'Inventing David Geffen': Documentary Press Tour Gets The Media Mogul Talking

This story comes courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

By Lacey Rose

The notoriously press-shy mogul sat down with TV reporters to discuss his "American Masters" documentary, "Inventing David Geffen," which premieres Nov. 20 on PBS.

When David Geffen allows the camera to be turned on him Nov. 20 for an American Masters documentary titled Inventing David Geffen, he will be described by friends, peers and adversaries as “passionate,” “neurotic” and “giftedly non-diplomatic."

Such traits were on display Sunday as the notoriously press-shy billionaire greeted the TV press at the Television Critics Association semiannual press tour. He joined Masters creator Susan Lacy on stage to discuss his upcoming PBS installment, which will focus on how he helped shape popular culture as an agent, manager, record industry titan, Hollywood and Broadway producer and billionaire philanthropist.

Steven Spielberg, Barry Diller, Tom Hanks, Arianna Huffington, Rahm Emanuel and the late Nora Ehpron are among the 50-plus who are interviewed for the doc, which includes extensive interview time with Geffen as well. Lacy said she opted against having Geffen narrate, selecting to weave his responses throughout the two-hour program.

In his half-hour or so before the press, Geffen, who was both terse and reticent, opined on a host of different topics:

Geffen on Geffen Geffen, who is on tape suggesting "ego" isn't a "pejorative" term in his mind, insists he never saw himself as the smartest person in the room at any point during his career, revealing that he did poorly in school -- “I thought I was dumb,” he said -- and was fired from a number of early jobs coming out of high school. In fact, he said the only reason he had the confidence to go after a gig as a William Morris agent is because he believed it rewarded a different skill set, and one that he had: the ability to “bullshit on the phone.” Decades later, he’s enjoying his time away from the business – at 69, he said, he doesn’t “want a job” -- and noted that he’s content spending weeks at a time lost in books and newspapers. (Other Geffen facts: He’s never carried a cell phone, has never texted anyone and doesn’t own an ATM card.)

On His Role At DreamWorks While he's heard the company's upcoming film Lincoln is "wonderful," he is adament that he has no involvement at DreamWorks today. (When Lacy tried to suggest he sold his stake years earlier, he corrected her, noting that he still owns several million shares in DreamWorks Animation through his foundation.) In the doc, Geffen talks about raising $2 billion in one week to start the independent studio with Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg in 1994, a task he said would be "impossible" today. "The business model has changed," he explained, adding that he couldn't raise that much that fast in today's environment.

On Those Silly Rumors If you’ve heard the one about Carly Simon suggesting her song “You’re So Vain” is about Geffen, he assures you it wasn’t. “Not that I’m not vain; I’m just not her vain,” he shrugged, adding that the one about him marrying Keanu Reeves – an actor he said he had never met at the time of the report -- was similarly untrue.

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