So one of my tipsters was dining at Trattoria Amici in Beverly Hills last night when he spied Steven Spielberg, Stacey Snider, Ron Meyer and GE bossman Jeffrey Immelt all sitting at a corner table and having a swell time. OK, I know what you’re thinking: where was Jeff Zucker? Elsewhere. But before tongues wag, I’m told by a DreamWorks source that “Jeff [Zucker] had just spent the better part of the afternoon with Steven planning out the [post-fire] rebuild of the backlot with Universal. So Jeff’s absence is not of any significance.” I agree. As for Immelt, he had come to town for a general meeting with NBC today. “And it felt like the right time to reconnect given everything that’s going on. It was a social dinner about nothing specific,” my insider says. (“Amici” is Italian for “friends”).
Meanwhile, various insiders tell me the DreamWorks/Reliance deal is all done and likely to be signed any day. That’s when David Geffen will formally resign from Paramount — which then triggers Spielberg’s and Snider’s ability to follow him. (“We’re not looking for a fight. There’s no reason to sour the relationship more when there are 40 or so projects still to produce as part of the contract when we leave,” a source told me.)
Last night’s dinner with Immelt, and yesterday’s Spielberg-Zucker confab, shows how inevitable a DreamWorks distribution deal with NBC Universal will be. “No one has had a conversation about the terms or the timing of a distribution deal yet,” a DreamWorks source tells me. “We’ve really just been focused on the Reliance deal.” Sure, if Geffen had his way, he’d love to pit Hollywood studios against one another to bid for DreamWorks’ distribution. (“David works best when he’s got leverage, and choice would work in Steven’s favor,” an insider told me.) But given how Spielberg sees Universal as his professional home (he never moved his offices even after Paramount bought DreamWorks), I’ve always assumed he’d land there. Now, with Immelt and Zucker paying homage, it looks like a done deal.