- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Modern mogul

"Sixteen years ago, David Geffen was presiding over a fledgling, money-losing record company … at the margins of Steve Ross' Warner Communications empire. Geffen's audacious goal was to hornswoggle Warner, which owned half of Geffen Records, to give up its 50 percent stake as a reward for Geffen's agreeing to a five-year contract extension with the parent company… .
"Geffen got the deal he wanted. Geffen Records soon embarked on a remarkable run that, five years later, would allow Geffen to put his now wholly owned company on the market for top dollar… .
"Geffen possessed that perfect combination of attributes seemingly genuine empathy and ruthless cunning, progressive sensibility crossed with market-moving vulgarity that makes him the prototype for a whole generation of multiplexed, multinational moguls-in-waiting.
"Along the way, Geffen brushed against nearly every significant music and pop-culture phenomenon of the last 40 years, helping create the California sound in the late '60s and '70s through his patronage of Crosby, Stills and Nash (and later Young), Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and the biggest of them all, the Eagles. He produced 'Risky Business,' the echt early-'80s movie that starred Tom Cruise in his first major role, and was instrumental in bringing 'Dreamgirls' and 'Cats' to Broadway… .
"Geffen … certainly played a crucial role in building 'the New Hollywood.' Whether he'll play much of a part in creating the New New Hollywood is another question entirely."
Michael Hirschorn, writing on "Up From the Mailroom," in Sunday's New York Times Book Review

Apathy? Who cares?

"It's hard to get good answers to why young voters are so uninterested in politics. This is probably because it's next to impossible to get someone to think hard about why he's not interested in something. The boredom itself preempts inquiry; the fact of the feeling's enough. Surely one reason, though, is that politics is not cool. Or say rather that cool, interesting, alive people do not seem to be the ones who are drawn to the political process. Think back to the sort of kids in high school or college who were into running for student office: dweeby, overgroomed, obsequious to authority, ambitious in a sad way… . In fact the likeliest reason why so many of us care so little about politics is that modern politicians make us sad, hurt us in ways that are hard even to name, much less to talk about."
David Foster Wallace, writing on "The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and the Shrub," in the April 13 issue of Rolling Stone

New influence

"Forget the influences of revered divas from the past. We are currently witnessing the frightening rise of a generation of performers whose ultimate ambition is to replicate the … vocal gymnastics of Mariah Carey. 'I discovered Mariah in my room one day listening to the radio,' remembers Christina Aguilera, 'and as soon as "Vision of Love" came on, I ran downstairs going, "Mommy, mommy I just found the greatest person in the world! I just heard the greatest new voice!" ' …
"An occasional dab of R&B; grit, however jejune, is heard in Aguilera's voice. But the spectre of a nicely wrapped empty box like Jessica Simpson mimicking Carey's fluttery delivery and hand gestures … is enough to give anyone pause. Perhaps they'll outgrow their influences and blossom. But for now, they make one long for the comparative nuance and taste of Whitney Houston. At least she cut her teeth on gospel."
David Brown, writing on "Age Against the Machine," in the March 31 issue of Entertainment Weekly

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