Jeffrey M. Freedman
General Counsel, Creative Artists Agency
CAA Sports’ recent purchase of Munich-based sports and entertainment brand consultants Cemano Communication marked the 11th acquisition that Freedman has handled for CAA in 24 months. Others include Icon Venue Group, an owners’ representative and project management firm with a portfolio that includes The O2 arena in London and 14 Major League Soccer stadiums. But don’t let the large volume of transactions fool you. “When you bring in the individuals that run those new businesses, you want them to succeed within the group, so we’re very careful about who we indentify and invite to join us,” says Freedman.
UCLA School of Law, 1993
Courtesy of Jeffrey Freedman
SVP and General Counsel, Hulu
When Ho started at Hulu nine years ago, he was the 17th employee and the only in-house lawyer. Today, he oversees a team of 30-plus attorneys handling a broad range of matters, including corporate, intellectual property, product, technology, marketing and advertising. All those areas came into play for the streaming service’s upcoming over-the-top live TV service, launching this spring. “Whenever you’re acquiring rights, there’s an inherent tension,” says Ho. “We have to structure these deals over the years so that we get the rights that we need, but at the same time don’t compromise our programmers’ other opportunities.”
Harvard Law School, 1997
Courtesy of Chadwick Ho
EVP and General Counsel, HBO
It’s hard for Konstan to get bored working with a team of lawyers at HBO handling matters covering everything from production, acquisition and worldwide licensing to marketing and technology. Increasingly, her job includes doing legal troubleshooting for such new platforms as HBO España, a streaming service launched in Spain last fall, available direct-to-consumer and through exclusive distribution partner Vodafone. “There are always different issues working outside the United States,” says the 18-year HBO vet, who started her legal career as a litigator. “The laws work slightly differently, the rights work slightly differently, and there are new ways you have to work to combat piracy.”
Columbia Law School, 1992
President of Business & Legal Affairs, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group
Laucella heads the team in charge of negotiating the development, production and talent deals for the film slates of Lionsgate and its 2012 acquisition Summit Entertainment. This include the recent multiple Oscar-winner “La La Land,” along with such releases as “Power Rangers,” “Robin Hood,” “Chaos Walking,” “The Glass Castle” and “Wonder,” starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. In the past, she’s worked on young adult franchises “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games.” “Because I work in-house, I get to see these movies start from sometimes just an idea, then turn into a script,” Laucella says. “It’s almost like building a house from the ground up.”
Harvard Law School, 1992
Courtesy of Patricia Laucella
Richard B. Levy
Founding Partner and General Counsel, ICM Partners
ICM Partners is not as M&A-happy as some of its rival agencies, but it has nonetheless made some selective, impactful moves under Levy’s guiding legal hand, including the recent acquisition of boutique N.Y.-based firm Headline Media Management (clients: Savannah Guthrie, Chris Berman, Meredith Vieira) and a strategic partnership with radio talent agency Workhouse Media in Seattle (clients: Bobby Bones, Rickey Smiley, Danny Bonaduce). “We’re very client-focused,” says Levy, who was instrumental in the 2012 management buyout that returned ICM to private ownership. “Our identity is not going to be determined by a third party. We can do things at our own pace and grow our company in a way that makes sense for our long-term future.”
NYU School of Law, 1992
Courtesy of Richard Levy
Head of Business Affairs, Television Department, WME
Limerick leads a group that handles more than 400 scripted and non-scripted series on the air, including the hit fall 2016 launches “This Is Us,” “Kevin Can Wait” and “Bull.” This year, he also helped to negotiate Larry David’s return to HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and new deals for Dwayne Johnson on HBO’s “Ballers” and Gael Garcia Bernal on Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle.” “You have to account for many more variables in the deal-making than we used to, especially with a streaming service,” Limerick says. “You have more producers and writers on shows, and you need to make all of those deals fit together and anticipate different downstream revenue sources.”
UCLA School of Law, 1997
Courtesy of Dan Limerick
EVP and Chief Legal Counsel, Showtime Networks
In her 33 years with Showtime, Marcus has handled numerous challenging legal issues related to programming, intellectual property, compliance, litigation and other matters. But the complexity of her job rose to a new level with the recent roll-out of Showtime’s streaming service, which has involved deals with Apple, Roku, PlayStation Vue, Amazon, Hulu and Google. “I’ve only had two jobs after law school, but the Showtime job keeps evolving rapidly,” says Marcus. “Initially, we had to focus on being familiar with legal concepts, then financial issues. In the last 10 years, we’ve had to learn technology. It’s essential to navigate change and be flexible.”
NYU School of Law, 1981
Courtesy of Gwen Marcus
General Counsel, The Pokemon Co. Intl.
McGowan’s involvement in last year’s runaway hit mobile app Pokémon Go went way beyond just licensing the intellectual property. It included everything from helping fledgling game developer Niantic transition out of start-up mode to working on child-safety issues. “It was licensing on steroids,” says the Canadian-born, Seattle-based McGowan. And “it’s certainly made it a lot easier for my mom to tell her friends what I do for a living.” He also negotiated a deal with Legendary Pictures for the upcoming feature “Detective Pikachu,” directed by Rob Letterman and distributed by Universal, and handled all the legal issues for its ongoing businesses outside of Japan, including toys, trading cards, video games and Disney XD’s long-running “Pokémon” series.
