Bert Fields: 30 Years at Greenberg Glusker

Super-attorney Bert Fields joined Greenberg Glusker 30 years ago. Through that Century City firm – now monikered Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger – Fields has repped some of Hollywood’s most high-profile clients in groundbreaking cases. These include Jeffrey Katzenberg against Disney, George Harrison against his former business manager, Michael Jackson in contract talks with Sony, Tom Cruise against the author of an unauthorized biography, and Mario Puzo against Paramount. Fields was involved in the Anthony Pellicano case and has also repped Dreamworks, Steven Spielberg, Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman – among many others.

Fields is also a known scholar of English history and an expert on Shakespeare, and has written scholarly books examining those subjects. Recently, Variety contributor Bob Verini sat down with Fields for an interview focusing not so much on Fields ‘ past accomplishments – which have been well documented – but on his views of the industry’s future. An edited transcript follows.

Bob Verini: What did you learn from law school?

Bert Fields: Law school changed my life. I got back to Harvard, I was a kid off the beach. I was a body surfer and college was just a good time. And I got back there and things were very serious. I learned to think. I learned to really have discipline, something I never had and never really wanted. I was inspired by my fellow students, who were top people from all over the world, really. I was inspired by the faculty, which in those days were outstanding, and as I say, it just made me a different person. It’s a path that I’ve been on ever since, and it’s a path I like.

Verini: What impelled the merger in ’82? Did it work out exactly as planned. Any regrets?

Fields: No regrets, it worked out pretty much as I planned. I had a very small firm – it varied, from 4-8 people — and I found that as I was getting major litigation against big firms, it was just a very, very difficult process because I was doing everything myself. I found I had to stay up all night to get papers done. If I wanted to get an injunction written up, I had no help at all because I had a tax laywer, a business lawyer and I was the litigator-slash-entertainment guy. It was a hard way to live, and I realized that I really should find a larger firm where I could get backup help.
That has worked out beautifully. I have some marvelous people who work with me here. Chuck Shepard who backs me up in a lot of litigation; Matt Galsor who backs me up in a lot of the transactional work; and a number of others that make my life easier and allow me to do those things that I enjoy doing, and that I do better than others.

Verini: What accounts for your dual specialty in transaction and litigation? And why isn’t it more widespread?

Fields: When I started practicing law, lawyers pretty much did everything that came into the door. I think if an admiralty case had come in, I would have learned all about boats. So it was nothing unusual. People I worked for in those days did everything. All the major entertainment lawyers went to court, tried cases. David Tannenbaum, who was famous in those days, entertainment lawyer, used to go down and try cases. So I started out doing the same thing. And today, I don’t think there’s anyone else who does both entertainment transactional work and litigation. I just never stopped doing it.

Verini: Is it a reflection on the changing work ethic today?

Fields: Not only this area of the law, but almost any area of the law, and in medicine you find the same thing. We’ve all heard about the man who goes to the eye doctor, and he has a pain in his right eye, and the doctor says ‘no, I’m a left eye doctor.’ Everyone is specialized, and in law that’s particularly true. I don’t know anyone in any major firm who does both entertainment transactional work and litigation. It’s one or the other.

Verini: So if someone wanted to do both, they could come to you to get some tips?

Fields: I’ve had people come to me wanting to do both, young people, and I’ve encouraged them to do both. Invariably they end up doing one or the other. That’s what they do! A wonderful young man named Ken Basin – who was top of his class at Harvard, and it’s a joy to work with him because he’s just brilliant – he came I think with the idea that he would at least start out doing both, and he just found he likes the transactional work better and now hes doing a lot of work with Matt Galsor with Tom Cruise and Jim Cameron on a lot of entertainment projects.
I think that anybody that’s going to do transaction work – not just in the entertainment field but any field – would be better off if they had a year of litigation practice. Because it trains one to see when there are problems. If you think like a litigator, you are better able to sense how things are moving in a negotiation. You also know the things that are going to be important if there’s a dispute, and you make sure you cover those things. If you’ve never done that, sometimes it’s harder to cover those things. So I tell kids to get some litigation experience. Then you can move into real estate or bankruptcy or whatever you want to do.

Verini: Speaking of disputes, is there anything the public doesn’t know that you’d like them to know about some of your celebrated cases?

