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Hollywood’s New Leaders in Law and Finance

Each year Variety’s New Leaders feature profiles the most prominent up-and-comers in the entertainment business. To determine this year’s worthies, Variety looked for go-getters across disciplines, from television, digital, music and film, to law and finance, as well as content creators. They were proposed by their bosses and peers who have worked with them and seen their rise. All are age 40 or under, and Variety has measured them by the progress of their career trajectories: do they take calculated risks? How fast have they risen in their companies? Are they innovative and employ solutions to problems that are creative? While it’s hard to pinpoint the “it” factor, these folks embody that intangible. The people on the list have helped build the brilliant careers of their clients, shepherded hit television shows and successful movies, created small-screen series, films and animated shows, launched digital platforms, fostered hit music, counseled top dealmakers and financed them, and are some of the leading lights in the wildly expanding digital delivery and content world. As part of the salute to the qualities that keep the town humming, NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt is also being honored with Variety’s Creative Leadership Award. The New Leaders, Variety’s 10 Assistants to Watch as well as Greenblatt will be recognized Oct. 18, at the Jeremy Hotel rooftop in West Hollywood.

Gabriel Brakin

General counsel & exec VP, business affairs, Participant Media; 37
Brakin oversees all film financing and investments, plays a key role in shaping and implementing strategic business initiatives, and manages the business and legal affairs team conducting negotiations for all film, television and digital content, marketing and social impact as well as cross-platform creative and distribution activities. He also oversees intellectual property, corporate matters and compliance issues. Brakin has handled more than 60 of Participant’s films, including upcoming releases “Breathe” and “Wonder,” and the 2016 Oscar best picture winner “Spotlight.” He is overseeing deals for Participant’s 2018 inaugural slate of TV projects. “There are many ways to get ahead in business and everyone will choose their own path, but it’s always easier to be nice.”

Jordan Bromley
Partner, music practice, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; 38
Working with a stable of clients that includes the Eagles, Major Lazer, Cold War Kids and the estates of John Lee Hooker and Dan Fogelberg, Bromley has negotiated multimillion-dollar label, publishing and touring deals, but what really sets him apart is his moneymaking know-how in the streaming music space. “Streaming is now a market leader in music consumption and will only continue to grow, and actually completely revitalize our business and maybe make it bigger than it ever was,” says Bromley, who plans to release an updated version of his “U.S. Streaming Royalties Explained” infographic early next year.

Grant Gittlin
Chief execution officer, MediaLink; 32
Gittlin’s role at consulting firm MediaLink is described as “intentionally undefined,” but his accomplishments are not. He’s led due diligence on deals for Sizmek and Yahoo, driven the Amplify’s acquisition by brand tech company You & Mr. Jones, and partnered with Giphy to help build its content library into a powerful visual search engine, valued at $600 million. “It’s not the [company] logos that matter, it’s what are people trying to accomplish, and then how you set up strategy, drive impact and bring them together so there’s a deal to be done and a business change to be made,” he says.

Julie Murray
Associate, entertainment group, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz; 39
At her firm, Murray is invaluable to clients including Morgan Spurlock’s Warrior Poets, for which she negotiated and finalized a production services agreement for a TNT documentary series focusing on women’s issues (currently entitled “Who Run the World?”) that is being co-produced by Warrior Poets, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Pretty Matches and Refinery29. She also repped award-winning production company Zero Point Zero on series docs, including “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” “The Hunt with John Walsh” and “Mind of a Chef,” guiding the production teams on complex legal issues, especially on their international shoots.

Elsa Ramo
Managing Partner, Ramo Law PC; 38
Reps producers, financiers and production entities in film, television, VR and digital content across all platforms, including Informant Media, Scott Mednick, Anne Clements, Electric City Films, Skydance, Good Deed Entertainment, The Solution, Bond It, Sundial Pictures, Boardwalk Pictures, Rumble Films and Unified Pictures. Television and film credits include upcoming Mel Gibson action thriller “Dragged Across Concrete,” Netflix’s Emmy nominated docu-series “Chef’s Table” and Sony Classics drama “Call Me by Your Name,” starring Armie Hammer. “Our team takes a full soup-to-nuts approach. Diving deep with our clients on every contract is integral. We sweat the small stuff so they can focus on making and monetizing great content.”

Benyamin Ross
Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; 38
Ross’ love of waterfall charts, spreadsheets and other data-rich docs has made him a uniquely effective dealmaker for clients such as Technicolor, Universal Pictures, CBS, Azoff MSG Entertainment and The Chernin Group. In recent months, he’s also made big plays in the gaming world, handling the sale of Riot Games (developer of “League of Legends”) to Tencent and THQ’s assets to Sega, Ubisoft and Take-Two Interactive. With his dual law and data savvy, he can “translate the legal into the spreadsheet, see where the gaps are and speak the language of the business development team,” he says.

Cassandra Seto
Partner, O’Melveny; 37
Early in her career at O’Melveny, Seto discovered she had an aptitude and a passion for litigating copyright and trademark issues while helping Disney defend its rights to Winnie the Pooh. She’s still handling Pooh for the Mouse House, along with a host of other matters, including a profit participation dispute involving its series “Home Improvement” and copyright infringement claims regarding its film “Zootopia,” as well as complex cases for Warner Bros. (“Superman” rights) and SiriusXM (royalty payments for pre-1972 recordings). “I always have new things to learn and new problems to solve,” she says. “So I feel really lucky that I stumbled into this space.”

Darian Singer
Executive director, entertainment industries group, corporate client banking, J.P. Morgan; 31
Singer handles structuring, negotiating and arranging capital for many of the largest players in the film, television, music, digital and interactive content arenas, including Activision, DreamWorks Animation, DreamWorks Studios, Annapurna, EuropaCorp, OddLot Entertainment, Skydance Prods., STX Entertainment, Studio 8 and Village Roadshow. He’s a key deal team member on many high-profile industry transactions, including structuring and arranging the inaugural syndicated financings for Annapurna, STX Entertainment and Studio 8. “My grandfather always told me that success depends on hard work: ‘When you think you’re working hard, work harder. You can sleep when you’re dead.’ ”

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