McGill University, 1997
Courtesy of Don McGowan
Lori Rovner and Tyler Chou
SVP, Business & Legal Affairs, Skydance Media
VP, Business & Legal Affairs, Skydance Media
Rovner has had her hands full as Skydance Media quickly went from one series in production to seven — including Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” and Amazon’s upcoming “Jack Ryan” series — while simultaneously ramping up feature film production. To help her lead the legal charge, she brought in Chou last year. Rovner has executed all talent pacts for Skydance Television’s network slate, while Chou has spearheaded negotiations for the above-the-line talent in its film slate, which includes sci-fi thriller “Life,” and handled legal matters for the newly formed Skydance Interactive division. Rovner says they approach deal-making as one would a marriage. “You know that you’re going to be waking up next to them the next day, so everyone should be happy,” she says.
Rovner: USC Gould School of Law, 2004
Chou: Loyola Law School, 2006
Courtesy of Lori Rovner/Tyler Chou
EVP, Business and Legal Affairs, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
Perry always makes the case for suppliers of scripted TV programs to bundle multiplatform rights within OWN. She notes that her channel’s TV Everywhere app fosters viewership of the same program on the flagship linear TV channel, which will get the supplier’s TV series renewed. Digital “has been really great for viewer engagement, but getting those rights is usually an important point in the negotiation,” she says. Such digital rights are already in-hand for reality shows, so that’s not an issue. She joined the channel at its inception seven years ago. Previously, she worked at Viacom cable TV channels and before that in private law practice.
Harvard Law School, 1999
Courtesy of Tina Perry
SVP and Head, Original Programming Business & Legal Affairs, Starz
A 25-year TV industry vet, Schwartz brings deep experience to a Starz legal team that handles everything from talent deals to international co-productions, including the upcoming series “The White Princess.” But the old dog learned some new tricks last year when Starz was acquired by Lionsgate. “The things that I always find the most interesting are things I haven’t done before,” says Schwartz. “There was a huge disclosure document that had to be prepared that ended up being about 200 pages long. It required digging into all the different facets of the company, working with all of my colleagues across the legal and business affairs departments.”
Cornell Law School, 1980
Courtesy of Russell Schwartz
Senior EVP and Chief Legal Officer, CBS Corp.
In the past year, Tu has made legal deep dives for CBS in both new and old media. He completed a year-long review of CBS Radio, which culminated in a merger with Entercom Communications Corp. The deal created the second-largest radio station owner in the United States. He also negotiated key agreements for its streaming service CBS All Access, including the right to carry NFL football, as well as deals with Apple and Hulu. “This industry is changing so quickly that we have to anticipate what the world might look like in five to 15 years and make sure we have secured enough rights to take advantage of future technology and innovation,” Tu says.
Harvard Law School, 1981
Courtesy of Lawrence Tu
EVP, Business Affairs and General Counsel, Paradigm Talent Agency
Wagner has been all over the showbiz map in the last year, completing the acquisition of music booking agencies AM Only and the Windish Agency and negotiating a multiyear overall agreement with Netflix Studios for the Duffer brothers (“Stranger Things”), while keeping a hand in all of author Stephen King’s television projects, including Hulu’s “11/22/63” and “The Mist,” from Spike TV (now rebranded as the Paramount Channel). “I like feedback I get from our clients whose lives are really impacted by what I’m doing,” says Wagner. Also, “I get to watch a movie with my two boys and say, ‘That actor … I made his deal.’ It’s fun.”
NYU School of Law, 1989
Courtesy of Craig Wagner
Executive, TV Business Affairs, United Talent Agency
At UTA, Waldstein has become the go-to expert on making deals with top SVOD platforms Netflix, Hulu and Amazon and has emerged as a key adviser on issues that affect rights-holders, creators, producers, writers, actors and directors. In recent months, he’s had a major hand in negotiating Richard Price’s deal to create, write and executive-produce HBO’s “The Night Of” and executive producers Danny Futterman, Lawrence Wright and Alex Gibney’s pact for Hulu’s upcoming 9/11 drama “The Looming Tower” from Legendary Television. “There’s definitely a different approach to negotiating a deal with SVOD outlets, because content lives in the cloud and is accessible pretty much in perpetuity throughout the world,” Waldstein says.
Brooklyn Law School, 2006
Courtesy of Matt Waldstein
Celebrities grapple with the same three issues — legal, media coverage and brand protection — as corporations when under legal attack, says Agrusa. She began representing Bill Cosby last year, working to “redefine how lawyers, agents, publicists and managers can speak out when their clients are accused of serious misconduct.” She kept Cosby’s earnings confidential from disclosure, arguing that revealing details would compromise his ability for future work, and feels pushing back on attacks is often best for the voice of the brand. Agrusa is a brand-crisis litigator for high-profile entertainment figures, independent entertainment companies and non-Hollywood clients. She joined the Liner firm in 2006 from private practice.
