Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's amazed me that Dreamworks hasn't spawned more books. The only one before was "The Dream Team" which was rather short. But this more than makes up for it as Nicole Laporte does an excellent job on the behind-the-scenes struggles of what seemed the perfect talent merger. She shows how right off the bat, Giffin was above things, only coming in to supply funds when needed while Spielberg's vision as a filmmaker didn't translate as well to the business side of things.

It's Katzenberg who's the real focus and Laporte does a great job showing the key problem: The man was far more interested in beating out Disney and sticking it to Michael Eisner than really doing his best to make Dreamworks successful. He became obsessed with "out Disneying Disney" in animation, backing flops like "Road to El Dorado" and the brilliant irony is that the one movie he didn't micromanage would be the company's biggest hit "Shrek." Laporte points at 2003's "Sinbad" as a turning point for the company as Katzenberg never really recovered from the animated movie he'd been championing becoming a total bomb.

While she can be a bit too in-depth (did we really need eight pages on "Mousehunt?") Laporte does a great job detailing the company's successes and failures. She moves from how "Gladiator" survived a chaotic production to become a huge hit to how the company poured millions into "Almost Famous" only to see it die at the box office. She nails their problems like Katzenberg producing way too many copies of "Shrek 2" on DVD among other spending items. And it's terrific reading her detailing the Dreamworks/Miramax feud that would become war at Oscar time.

The book details more of the final years of the company and how this once-powerhouse became a shell of itself sold to other studios right before the economic crunch. It's an incredibly detailed book that shines new light on the personalities involved and shows how even the biggest dreamers have a hard time dealing with the reality of Hollwyood. A must-have for any movie-making buff.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book somehow manages to get in the minds and psyches of three of the most accomplished men Hollywood has ever seen and explain, down to the color of the curtains in the room when they decided to go into business together, every last riveting detail. Books like these tend to skim the surface, take the easy way out, or just read like they're written by someone who's very aware of how they'll be perceived by the subjects. Nicole LaPorte seems out to both understand and explain what happened, mis-step by mis-step and clearly isn't interested in pleasing these men who would be king.

Even people who aren't interested in Tinseltown shenanigans would find this compelling: a fascinating tale of how sometimes the best intentions, when mixed with some other less-than-stellar intentions, can cause a "sure thing" to come toppling down.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 21, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In 1994 the first new Hollywood studio in 60 years announced its beginning with more than just the usual fanfare. Steven Spielberg, the genius director; Jeffrey Katzenberg, the man who put Disney animation back in business with movies like The Lion King; and David Geffen, the billionaire music mogul, joined forces to create Dreamworks SKG. It was the biggest conglomeration of talent and industry power since anyone could remember. But despite such huge blockbusters and award-winning films as "Saving Private Ryan," "American Beauty," and "Shrek," Dreamworks was sold in 2006 and S, K, and G went their separate ways. In addition to the successes, there had been a pile of projects that had bombed, often spectacularly.

Nicole LaPorte has burned plenty of bridges and written an inside account of the biggest egos in the entertainment industry (understandably, few of her sources are named). Katzenberg brought them together after his firing at Disney in an attempt to regain his pride. Spielberg couldn't resist making one blockbuster after another - for other studios. And Geffen was only interested in the fight and the careers he could destroy. Thrown into the mix are the biggest movers and shakers in Hollywood - Eisner, Ovitz, Clooney, Cruise, Hanks, Crowe, etc., etc., etc. - and their petulant needs to constantly be told how wonderful they are.

Hollywood has been tremendously influential in the social history of America, and I've enjoyed biographies of some of the giants like Hitchcock and Disney. This, however, is the flip side - the trashy business end of the glamorous and flashy facade. And those who eagerly anticipate their weekly fill of People Magazine, Variety, and Entertainment Weekly will gobble this book up and want more. I just felt the need to wash my hands. The book starts out well - lots of beautiful celebrities and juicy inside information - but I found myself losing interest less than halfway through (I usually read on my lunch break and when I start heading back in less than my usual hour, it's not a good sign). It's interesting enough to finish, but I got tired of hearing of every announcement that sent "a shockwave rolling through Hollywood" and all the men who were reduced to tears by someone's tantrums. I must admit however, since I live in Los Angeles it was rather eye-opening. (3.5 stars)
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Nicole LaPorte's "THe Men Who Would Be King" is a rare inside look at the mechanisms of Hollywood. For anyone who has ever been mildly curious about how films are made, how reuptations are won and lost, it is a great book that reads fairly quickly. I cannot recommend this book enough for those who even considering pursuing a career in the motion picture arts and sciences, because you get a raw look at what it is like at the top. If anyone thinks they want to be a part of that world, this books goes far beyond the glamour and the glitz, the houses, the cars and what the rest of the world thinks is success and fame into a world where a single word uttered at the wrong time or a mistake can ruin your career.

Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen are all highly successful, driven men but the personalities are so incredibly different between all three and each of them had a very different idea of how they envisioned what Dreamworks would be. How each deals with the rest of the world is fascinating. What is also fascinating are the monumental egos and fragilities of individual stars, producers, directors and other primadonnas. I found myself saying over and over again how the infamous battle of Katzenberg vs. Disney under Michael Eisner was a case of two people who deserved every bit of what they dished out to each other! Katzenberg and Geffen made Steven Spielberg appear almost Buddah like in his calm and commitment toward his art. Certainly he always seemed to be the calm eye in the center of the Dreamworks storm that swirled around him! I gave this book four stars because it was a little slow in places. I doubt that many mainstream readers really give much thought to percentages of DVD sales or figures that are only going to be of interest to someone who is in production or production management and/or film finance. Nicole LaPorte did do an excellently detailed resource section in the back for a book of this type that was very impressive.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 16, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Nicole LaPorte has written the complete DreamsWorks account. It's the story of how director Steven Spielberg, studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, and billionaire music mogul David Geffen created DreamWorks, built the company on hype, and later sold the company to Paramount. LaPorte describes how these three kings were the last generation of the big Hollywood types like Goldwin and Mayer. Now Hollywood is mostly owned by New York conglomerates. This is the inside story of how these three partners with big egos ran the company and ran over people. LaPorte covers the war that Katzenberg declared on Disney, his former employer. It reveals the massive amount of money and talent as well as the failures and big spending that lead to the downfall. Nicole describes how the dream of being a huge multi-billion dollar, multimedia venture nearly came crashing down into bankruptcy with the financially disastrous animated film Sinbad. Sometimes there is so much detail you wonder whether Nicole was in the room with Spielberg, Katzenberg, and Geffen. Sometimes the details make the story a little long.

Some of the stories are humorous. The initial DreamsWorks deals were for television shows. Yet Spielberg admitted his own track record in TV was lousy. His TV resume included shows such as Amazing Stories, Earth 2, and seaQuest DSV, an underwater series that critics called "Das Bomb." And Peacemaker, starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman was the first live-action film by DreamWorks. Filming in Eastern Europe had gone from bad to worse. People at DreamWorks had a saying for how Peacemaker was being made: "Fire, aim, ready!" Also, when Kidman was walking down the streets of Bratislava, people frequently mistook Clooney as Kidman's bodyguard--which really irritated Clooney. And in the movie Lemony Snicket, Jim Carrey had insisted on multiple takes--which amounted to nearly a mile of film wasted on one scene showing Carrey walking out a door.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In Hollywood, where ego rules the day and perception is reality--there were (and are) few bigger names than wonderkind director Steven Spielberg, mogul David Geffin, and the polarizing yet savvy Jeffrey Katzenberg. When the three combined forces to form DreamWorks Studios in the nineties, the promise of a modern media revolution (and empire) captivated LaLaLand. However, the idea of a contemporary entertainment utopia never quite developed into a reality. With no real business plan in place and clashing priorities, DreamWorks became the most expensive start-up of all time and one of the most public displays of hype unrealized. Nicole Laporte's exhaustive chronicle "The Men Who Would Be King" expertly details the folly and foibles in a cautionary tale that absolutely captures the essence of the current film industry. It is THE must read of the year for anyone with a passing interest in the movie business.

The rise and fall of DreamWorks provides incredible highs and devastating lows, so Laporte's expose is as dramatic and colorful as it is informative. But you might expect that drama with the huge personalities involved! Katzenberg, in particular, is so compelling as a character--he is, alternately, an incredibly savvy businessman and utterly pigheaded. Spielberg, the center of this particular universe, is an undeniable creative genius--but with his limited attention span and free spirit, he never leveraged his power to propel DreamWorks into a successful business model. For every film success ("Saving Private Ryan," "American Beauty," "Gladiator," and "Shrek"), there were many more failures or missed opportunities. A studio compound that never got built (and angered environmentalists to boot), a television division that never took off, an Internet company before its time, a music group that courted more individualistic talent, a unwavering commitment to 2-D animation even with advances in technology, and a gaming sideline that was sold before its biggest moneymaker was released--these are just a few aspects of the DreamWorks empire with more fizzle than sizzle.