Fields: There’s a lot I would like them to know, but I can’t really talk about the things that I’d like them to know. I feel as if a lot of those things are private. There are cases that I can’t talk about, for instance a famous case between two people that went all the way to the California Supreme Court and was sealed at every level, so nobody knows about it. Two famous people, both of whom are dead but their families are alive so I can’t really talk about it.
There are moments in almost any trial that lawyers enjoy talking about if they won. Not so much if they didn’t. And I can talk about those. But the inside stuff, behind the scene stuff, can’t talk about it.

Verini: Mike Nichols once called you “a champion of the weaker.” You haven’t always represented “the weaker” in disputes, but is there a special satisfaction helping someone who is David going up against Goliath?

Fields: Yes. I enjoy that. I have typically represented individuals or smaller groups against larger and more powerful groups. Not always: I’ve represented every large studio except Disney (and pretty obviously won’t be representing Disney any time soon). I think most lawyers would get a kick out of the fact that they are representing David versus Goliath. I just finished a pro bono case against a very very large company in Washington D.C., affiliated with the government, on behalf of a lady who was imprisoned in Iran. And enjoyed that. I don’t get to do as much pro bono work as I’d like, but that was David vs. Goliath.

Verini: Are your tactics any different when you are representing a little guy?

Fields: Different, in the sense that I would tend to be a little more aggressive in trial. Because when you are representing Goliath, you don’t want a judge or jury to think you are arrogant, so you might tone it down a little bit; you are going to be a little easier to deal with if you are representing Goliath, and quieter in voice and demenour. When you are representing David you can afford to be a little more slashing, to attack the big bad guys as you wouldn’t if you are representing the big ba
d guys. You don’t want to be saying a lot of nasty things about the poor little orphan that you’re opposing!

Verini: Given your long career, you must pause from time to time to take a long view. Over the years, what has changed, and how did those changes affect the practice of entertainment law?

Fields: The types of entertainment that we deal with changed radically. When I started out, we were really basically talking about movies, and nobody was interested in anything too much beyond that. Then TV came on strong and people became very interested in TV, and interest in radio, which had been big, was getting virtually nonexistent. (It has come back now, of course.) Then you got the whole world of video, and that has shifted and changed. Now you have online things. Methods of distribution have totally changed.
Methods of film have totally changed. When I started out it was practically scissors: I mean literally, they would cut the film and splice it together. You could cut a film for a year to get it right, very time-consuming processes. Now it’s nothing like that; it’s just the way my secretary works on her computer. She wants to shift something from page 1 to page 300, so it’s just pushing a couple of buttons and there it is. The whole process has changed.
In addition, the people are much more capable. They are better educated. Gone to top schools, most of them. They tend to be better read, more rounded people –generally; I’m not saying everyone is. But I think that the people I deal with are much more capable, and that goes for people at the studios as well. When I started out you had the old fashioned mogul type guy who was running the studio. Now they are sophisticated, educated, articulate people, and surrounded by articulate people not just yes men. So it’s quite different. and I think more enjoyable, although I think it was entertaining to deal with people like Sam Goldwyn. My firm represented [Fox honcho] Darryl Zanuck in those days, most of the moguls. Dore Schary [MGM studio head in the 50s] was a guy I knew pretty well. But as a young lawyer, I wasn’t the key guy.
One of my early clients that I did have a lot of interaction with was Mike Todd, who was tragically killed, though from his point of view it was a great time to die. He had just won an Academy Award for ‘Around the World in Eighty Days,’ and he was married to Elizabeth Taylor, the most beautiful woman in the world. Boy, what a way to go out! I was supposed to be on that plane with him. He called me ‘kid.’ He said ‘hey kid, why don’t you come on the plane? We’ll go to New York.’ I couldn’t; I was going to court or doing something.
That wouldn’t have been a good time for me to go out. I hadn’t done anything yet.

Verini: In the early part of your career, was the first big seismic shift in the industry when the studios were divesting themselves of their theaters? Was it Jimmy Stewart detaching himself from a studio contract?

Fields: I think the first big shift that came was probably the stars becoming independent and negotiating as major clients. I mean it had been done before, since Charlie Chaplin was starting United Artists. But prior to my time you had the studio system, where you were under contract to a studio for seven years and the studio would say what picture you made and what picture you didn’t make, and who would direct it and who the co-stars would be. So the first major shift was stars gaining the stature and the independence to begin to say, ‘I’m not going to do that. I’m going to be independent and make deals with various studios.’
And about that time or a little bit later, we started asking for gross rather than net. Which was a sea change, because people used to get net, which means they didn’t get a hell of a lot. When we started getting gross, then the back-end deals became much more important. They weren’t that important when you were talking about net because you weren’t going to get a lot unless it was a huge hit. But if you have 10, 15, 20% of gross, then you can make major money out of a picture. We all got much more sophisticated. We had to learn the intricacies of studio accounting, and how to deal with it, and what to put into contracts so that you would get a fair shake.

