Katzenberg, Jeffrey

views updated

KATZENBERG, JEFFREY

KATZENBERG, JEFFREY (1950– ), U.S. film industry executive. Born and raised in Manhattan, Katzenberg volunteered to work on John V. Lindsay's New York City mayoral campaign in 1964, when just 14. He worked for the mayor for the next seven years, until he attained the position of controller of Lindsay's Democratic presidential nomination campaign. By 1977 he had moved to California to be vice president of programming at Paramount television. Senior vice president of production in the company's movie division from 1980 to 1982, Katzenberg became president of production for motion pictures and television in 1982, a position he held until 1984.

When Paramount president Michael Eisner became company chairman at Disney Films in 1984, he took Katzenberg with him; the latter, as chairman of Walt Disney Studios, helped mastermind the strategy of diversification and increased production that saw Disney move from least successful to first place among Hollywood's nine major distributors. Under Katzenberg's guidance, Disney's animated features were highly successful, with movies such as Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994) netting record grosses at the box office. By 1994, Disney was the most profitable studio in the world.

In that year, however, Katzenberg was involved in a rancorous split from Disney after Eisner denied him the promotion to company president. In October 1994 Katzenberg, Steven *Spielberg, and David *Geffen announced the formation of Dream Works, the first major new studio to be launched since Disney's own creation 60 years previously. Its program was live-action films overseen by Spielberg, animated features handled by Katzenberg, record albums produced by Geffen, and multimedia products in cooperation with Microsoft's Bill Gates.

Under Katzenberg's leadership, the company's animation division developed into a high-quality computer-generated animation studio with production locations on several continents. As an executive producer, Katzenberg brought to the screen such popular animated feature films as The Prince of Egypt (1998), The Road to El Dorado (2000), Chicken Run (2000), Joseph: King of Dreams (2000), Shrek (producer, 2001), Spirit (producer, 2002), Shrek 4-D (producer, 2003), Sinbad (producer, 2003), Shrek 2 (2004), and Shark Tale (2004).

In 2002 , Shrek won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, making it the first full-length animated film in history to win an Oscar. In 2004 Katzenberg published Animation Art: From Pencil to Pixel, which he co-authored with Jerry Beck and Bill Plympton.

bibliography:

K. Masters, The Keys to the Kingdom: How Michael Eisner Lost His Grip (2000); R. Grover, The Disney Touch (1991).

[Rohan Saxena /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

About this article

Katzenberg, Jeffrey

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article