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Jeffrey Katzenberg

Katzenberg in July 2009
Born December 21, 1950 (1950-12-21) (age 59)
New York City
Occupation Film producer, CEO of DreamWorks Animation
Nationality American
Genres Animation
Notable work(s) Who Framed Roger Rabbit
The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
The Lion King
The Prince of Egypt
Over the Hedge
Kung Fu Panda
Monsters vs. Aliens

Jeffrey Katzenberg (born December 21, 1950) 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 the DreamWorks animated films Shrek, Shark Tale, Madagascar, Over the Hedge, Bee Movie, Kung Fu Panda, and Monsters vs. Aliens.


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, 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 only animated feature to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994). 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,[1] 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 $280 million.

DreamWorks SKG

Katzenberg at the 34th Annie Awards

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 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.

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. 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.[2][3][4]

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.

Personal life

Katzenberg was born in New York City, the son of Anne, an artist, and a stockbroker father.[5] He married Marilyn Siegel, a kindergarten teacher, in 1975, and the two have two children, Laura and David.[5] He joined Steven Spielberg and Haim Saban in endorsing the re-election of Hollywood friend Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican Governor of California, on August 7, 2006.

Katzenberg was awarded an honorary doctorate from Ringling College of Art and Design on May 2, 2008.[6]


External links

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