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American Masters: Inventing David Geffen


David Geffen has helped shape American pop culture for more than 40 years as agent, manager, record industry mogul, Hollywood and Broadway producer, and philanthropist.

Known for being press and camera-shy, Geffen reveals himself for the first time in this amazing two-hour documentary, which airs Saturday, January 18, on WRLN Channel 17 at 9:00 p.m.

Film Synopsis

A working class Brooklyn boy starting out in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency in 1964, Geffen channeled his early ambition into the art of deal making, launching the careers of huge recording artists such as Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Jackson Browne, the Eagles and Guns & Roses. In 1983, he propelled actor Tom Cruise to super-stardom through the smash-hit Risky Business.

In 1994, he co-founded DreamWorksSKG with director Steven Spielberg and producer Jeffrey Katzenberg. The studio went on to release Oscar-winning Best Pictures American Beauty (1999), Gladiator (2000) and A Beautiful Mind (2001). Geffen also produced the Broadway musicals Cats (1982) and Dreamgirls (1981).

The film explores the highs and the lows in Geffen’s professional and personal life through more than 50 interviews that read like an entertainment industry who's who: Cher, Clive Davis, Barry Diller, Rahm Emanuel, Nora Ephron, Tom Hanks, Don Henley, Arianna Huffington, Elton John, Katzenberg, Calvin Klein, Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels, Spielberg, Jann Wenner and Neil Young.

Politics, Philanthropy

A multi-millionaire by 1972 and a billionaire by 1995, Geffen became one of the earliest and largest contributors in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Politically, he is a loyal backer of the Democratic Party, supporting the presidential campaigns of both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

In 1995, he donated $5 million towards UCLA’s Westwood Playhouse, which later became the Geffen Playhouse. Considered by Forbes Magazine to be one of the wealthiest Americans, he created a $200 million endowment in 2002 for UCLA's School of Medicine, later renamed for him.  It remains one of the most generous donations ever made to a medical school in the United States, making him the largest individual benefactor to the University of California system.