Loyola Law School, 1987
Courtesy of ANgela Agrusa
Andrew H. Bart
Partner-Chair of Content, Media and Entertainment Practice, Jenner & Block
Bart, who usually goes by Andy, hopes his work for the Capitol Records unit of Universal Music sets a precedent limiting safe-harbor indemnification protection for online hosts that don’t curb repeat copyright offenders. In October, a federal appeals court issued favorable rulings for $42 million in damages in the complex case. “This sets up a re-trial to determine whether or not the defendants are entitled to ‘safe harbor’ at all, and therefore potentially opens the door for a larger damage award if the jury agrees with us,” Bart says. His practice covers a variety of categories, including recording companies, film studios, music publishers, music artists, contract disputes and intellectual property issues.
Columbia Law Schoo, 1978
Courtesy of Andrew H. Bart
Partner, Glaser Weil
Basinger feels that the discovery process in litigation sometimes gets abused. Big companies, in particular, have trouble coping, given the “volume of emails and how much electronic communication occurs on a daily basis, such as texting and social media,” she says. Basinger adds that sometimes plaintiffs use that burden as leverage seeking quick settlements. A solution would be to require that the scope of discovery desired be justified when initially requested. Her clients include WME-IMG, influencer manager 26 Management, comedy writer Daniel Chun (“The Simpsons”), Keith Olbermann and boxing trainer/TV personality Freddie Roach. She also reps the estate of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, including dealing with claims.
U. of Michigan Law School, 1997
Courtesy of Jill Basinger
Partner, Fox Rothschild
Bandlow sees growing friction between free speech and personal right of publicity, since court decisions from different jurisdictions have conflicted. When famous names are mentioned in dialogue, songs, or even take center stage in creative works, it’s not clear where free speech protects usage. Though famous names are short-hand in popular conversations, he says “the law is unclear on our ability to use other people’s names, likenesses or identities.” He joined the firm in 2015, after working in private practice and at TV producer Carsey Werner Co. Bandlow repped the producers in clearing legal issues for “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.”
Boston University School of Law, 1993
Scott Edelman and Ruth Fisher
Co-Chairs, Media, Entertainment and Technology Practice, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Technology casts a growing shadow over entertainment litigation and transactions. For transactions, Fisher says there’s “more focus on flexibility in contracts because as technology changes, and we know it will, we have to understand whether or not the contracts will move with it.” In litigation, copyrighted material increasingly splashes across cyberspace, anti-trust issues surface in proliferating joint ventures, mergers abound and new tech can raise anticompetitive issues, says Edelman. “It’s more complex than what we dealt with in the past,” he says. Edelman repped Discovery Communications for reality TV shows, NBCUniversal for dismissal of a class-action suit over football TV rights, Sony Music winning a recording artist dispute, and Yahoo in dismissal of an anti-trust case. Fisher handles AT&T for entertainment matters in its pending mega-merger, AT&T’s DirecTV in channel carriage deals and videogame publisher Machine Zone. They advise the Los Angeles committee seeking to host the 2024 Olympics.
Edelman: UC Berkeley Law, 1984
Fisher: UCLA Law School, 1980
Courtesy of Scott Edelman/Ruth Fisher
Regional partner in charge/Los Angeles office, Drinker Biddle & Reath
Post-termination compensation claims by Hollywood professionals against their former talent clients keep Eisenberg busy. “There isn’t any clear answer at the moment for managers and attorneys,” he says. He notes that often the initial engagement agreements didn’t address what happens once talent leaves for projects where the professionals got a slice of income. The issue can be further muddled when individual managers and lawyers involved move from firms that originated deals. His clients include a leading Hollywood TV showrunner in an arbitration over termination compensation, a name/likeness usage dispute for a showrunner and defending Mark Gordon Co. in a theft-of-idea claim.
UC Berkeley Law, 1981
Courtesy of Sheldon Eisenberg
Litigation Department Chair and Partner, Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro
“The business is exploding around us,” says Glaser of Hollywood’s digital revolution, “but it’s still about the contracts.” The foundation deal is “the whole key” to rights and responsibilities of parties. A trial lawyer, she gets involved when transactions drafted by others unravel, saying her expertise is best employed in early stages of disputes. She adds that she’s reviewed transactional contracts with unfinished sentences, saying “sometimes I have to laugh. But I don’t see that too often.” She reps Conan O’Brien defending an infringement claim, China’s Bliss Media opposing a movie beach-of-contract claim and four owners of Roar personal management company.
Rutgers School of Law, 1973
Partner, Hueston Hennigan
Fasten your seatbelts for the legal rumbling from augmented reality, the technology whereby digital images overlay views of the real-world. Klieger feels that the technology “will be a major disruptive force across every area of law.” Issues include right of publicity, right of privacy, intellectual property and criminal liability, such as trespassing. Klieger anticipates “new laws for issues that do not arise in the real world but do in the augmented world.” His clients include media tycoon Sumner Redstone in headline-grabbing matters, defending Walt Disney Co. from a “Toy Story 3”-related claim and Electronic Arts, connected to its game “The Sims 3.”
