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Stephen Scharf, partner, O’Melveny & Myers

Dealmakers Impact Report 2011: Lawyers

Last summer, Scharf and his O’Melveny & Myers colleagues figuratively scaled the great the Great Wall of China for client Legendary Pictures and emerged with a first-of-its-kind multipicture joint venture.

“It’s probably one of the most complicated deals I’ve ever worked on,” says Scharf of launching Legendary East, a $441 million company based in Hong Kong that will produce one or two English-language, Chinese-themed pics per year for a global market. “It involves a heavily regulated industry in China, where in order to make movies that qualify you have to get government approval of the screenplay and the production agreement.”

KEY DEALS: Scharf also played a key role in the three-year pact between client Studiocanal and Anton Capital Entertainment that calls for the media fund to co-finance about 100 international films distributed by the French giant. Deal marks the first large slate financing pact ever inked for a European distribution company.

The year’s international focus taught Scharf that “whether the other side is speaking a native language or not, it’s all about really trying to understand what they are saying.”

He also advised MGM in its negotiations with Warner Bros./New Line over the financing of the two “Hobbit” films.

SPARE TIME: Scharf tills the soil with his wife on their small vineyard. “I have to have (the lawyer) job to afford the other one.”

TOP CAUSE: Weingart Center Assn.

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