Dreamworks Animation has had a turbulent ride recently. Last year the company shut down its storied PDI Dreamworks facility and laid off around 500 people.
As recently as last month, studio CEO and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg said that his animation studio has been “in the toilet” and warned that the next year-and-a-half will be “choppy.”
The struggles of his company haven’t affected Katzenberg’s personal finances, however. Yesterday, he gave $353,400 to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee for the opportunity to have dinner and drinks with the Democratic presidential candidate. He paid the vast sum for the honor of being an “event co-chair” (along with George Clooney) for the Clinton fundraising event. [UPDATE: This amount is in addition to the $1.1 million that Katzenberg had already donated to super PACS working on behalf of Clinton.]
In the afternoon, Clinton visited Katzenberg’s home in Beverly Hills, where she mingled with other guests including Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, George Lucas, George Clooney, Haim Saban, and Casey Wasserman, each of whom paid $50,000 to be co-hosts of the event. Later in the evening, the group attended a large dinner with 150 people at Clooney’s home, where tickets cost $33,400 per person.
Clooney’s event was marred by protestors who threw single-dollar bills at Hillary Clinton’s motorcade and blasted the song “We’re in the Money” in her direction.
Katzenberg, whose personal fortune was built largely from the labor of thousands of animation artists at both Disney and Dreamworks, has a net worth reportedly between $800 million and one billion dollars. Dreamworks is currently a defendant in an industry-wide class action lawsuit that alleges feature animation studios conspired to restrict competition by exchanging compensation information, fixing wage ranges for their employees, and refraining from solicitation of each other’s employees. The only studio that has agreed to settle, thus far, is 20th Century Fox-owned Blue Sky Studios.
In 2014, U.S. president Barack Obama awarded Katzenberg America’s highest artistic honor, the National Medal of Arts, making him just the second person in the animation art form to ever receive the recognition.