Stanford Law School, 1997
Courtesy of Robert Klieger
Founding Partner, Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert
Hollywood’s business thrives with collaboration, but when alliances dissolve Kump finds that disputes ensue if key issues were left up in the air. This includes who owns what content, how liabilities are divvied up, individual obligations and exit requirements, he says. “These cases are very difficult because the emotions run high,” he adds. “It’s almost like a divorce in a marriage.” Kump repped Kendall Jenner for right of publicity involving a laser treatment company; Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian over operation of a cosmetics company; Kanye West in a dispute with a former employee; and WME-IMG in various matters.
U. of Michigan Law School, 1981
Courtesy of Michael Kump
Eleanor M. Lackman
Partner and Co-Chair, Litigation Group, Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard
Digital technology allows consumers to snag and dish out content containing copyrighted material, which Lackman says leaves the industry wondering where infringement starts and allowable “fair use” ends. What is ostensibly an innocuous amateur homage by consumers using copyrighted material might also have a commercial dimension. Lowering the legal boom on consumers heavy-handedly risks bad publicity because “it’s all out in the open in terms of usage and enforcement,” she says. Lackman repped the Copyright Alliance in amicus briefs, and also Jay Z and the Brooklyn Nets basketball team prevailing in separate intellectual property litigations. Her entertainment law firm is majority women-owned.
Fordham University School of Law, 2003
Courtesy of Eleanor M. Lackman
Partner, Head of Media & Entertainment Litigation Group, Irell & Manella
As Hollywood’s talent and executive pool is stretched by booming TV production, Marenberg detects growing disputes over Hollywood customs on employment law. Multi-year contracts that are the norm and circumstances in which courts can issue injunctions are being challenged. Tech companies on the prowl in Hollywood bring the Silicon Valley culture of at-will employment so “there’s a divide between tech and Hollywood,” he says. Marenberg feels that court rulings down the road will settle any uncertainty. His clients include the Walt Disney Co., Disney’s Marvel Studios, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros. Entertainment, HBO, UTA, Lionsgate, Miramax and Universal Music Group.
U. of Chicago Law School, 1980
Courtesy of Steve Marenberg
Counsel, Greenberg Glusker
O’Donnell says he’s on the front lines as women in Hollywood and elsewhere battle for fair treatment, because of his representation of many female clients. Among them: Amber Heard in her dispute over nude scenes in “London Fields.” “Women are asserting themselves and glass ceilings are being shattered every day,” says O’Donnell. He believes that Hollywood needs to make more progress to ensure the advancement of women in boardrooms, courtrooms and the workplace. O’Donnell repped team co-owner Shelly Sterling in the complicated sale of basketball’s L.A. Clippers; Angelina Jolie and Heard for their respective divorces; and Keryn Redstone in relation to her media tycoon grandfather, Sumner Redstone.
Georgetown Law, 1972
Courtesy of Pierce O'Donnell
Chair, Trial Practice, O’Melveny & Myers
Petrocelli says that the law follows Hollywood’s mushrooming digital revolution in how music and video content rights are dissected and conveyed. “The transformation we are witnessing in the entertainment industry presents a diverse array of new and challenging legal issues,” Petrocelli says. “Traditional divisions between production and distribution of content are vanishing.” Petrocelli won a closely-watched court decision for satellite radio’s SiriusXM pushing back on claims for sound recording payments on pre-1972 music. He also won a case for 20th Century Fox over the name of TV series “Empire” and also settled litigation for Donald Trump over Trump University.
Southwestern Law School, 1980
Courtesy of Daniel Petrocelli
Head of Entertainment, Sports & Media Litigation Practice, Latham & Watkins
Putnam says defendants increasingly opt to battle in court, ending decades of settling before trial. They realize it “puts a target on their backs if they get a reputation as quick-to-settle.” Going to trial, he says, allows them to address substantial issues and ridiculous assertions. He feels that insurers sometimes like fast settlements to save costs, while fighting defendants take the long view, protecting their reputations. Putman defended Open Road Films over Playmobil rights, and counseled MGM/Mark Burnett Prods. for its rights/obligations over Trump footage in its library.
Georgetown Law, 1993
Courtesy of Marvin Putnam
Partner-Shareholder, Los Angeles Media & Entertainment Litigation Practice, Greenberg Traurig
Arbitration is supposed to keep disputes out of court, but Rosengart says that’s not always the case. A party can go to court “because of issues raised in arbitration, most notable whether the case itself is arbitrable,” says Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor. “It’s a heavily contested part of the law.” Arbitration clauses have proliferated in contracts. Comparing court versus arbitration, “each one has its pros and cons,” he says. Rosengart repped Sean Penn, who won a defamation lawsuit; producers of the movie “London Fields” against an actress; and filmmakers Kenneth Lonergan and Michael Mann.
