Jeffrey Katzenberg

updated 12/26/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/26/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Among Hollywood movers and shakers, Jeffrey Katzenberg has been a one-man Krakatau. After a decade spent taking Walt Disney's film division from worst to first (this summer's box office giant The Lion King was his baby), Katzenberg, 44, erupted when his boss, Disney chairman Michael Eisner, refused to grant him the title of president. On Aug. 24 he left his multimillion-dollar job. Then, seven weeks later, Katzenberg touched off an even larger temblor: with director Steven Spielberg and entertainment mogul David Geffen, he announced the start-up of a new studio—a stunning merger of Hollywood talent and clout. "This has got to be a dream team," Katzenberg said. "Certainly it's my dream."

To the public, Katzenberg may be the least known of the trio of Tinseltown titans. The New York City native lives quietly in Beverly Hills with wife Marilyn, 46, and their twins Laura and David, 11. But among Hollywood power brokers, Katzenberg is renowned for what one Disney executive calls an almost pathological drive. The son of a Wall Street stockbroker, Katzenberg is a college dropout who started in films by taking a job 19 years ago in the Paramount mail-room. He worked his way up with relentless energy, shifting to Disney in 1984, often arriving at his office at 6 a.m. to start speed-dialing his East Coast connections. His reputation didn't help dealings with close friend Spielberg. "I never want you to become that lather of workaholism," the director said that his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, told him.

The new venture may be his toughest challenge. But Katzenberg is optimistic. "I feel like I'm driving a stagecoach, holding the reins of two world-class stallions," he said. The imagery may be old-fashioned, but the future seems to belong to Katzenberg. As one Hollywood exec said, "I see a day, 25 years from now, when I'll be at the opening of Katzenbergland."

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