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TV Critics Tour: David Geffen meets the mob

Inductee David Geffen attends the Rock and Roll

Inductee David Geffen attends the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2010 induction ceremony at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel. (March 15, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Beverly Hills — David Geffen, like most world-famous billionaires, certainly needs no introduction and he certainly doesn't need any press — though there he was, on stage, in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, talking to...the press.

He arrived today from Sardinia (his boat's there, he explained) and expected to return there the minute this root canal procedure ended. Here to promote the "American Masters" film, "Inventing David Geffen," he is elfin in person, with closely cropped hair, dressed in a white shirt, open at the neck, with gray slacks. He affects a true mogul's equipoise in front of this unruly mob — no doubt perfected over many years of dealing with far more unruly crowds, from the William Morris agency (where he started —  where else — in the mail room), to Asylum Records, and Geffen Records, and DreamWorks, which he launched with Steven Spielberg, and on to hundreds of other endeavors, including Broadway and even the fourth estate (he explored buying the New York Times.)

Geffen, 69, is dry-witted, and occasionally gnomic, wisely given to sharp short answers to questions that otherwise might require a book (or two) to answer.

Example: Which acts did he regret losing or the ones he never signed? (Geffen pretty much commanded rock 'n' roll from the '70s onward)

"It's not about the ones who say 'no.' It's about the ones who say 'yes.' Your life isn't made up of the ones who aren't in it."

Was he driven by his failures?

"There is no success without failure."

What drove him throughout his life and career?

"Have you met my mother?"

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