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Asked his thoughts about entering the music business as a producer or executive today, he deadpanned: "I'd kill myself."
GEFFEN SPEAKS OUT WITH PBS SPECIAL ON TAP
New American Masters Documentary, Inventing David Geffen, to Air Nov. 20
Film and music mogul David Geffen will be on the other side of the camera for a Nov. 20 PBS American Masters documentary, Inventing David Geffen.

Episodes of the program have recently profiled Woody Allen, Pearl Jam, Johnny Carson, Jerome Robbins and Merle Haggard, among others.  

Geffen, described by friends and foes as “passionate, neurotic and giftedly non-diplomatic” in the film, showed up at yesterday’s Television Critics Association press junket to discuss the documentary, which will focus on how he helped shape popular culture as “an agent, manager, record industry titan, Hollywood and Broadway producer and billionaire philanthropist," according to today's Hollywood Reporter.

Steven Spielberg, Barry Diller, Tom Hanks, Arianna Huffington, Rahm Emanuel and the late Nora Ephron are among the 50-plus who are interviewed for the doc, which includes extensive interview time with Geffen as well.

Though Geffen claimed he was not entirely convinced he's a worthy subject for PBS, he is pleased with the final product. "I don't tend to think about the past. I really don't reflect on my career and I don't like to talk about myself. So when I saw the film, I thought, 'Wow,' I was impressed," he said to laughs of a film he claims he "had absolutely no input in."

In his half-hour with the press, Geffen held forth on a number of topics, especially his history in the music industry.

He revealed that he was once asked by Art Garfunkel if he thought the singer should drop out of architecture school to pursue a music career. "I told him to stay in school," admitted Geffen, the famous high school dropout, who added there were plenty of acts that passed on working with him over the years, including R.E.M., which signed with Warner Bros. instead.

"It's not about the ones that say no; it's about the ones that say yes," said Geffen. "Your life isn't made up of people who aren't in it." He acknowledged that he had set out to make a career in the movie business, but was told early on that he'd have better luck with musicians as a young agent because they, too, were young.

Asked his thoughts about entering the music business as a producer or executive today, he deadpanned: "I'd kill myself." He pointed to the absence of ways to break new artists like Top 40 radio and MTV. "You need repetition," he said of what he describes as a crucial element of discovery. "You need to be able to hear things a lot."

He also dispelled a couple of urban myths, insisting Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” was not about him. “Not that I’m not vain… I’m just not her vain.” And, he was never married to Keanu Reeves. "When that rumour was around, I hadn't even met him," insisted Geffen.

Finally, Geffen revealed he’s never carried a cell phone, texted anyone nor does he own an ATM card. That from the guy who made the telephone his personal instrument.



 

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