Jeffrey Katzenberg Biography
Jeffrey Katzenberg born on December 21, 1950. He is an American film producer and CEO of DreamWorks Animation. He is perhaps most famous for his period as studio chairman at The Walt Disney Company, and for producing DreamWorks animated films such as Shrek, Antz, The Prince of Egypt, Madagascar, Over the Hedge, Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs. Aliens, and How to Train Your Dragon.
Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg in 2010. Katzenberg was born in New York City, the son of Anne, an artist, and a stockbroker father. He married Marilyn Siegel, a kindergarten teacher, in 1975, and they have two children, Laura and David. His son, David, who is the creator of MTV's The Hard Times of RJ Berger, credits his father for his work ethic. David was quoted in Details Magazine saying his dad "always tells me, 'if you don't come to work on Saturday, don't bother coming in on Sunday.'" Of the total political contributions of $1,444,420.00 given by Katzenberg since 1978, 95% were given to Democrats, 5% to special interest groups without party affiliations, and less than 1% (only $7,000.00) to Republicans. Katzenberg was awarded an honorary doctorate from Ringling College of Art and Design on May 2, 2008. He spoke at NAB Show in 2010 about the 3D landscape for an impromptu session, sparked by the last minute conversion of the Warner Bros. Clash of the Titans remake from 2D to 3D and the impact it has on the box office for films. Together, Marilyn and Jeffrey donated the multi million dollar Katzenberg Center to Boston University's College of General Studies, citing that it gave their two children the "love of education." Jeffrey Katzenberg is on the board of the Motion Picture and Television Fund and hosts two annual fundraisers called The Annual "Evening Before" Party and The Annual “Night Before” Party - which are the night before the Emmys and the night before the Academy Awards,
Professional career & Paramount Pictures:
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 (COO) Michael Eisner
The Walt Disney Company:
In 1984, Michael 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. As the studio head, Katzenberg was responsible for turning the studio around. He first had the studio focus on the production of adult-oriented comedies under its Touchstone Pictures banner, including films such as Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), Three Men and a Baby (1987), and the "Ernest" series.
Katzenberg was also charged with turning around Disney's ailing Feature Animation unit, creating some intrastudio controversy when he personally edited three minutes out of a completed Disney animated feature, The Black Cauldron (1985), shortly after joining the company. Under his management, the animation department eventually began creating some of Disney's most critically acclaimed and highest grossing animated features. These films include 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). In addition, Katzenberg 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 $250 million.
Katzenberg at the 34th Annie Awards. Later in 1994, 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 down payment for the establishment of DreamWorks). He was also an executive producer of Prince of Egypt (1998) and Joseph: King of Dreams (2000), released by DreamWorks, as well as Shrek in 2001. 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. Since then, the returns from Dreamworks' animation endeavors have been largely successful. In 2004, DreamWorks Animation (DWA) was spun off from DreamWorks as a separate company headed by Katzenberg in an IPO and has recorded mostly profitable quarters since then. The DreamWorks movie 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 Over the Hedge. When Katzenberg appeared on The Colbert Report on April 20, 2010, he confirmed that from now on "every single movie" that Dreamworks Animation does will be in 3D and gave Stephen Colbert a pair of new 3D glasses.