Jeffrey Katzenberg

From Academic Kids

Jeffrey Katzenberg (born December 21, 1950 in New York City) is a film producer and co-founder of DreamWorks SKG. He is most famous for producing the movie Shrek (2001).

At 14, Katzenberg worked on John Lindsay’s campaign for New York City Mayor. Katzenberg just wanted to be involved and was soon trusted to handle the campaign cash. A monetary scandal involving Lindsay placed Katzenberg, Lindsay’s unofficial treasurer, under investigation. No charges were ever filed and Katzenberg left politics for show business.

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.

When Disney’s second in command, Frank Wells, died in a helicopter crash, Eisner refused to promote Katzenberg. When Katzenberg pushed the issue, Eisner fired him. Katzenberg launched a lawsuit against Disney to recover money he felt he was owed and settled out of court for an estimated $100 - $250 million (the actual amount remains secret).

In 1994, Katzenberg co-founded DreamWorks SKG and is CEO of DreamWorks Animation, Inc., the animation unit of DreamWorks SKG. From his ventures, Katzenberg has gained an estimated worth of $800 million according to Forbes magazine.

Resources

  • "The Katz that bit the mouse". Guardian Unlimited (http://film.guardian.co.uk/interview/interviewpages/0,6737,492542,00.html). Retrieved Sep. 10, 2004.
  • "Me and my troll". Guardian Unlimited (http://film.guardian.co.uk/interview/interviewpages/0,6737,1253349,00.html). Retrieved Sep. 10, 2004.

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