Boston College Law School, 1987
Courtesy of Matthew Rosengart
Founding Member, Lavely & Singer
Singer says proliferating mandatory arbitration has pluses and minuses. Arbitration is good for famous personalities wanting to avoid extensive public disclosures and court dates dogged by paparazzi. The downside: higher costs, difficult appeals process and smaller awards for prevailing parties. “The problem with many arbitrators is they want to ‘split the baby,’” he says. “If a plaintiff is seeking a $5 million award, potentially they could award $2 million.” His practice embraces people and businesses facing litigation or harm to reputations, including Content Partners winning an arbitration and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fitness company in a dispute.
Brooklyn Law School, 1977
Courtesy of Marty Singer
Alex M. Weingarten
While the free-speech anti-SLAPP law is designed to protect little guys from intimidation, Weingarten says it’s employed broadly across Hollywood because of its freedom of expression thrust. Filing anti-SLAPP freezes other actions, requires defendants to prove allegations without benefit of discovery and obliges losers to pay legal fees. “It’s an extremely powerful tool,” he says. He repped Univision Networks defending a life-story TV program, the adult children of filmmaker Roger Corman in a film-library matter, Snoop Dogg over endorsement compensation, Wiz Khalifa battling a former manager and director Matthew Cullen over movie “London Fields.”
Georgetown Law, 1999
Courtesy of Alex Weingarten
Partner, Kinsella Weitsman Iser Kump & Aldisert
When celebs die, Weitzman says heirs can expect to lock horns with the IRS. He reps the Michael Jackson estate in disputing an IRS valuation for name and likeness at over $100 million. Weitzman feels that’s excessive given Jackson had no personal endorsements for years due to his personal life. Weitzman adds that the IRS position asserting that name/likeness also encompasses music recordings is wrong because “that’s a whole separate basket of assets that are controlled by agreements with the music publishers and record labels.” He also handled Justin Bieber in resolving a song-infringement claim.
USC Gould School of Law, 1965
Courtesy of Howard Weitzman
Partner, Jacokoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein
Hollywood gripes about the movie-sector jobs declining, but Austen sees plenty of opportunities. Talent can “create, produce and star in TV; 10 years ago they would have done that in independent film,” he says. “The intersection of both art and commerce in the TV world is greater than I’ve ever seen.” Austen repped the Russo brothers for two “Avengers” Disney films and their tie-in with China’s Huayi Bros.; Jude Law for HBO’s “The Young Pope”; London stage play “Obsession”; Warner Bros. theatrical “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”; and Matt Reeves to direct the next Batman movie. Austen joined the firm in 1994 and became a name partner in 2004.
Harvard Law School, 1989
Courtesy of Karl Austen
Frederick P. Bimbler
Partner and Co-Head, Entertainment Practice, Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard
Bimbler finds that movie/TV creative talent needs tutorials about economics when taking on passion projects or adapting material they control to live theater. For example, instead of relatively large upfront fees and a downstream backend, legitimate theater usually pays weekly or monthly, based on box office. “When the talent is making a lot of money, it’s not the upfront fees in theater,” he says. “It’s a different language altogether.” His clients include Blumhouse TV for television and documentaries; actor and writer Chazz Palminteri; The Gersh Agency as outside counsel; the late Carrie Fisher; and the estates of writers Paddy Chayefsky and Budd Schulberg.
Fordham University School of Law, 1994
Courtesy of Frederick Bimbler
Daniel H. Black
Chair, West Coast Entertainment & Media Practice, Greenberg Traurig
Black says the locations game app for his client Pokémon Go Intl. is a case study of multi-front lawyering. The app “presented many legal issues and a myriad of transactional matters,” he says. These involved government authorities examining privacy; take-down notices from property owners; third-parties claiming IP infringement; and underlying agreements for the app itself. His clients include BBC America, Bounce AEG, Conde Nast Entertainment, iHeartRadio, U.K.’s Guardian (for its multiplatform Vice Media partnership), Microsoft, Original Prods., Sonar Entertainment and senior execs for employment contracts.
George Washington U. Law Schoo, 1976
Courtesy of Dan Black
T. Hale Boggs
Partner and Chair, Media Technology and Advertising Division, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
Southern California’s indigenous tech business has benefited from its distinct business culture and proximity to the Hollywood content colossus, says Boggs. “It’s not a flash in the pan, it’s real.” Boggs feels SoCal tech’s attitude is more collaborative than in uber-competitive Silicon Valley. Snapchat’s Venice-based parent emerges as a home-grown champion with its giant IPO. Focused on tech transactions, Boggs repped Crowdfunder and Latino-content startup Raze, which pocketed Series A funding. Actress Sofia Vergara is a co-founder; investors this round include Greycroft Partners, Raine Ventures and UTA.
