I only finished this book last week. From now on, when someone asks me how the film industry is run, I’m going to say, “read this book, my friend…” everything you think you know will mean shit when you’re done. Ahh, the tragic, but never dull tale of Dreamworks, SKG. S stands for Spielberg, K stands for Katzenberg and G stands for Geffen. Three of the most gigantic egos in Hollywood one day decided to start their own movie studio. The problem… these guys are the most gigantic egos in Hollywood.
But for a while, like in Martin Scorsese’s Casino, they owned the Kingdom. Dominating the Oscars with films like American Beauty and Gladiator. Dominating Animation with Shrek. Even dominating the box office with Transformers. Even if their dreams of building a studio in the wetlands of Marina Del Rey dissolved (instead, there’s a bunch of eyesore apartment buildings). So was their dreams of being bigger than Disney (currently, the most profitable studio with Star Wars, etc). Their video game division… undone by to many ideas, or too ambitious ideas.
As a screenwriter, this story amplified just how “lucky” you have to be to get a project going. But more importantly, how prepared you have to be for luck. Such was the case with Walter Parkes, a screenwriter turned producer turned studio head of Dreamworks. For years, he was Spielberg’s right hand man. He made millions, of course. But Parkes had what only a few of us will only dream about, the ability to green-light movies in Hollywood and the ear of Steven Spielberg.
There was also the juicy story of “Mousehunt,” which Katzenberg made as an aggression toward “Disney” (the Mouse House), the studio he left on volatile terms. Or how Katzenberg asked his friends at Pixar what they producing. When they leaked they working on “A Bug’s Life,” Katzenberg raced against time to make another bug movie… and came out with “Antz.” That’s why these two films were made… and why MANY films are made.
One of the most fascinating characters is Katzenberg’s right hand woman, Terry “Who Do I have to fuck to get a script around here?” Press, the femme fatale PR queen who fears no one and goes to war with Harvey Weinstein for as many Golden Statues as she can get. And of course, there’s sugar daddy, Paul Allen, so starstruck he’s willing to put up billions to finance the It Studio. Of course, there’s fun celebrity stories featuring Russell “flying telephones” Crowe and Jim “Prima Donna” Carey. And then, the DreamWorks titanic ventures from their highest peaks with their tenure at Paramount into the dark waters of the 2008 stock market crash.
Here is a story about why films are made. Not creativity, but vendetta. Hollywood is a town of revenge. That’s why its important to know people in the industry. That way you know which vendettas are coming and you too can have that “Antz” or “Mousehunt” script ready to sell as part of their ammunition, baby.
Written by: Norith Soth