Once again, I’m writing to provide you with a film review instead of a photo shoot 🙂
I recently screened “American Masters Inventing David Geffen” and definitely recommend watching the film if you are interested in music, film, business, or especially the three combined!
Notoriously press and camera-shy, Brooklyn native David Geffen reveals himself for the first time in this unflinching portrait of a complex and compelling man. His far-reaching influence as an agent, manager, record industry titan, Hollywood and Broadway producer, and billionaire philanthropist helped shape American popular culture for the past four decades. Witty, self-aware and candid, Geffen and over 50 of his friends, colleagues and clients, as well as other media luminaries, including Cher, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Elton John, Don Henley, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, the late Nora Ephron, Mike Nichols, Clive Davis, Barry Diller, and Irving Azoff are interviewed.
This film is such a well done documentary. It walks you through the life of a true legend in terms of music and film. I learned that when David Geffen puts his mind to something, when he wants something, he makes sure he gets it. He grew up in Brooklyn and couldn’t wait to get out. He was raised after the age of 10 by a single mother who always believed in him, but who never imagined he would make it big. David worked his way up from a mailroom worker to a billionaire who created businesses from scratch and sold them for scratch. It was so interesting hearing interviews with talent such as Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Mike Nichols, and even Tom Hanks. I learned that being gay got David out of the Vietnam draft but also provided a big scare during the 80’s AIDS epidemic. I learned that he had a relationship with Cher. I learned that he will do everything he can to take care of those he is friends with, but you don’t want to cross him. And most importantly (to me), I learned that David (and Elliot Roberts) truly recognized and respected songwriters, not just popular bands who might make them a lot of money. The “soundtrack” to this film is obviously fantastic. Songs from Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Jackson Browne, Elton John, Cher, John Lennon, The Eagles, Guns N’ Roses, and clips from “Risky Business” and “American Beauty” are peppered between over 50 interviews with people from David’s extensive career. I have to say, however, that while I am impressed by his self-made success, it’s a little difficult to not hate David Geffen just a little bit. I guess it’s often said that you can’t be successful without being a little shrewd and stepping on a few toes.
Since its 1986 premiere, American Masters has earned 24 Emmy Awards – including 8 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and 5 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special – the 2012 Producers Guild Award, 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, and 3 Grammys. Now in its 26th season on PBS, the series is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET, the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations, and operator of NJTV. For 50 years, THIRTEEN has been making the most of the rich resources and passionate people of New York and the world, reaching millions of people with on-air and online programming that celebrates arts and culture, offers insightful commentary on the news of the day, explores the worlds of science and nature, and invites students of all ages to have fun while learning.
“American Masters Inventing David Geffen” is a production of THIRTEEN’s American Masters for WNET. Susan Lacy is writer, director, producer, American Masters series creator and executive producer. Jessica Levin is producer.
“American Masters Inventing David Geffen” made its US premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival on Monday, October 8th and premieres nationwide Tuesday, November 20th at 8PM ET on PBS and locally here in NY on THIRTEEN.