UCLA Law School, 1986
Courtesy of T Hale Boggs
Managing Partner, Century City Office, Latham & Watkins
Brearton says media distributors are partly on defense in buying content companies because they worry that deep-pocketed tech giants, which have growing content businesses, might eventually devour Hollywood. “At what point in time, if ever, will tech companies like Google, Netflix and Apple start acquiring in a meaningful way large-scale content assets or studios?” he wonders. Brearton’s transactional practice covers finance, mergers, joint ventures and content licensing, including NextVR exhibiting NBA games in virtual reality; AMC Networks buying a stake in Funny or Die; Univision acquiring Gawker; and MGM for its $1 billion bank credit facility.
University of Virginia Law School, 1998
Courtesy of Chris Brearton
P. John Burke, Marissa Roman Griffith, Alissa Miller, and Christopher Spicer
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
China is top-of-mind for many entertainment industry executives these days, and the Hollywood-China deals pipeline is slowing down because of government pressures from both sides of the Pacific Ocean, so Burke poses the question: How long is it going to take and what kind of impediments might there be when policies finally became clear? China continues to tighten rules on currency conversion, though Chinese companies with resources outside the country are less impacted by the restrictions. Meanwhile, the Trump administration talks about overhauling China trade to reduce the lopsided balance-of-payments between the countries. Burke adds that once governments implement clear policies erasing the current uncertainty, then it’s possible that reaction to those policies may turn into yet another round of disruption. Burke, Miller, Griffith and Spicer repped Bank of America, CIT Bank, Comerica Bank, JP Morgan, MUFG Union Bank and SunTrust Bank. Other clients include China’s CMC Capital, Content Partners, Fundamental Films, Media Rights Capital, RatPac-Dune Entertainment (slate financing with Warners) and Shamrock Capital.
Burke: Southwestern Law School, 1976
Griffith: Stanford Law School, 1993
Miller: UC Berkeley Law, 2001
Spicer: Georgetown Law, 2005
Courtesy of P. John Burke, Marissa Roman Griffith, Alissa Miller, and Christopher Spicer
Global Chair of Entertainment, Sports & Media, Latham & Watkins
International players remain fixated on buying U.S. content assets, but it’s a two-way affair as American companies continue to make acquisitions overseas, Calabrese says. “Hollywood is viewed as the capital of the content industry, a rich hunting ground for acquisitions and financing,” he adds. The rationale is simple: media-distribution platforms need content and content craves distribution. “There’s a battle for eyeballs.” Calabrese reps the Intl. Olympic Committee, Legendary Entertainment in its $3.5 billion sale, beIN Media for buying the Miramax library, EuropaCorp for finance and Atairos Management buying Learfield Communications.
Cornell Law School, 1981
Courtesy of Joseph Calabrese
Founding Partner, Chatham Law Group
The digital landscape makes scheduling and exclusivity important deal points for talent since Hollywood employment is a multi-tasking affair, says Chatham. For example, the star of an online streaming series may be off the table to other streamers, but that same star may want the freedom to do guest appearances in broadcast TV. “There’s always a heavy dose of arm-wrestling” over strings attached on talent, he says. Chatham, who is an on-air interview expert for client Dr. Phil McGraw’s TV series, handles both transactions and litigation. He repped Stage 29 Prods. for its CBS series “Bull” and VH1 talker “The Amber Rose Show.”
Southwestern Law School, 2005
Courtesy of Christopher Chatham
Shaun Clark and Brian Pass
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton
Clark, profiled in this report on two Sheppard Mullin teams, enjoys the challenge of crafting outside-the-box structures for content transactions, which Hollywood’s media revolution requires from him and colleagues Darwell and Pass. Client Oculus VR and Oculus Story Studios commission virtual-reality content for a new distribution model. Activision Blizzard adapts its interactive videogame brands into a TV series in-house, instead of outsourcing as in the past. Advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather creates client-financed content for “a more natural organic connection with the demographic,” Clark says. “The parties to brand integration transactions have unique, deal-specific objectives and criteria for determining the success of the content.” Other clients include Amazon Studios, Vice Media, multi-hyphenate influencer Tyler Oakley, Endemol Shine Group for its brand-extending partnership with AwesomenessTV and Hugh Hefner for an Amazon documentary.
Courtesy of Shaun Clark/Brian Pass
Shaun Clark, Linda Michaelson, and David Sands
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton
The media/entertainment and related digital industries are ripe for continued mergers and investments. Michaelson says traditional media giants want to buy into virtual reality, augmented reality, e-games and other emerging digital businesses. “They don’t want to be left behind and can’t do it internally,” she says. Sands sees an epic ripple effect from the parent of Snapchat going public because it demonstrates that digital big shots will be loaded with cash. “I expect deal flow to be robust for the remainder of the year,” Sands adds. The firm repped Endemol Shine, New Enterprise Associates investment fund, Machinima for its sale, reality TV’s Renegade83 selling a majority stake, Tang Media Partners buying a majority of sales outfit IM Global, and Turner Entertainment Networks for digital projects.
