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Geffen, who is sprung next month from his Geffen Records contract with MCA, will run DreamWorks' music company, perhaps with longtime Warner music execs Mo Ostin and Lenny Waronker at his side. Spielberg, who is folding his Amblin Films into DreamWorks, will run a live-action film unit with Amblin lieutenants Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald; the company will invest about $800 million to produce 24 features by the year 2000. The plan is to make no more than 10 pictures a year. "And if we can't find 10 good movies a year," Spielberg says, "we won't make five good ones and five bad ones. We want quality over volume." Katzenberg will run the animation unit, financed at $200 million. Already in preparation for a Christmas 1998 release is The Prince of Egypt, a Ten Commandments story with songs by Stephen Schwartz (Pocahontas) and orchestrations by Hans Zimmer (The Lion King). That film will be followed by El Dorado: Cortez and the City of Gold.

Katzenberg also heads the TV division, which in November announced a unique venture with Robert Iger, head of ABC, in which DreamWorks will produce original live-action programming in return for a share of advertising and syndication revenues. Other powerful producers renegotiate the fee networks pay for their successful shows, but DreamWorks will be the first company that gets to look at ABC 's books. For Spielberg, the toon tycoon who produced Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and the successful Tiny Toons TV series, there's another option: "A dream I have is to produce ABC's Saturday-morning schedule, because I think I can lift it up."

The three DreamWorkers are stars with different temperaments. "David does business in an ephemeral, gossamer way," says Tom Hanks, the Oscar-winning actor who knows all three men. "Jeffrey is Mr. Bottom Line, Mr. Brass Tacks. He operates every meeting with a strict agenda; No. 1 on that agenda is that the meeting lasts 22 minutes. Steven has almost a cartoonist's point of view. He can draw anything on paper and make it come to life." Hanks conjures up a typical DreamWorks negotiation: "David would say, 'We think you're great, and if you want to work with us, fabulous; if not, we still think you're great.' Jeffrey would say, 'You're great, and here are 17 reasons why you need to be with us.' And Steven would say, 'I love that thing you did in that movie five years ago where you had the platypus dancing on the edge of the table, and if you could do that, you can do anything.' That's the way the meeting would go. And it would be over in 22 minutes."

Spielberg, the eternal child, wishes most of his financial meetings would be over in two minutes. He says he has attended few of the financial meetings, showing up to press the flesh after his partners have spoken. Indeed, Spielberg can't recall meeting the CalPERS crew, but Katzenberg says Spielberg has met twice with them and just doesn't remember.

But movies are about characters, and Spielberg sounds almost starstruck when describing the big boys of business. You'd never guess this was one billionaire talking about others; he's like a kid thrilled to be invited to his first grownup party. Of John Malone, Tele-Communications Inc. CEO, Spielberg says, "He'd be a pretty good leading man in a movie. I'd put him in a film, if he did a decent reading."

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