I recently read “The Operator: David Geffen Builds, Buys, and Sells The New Hollywood” by Tom King. Below are the quotes I found most interesting.
“Plunking down $450 for a suit and shopping at the boutique where only the most senior executives at the agency shopped was Geffen’s way of signaling to his bosses that he was determined to enter their league.” (66)
“Geffen’s friendship with Marian foreshadowed a long string of powerful friendships with the wives of his colleagues. He would, in some cases, forge a tighter bond with the wives than with their husbands.” (83)
“We’re in a shark pool here,” Crosby said. “We need a shark to look after us.” (103)
“But he was surprised to realize that the millions of dollars he had just banked and the trappings he had been able to acquire with it did not make him happy.” (184)
“Geffen clinched the deal when he told the star his fee: He did not want a cent. Geffen did not let on that he was playing a much bigger chess game in which he eventually sought to sign Dylan to Asylum Records. The tour was just his opening move.” (195)
“Geffen did not like his mother because she was strange and poor and not refined and rich. He tried to clean her up by hiring a chauffeur to take her shopping for new clothes; he fumed, however, when he discovered that she had directed the driver to the thrift-shop district on Western Avenue. How much easier life would be, he thought, if he had been born into a family of privilege. No matter how much success he achieved, it seemed he could not get beyond the handicapped self-image of a tortured and tiny poor Jewish boy with the eccentric mother and hopeless father.” (224)
“When Ono next asked Geffen what he planned to pay them, he reverted to one of his tried-and-true dealmaking tricks, refusing to be the first to state a figure. He had learned his lesson since 1972. When Ono insisted that Geffen throw out a number, Geffen calmly declined. “You have to tell me what you want,” he said, “and if I can give it to you, I will, and if I can’t, I won’t.” (314)
“Geffen’s strategy all along had been to grant young smart talents free rein up until when the product was almost finished; he then stepped in to shape the all-important marketing. Geffen knew his strength: He could gauge the market as no one else could.” (347)
“When he was under pressure and business was poor, his plans became increasingly audacious. Sitting with a pair of deuces, Geffen often behaved as though he had a full house.” (366)
“”That’s David’s mother,” one of Geffen’s friends told a reporter at the party afterward… “We call her ‘The Explanation.’” (368)
“Geffen the millionaire had been a pure capitalist for most of his life, and for him capitalism was about winning. With the new ending, Risky Business became a mirror of Geffen’s own story: If you maneuver enough, you can get away with anything, and winning is easy. It does not matter if you tell the truth, cheat on a test, or step on people on your way up to the top. It only matters if you win.” (375)
“The people around him, meanwhile, were so shaken and distracted by his screaming tirades that no one could see the frightened boy he still was. “The liabilities are the assets,” Diller said. “He’s gone through a lot, and goes through a lot, for what he gets.” (562)
If you liked the quotes, buy the book here.