The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks
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The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  451 ratings  ·  81 reviews
For sixty years, since the birth of United Artists, the studio landscape was unchanged.Then came Hollywood's Circus Maximus--created by director Steven Spielberg, billionaire David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who gave the world "The Lion King"--an entertainment empire called DreamWorks. Now Nicole LaPorte, who covered the company for "Variety," goes behind the hype to...more
ebook, 512 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) (first published January 1st 2010)
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GoldGato
This was a book I was definitely looking forward to reading, as it brought back memories of working in the film industry in the 1990s, when the SKG boys (Spielberg, Katzenberg, Geffen) had everyone in a spin. The town was a'twitter with constant gossip about their quest to become an old-time studio, one which treasured the talent and the customer.

While Dreamworks never ended up being more than just a major production company, it caused enough storm and stress to be the headline in any conversati...more
Jason
If you have any interest in Hollywood, movies, or how movies get made you're going to love this book.[return][return]The book traces the beginnings of Dreamworks from its inception to regained independence in 2009. The author does such a fantastic job of describing the players and detailing the situations and motives that you feel like you were a part of the whole thing. The chapters in which she tells about specific movies really moves the book along and keeps you wrapped up in what's happening...more
Ethan Gilsdorf
Saga of DreamWorks with no help from leading men

By Ethan Gilsdorf | Boston Globe, May 2, 2010

DreamWorks was monstrous, misfit, and idealistic. The upstart studio was the progeny of three industry giants: director Steven Spielberg; record company mogul and billionaire David Geffen; and Disney animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg, the driving force behind the idea to make a new studio from scratch.

DreamWorks began building on a lofty foundation. At the Oct. 12, 1994, press conference announcing the p...more
Katherine Coble
I used to idolise Spielberg when I was about 11. He was the genius who made movies fun again.

Now that thirty years have gone by, my approach to the world of movies is far less reverent, far more cynical. I wanted to read this precisely because I wanted insider-view details on the world of moviemaking unencumbered by spin. While other reviews bemoan the lack of involvement in the book by the three principles, I was glad of it, as I didnt want a slanted tale.

Boy, were these wealthy people bitter,...more
Jay
Story of the creation of DreamWorks through its buyout and re-birth. Takes a journalistic view of the proceedings, introducing the three principals and describing how they got together to create the DreamWorks super-studio, how they managed the business, and how they sold out to Paramount and then reversed their purchase. The book narrates the big movies, the big business moves, but mainly the big egos of the central personalities and others throughout Hollywood. While I found the book interesti...more
J.
In 1994 the first new Hollywood studio in 60 years announced its beginning with more than just the usual fanfare. Steven Spielberg, the genius director; Jeffrey Katzenberg, the man who put Disney animation back in business with movies like The Lion King; and David Geffen, the billionaire music mogul, joined forces to create Dreamworks SKG. It was the biggest conglomeration of talent and industry power since anyone could remember. But despite such huge blockbusters and award-winning films as "Sav...more
Brian
Spielberg, Katzenberg, Geffen.

Three iconic Hollywood names that used the hype and promise of showbiz to do what no one would have ever thought possible. Build a studio from the ground up that focused on talent and creativity. While rocky at times DreamWorks still turned out to be a success in many areas. There were areas that never really popped such as music and the TV studio. The TV studio would produce only one hit in Spin City. DreamWorks attached top talent to its name with the use and pro...more
Rebecca
This book was about the Dreamworks studio. Kind of interesting. Katzenberg, Spielberg and Geffen try to balk at the Hollywood studio system and start their own. I remember when all this went down, even though I was only in high school at the time and didn't know too much about anything.

Couple of things I got out of the book:

The studio was ahead of their time on a couple of levels, especially the internet. They wanted to make some sort of go-to website for all things creative in video, but when t...more
Tim
It was 1994 and there had not been a powerhouse new film studio created in six decades when the triumvirate of uber film producer Steven Spielberg, Disney animation domo Jeffrey Katzenberg and music mogul and billionaire David Geffen created the company everyone in Hollywood wanted to work for, Dreamworks.

