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Published: 10/27/2008

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David Geffen Makes a Sudden Exit
By MICHAEL CIEPLY
Published: October 26, 2008

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — As of last week, David Geffen’s phone line at DreamWorks SKG headquarters here was still live. But some people were already struggling to accept that he would no longer be part of the movie company he had helped build.

Steven Spielberg actually stammered a bit in trying to explain his erstwhile business partner’s departure.

No, Mr. Spielberg said, he really did not know why Mr. Geffen was parting ways with DreamWorks after 14 years.

But yes, he hoped he and Mr. Geffen would remain close. “I know David will be in my personal life,” said Mr. Spielberg, who stood near the door of his office in a Southwestern bungalow complex on the Universal Studios lot.

“I cannot imagine not having David in my professional life,” he added. “If that’s true, I’m going to have to figure out what to do about it.” After months of turmoil, Mr. Geffen, Mr. Spielberg and the chief executive of DreamWorks, Stacey Snider, three weeks ago joined about 100 associates in severing ties with Paramount Pictures, which had bought DreamWorks for $1.6 billion in 2006.

In a deal maker’s master stroke, Mr. Geffen created a new company to be run by Mr. Spielberg and Ms. Snider, with backing from Reliance Big Entertainment of India. Its movies will be distributed by Universal, with which Mr. Spielberg has long-standing ties.

But Mr. Geffen said he would not be part of the equation. In fact, after engineering some of the most breathtaking deals and transitions over nearly 40 years, he has indicated that he is backing away from Hollywood altogether.

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