On a recent trip I picked up “The Men Who Would Be King” by Nicole LaPorte. The book is a story covering the genesis and death of Dreamworks, and stories behind many of the major projects developed there over the years.
As mentioned on the back of the book, it wouldn’t be surprising if LaPorte struggled getting tables for lunch in Hollywood from here on out after the dirt she dished on the Dreamworks crew. First off I’ll say that I am a huge fan of Hollywood related non-fiction, especially the behind the scenes business stuff, so this was right up my alley. I find it very intriguing to see the politics behind why some projects get greenlit, while other languish in development hell forever.
The Dreamworks founders, Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen, declined to be interviewed for the book so there is no official words from them, but with all of the press coverage, court reports from lawsuits and the like, there was no shortage of information to be shared. LaPorte also says that she interviewed hundreds of people in creating the book, and while second hand accounts can’t always be given the most weight, it did provide for good entertainment.
The ongoing story for Katzenberg was all about his rivalry with Disney after being unfairly fired. He spent the better part of a decade trying to find a way to surpass Disney in animation, and to his credit he turned Dreamworks Animation into a juggernaut, even if it wasn’t free of drama.
The ongoing story for Spielberg was this feeling that this is a man-child of sorts, who was brought into the Hollywood machine young enough, and given everything he ever wanted for so long, that he never really had to learn what it was like not to get things his way. His partners always seemed to be catering to his artistic needs, certainly an unlikely situation for any artist to find themselves in.
Geffen seemed more interested in screwing over his old enemies than in actually achieving anymore success himself. He was already a billionaire when they started the company, so there wasn’t the financial of career motivations as there were for the other two founders.
I really enjoyed this book, and would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in learning about the inner workings, and politics of Hollywood. If you’re interested in buying it you can check it out here on Amazon: