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The life and death of DreamWorks

May 7, 2010 |  9:08 am


In 1994, three of the biggest names in Hollywood -- Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg -- banded together to found their own movie studio. "The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks" by Nicole LaPorte is the story of that studio, told in meticulous detail. From our review:

Hollywood, with its penchant for sunny publicity and obsession for secrecy, is a notoriously difficult business in which to uncover the truth. A former contributor to this paper (her husband worked here as well), LaPorte deserves credit for penetrating at a microscopic level and reconstructing verbatim dialogue that occurred inside DreamWorks' meetings. Most reporters are not up to the task. LaPorte is.

The studio had success with "American Beauty," "Shrek," "Gladiator," "Almost Famous" and "Saving Private Ryan," but that couldn't save it from the tensions of trying oversize personalities and other pressures of Hollywood. Eleven years later, the team had split, and their plan to reinvent the idea of the Hollywood studio had ended.

LaPorte told the Wall Street Journal that getting the detailed stories for her book sometimes felt like something out of a Hollywood movie:

The most dramatic moment was when this person agreed to talk to me at a Malibu restaurant on a weekend. I showed up. We meet in the parking lot. His eyes were darting, he’s nervous. Suddenly, he’s like, ‘Damn, in Malibu, you can’t go anywhere without running into someone. Get in the car.’ For two hours we drove up and down the PCH while he talked and I took notes.

If they're that nervous, don't expect many Hollywood players to show up at her book-signing at Book Soup. It's Saturday at 8 p.m.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: From left, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen in 1994. Credit: Chris Martinez / Associated Press

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