Big-time negotiator raises stakes of reality TV

Seacrest, 'Big Brother' among Newman's biggest deals

Jeanne Newman calls the brokering of Matt Weiner’s tricky “Mad Men” pact with AMC a high point in a year that also saw the attorney’s client Ryan Seacrest close a historic $45 million deal (spearheaded by partner Craig Jacobson) and client Endemol’s plunge into melding reality and comedy programming, resulting in Jerry Seinfeld’s “The Marriage Rep.”

“(Matt’s contract) was one of the harder deals I’ve made recently,” Newman says.

“It was a rough negotiation. It’s something I’m very proud of because of the quality of the show and Matt Weiner.”

In a triumphant year for Newman professionally, she’s also dealt with heath issues culminating in recent open-heart surgery.

“It was a huge victory to overcome the illness and keep a positive attitude, but more than that I realized I really like what I do,” Newman says. “I could have gone off and made muffins, but after having some time to reflect, I (found I) really like practicing law and representing my clients.”

Those clients include some of the biggest names in reality show business, including Mike Fleiss (“The Bachelor”) and Allison Grodner (“Big Brother”).

For more than a decade, Newman has been representing reality shows even before there was a glimmer of interest from the major networks.

Early on in her career, she represented comedy writers simply because she liked doing so.

“Two different market tastes really aligned with my tastes: comedy and reality,” Newman says. “I always repped these comedy writers who were making about five cents, then suddenly television started wanting these people and we were making deals that were paying $3 million a year.”

Then Newman made the “Big Brother” deal with CBS.

In the summer of 2000, both “Big Brother” and “Survivor” premiered and changed the TV landscape. Newman hopes to get the same pop with “The Marriage Ref.”

“I’ve always liked getting creative people to achieve their goals,” Newman says. “I like being involved in that journey.”

IN A NUTSHELL

Job title: Partner in law firm of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren & Richman

Role model: “My father.”

Career mantra: “Anything can be worked out.”

Leisure pursuits: Making wine at her Jorian Hills vineyard and winery in Santa Ynez Valley.

Philanthropic passion: Cardiac research

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