Since that time, the only self-made mega-studio of the late twentieth century has been at the center of more than its share of major successes (‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ‘Gladiator,’ ‘Shrek’), fai...more
Lynne Perednia
Once upon a time, three boy-men thought they were pretty good at what they did and pretty important. So did the rest of the world. Then they joined forces, formed DreamWorks SKG and it all fell apart.

Putting the story of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen together in an easily understood format, despite a huge cast, special effects and multiple storylines, is former Variety reporter Nicole LaPorte. Her book is as detailed as the great entertainment biz reporting of the 80's an...more
Ed
As Dreamworks was my first job when I got to LA, I had a particular interest in this book aside from my normal interest in Hollywood history. In fact, some of the people I worked for are written about in this book which was a little strange. What's fascinating is that unlike everything else I've read, this is recent Hollywood history (1994-2009) give or take. This book is a nice companion piece to Final Cut which was about the destruction of an old studio as opposed to the failing of a new one....more
Kevinthorson
The basic story was great -3 majorly successful hollywood dudes (headlined by Spielberg) backed by huge $$$- try to build a multimedia studio. They have big ideas. Some work, some fizzle out.

The author tackled a LOT of content. ~15 years of a company's existence (including it's creation)is a lot to squeeze into 1 book, so it ended up being fairly long. Also, she didn't speed through too much; the detail at times was ruinous.

What I most struggled with throughout: she would point out a trait of on...more
Sergio GRANDE films
Fabulously well-researched, this book gives us insights into the beginnings of Dreamworks, a Jeffrey Katzenberg initiative to get back at Mike Eisner in the wake of their Disney break-up.
Katzenberg, the master manipulator got a reluctant Spielberg on board by telling him Geffen would be the third partner, when Spielberg expressed doubts about Geffen's mettle, Katzenberg asked "If you're so smart, how come he's so much richer than you?". Spielber's ego couldn't resist the barb, and the company w...more
Danielle
First, this was a really, really long, but well-read audio book.

I knew next to nothing about Dreamworks coming in, but since I so enjoyed the book on Pixar a couple years back, I thought I'd dive right in. An interesting, well-written book, though I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed with the egotistical, money-obsessed founders of Dreamworks. When they begin squabbling over a couple million dollars when they are all worth hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, I lost patienc...more
S.
I read about a third of this book. It's well written and dramatic but I couldn't stay focused on it so I stopped there. Since I'm not in the know about Hollywood, I felt like I needed a chart with everyone's names and what they do.
David Boyd
It needed a good editor. Interesting subject, but a sluggish read. There were even several incomplete sentences.
Holly Morrow
This was a random choice – I picked it out of the “remains” pile at a bookstore – but I ended up really liking it; its about the formation of DreamWorks by the Spielberg, Katzenberg, Geffen triumvirate. Spielberg is the marquee name that made the venture possible (and fundable by Paul Allen – Microsoft billionaire and apparently someone who is willing to throw millions of dollars at something in order to swan around with famous people), Katzenberg is the operator and wheel-turner, and Geffen is...more
Blog on Books
It was 1994 and there had not been a powerhouse new film studio created in six decades when the triumvirate of uber film producer Steven Spielberg, Disney animation domo Jeffrey Katzenberg and music mogul and billionaire David Geffen created the company it seemed everyone in Hollywood wanted to work for, Dreamworks.

Since that time, the studio has been at the center of more than its share of major successes (‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ‘Gladiator,’ ‘Shrek’), failures (‘Champs,’ ‘Amistad,’ videogames a...more
Niklas Pivic
May 26, 2011 Niklas Pivic rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: all recommended in cinema
A for effort, seeing how LaPorte has scoured Hollywood and its tombs (e.g. people and mags), but I think this book might have benefited by more bird's eye-views on the whole thing.

Through all the details in this book one is served a bunch of very close perspectives of how DreamWorks, the company brought to life by Jeffrey Katzenberg and his trustees and wealthy supporters, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, worked and definitely didn't work.