Verini: Did you recognize right away that this was going to be a big opening for your profession?

Fields: Oh yeah. But I didn’t think I was the only one. Other people were seeing that at the same time. I think I was fairly early in asking for that, and I had a lot of fights with studios over that.

Verini: How much pushback did you encounter?

Fields: A lot of pushback. You had to really have top, top people to make that change because studios were not stupid; they realized it was a big difference between paying 10% of the gross and 10% of the net. And so I had a lot of real fights. And I can remember being barred from the lot at Disney over this….I liked Frank Wells a lot, and Jeffrey Katzenberg – it was actually Jeffrey that got me unbarred; Michael Eisner was the one who did that. And I wasn’t the only one. Barry Hirsch was barred from the lot at Disney. Sounds Draconian in today’s world. A lot of that was because we were super-aggressive, particularly about the back end of deals. We wanted our clients to really have a fair share in what these films did.

Verini: You obviously make an effort to stay several steps ahead of the industry. Did any of those seismic shifts surprise you?

Fields: The comeback of radio surprised me. I would not have predicted that people would all of a sudden be interested again in radio. Yes, you listen while you drove in your car, but it seemed to fade so much, and that was a surprise.
Video, I thought, was a powerful tool when it first came out. You used to have the big disks and even then I thought ‘wow, this is really terrific, because you can sit at home and watch this stuff. You don’t have to go out to a theater; wow, that’s a big thing.’
Online, I didn’t anticipate. The first time I was aware of the Internet was an embarrassing conversation with Barry Diller. Barry had been a head guy at Fox, and I represented Fox in those days, and we talked all the time. He resigned, and it was hard for me to understand why a guy in the prime of his life would resign from such an attractive job. Very capable guy, Barry. And there was a party for him, and I said ‘Barry, what are you gonna do?’ And he said, ‘I’m going to study computers. I think there’s a whole world out there that hasn’t been touched and its gonna be huge.’ I said, ‘Barry, that’s the craziest fucking thing I’ve ever heard. You’d leave being the head of a major studio to study computers because you think…?!’ Of course, I was right and he was wrong,

Verini: What are the changes in the entertainment industry and law that the internet has brought about? Changes that people might not think of; subtler changes about the way business is done?

Fields: There are changes about the way cases are litigated. There are changes in the way deals are negotiated. There are some things that weren’t important that became important, and some things that aren’t yet important but will become important. Video On Demand (VOD) is one. VOD right now brings in no appreciable amount of money but it will be huge. Major source of revenue. Doesn’t necessarily mean it will be bigger than theatrical, but it will be big. VOD really means that by telephone, or by using your keyboard, you call up whatever picture you want and you get billed one way or another; it’s really TV on your computer screen, not unlike using my iPad to pull up any book ever written. We are starting t
o fight a battle with that.
So the studios are saying, ‘we want to pay a 20% royalty for video on demand,’ and I say bullshit. The reason you started paying 20% royalty on video, rather than putting everything into the pot, was that you were making a product. You were manufacturing the product — that was the rationale; there were costs associated with making that product. You weren’t just showing the film. You were making a physical product and shipping it. So people were a little bit more generous than they should been in agreeing to a 20% royalty. Of course, major players do not accept 20% royalty; now it’s substantially higher. But the studios still want to pay the royalty.
So I say to them that VOD is just effectively television brought to your home by a different mechanism. You’re not manufacturing a product! You’re not doing anything that entitles you not to put 100% of that gross into the pot – from which we measure either gross or net or something in between. We are fighting that battle every time I get a statement that says ‘VOD royalty,’ whether it’s 20% or 40% or whatever they want to do. I write back and say ‘this is unacceptable.’ We’re not going to fight about it now – what we’ve been doing is saying, ‘both of us reserve our positions. ‘There’s no point in fighting now, because there’s no revenue involved. It’s like, a multi-million-dollar picture, and there’s $4K from Europe from VOD. We’re not going to have a big fight about that! But that fight is coming, and the studios are going to insist that it be treated like video.

