Apparently it’s news to The New York Times — though to no one else in Hollywood — that there may be friction when Paramount and DreamWorks try to unentangle themselves. What’s a better story the newspaper could have written for Thursday’s edition? That DreamWorks can finally shop itself around starting May 1st. Or that Steven Spielberg has the right to terminate his contract as soon as October, if David Geffen is no longer there, even though the producer-director’s pact on paper goes to 2010. (Even Dreamworks Animation has an “out” clause after 10 films.) But I’m really surprised that the newspaper of record doesn’t know what I know: that Spielberg has the right to elect to be involved in any project that DreamWorks has developed at Paramount. As an ex-Paramount business affairs source once told me, Steven’s so-called “Amblin deal” would apply even if he chooses to leave and is no longer under contract. He’d still make 7.5% of the gross and 50% of the profits to cash break. And if it’s decided the projects won’t be made, they have to be offered to Steven in turnaround. So, tell me, given the choice that if he stays he’s paid nothing, and if he goes he’s paid a lot, who in their right mind would think Spielberg sticks around?
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