One is served the picture that Spielberg is the talent,...more
Jake
I give this book four stars because quite frankly I couldn't put it down when I was reading it and it held my interest from beginning to end, but truth be told I don't know if I could call it a well while piece of journalism. The author, who admits it at the beginning, doesn't have much access to The Dreamworks Studio and much of his sources are underground and off-the-record. Concidering much of the book is about the pettiness and bickering of the big three, it wouldn't surprise me that those w...more
Wysteria
Interesting; although, some of the phrases the author chose to use felt forced, out of place, like she was trying too hard to fit into some idea of Hollywood-doesn't-give-a-shit. The phrase "big ass budget" for example. Fine in spoken language when talking to your friends about this new movie paramount is letting you produce. Not so fine when writing a serious work on the history of a tumultuous movie production studio/company. Makes it feel less professional than I think she would have liked.
T...more
Robert
Interesting read, but you can almost read between the lines that the author seems to have an axe to grind due to the tremendous pushback she got while making this book. She makes comments about how the 15% return on investment was nowhere near adequate and glosses over the films that made money to concentrate on the failures, and if some films did make money, they didn't win an Oscar so they were considered failures as well. Those things turned me off, but it was still an interesting read with s...more
Byron
It's a fun and informative look at what went wrong during the heyday of DreamWorks SKG. There are moments in this book that will make you infuriated with the Hollywood system but you'll become even more infuriated (and amused!) at the foibles of Spielberg, Katzenberg, and Geffen. While, due to so many anonymous sources, the book isn't completely reliable, I do think there's enough solid information that can help those going into business, even outside the entertainment industry and even in small...more
Kristen
I'm a fan of Hollywood stories and gossip and Nicole LaPorter gives that all while telling the story of Dreamworks Studios. I didn't know much about the formation of Dreamworks, just the aforementioned "men who would be king" but it is a compelling story. The book is intimidating at 500 pages but it moves quickly and is filled with juicy backstage tidbits involving celebrities and parties. All three men aren't saints, even Steven Spielberg, but they came together to create a studio the likes of...more
Gil
This book is totally captivating. I love looking at behind the scenes issues surrounding movies and this book did not disappoint. A perfect sequel to Disney War, The Men Who Would be King discusses Steven Spielberg, Jeffery Katzenberg and David Geffen in such detail that it makes you feel like you know an awful lot about the characters by the end of the book.

I especially enjoyed the part where the book discusses the behind the scenes lobbying in Hollywood surrounding the academy awards. I've of...more
Drake
Terrific reporting on the creation and early years of DreamWorks Studios. I’m a sucker for these behind the curtain scoops on the entertainment industry and wasn’t disappointed in LaPorte’s detailed reporting. Of course, there are a couple juicy nuggets of celebrity gossip and in-fighting, but the majority of the book focuses on the business details of the three men who helped build DreamWorks (Spielberg, Geffen, and Katzenberg) and the inevitable conflicts between art and business, ambitious dr...more
Joyce
As someone who never even remembers the name of the director of the film I just saw, film studios are frankly as distant as book publishers. This book was an eye opener in terms of who has been responsible for what but also the politics, the cutthroat competition (Oscar campaigns were a disappointing revelation), the personal vendettas. I'm glad just to sit back and enjoy the films, but for anyone interested in more--about the film industry and big names, about the competition, about the marketi...more
Jeanne
Some of my favorite movies have come out of DreamWorks. Speilberg, Katzenberg and Geffen are excruciatingly manipulative to each other and to the world in the most astonishing ways. Not so much a dog eat dog as Pressa Canario on the rampage. If SKG hadn't blasted into the movie/music/tv genres with so much hubris and vanity, they might've managed to do so much more. That said, they did define a niche for themselves in the way they told their stories by searching out wonderful undiscovered talent...more
Andy
An intriguing insight into the business of Hollywood via the chronological history of Dreamworks. Although, as with any othese stories, you have to question the motivation of Nicole Laporte's motivations for writing such a book considering she was is a former Variety journalist. Writing about the three main characters in this book who are part of the (if not, THE) Hollywood elite, and their business affairs, is surely a career limiting move. Nonetheless, wonderful read and startling to see how t...more
Stephanie
Describes the creation and development of DreamWorks by three giants in Hollywood entertainment, Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg. With three such over-sized personalities, the company was perhaps doomed from the start and this book chronicles in detail the highs and lows. The books does go into great detail about movie production and the roles of producers, directors, writers, etc. I found it all interesting as I didn't know the details of getting a movie made, but it could...more
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