A tender postmortem in today's New York Times reminds the world yet again that seriously — like, really, this time — David Geffen is leaving DreamWorks. Having shepherded the monolith through the Hollywood establishment from conception to its first marriage (and divorce) before giving the frazzled bride away a second time in an arranged marriage to its dashing Indian suitor, Geffen's tenure is remembered fondly by his 'Works co-founders Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Not that they'll admit to knowing what they're doing without him.Such modesty! To a point, anyway: If and/or when his Reliance Big Entertainment honeymoon ever tapers off, Spielberg and DreamWorks president Stacey Snider really won't have the Geffen touch to help woo another international conglomerate into bed. But by then Spielberg, 62, will probably be ready to scale back anyway, and survival will be less about braintrust than brand (and the library it manages to develop with its new distribution partners at Universal). He shouldn't even be there now, if one of his more illuminating disclosures today is to be believed:
In describing Mr. Geffen’s role at DreamWorks, Mr. Spielberg likened it to a family relationship. “Jeffrey and I were like the kids,” he said, while Mr. Geffen built the house and saw that the bills were paid. [...] By his own recollection, Mr. Spielberg was initially reluctant to join in creating the original DreamWorks studio, which was conceived by Mr. Katzenberg shortly after he was fired as chairman of the Walt Disney Company’s studio operation in 1994. But Mr. Katzenberg begged for a meeting, and asked to bring a friend. The friend was Mr. Geffen, who not only did all the talking, but insisted to Mr. Spielberg: “I am representing your best interests.” That assurance was to become the theme of Mr. Geffen’s dealings with Mr. Spielberg, who describes Mr. Geffen’s efforts for him over the years as a kind of “altruism.”
Aww! That shouldn't imply Spielberg was in a hurry to race out the door at Paramount, though, where Geffen reportedly had a short stay in mind even before he clashed with Brad Grey in 2006 over credit for Dreamgirls; "I do not like change," the director told the NY Times. And even if we have Tom Freston's firing and other, seemingly circumstantial evidence to vouch for that philosophy, everyone knows the bottom line: The sex just isn't the same off the Paramount lot. Wait and see — he'll be back.