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What is Dreamworks SKG?

Dreamworks SKG is the studio responsible for the motion picture Amistad, which is the subject of the latest legal battle surrounding the Amistad revolt.

Dreamworks SKG was founded in October 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. The name "DreamWorks SKG" was announced three months later ("SKG" is merely the initials of the three founding partners' last names).

Spielberg, a world-famous filmmaker, Katzenberg, a former chairman of Disney Studios, and Geffen, a giant in the music industry, were widely viewed as a potent combination. The company immediately announced plans to launch film, music, software, and television projects -- the latter through a joint venture with Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.

To date, Dreamworks most well-known project is the weekly situation comedy, Spin City, produced by Gary David Goldberg and starring Michael J. Fox. Another television foray, Ink, starring Ted Danson, failed miserably. The studio has been criticized for treating television program marketing like movie production: simply hiring big-name actors and letting the movie succeed -- or fail -- on the "star power."

In the music arena, Dreamworks first major release was aging pop idol (and former Wham! frontman) George Michaels' 1996 release, "Older." The album's sales performance was unimpressive.

In March 1996, Dreamworks SKG entered into a joint venture with Sega Enterprises and MCA. Called Sega Gameworks, the venture plans to open interactive arcade centers designed by Spielberg. Dreamworks also has a partnership deal with Microsoft.

But it was not until the fall of 1997 that Dreamworks released its first film. The Peacemaker, starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman, debuted on September 26. Amistad, the studio's second major full-length release, is due out nationwide on December 12. Dreamworks' first animated musical, Prince of Egypt, is due out in September.

Dreamworks has been criticized for not fulfilling the high expectations surrounding the high-powered partnership. As of September, the New York Times reported that Dreamworks had "run through nearly $1 billion of its $2.7 billion original capital and has nothing to show for it but a few unsuccessful compact disks and The Peacemaker."