Movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg honored by Hollywood

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – American film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg sank his hands and feet into the cement at Hollywood s Chinese Theatre on Thursday to mark a 40-year career as a pioneering movie maker.

A former studio boss at Disney, the 65-year-old is best known as the head of DreamWorks Animation, which made the money-spinning “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar” franchises.

“That s what all these handprints and footprints are really all about — the dreams we, in Hollywood, have delivered,” Katzenberg said before plunging his hands into the cement.

“Movies are made by passionate artists who are dedicated to one goal — creating worlds of imagination that come to life on a giant screen in a beautiful darkened theater like this one.”

Seen as one of Tinseltown s most influential kingmakers, Katzenberg has a personal wealth estimated at $880 million.

The host of glitzy political fundraisers attended by Oliver Stone, Ted Danson and others, he is said to have convinced Hollywood figures to contribute around $15 million to President Barack Obama s 2012 election campaign and has given more than $1 million of his own money to the Democratic Party.

As head of Walt Disney Studios, he oversaw hits including “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King” before leaving acrimoniously in 1994.

He sued the company for a reported $250 million over an unpaid bonus amounting to two percent of the profits “in perpetuity” on all movies and television shows produced during his tenure as division chief.

Soon after his Disney departure, Katzenberg, music mogul David Geffen and Oscar-winning director and producer Steven Spielberg, put together a reported $2 billion to start DreamWorks SKG.

DreamWorks Animation separated from its parent company in 2004 to become an autonomous studio focused exclusively on animated films.

In 22 years it has produced 32 features, which have in all made $13.5 billion at the global box office.

The studio also landed the first animated feature film Oscar in 2002 with the first “Shrek” movie, and repeated the trick in 2006 with “Wallace and Gromit.”

“Twenty-two years ago, Steven and David and I couldn t have come up with a better name than DreamWorks,” Katzenberg said.

“That s what we ve done. We ve worked at dreams — our own, and those of the extraordinarily talented people with whom we ve gotten to collaborate.”

The mogul recently netted more than $300 million after Comcast — the biggest cable television operator in the United States — completed a $3.8 billion buyout of the studio.

He has been a major force in the careers of many actors including his longtime friend Eddie Murphy, who was hired by Katzenberg for “Trading Places” (1983), “Beverly Hills Cop,” (1984) and the “Shrek” movies.

“I knew Jeffrey when Jeffrey had hair,” Murphy joked during a speech at the presentation.

He described Katzenberg as one of his “closest advisers” who had the “mind of an executive and the heart and spirit of an artist.”

Katzenberg has been one of the leading proponents of 3D but in 2011 said Hollywood had “managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory” by palming off a “low-end crappy version of it” on cinema-goers.

In 2012 he joined such luminaries as Bob Hope, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Oprah Winfrey in receiving an honorary Oscar for his philanthropic work.

He spent more than two decades as chairman of the board for the Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF) and helped to raise $200 million for its work in helping industry professionals who have fallen on hard times.