Paramount chairman and CEO on how Silicon Valley is working with Hollywood on piracy
Brad Gray kept dodging questions during an appearance on "Charlie Rose" Wednesday about why the Paramount's deal to purchase DreamWorks SKG ended with the exits of Steven Spielberg and David Geffen from the studio lot, but the tenacious anchor would not let the studio chief duck his queries.
Grey insisted he did not want to speak ill of anyone. He dissembled. He leaned back on the old standby,
"I don't know."
Pressed about reports that personality clashes with Geffen had doomed the pact, Grey countered with praise.
"My regard for David Geffen is extremely high," he said. "I think that David Geffen is one of the greatest, not only showmen, but one of the greatest businessmen."
He said that the $1.6 billion deal to purchase DreamWorks' library and bring its team to Paramount was critical to the studio, because it came at a time when there were very few films in its production pipeline. After Geffen and Spielberg's employment contracts ended, DreamWorks became an independent production company in 2008 with funding from Indian-based Reliance ADA Group.
"I can’t tell you exactly what it was," Grey said, after Rose refused to let the subject drop. "I can only say that in life when you have the greatest expectations and you try to do things the right way, it doesn’t always work out."
Grey insisted that the studio maintains strong ties with Spielberg, noting that the director is producing the next "Transformers" film for Paramount. He added that he expects they will work on future project together.
Grey also dipped his toe into the hot-button issue of piracy during the cordial twenty-five minute grilling. He noted that relations have started to improve between Silicon Valley and Hollywood despite the divide over issues like SOPA, the anti-piracy legislation that went down to defeat in Congress last year thanks to a grassroots campaign that was fostered by the online community.
"The biggest search engines in the world are trying to sort out how we handle this together to make sure that our artists and studios and all the people — all the thousands and thousands and thousands of people — at work are able to be legitimately paid and the product isn’t being stolen," Grey said.