'Inventing David Geffen' Draws Rare A-Plus Crowd to L.A. Premiere
The Writers Guild building in Beverly Hills felt like the Oscars on Tuesday night as Susan Lacy's new PBS American Masters documentary Inventing David Geffen premiered to an A+++ guest list.
Even Geffen himself -- wearing the rare suit to an event -- seemed overwhelmed by the attendance at the premiere, which began at a 6 p.m. cocktail party that New York's Peggy Siegal organized and flew in to attend. (It mirrored a similar soiree in NYC.) The hosts were Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, and Cher, whom, as the documentary portrays, was the female love of Geffen's life (the pair lived together for 18 months).
Geffen, of course, is the agent-turned-music mogul (Asylum and later Geffen Records)-turned DreamWorks co-founder (with Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg) who discovered and made into the stars the likes of Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and The Eagles and produced many major films. In the process, he became a billionaire and an influential Democratic Party activist, as well as a noted philanthropist.
On Tuesday night, even the most press-shy stars were doing interviews to support Geffen. Cher walked the press line at the front of the WGA theater foyer -- not the biggest room in the world -- with her manager and talked to anyone who threw her a question. With no time limit enforced. Bruce Springsteen and wife Patti Scialfa hung back at the back of the room with Hanks and Wilson, with Springsteen greeting well-wishers who appreciated his support of the newly re-elected President Barack Obama (who's also in the Geffen doc). "Thanks for re-electing the president, Boss," one well-wisher was overheard saying, shaking Springsteen's hand. He seemed genuinely modest. "I only had a tiny little bit to do with it," he said as his fingers created what looked like the size of a dime. "But I'm happy for whatever role I played."
Ron Howard, producer Howard Rosenman, Bill Maher, Peter Guber, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Jimmy Iovine, Steve Bing, Eric Eisner and his wife Lisa, Berry Gordy, Brian Grazer -- everywhere you looked, you couldn't help tripping over another entertainment mogul or star. And what's amazing was the pure lack of cynicism and genuine enthusiasm people had to learn more about "how Geffen did it." "I'm proud to call him my friend," Tom Ford told The Hollywood Reporter. "And I can't wait to learn more about his early days. It's got to be interesting because those who know David know he can be ... blunt. Very blunt. Sometimes it scares me."
Jane Fonda came with Richard Perry and a small dog in her arms. It wasn't so surprising to see so much of older Hollywood, but it was a bit surprising to see a Siegal-curated collection of PYTs and Cool Hipsters: Camilla Belle and Diddy? What were they doing there?
One of the great highlights of the night -- even to this jaded, seen-everything crowd -- was the sight of ex-lovers Beatty and Joan Collins in deep discussion. That drew even more attention than Springsteen, who's been spending a lot of time at his West Coast residence these days. Meanwhile, Bening was telling friends about her upcoming movies. "I'm not sure the Catherine the Great project I'm in will come together," she said sadly. "But there's always Untitled Warren Beatty Project. That's the most important on my slate!" Bening might not have been kidding; Beatty has been developing a movie for his wife and best pal Jack Nicholson to star in for some time. Owen Wilson would be in it, too.
Also spotted: Lisa Kudrow, Virginia Madsen, Steve Tisch, Robbie Robertson, Walter Parkes, Wolfgang and Gelila Puck and even Maria Shriver.
PBS execs who flew in from New York were beside themselves with joy -- understandably.
As the crowd finally took their seats, row 10 was where all the action was. There was Geffen, surrounded by Oprah Winfrey -- apparently a vacation buddy and fellow Obama supporter -- Springsteen and Cher gathered around him as the mogul seemed more than a little shy to be watching a documentary that took Lacy many years to persuade him to do. The reason he participated? "I'm a fan of American Masters myself," Geffen said. "I always enjoy watching their bios. They're always fascinating."
Hanks and Wilson did the intros with no mikes. "Everyone's here because they love David," Wilson gushed. "We're all here because we'd love to be the man David Geffen his," said Hanks, to applause.
The doc begins with Geffen's forays in the 1970s music business, his partnership with manager Elliot Roberts (Young, Mitchell) and how he went from the artist's best friend to a man producer Rosenman described thusly: "If you're his enemy, you're better off dead." The number of major players onscreen also is staggering: Spielberg, Young, Browne, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Yoko Ono, Barry Diller, Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner, Steve Martin, Elton John, Sandy Gallin. And at the end of the nearly two-hour doc, and after a standing ovation, Hanks yelled out, "Intermission, five minutes! Then we come back for part two!"
Had there been one, this crowd would have been back in their seats in a heartbeat.