THE DEALMAKER: With more than three decades of experience, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Lawrence Ulman is one of the town’s most prominent entertainment lawyers, known for negotiating huge deals for clients such as Universal and Fox.
Co-chair of the media and entertainment practice group at the legal powerhouse, Ulman covers all kinds of intricate financial transactions. These range from funding large studio production slates to devising comprehensive product-placement deals to steering financial institutions through complex and often innovative loan arrangements.
Recent negotiations he’s handled include $500 million in financing for Universal by Relativity Capital for production and distribution of at least 40 films over the next two years. The pact is considered to be the largest of its kind.
For Volkswagen he helped achieve a multiplatform product placement with U covering TV, film features and theme parks. “We tried to leverage all of the Universal entertainment assets in a one-stop shop for Volkswagen,” Ulman says.
Because of the ongoing credit crunch, “These days it’s a very tough environment,” he observes. “Deals that go through aren’t necessarily bigger, but they are a lot more complicated, because investors are seeking more input.”
KEY DEALS: U’s $500 million agreement with Relativity Media; Dune Entertainment’s $500 million commitment to finance a Fox film slate over three years; U’s teaming with Cha Cha Cha — directors Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu — to produce, finance and distribute five films, pegged at $100 million each; product placements forVW and Chrysler.
DEALMAKER DOS: “You have to accept the other side has a point. If you’re constantly throwing up roadblocks in trying to make the best deal for your client, then you may not have any deal at all.”
DEALMAKER DON’TS: “Don’t respond immediately — think about what was said first. Also, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions.”
TOP DEALMAKERS ENCOUNTERED: “Universal’s Michael Joe, Vicki Rossellini at Fox, John Gumpert when he was at Universal, and Andrew Matthews when he was at New Line.”