Clark: Loyola Law School. 1996
Michaelson: Emory Law, 1990
Sands: Boston University School of Law, 1987
Courtesy of Shaun Clark, Linda Michaelson, and David Sands
Partner, Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler & Feldman
In traditional TV, with its seasonal development cycles, pilots are picked up quickly or discarded. In premium TV and some online development, development can extend much longer. This, per Clark, impacts talent deals. Additionally, traditional per-episode fees don’t work with stretched-out development, and short-orders from limited series also require adjustments. “As all the usual rules are bent, if not broken in the TV space, the ability to adapt and hopefully negotiate the twists and turns becomes more important,” he says. Clark’s clients include “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” writer-director Rian Johnson and producer Ram Bergman; “The Jungle Book” writer Justin Marks; and “The Help” writer-director Tate Taylor.
UC Hastings College of the Law, 1995
Courtesy of Stephen Clark
Partner & Co-Chair, Entertainment & Media Practice, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
“We are seeing the traditional film-slate finance model being extended to TV content and frontier media as well,” says Conner. The slate financings spread risks over a portfolio, avoiding excessive concentration. They also connect studios and producers with financiers, and allow financers to diversify into TV, and hard-to-crack so-called frontier media like virtual reality and augmented reality. Conner worked on ground-breaking slate deals with Sony Pictures Entertainment for virtual reality, and Tang Media Partners in TV program co-financing. He also repped China’s Huayi Bros. Media in co-financing 18 Hollywood films and Beijing-based Perfect World Pictures in a $500 million major-studio slate deal.
Harvard Law School, 1980
Courtesy of Lindsay Conner
David C. Eisman
Partner/Head of Entertainment Group, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Eisman says off-shore companies acquiring big Hollywood businesses sometimes are surprised by what triggers U. S. security reviews. Minor activities in marketing, consumer loyalty programs and websites that collect personal information on Americans can activate multi-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in U.S. He says there’s a review backlog in part because “nobody wants to be a test case or a Trump tweet.” Eisman’s clients include Katherine Jackson, mother of the late Michael Jackson, as beneficiary in a music catalog sale, RatPac Entertainment, Recon Group in buying control of Millennium Films, Haim Saban for his investment vehicle, UTA in buying a stake in investment company AGM Securities and finally with Chinese private equity XIO Group.
UCLA Law School, 1993
Courtesy of David Eisman
Chair, Entertainment Department and Managing Partner, Los Angeles Office, Loeb & Loeb
Streamers such as Netflix and Amazon tiptoed into the movie business three years ago by acquiring finished films at festivals. Now they’re originating films, some with hefty budgets, Emanuel says. He feels their moviemaking “is working well because of the decline in economic viability of theatrically released independent films,” with streamers filling that void. Once streamer subscriber counts plateau, their film ambitions may level. He reps “Hidden Figures” producer Donna Gigliotti; “Hacksaw Ridge” producer Bill Mechanic; multi-hyphenate Ryan Murphy of FX’s “American Crime Story”; plus “Lion” producer See-Saw Films; director Garth Davis; and writer Luke Davies.
Monash U., 1981
Courtesy of Craig Emanuel
Chair, Entertainment and Media Group, Venable
Epstein says today’s developments represent a “sea change” for Hollywood talent’s ownership of content and receiving pay for endorsements. To create content, actors, producers and directors partner with financiers to fund, and then pursue, a patchwork of distribution deals. “Talent has become very transactional, launching their own brands and promoting other brands,” he says. “It will accelerate in the future.” Epstein repped Imagine Entertainment, Bad Robot and Illumination Entertainment in corporate transactions and other matters; Academy of Television Arts & Sciences as outside counsel; individual talent in film, TV and music; and executives for employment contracts.
UCLA Law School, 1987
Courtesy of Alan Epstein
Co-Chair, Entertainment, Sports & Media Practice, O’Melveny & Myers
Tech outfits charge into the content business with motivations and corporate cultures different from those of traditional Hollywood, Erramouspe says. Their interest is to supply their tech platforms, unlike Hollywood’s focus on individual projects. “It’s not content for content’s sake,” he says. “It drives other segments of their business so it feeds into a larger value proposition.” The different drivers make for an interesting clash of cultures, he adds. His clients include Alibaba Pictures, including its Amblin Pictures finance and China distribution tie-up; Miramax for a $50 million TV production loan; Studio 8; STX Entertainment; and the Weinstein Co.
UCLA Law School, 1996
Courtesy of Matthew Erramouspe
Stephen Fronk, Richard Petretti, Skip Stern, Matthew Thompson, and Russell Weiss
E-sports represents a small part of the quintet’s practice, but a big chunk of enthusiasm. Thompson says the emerging videogame team competition will blossom into a major sport. “What will happen is that e-sports, like other maturing industries, will have capital needs, intellectual-property issues, distribution, commercial arrangements, consolidation and M&A,” he says. Weiss says videogame publishers are profiting the most. “In order to unlock the potential revenue streams, we are going to have to see more collaboration among stakeholders” including team owners, players and tie-in sponsors, Weiss says. The Silicon Valley-based Fronk reps Amazon for content deals and Jason Kilar’s Vessel Group. Petretti worked for JP Morgan on its Content Media Corp., Legendary Pictures and Regency Entertainment lending, and City National Bank. Chicago-based Stern repped Bank of America for entertainment lending to Warner Bros. and Weinstein Co., plus private equity film-slate financier Lone Star Funds. Thompson advised private equity Alliance Holdings, Entertainment One investments in Amblin Partners and Renegade83, 44 Blue Prods. and its principals in a sale, and television producer Orion Entertainment. Weiss handles Daybreak Games on its TwitchCon e-sports competition, Deluxe Entertainment Services, the Los Angeles Olympic bid committee, and Siris Capital buying content-sharer Polycom.
