Short Takes: “Inventing David Geffen”

Inventing David Geffen

PBS

114 minutes

If nothing else, this film reminds us just how ubiquitous David Geffen is. “The music culture, a show-biz culture, the motion picture culture,” says Tom Hanks. “He built it.” This funny, fast-paced documentary uses interviews with old friends, A-list stars, and Geffen, 69, to chart how a Jewish kid from a modest Brooklyn household became a media magnate adored and reviled for his relentless cultivation of talent from Dylan to Nirvana—a man who produced films like Beetlejuice and Risky Business, helped launch Broadway’s Dreamgirls, and still found time to schmooze with presidents, date Cher (even though he’s gay), and sue Neil Young. Highlight: Geffen describing his early career at the William Morris talent agency, where he honed his talent for spewing “bullshit on the phone” and essentially conned and lied his way to the top.

This review originally appeared in our November/December issue of Mother Jones.

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