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And the DreamWorkers could break up."These people have professionally married each other, and I wish them the best,'' says Sheinberg. "I share the view of the world that they'll have great children. I also know that the reality is that 50% of all marriages in America end in divorce. So, we'll all wait and see." This happens all the time in show business--when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was formed in 1924, Samuel Goldwyn had already been forced out of the company. At DreamWorks, Katzenberg is a man with a mission; the other two are in it for the fun, which could wear thin quickly. Spielberg's plans to move to New York City may be on hold. But even in California, he can't give 24 hours a day to this job; Capshaw won't let him. Says Katzenberg: "I perfectly understand the ground rules: 8:30 to 5:30, Monday to Friday, is mine. Everything else is Kate's." Even during business hours, the genial wrangling over, say, building a studio could fester into ugly rifts over long-term strategy. As the old proverb goes, "Same bed, different dreams."
Geffen is the fellow most likely to ankle. He could get the been-there, done-that blues. "I'm the laziest of the three of us," he admits. "I made a staggering amount of money, and I enjoy being an investor. Before this came up, I was thinking very seriously of spending my time doing that." In a year or two, he could think again.
Could one of the three get sandbox envy? That seems unlikely, since they revel in one another's company--kids finally in control of a $2 billion game. For decades they have played, potently, under other men's aegises. Spielberg had Sheinberg and Ross, Geffen had Ross, Katzenberg worked under Eisner for 19 years, until their rancorous divorce last summer after Eisner refused to name Katzenberg his second in command. Now the lads must come of age--be ready to play daddy, not dutiful son, and do their own mentoring. The bet here is yes. Katzenberg was a paternal nudge to the Disney animators. Spielberg has nurtured the careers of director Robert Zemeckis and Amblin exec Kathleen Kennedy, now an independent producer.
In Hollywood, of course, "everybody is rooting for their failure,'' says Hanks impishly. Geffen, one of the few gay executives who doesn't hide his sexuality, lets the torrent of grudge and innuendo wash over him. "I hear these things," he says. "I also hear that I'm supposed to be married to Keanu Reeves, a person I've never met or laid eyes on. There was a story I bought him $15,000 worth of clothes at Barneys. I've never been in Barneys. So I hear all kinds of idiotic things. But people believe them, and there's nothing you can do about it."
Hanks could be a parodist or a prophet when he says, "I guarantee that, when their first film premieres, everyone will say, 'This is it? This is what these three geniuses have come up with?' Unless it immediately enters the pantheon as one of the three highest-grossing films of all time, everybody will ask what's the big deal."
And if they make the big deal, what then? It is one achievement, and a conspicuous one, to create a $2 billion corporation in a few months. It is another to sustain it. The carcasses of Orion, Zoetrope, the Ladd Co. and a dozen more litter the off-ramps of the Hollywood Freeway. In the next decade or so, plenty more virtual studios will get lost in cyberspace.