"The Men Who Would Be King" is an incredibly entertaining read. It probably helps to have a passing knowledge of the subject matter, but I found it fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes look at things that played out very publicly. Of personal interest, in terms of subject matter, I think Laporte excellently depicts the Oscar campaigning for certain films as modern warfare--which having lived in the periphery of that world, I found to be very true to life. A definite recommendation to cinephiles, the book also has cross-over appeal to the business set (a how-not-to, so to speak). For all its grandiose aspirations, Laporte showcases DreamWorks as a magnificent display of hype over substance and has, in "The Men Who Would Be King," created a new essential in the library of books about the film industry.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"The Men Who Would Be King," is one hell of a great ride, brimming over with flamboyant personalities, outrageous behavior, and the kind of feats of hubris that would shame even Icarus. It's no easy task to write about the scariest men in town, especially when, as LaPorte says in her book, "DreamWorks was not going to take things lying down." Thankfully she didn't give up the fight. I had a ball.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This well written and impeccably researched book shows how even three of the biggest players in Hollywood have feet of clay.

When Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeff Katzenberg launched DreamWorks back in the nineties, the studio was intended to be a new multimedia mecca for film, music, and video game artists, sort of a United Artists for the new millennium.

In reality, DW turned out to be -- a pretty ordinary studio, enriching its founders and screwing its workers, while producing very few works of lasting quality or significance.

Of the three partners, David Geffen is shown to be a particularly nasty and vindictive piece of work, always looking for the next opponent with whom to pick a fight. At one point, he stamps his feet and proclaims, "I am the 32nd richest man in the world. I know what I'm doing."

Fortunately, we have it on good authority that all his riches won't buy him a spot in Heaven. Still I imagine that he's got a nice asbestos Armani suit already picked out for his permanent resting place.

There are so many twists and turns in the DW saga that the reader becomes dizzy after a while. It's rather like watching Chris Nolan's "Inception" for the first time (NOT a DW production!)

Suffice it to say that there are unprecedented levels of arrogance, hubris, and ego on display in this Clash of the Titans, and precious little common sense, good judgment, humility, or concern for others. Where are the Kraken when you need them?

Though DreamWorks shoulders on as a much diminished entity of a movie studio, it is shocking how few great films it has produced to date, for all the money its funders threw around. For every "American Beauty," "Gladiator," or "Shrek" on the company's roster, there are scores of films I don't even recall hearing about and have absolutely no intention of ever seeing, even on loan from the public library.

At any rate, this is as good a book about the excesses of Hollywood as I can recall reading, and a cautionary tale about the blinding power of ego and money. Highly recommended.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
For anyone interested in HOllywood, this book is an amazing look inside the insanity of the movie business. And for anyone who isnt interested in Hollywood, its a breathtaking look at hubris on an enormous scale. A trio of moguls who, in tthe style of baby boomers, thought their own specialness would make things different just because it was them..But in the end, there was less to the specialness than met the eye. A must read!
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 28, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a lifelong movie buff, I was very interested in reading the behind-the-scenes dirt of the rise and fall of Dreamworks......I thought I had a pretty good idea of just what went on at the studio, but Nicole LaPorte proved me wrong. The truth is, indeed stranger than the gossip. LaPorte spins a mind-boggling tale of three egos out of control (Steven Spielberg, a childish, easily wounded doofus with a short attention span; Jeffrey Katzenberg, a spiteful, vengeful lunatic; and David Geffen, the relentless enforcer of the group), a trio who thought they had Hollywood in the palm of their hands, and could do no wrong. The missteps and fatal judgments are all laid out by LaPorte, thanks to years of investigation, and there's enough backstage dirt to satisfy even the most hardcore movie junkie. She chronicles the Dreamworks saga from cradle to grave, and does so in a brisk, easy-to-read style.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
DisneyWar
DisneyWar by James B. Stewart (Paperback - March 10, 2006)
$13.68

The Man Who Would Be King
The Man Who Would Be King by Various (DVD - 2010)
$5.99

 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.