- Top Hollywood producer
- Major donor and fundraiser for Democratic political candidates
See also: Steven
in December 1950 and raised in Manhattan, entertainment mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg enrolled
as a student at New York University in 1971 but soon dropped out to
work for NYC mayor John Lindsay’s unsuccessful campaign for the
1972 Democratic Party presidential nomination.
In 1973 Katzenberg found work as an assistant to independent film
producer David Picker. Soon thereafter, Picker introduced Katzenberg to Paramount Pictures chairman Barry Diller, who hired Katzenberg and assigned him first to the company's marketing department and then to
the TV division, where he was tasked with reviving the Star
franchise. Over a nine-year period, Katzenberg worked his way nearly
to the top of the Paramount corporate hierarchy, becoming president
of production under chief operating officer Michael Eisner.
1984 Katzenberg left Paramount to become the CEO of Walt Disney
Studios, where he was
for a string of popular (and lucrative) animated movies. In 1994 he
teamed up with film producers Steven
Geffen to found DreamWorks
SKG, with each man investing $80 million in the venture. After
some early setbacks, Katzenberg was able to replicate his previous
success in animated films with the Shrek
From 1978 to 2009, Katzenberg
more than $1.44 million to political candidates – with 95 percent going to Democrats,
and the other 5 percent to leftwing special-interest groups. A
member of the Democratic
Senatorial Campaign Committee, Katzenberg actively backed Al
Gore's run for the White House in 2000. In January 2007, he likewise threw his support behind Hillary
Clinton's newly announced bid to represent the Democrats in the following year's presidential election.
Obama in February 2007 entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, the filmmaker's loyalties shifted abruptly away from Mrs. Clinton and
toward the Illinois senator. In February 2007 alone, Katzenberg
$1.3 million for Obama’s presidential primary campaign.
June 2008, Katzenberg hailed candidate Obama as a political
figure of historic dimensions. “Obama is the greatest,” he stated.
“Nothing this great has happened to us in a long time.” In the first two years of Obama’s presidency,
Katzenberg, Spielberg and Geffen became his top national fundraisers.
In 2009 Katzenberg voiced his strong support for wealth redistribution through tax
hikes on high earners, contending
that the American economy was marred by “an unhealthy concentration
of wealth.” “Those days are over,” he added with satisfaction, in a reference to
the redistributive plans of the Obama administration.
April 2011, Katzenberg,
and Geffen collaborated to organize a $30,000-per-plate fundraising
dinner on behalf of Obama's 2012 presidential
re-election campaign. By then, Katzenberg had established himself as one of Obama's most
prominent fundraising “bundlers”
– i.e., ultra-wealthy
who reach their own legal fundraising limits and then call on their
affluent friends to do the same.
in early 2011, Katzenberg
became one of the first major donors to Priorities
USA and Priorities USA Action – a pair of newly formed committees
designed to raise money for Democratic candidates. Other
early donors to Priorities USA Action included
Malcolm, and Harold