successful partnership between Pixar and Disney and the deal that brought Miramax Films into Disney.
When Eisner's second in command, Frank Wells, died in a helicopter crash in 1994, Eisner refused to promote Katzenberg to the vacated position of president. When Katzenberg pushed the issue, Eisner forced him to resign. Katzenberg launched a lawsuit against Disney to recover money he felt he was owed and settled out of court for an estimated $100 to $250 million (the actual amount remains secret).
Later that year, Katzenberg co-founded DreamWorks SKG with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. From his ventures, Katzenberg has gained an estimated worth of $800 million according to Forbes magazine (this after barely being able to afford the $30 million downpayment for the establishment of DreamWorks SKG). He was also an executive producer of Prince of Egypt (1998) and Joseph: King of Dreams (2000), released by DreamWorks.
DreamWorks was initially successful but never fulfilled its potential. Plans for a studio campus in L.A.'s Playa Vista section were scrapped, while the record label and videogame unit were sold off. Recently, Geffen admitted that DreamWorks had come close to bankruptcy twice. Under Katzenberg's watch, the studio suffered a $125 million loss on Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, and also overestimated the DVD demand for Shrek 2. In 2005, out of their two large budget pictures, The Island bombed at the domestic box office, while War of the Worlds was produced as a joint effort with Paramount which was the first to reap the profits. The DreamWorks studio was sold to Viacom in December 2005; as Viacom also owned Paramount, Katzenberg was (in a way) reunited with his old employers.
In 2006, Katzenberg made an appearance on the fifth season of The Apprentice. He awarded the task winners an opportunity to be character voices in an upcoming movie.
Katzenberg joined Steven Spielberg and Haim Saban in endorsing the re-election of Hollywood friend Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican Governor of California, on August 7, 2006.
Jeffrey Katzenberg has raised more than $1.7 million in a fundraising for Democratic 2008 Presidential candidate Barack Obama.
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