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The Kids of Business Icons: David and Megan Ellison


In Hollywood, all you need is a last name and a serious bankroll.

While fame may be a harsh mistress, fame's successor is an unrelenting dominatrix.

Whether in Tinseltown or Silicon Valley, the glare of the limelight has caused many a star to crumble, either by unmitigated fortune or the sudden flip of the "off" switch. But as TMZ can attest, the children born and raised under such success have worldviews even more warped by affluence and instant gratification. Be sure the platter that serves their granted wishes is silver, anything less will send that tray twisting into the air and render the server scorched with caffè macchiato.

But in certain cases, famous offspring will wander through multimillion dollar mansions for 18 years and emerge as grounded individuals. How? Well, it helps to be raised by someone who has dealt with their own personal demons on a public stage. After all, you don't really see Scott Caan or Jake Busey in the police blotter, do you?

Similar sentiments can be expressed about David and Megan Ellison -- children to the certifiable Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison. Sure, ol' Larry and his $28 billion may not reach the heights of crazy that an Overstock's (OSTK) Patric Byrne or American Apparel's (APP) Dov Charney normally hit, but viewing Genghis Khan as a mentor and trying to import a Russian MiG into the States isn't exactly balanced behavior.

And it's all to foster David and Megan's growth and well-being. Both kids have entered the movie biz -- with older brother David leading the way -- but seem to have avoided the pitfalls and tailspins of life in La La Land. So far.

Initially enrolling into business school out of presumed necessity, David got the writing-acting-directing bug and transferred into University of Southern California's film school to shoot and star in a short about a billionaire's son. Well, write what you know, I guess.

But after the short's completion, the enterprising student and acrobatic pilot saw the opportunities in bankrolling independent films. He set up a production company in 2004 called Skydance Productions and threw $60 million at the company's debut release, Flyboys. Daddy and MGM helped with the bill, incidentally.

Centered around the first American fighter pilots who enlisted in the French military just prior to the United States entering World War I, Flyboys whetted David's appetite for producing, flying, and -- once director Tony Bill saw his chops -- acting. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Flyboys was a colossal flop, earning back just $13 million of its budget and crash landing on Variety's list of biggest losers of 2006.

David remained determined, however, to succeed in the film industry and this month raised $350 million to co-finance films with studio partner Paramount Pictures (VIA). Of that sum, $200 million is structured as a four-year, revolving credit account organized by JPMorgan (JPM) and extended to other institutions like Bank of America (BAC), Comerica (CMA), and Citibank (C). The remaining $150 million came from equity investors, one of whom was -- you guessed it -- Larry Ellison.

David Shaheen, managing director of JPMorgan's Entertainment Industries Group, told the Los Angeles Times, "The fact that David received support from such a broad group of banks in this very challenging credit market is a testament to his sound film investment strategy and overall vision for Skydance."

Or it could be that his name's Ellison and these banks can safely assume he's good for it.

Currently, David is keeping busy with producing Mission: Impossible IV, the Coen Brothers' remake of True Grit, and Northern Lights -- another pilot-focused film that he co-wrote. After producing the indie flick Waking Madison, his younger sister Megan is also listed as producer on Mission: Impossible IV and True Grit.

In 2006, David told the San Francisco Chronicle, "[One] of the great things about Hollywood is, nobody will hire you if you're not good. The audience can smell it. My family can open doors -- I have to walk through them."

But with a name like Ellison, walking through a door is literally the most you'll ever have to do.
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