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Last Updated: Friday, 23 February 2007, 11:27 GMT
Faces of the week
Faces of the Week

Our regular look at some of the names which have made the news this week. Above are DAVID GEFFEN (main picture), with MARGARET THATCHER, PRINCE HARRY, GENE MORRISON and JEMIMA KHAN.

DAVID GEFFEN

The gloves are off in the US Democratic race to the White House. David Geffen, one of America's richest men, has upped the ante by initiating the first salvos between the two main camps of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Mr Geffen, who has a CV that includes record executive, film magnate, art collector, philanthropist and wannabe press baron is backing Mr Obama for the Democratic Party's nomination.

In an interview published in Wednesday's New York Times, he was describing the Clintons when he said "Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling."

He also described Bill Clinton as "reckless" and cast doubt on those who say he has become a different person since leaving office.

His remarks have prompted a verbal brawl among the prospective financial backers of both sides. This week, Mr Geffen hosted a $1.3m fundraising event for Mr Obama.

There's nothing more bloody than a civil war.

David Geffen from 1973
David Geffen became rich as head of Elektra and Asylum Records
It was all so different when Mr Geffen backed Bill Clinton's presidential campaign.

The two fell out, though, when Mr Clinton pardoned a fugitive financier Marc Rich but rejected Mr Geffen's request that he pardon an American Indian activist, Leonard Peltier, who Geffen and others believe was wrongly convicted of the murder of two FBI agents in 1975.

David Geffen is a big-shot in Tinsel town, where the ritual courting for political support is taking place. His influence has grown with his extraordinary wealth, which is estimated at $4.5bn. This is quite an achievement for someone who never attended business school.

Geffen, who turned 64 this week, took his first steps on the road to billionairedom in the record business. He became the personal manager to singers Laura Nyro and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Though he was born into a working-class, Jewish immigrant family in New York, Geffen managed to develop what became known as the West Coast sound by signing up such artists as the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell et al for his Elektra/Asylum label.

Movie Mogul

By the time he had moved on to heavy-metal, with bands like Whitesnake, Guns n' Roses and Aerosmith, his Geffen Records, established in 1980, had a multi-million dollar turnover.

Another artist David Geffen handled was Cher, with whom he lived for a while. Later, he came out as gay.

Next, Geffen turned to movies. In 1986, he set up the Geffen Film Company responsible for Little Shop of Horrors and Beetlejuice.

Eight years later, together with Stephen Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, he formed Dreamworks SKG intending to blend big-budget quality with independence.

They made classics like Saving Private Ryan, American Beauty, Gladiator and Shrek. But, unable to fend off recession in the film industry, Dreamworks was sold off to Viacom's Paramount Pictures in 2005.

Geffen with co-Dreamworks founders, Steven Spielberg and Jeffery Katzenberg
Geffen with co-Dreamworks founders, Steven Spielberg and Jeffery Katzenberg
In the meantime, David Geffen was using his vast wealth for philanthropic causes, most notably for medical research and Aids organisations, as well as for the arts. He also accumulated one of the most important collections of modern American art.

According to the chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Paul Schimmel, "There's no collection that has a better representation of post-war American art than David Geffen's."

Recently, he sold Jackson Pollock's Number 5 painting to a Mexican financier for what is believed to be $140m, a record for a single picture.

This followed sales of other parts of his collection including works by Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol, which raised hundreds of millions of dollars.

While some have suggested that Geffen is merely doing good business by selling when the market is ripe, others believe that he has been freeing up funds in order to buy the Los Angeles Times for which he has made a $2bn cash bid.

The LA Times, which he reportedly wants to make as nationally influential as the New York Times, is owned by the Chicago-based Tribune group. The group would prefer a sale of the entire media company rather than of individual assets.

If Tribune does decide to sell, Mr Geffen faces competition from several other billionaires itching to get their hands on the title.

If David Geffen adds press baron to his list of achievements, he will be someone prospective presidential candidates will want even more on their side.


Baroness Thatcher
BARONESS THATCHER

A full-length bronze statue of Margaret Thatcher was unveiled this week in the Members' lobby at the Palace of Westminster. It was the first time a living prime minister has been honoured in this way. The Speaker of the House, Michael Martin, who unveiled it, told the Commons that it was right and proper that the first woman leader should be celebrated while she's still alive. Baroness Thatcher herself commented, "I might have preferred iron, but bronze will do."

Prince Harry
PRINCE HARRY

Prince Harry was said to have been "over the moon" when he heard this week that he is to be deployed in Iraq. As an officer with the Army's Blues and Royals, he will lead a troop from A Squadron of the Household Cavalry Regiment as part of a long-planned rotation in the region. Harry has been trained to take charge of 12 men in an armoured reconnaissance unit, seeking out the enemy. He is likely to leave for Iraq in May or June.

Gene Morrison
GENE MORRISON

A bogus forensic expert, Gene Morrison, was jailed for five years in Britain this week. Morrison conned courts for almost three decades giving false evidence in cases. Some 700 of them may have to be re-opened. Morrison, 48, who was born in Jamaica but lived in Greater Manchester, left school with no qualifications and simply downloaded sham degrees from a bogus university in the US. The judge described him as an "inveterate and compulsive liar".

Jemima Khan
JEMIMA KHAN

The socialite and mother-of-two, Jemima Khan, has announced that she has split up with her boyfriend of three years, actor Hugh Grant. Ms Khan is said not to have got on with Grant's former girlfriend Liz Hurley and to have become angry when she sucked Grant's finger at a party thrown by Sir Elton John. Ms Khan, who began seeing Grant after her marriage to cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan broke down, was said to be frustrated at his unwillingness to marry.


Written by BBC News Profiles Unit's Bob Chaundy





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