Verini: What’s the barrier to vod’s going viral?

Fields: I don’t think there is a big barrier; I think it will happen. But in the early days of video disks and things, we didn’t know which way it would be. Would it be the big disks? Would it be cassette? People made rival sets that you could play these things on. We are still figuring out how’s the most efficient way to do it….
The real barrier, I think, is that theater owners aren’t happy about it. And you are going have the problem of windows. When are you going to put it [the film] out? Because the studios are going to want to do it quickly, since they can, while the theater owners want it six years down the road.

Verini: Will you know when the right case comes along to press this fight?

Fields: I don’t think it’s a matter of litigation in this area; it’s a matter of commercially…. But if you are talking about the VOD case, yeah, when it’s a little bit more money, there will be a fight about it. It’s becoming a negotiating fight right now, because I want to deal with it in the contract, and I don’t have to fight when the report comes out of the revenue. So when I go in to make a deal I say ‘VOD has to be – 100% of it goes in. If I have net – which I don’t often have – that’s the pot and then they deduct expenses. But if I have gross, 100% goes in. Why should it be different from television simply because it’s on demand rather than what they tell you to put on the screen? You decide for yourself what to put on the screen. What’s the difference? That’s happening today. It’s not a question of litigation, it’s a question of bargaining strength, and the studios are very resistant it.

Verini: Do you like being seen as the point guy on matters like this?

Fields: I don’t necessarily like to think of myself as a point guy. Now, we are all a little bit secretive about our negotiations. I don’t go around talking about what I’m doing negotiating for Tom Cruise or Jim Cameron or the Weinsteins. But I think I’m not the only one who’s having this fight. I’m sure the major entertainment lawyers are starting to get the same thing, and they should be if they have the clout to do it. Resisting this, as they should have resisted the 20% royalty at the beginning of video.

Verini: Of course you’re not the only one. But isn’t it fun when you get to be “the” guy?

Fields: Absolutely great fun, sure. But I don’t want to pretend on this issue I’m the only one. I’m sure Kenny Ziffren, Skip Brittenham, Bruce Ramer, Jake Bloom, all those guys must be raising the same thing. They’re smart people.

Verini: What’s going to be the social cost of all this video on demand?

Fields: I think people like going out to the movies. They like the experience of going to a theater, and maybe we’ll see more as we did many years ago, of theaters like the Chinese and Egyptian used to be, where they make it sort of a theme park where you go and maybe have dinner. We’re starting to see some theaters that serve dinner and things like that. And I don’t see any reason why they don’t serve drinks. People drinks at ball games and fights!
I think we will have theatrical distribution for a long time, but I think it will be very different. We may come to a point where you have distribution throughout the world. A guy will push a button in Burbank and a picture will play on 100,000 theaters throughout the world. I think very soon we’ll come to the point where the ‘billion dollar weekend’ will be there. ‘Avatar,’ for example, brought in billions of dollars in revenue, and a lot of that could have been earned in the first weekend if you had the means to put it out to 500 million Chinese in their homes at the same time. I think we’ll get to that point, where there will be worldwide distribution.
There are people who feel the other way, because, they say, the holidays are different. What may be a big weekend here isn’t a big weekend in Sweden. ‘So why don’t we release it on the big weekend when everyone’s out of school in Sweden? Why do it all at once?’ And that’s a good argument. But I think if it were my money being invested in the film, and I could get it all out to the whole world in one day or over a weekend, I’d prefer that. I think that’s the direction we are going. The window for foreign distribution is going to be diminished. You are going to have pictures shown in theaters and homes probably at the same time.

Verini: Do you go to the movies a lot with the average folks?

Fields: Probably less than the average folks. I read a lot. I live in Malibu so I go to that little neighborhood theater. A lot of the pictures I see in private screenings or at premieres.

Verini: What else is on the horizon in the industry?

