Jeffrey Katzenberg is an American businessman, film studio executive, film producer, and CEO of DreamWorks Animation. He was the former Studio Chairman of Disney in the late 1980s and early 1990s, playing a part in the Disney Renaissance which happened in spite of him.
Katzenberg was born in New York City and attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, graduating in 1969. He began his career as an assistant at Paramount Pictures before working his way up to president of production under Michael Eisner. After Eisner transferred to Disney, Katzenberg was brought on board to take charge of the motion picture division. He focused the studio on the production of adult-oriented comedies through its Touchstone Pictures banner, including films, such as Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Three Men and a Baby, and Good Morning, Vietnam. Largely because of this, he also has several live action bombs under his belt, including Billy Bathgate, Dick Tracey, The Distinguished Gentleman, and The Rocketeer, with the live action failures being extensive enough that despite his claims they were profitable, a trial over his rights to profits of films he made due to a clause claiming 2% of revenue in perpetuity for all films and TV series he had involvement in revealed that they ended up having Disney losing nearly $231 million.
Katzenberg was also charged with turning around Disney's ailing Feature Animation unit. Under his management, the animation department eventually began creating some of Disney's most critically acclaimed and highest grossing animated features. These films include Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.
However, squabbles with Michael Eisner and Roy Edward Disney after the death of Frank Wells led to his forced resignation, and he would form DreamWorks in 1994. In one of his works there, he notably voiced Rico in the Madagascar franchise.
In 2016, after NBCUniversal bought DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg moved to DreamWorks New Media. In 2020, he launched Quibi, a streaming mobile app that had its own original programming. The app was shut down after six months of operation due to lack of interest.
Executive Producer for Disney Animation
|1985||The Black Cauldron|
|1986||The Great Mouse Detective|
|1988||Who Framed Roger Rabbit|
|1988||Oliver & Company|
|1989||The Little Mermaid|
|1990||The Rescuers Down Under|
|1991||Beauty and the Beast|
|1994||The Lion King|
- He appeared in a 2006 segment of The Making of Little Mermaid, talking about the possibility of erasing "Part of Your World" from the movie but was talked into keeping it in the film by animator Glen Keane, to which he did and regretted that he almost took the song out of the film.
- He didn't seem to really approve on the idea of having an "Applause" sign on Genie's back when Aladdin was in previews before its debut in theaters.
- He was one of the inspirations for Hades in Hercules.
Notes and references
- The Disney Renaissance Didn't Happen Because of Jeffrey Katzenberg; It Happened In Spite of Him
- Four Wins of the Disney Renaissance that Happened in Spite of Jeffrey Katzneberg
- "Michael Eisner on Former Disney Colleagues, Rivals and Bob Iger's Successor".
- Stewart 2005, pp. 160–186
- "The Epic Disney Blow-Up of 1994: Eisner, Katzenberg and Ovitz 20 Years Later".
- Hahn, Don. Waking Sleeping Beauty.. Burbank, California: Stone Circle Pictures/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. 2009.