KATZENBERG, JEFFREY – SHREK THE THIRD
THE BOSS OF THE MOVIE – IN THERAPY
Jeffrey Katzenberg is the head of Dreamworks – he is no longer credited as a
producer of any kind on Shrek The Third – he’s just The Boss, as he tells Andrew
L. Urban in an interview that canvasses everything from the irony of his
impatient nature while working in time-consuming animation, to how he gets his
therapy during interviews like this one.
For one of the world’s most powerful movie makers, Jeffrey Katzenberg is a
surprisingly compact figure, but expensively groomed, with hand made black
leather slip ons, charcoal grey slacks with cuffs, fitting dark T shirt and a
head that’s (prematurely) designer almost-bald, completed by fine rimmed
glasses. And a billion dollar smile (which comes with its own bank account). He
displays the kind of professionalism and courtesy that gives him the aura of
noblesse; he is so successful he doesn’t have to be a brat. In a spectacularly
successful 35 year career, Katzenberg has made commercial hits and creative
successes. Now the CEO of publicly listed Dreamworks, he is arguably the one
true independent Movie Mogul, in a studio landscape that is full of corporate
ownerships. He doesn’t wear a suit.
We meet in a sundrenched harbourside hotel room (of the expensive kind, at the
Park Hyatt) with the sails of the Sydney Opera House reflecting sunlight into
the sophisticated ambiance. He is on time, what’s more, and he sits at the
writing desk, placing his phone and some papers nearby. (Sure enough, a call
from Holwyood interrupts us about 3 minutes into the interview, but he offers to
In an adjacent room, Cameron Diaz is handling tabloid questions, as the duo
spruik Shrek The Third on a junket that precedes the film’s worldwide release.
We begin by noting how it seems only yesterday that I was talking to him at the
Cannes Film Festival, where Shrek first came into this movie world with a
historic festival premiere. Now we’re taking about Shrek 3 – will there really
be 98 films as Cameron Diaz joked when asked if she would do more?
The answer is no: there are 5 chapters to the Shrek saga, though, so two more
are due. “That’s another six years ... it’ll be 17 years total spent on Shrek
when we’re finished.” Not bad for an impatient man. “Yes, I know … if you look
up the dictionary, you’ll see the definition of the word irony,” he quips. “It
says: Jeffrey Katzenberg making animated movies.”
But Katzenberg, who produced the first, no longer takes a credit on the film.
He’s just The Boss of the studio. “I’m more of an editor than a creator. I give
the team the benefit of my mistakes…”
Katzenberg goes on in this vein, praising the efforts of the entire team. He
likens his own progress to a football team, in fact. “At the start, I was on the
field every day. I was the striker. Then I became the coach as the creative team
grew and became stronger, and now I’m in the owner’s box.” The big drawback in
that position (not having a producer credit), a regret he openly admits, is that
he can no longer to aspire to personally win an Academy Award, “this industry’s
"I’m a vacationaholic – I don’t regard what I do as
But he still loves his job; he gets up at dawn and has a punishing schedule.
When I suggest he may be labelled a workaholic, he says that’s not accurate.
“I’m a vacationaholic – I don’t regard what I do as work.” Neither does he know
where his good instincts come from, nor what is his special talent, although he
does mention instinct as a key characteristic for a producer.
What he doesn’t like is “when it doesn’t work!” The high point is “standing at
the back of the cinema, hearing the crowd roaring with laughter – that’s the
greatest reward in the world.
Hear the rest of what Katzenberg has to say – including the films of which he is
most proud and why, plus how he feels he’s getting his therapy via interviews
like this one.
Published June 7, 2007
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Jeffrey Katzenberg with Cameron Diaz in Sydney
Audio File 1; Audio File 2
SHREK THE THIRD – Australian release: June 7, 2007
Director Chris Miller.
With his new father-in-law (now a frog by curse) King Harold (voice of John
Cleese) dying, Shrek (Mike Myers) is promoted to heir of the throne of Far, Far
Away. Not ready to give up his beloved swamp, Shrek recruits his friends Donkey
(Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) to install the forgotten
nobody and (vaguely second in line) Artie (Justin Timberlake) as the new king.
Meanwhile the jilted and bitter Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) plots a coup
d’etat - but Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) rallies a band of royal girlfriends
to thwart that plan, with all of them having to make one final super fight to
seize the day.