Fields: We are always going to have fights about the right of publicity. That’s always going to be a major area of contention. I don’t think people like the present tests that the courts have used.
I think the best opinion ever written was the opinion in the case that I tried against ‘Beatlemania.’ And the judge wrote just a brilliant analysis….He held that the approach to the tension between the First Amendment and the right of publicity – do you know what I mean by the right of publicity? The right of a celebrity to protect his name and likeness from being used commercially. In this case the Beatles, who were my clients, sued to stop a production called ‘Beatlemania,’ which was hugely successful around the world. They called it ‘an incredible simulation,’ so they weren’t pretending to be the Beatles. We couldn’t say it was a trade name violation or a copyright violation or anything like that. So we sued on the theory that they were taking the right of publicity away from the Beatles.
And the judge held that they were, but he made this analysis. He said we have to look to a number of factors. How much of the original was taken? Here he said that they took the whole thing – they just imitated five Beatles concerts. How much of the plaintiff’s work
is taken from the defendants’ work? And here it was entirely a Beatles show. Then he said, another factor to consider is, is this an area that is competitive with the plantiff? Is the defendant invading the plantiff’s space or is it an entirely different medium? There we had a weaker case because they were on the stage and the Beatles weren’t doing a lot of stage work, they were doing concerts; similar, but not quite the same. We argued, and the judge held, that since the Beatles had the right to license a stage production of their own, this did compete with them, even though they haven’t actually done that. And then he said another factor is, is this money making or is it a scholarly kind of thing? Obviously it was money making. So he went through each of these factors, and said, ‘putting them altogether I’m going to come down on the side of protecting the Beatles name and likeness and performance and not on the side of the First Amendment.’
That was a wonderful opinion, but that is still going on. The courts have come down with rulings that say ‘Is it transformational?’ For example, I guess they’re saying I cannot put a photograph of Tom Cruise on a T-shirt, but if I I have somebody draw a, let’s say, an impressionistic painting of Tom Cruise I can put that on a T-shirt because it’s ‘transformational.’ I think that’s a dopey test, because the issue should be is it a recognizable image of Tom Cruise. Whether it’s impressionist or realist shouldn’t make that difference. If it’s so impressionist that it’s not recognizable, then you aren’t taking his rights. But that’s just my opinion and I don’t have the robe, so it doesn’t count for a whole lot.

Verini: One day, and it may be soon, with the aid of the computer, we’re going to be able to morph ourselves into “gone with the wind.” What are the legal issues involved? And how do you feel about it?

Fields: Well, I would probably choose to be Rhett Butler over Scarlett O’Hara or Ashley. Who the hell wants to be Ashley? But I think before we get there, we will go through the period of holograms, where the performance will not be on the screen at all but will be actually performed in the round in your living room. So you’ll see Tom Cruise and George Clooney right by your coffee table as holograms. And they will act this way, and the shooting will take place right there, and the chases. Now there are limits to that, because you can’t really get Tom climbing the highest building in the world in your living room. But for intimate kinds of pictures I think we will get to that place.
And I think we are going to go through an area that will be hugely contested, and that is what some people call ‘synthothespians’ – that is, a made up character, because we are getting very close to the ability to make them look totally real. So are we going to get to the place – and I think we will, fairly soon – where the studio says, ‘We don’t need to pay x million dollars to a leading man, to a star. We’ll make up our own star: Rock Smash. We’ll put him in all the movies we want and we don’t have to pay him anything. And when the public is tired of Rock Smash we’ll come up with another one.” So we have that.
And we also have the possibility that since we can now alter performances, you can take a picture of any actor, say Will Smith, and you could do 100 Will Smith movies just by having that one picture of him. You just change it with computers. Are we going to get to the point where people come to me and say, ‘We’d like to buy Tom Cruise’s lifetime rights. Give us a nice picture of Tom and the right to put him in whatever performances we want. What would you like, a billion dollars?’ I’d say, ‘well, a billion against x percent of the gross of all the movies you make,’ but it may come to that. We may get to the point where directors are guys who turn knobs carefully, rather than people who actually direct actors. They take the picture of George Clooney and they put it in a lot of these different movies just by turning knobs or pushing buttons – I guess turning knobs are pretty old fashioned. They’ll just make movies and they will be more akin to painters and sculptors, because the actor’s going to be the clay if that happens.

Verini: You seem to look forward to all these developments.

