Inside Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Plan to Revolutionize Entertainment on Mobile Screens
When Jeffrey Katzenberg touched down in Sun Valley, Idaho, last week, it extended a streak of appearances at the annual conference going back more than 30 years, nearly to the time Allen & Co. first launched its event in 1983.
But for Katzenberg this year wasn’t just another elite gathering for captains of industry; it represented a critical juncture in a journey he quietly embarked on last August after leaving DreamWorks Animation, the studio he sold to Comcast’s NBCUniversal for $3.8 billion.
His ambitious goal at this year’s conference: getting one of the myriad tech and telco giants he’d been talking to in the intervening months to leverage its infrastructure and reach for his latest venture. The entry fee for the interested company: $2 billion to help bring his vision to fruition. While he declines to specify which executives he spoke to in Idaho, Katzenberg was spotted meeting with a wide range of power brokers from Apple’s Tim Cook and Eddy Cue to YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki to Verizon’s Lowell McAdam, Marni Walden and Tim Armstrong.
“Is this a gigantic undertaking? The answer is yes,” says Katzenberg in an exclusive interview with Variety in which he lays out the full scope of his plans. “Is it bigger than DreamWorks? I hope so.”
Katzenberg’s plan involves nothing less than the creation of a whole new species of entertainment targeting 18- to 34-year-olds: short-form video series produced with budgets and production values you might expect from primetime TV, along with top-shelf creatives on both sides of the camera. For example, imagine a drama akin to “Empire” or “Scandal” but shrunk to 10-minute episodes made for mobile consumption. Or a five-minute talk show, or a two-minute newscast — all with high-profile talent attached....MORE