Fields: I think it’s fun. I teach at Stanford Law School, and my last lecture is always on the future of business. The kids love this stuff. They love to hear what’s going to happen. None of this may happen, but I suspect it probably will. When? Not that soon, but you can already see the Actors Guild being very concerned about it.
I have a theory on why ‘Avatar’ did not win the Academy Award. I think that many of the actors, who are the largest voting bloc, felt this was a dangerous precedent. ‘You’ve got these 10 foot tall blue people, what’s going to happen if we go down? Do we want that film to be recognized as something that successful?’ I don’t know that and I haven’t any proof at all. But the fact that Cameron didn’t win shocked me, because I thought it went way beyond ‘Hurt Locker,’ which was a nice picture, but ‘Avatar’ is something that goes beyond what anybody’d done.
Anyway, so we are going to see a lot of battles about this. If you really have synthothespians, what is the Guild going to say? ‘We have to get a percentage of every picture because you’re not using our people’? And the studios say, wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense. In a sense you’d hate to see all actors out of jobs, but that could happen. It’ll be a long time in the future. But ‘a long time in the future,’ these days, happens pretty fast.

Verini: How do students react when you talk about the future?

Fields: They get excited about it, because all they hear is how tough it is to get a job and how bad the industry is. They get a lot of depressing information, and I say, ‘you guys are lucky because you are coming into a world that is going to be so exciting.’ I tell them about the billion dollar weekend and the possibility of holograms and synthothespians, and they’re very excited about it. And of course they are very interested in the computer and how it can be used.

Verini: Is there anything about the good old days that you miss?

Fields: No. As I think back, the people I deal with are, I think, more able people, as I’ve said. More intelligent people – at the studios; the people at the networks; the lawyers.
There was nothing so great about the good old days. I think there was less honesty. The ability to trust the people I deal with is vastly enhanced. There aren’t a lot of tyrants out there. In fact, I don’t think I could mention a tyrant, and there sure were in the old days. So it’s more pleasant and I think better in every way, the dealings today. Almost everyone I deal with is someone that I can trust in a handshake deal. It’s hard for me to remember anytime recently where somebody said, ‘o.k., you’ve got a deal’ and then later denied it. That just doesn’t happen to me, and in the old days I think there was a lot more of that. I think people were rougher, and just in general there was less honesty.
Particularly in the motion picture business, I think things are better by far. In the old days when the studios made all the decisions and the actors were just signed up for seven years as employees – I think this is a much better situation. And by the way, the actors are typically better educated, brighter people than they were back in the old days. They’re better trained. They’re proud of their craft, they’re not just some good looking guy who happened to be around. They really care, and they care about social things. Whether they are on the right or the left, they tend to be people who think and speak and take a position.
It’s a better world. When I grew up we had H
itler. We’re hell of a lot better off than we were then.

Verini: Is there anyone in the industry whom you truly miss?

Fields: I miss a lot of people. A lot of my friends are dead. Most recently I miss Nora Ephron, whom I liked a lot. One of my very early clients was Jack Webb, and I miss Jack. I spent a lot of time with him. He gave me my acting debut in ‘Dragnet’ many, many years ago. I went through a lot of good times, tough times with him. He took up a lot of space in the room. I don’t mean he was a big guy, I just mean he was a presence and I miss him.
I’m sure I could think of so many more. Anne Bancroft was a dear friend and I miss her a lot. Many more.

Verini: If they make a movie of your life, what should they call it?

Fields: I suppose ‘An American Life.’ My father got off the boat not speaking English, and sent me to Harvard. I tear up a little bit thinking about it.

Verini: It’s the american dream.

Fields: I am the American dream, no kidding.

Verini: Who should play you?

Fields: Tom. I’d be thrilled to be played by Tom or any number of actors, but I think Tom would be my first choice. I could go for George Clooney. Warren Beatty would be fine. Jim Cameron can direct. I’d want to write the screenplay myself.

Verini: How do you find time for all your activities? Are you very organized?

Fields: No, I’m one of the least organized people. No rigid schedule. For the law part of my life I have to have something of a schedule; the courts impose schedule on me. But I never make a publishing deal until I’m finished, because I don’t want to feel I have to meet a deadline. So all these books are over a long time. It takes me nine years to write a book. I’m writing about Queen Elizabeth I now; I’m almost done. Another year probably. I’ve got to keep learning new things.

Elizabeth was accused of being complicit in the murder of the Earl of Leicester’s wife. He was theoretically her lover, and (the wife) was found at the bottom of the staircase with her neck broken. Well, (my wife and I) found the staircase, and I think I can demonstrate that she couldn’t have died from a fall down the staircase, because it’s a dog-leg staircase and she couldn’t have fallen more than five steps. Pretty hard to break your neck falling five steps.

Bert Fields: 30 Years at Greenberg Glusker
At the top of his game | Strong impact on other players | Q&A with Bert Fields

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