Fronk: UC Berkeley Law, 1996
Petretti: NYU Law, 1980
Stern: Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, 1982
Thompson: UC Hastings College of Law, 1991
Weiss: Loyola Law School, 1994
Courtesy of Stephen Fronk, Richard Petretti, Skip Stern, Matthew Thompson, and Russell Weiss
Co-Founder and Partner, Cohen Gardner
Most indie film deals assume recoupment from multiple distribution schemes, but when streaming giants gobble up all rights, Gardner steps in to educate financiers and alter expectations. “Whether or not the film breaks out, compensation for everyone is pretty much the same,” he says. The good news: payment comes fast, and there’s no complicated backend. Since sreamers popped up, their impact is evolving on the business, he adds. His practice covers movies/TV for talent, financiers, producers and sales companies, repping producers in Netflix’s $12.5 million purchase of “Mudbound” and writer-director Ryan Coogler for “Black Panther.”
U. of Virginia School of Law, 1996
Courtesy of Jonathan Gardner
Michael Gendler and Kevin Kelly
Partners, Gendler & Kelly
Because total episode orders for individual TV series keep getting shorter, one gig doesn’t represent full employment for a season anymore, says Gendler. He advises talent to think like feature film directors “juggling three to five projects at one time because they don’t know which one will go first or even get greenlit at all,” he says. The good news is that the number of TV series has mushroomed, though many generate low episode output. Gendler and Kelly’s law firm represents Meryl Streep, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, David E. Kelley, Courtney Kemp, Alex Kurtzman, Julianna Margulies, Rob Marshall, Steve Martin, Roberto Orci, Chris Pine, John C. Reilly, Shonda Rhimes, Shawn Ryan and Kurt Sutter. His recent deals include Marshall for Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns” with Streep in the cast.
Gendler: UCLA School of Law, 1980
Kelly: UCLA School of Law 1989
Courtesy of Michael Gendler/Kevin Kelly
Senior Partner, Ziffren Brittenham
Talent and studios usually battle each other, but share common interests when paired in making TV shows for online streaming, notes Gilbert-Lurie. Streamers such as Netflix gobble up vast rights, eliminating foreign and re-run syndication that traditionally trigger more payments for talent and producer studios. He angles for big upfront pay and also bonuses from additional production. “When you finish one deal, the next week the buyer suggests another structure or model” for the next, Gilbert-Lurie says. His clients include Sandra Bullock, Claire Danes’ extensions for “Homeland,” Tina Fey, Imagine Entertainment, which received a financial infusion, and Dick Wolf Entertainment.
UC Berkeley Law, 1979
Courtesy of Clifford Gilbert-Lurie
Partner, Co-Chair of Transactions Practice, Irell & Manella
Grode says movie financiers are tweaking their models for “ultimates,” which forecast lifetime economic performance of individual movies. Theatrical and transactional VOD and SVOD windows are up, while DVD, Blu-ray, TV and premium pay are sliding. Grode says VOD is like a “black hole” absorbing revenue from adjacent windows in decline. “The long tails of movies are really coming under pressure,” he adds. Grode repped Dalian Wanda Group in a Sony film slate financing deal and in acquiring Legendary Entertainment; client Miramax’s sale to beIN Media Group; and Bank of America for a $100 million reality TV programming securitization financing.
Loyola Law School, 1991
Courtesy of Joshua Grode
Robert Haymer and David Zaheer
Partners, Latham & Watkins
Haymer’s checklist for setting up successful Hollywood partnerships addresses balancing creative freedom with financial oversight, ongoing bonus compensation to creatives to
← retain them and having off-ramps in place when parties want to exit. “If you choose the right partner, it doesn’t matter what the contract says. If you choose the wrong partner, it doesn’t matter what the contract says,” he quips. Haymer’s transactional practice covers entertainment, sports and media. He advised Anonymous Content on receiving an infusion by an affiliate of Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell; and BeIN Media in the purchase of the Miramax library. Zaheer specializes in mergers and acquisitions. The firm worked for Legendary Entertainment on its $3.5 billion sale and Content Partners in its acquisition of the Revolution Studios library. They advised Millennium Films in its majority sale to China’s Recon Group for $100 million.
Courtesy of Robert Haymer/David Zaheer
Partner, Mergers and Acquisitions, Paul Hastings
Hollywood has long been dominated by a small circle of corporate giants, but Hernand sees fast-growing tech outfits climbing into the top echelon and upending business models. “Over the next few years, we’re going to see the emergence of significant disruptive entertainment companies, much in the way Netflix barely existed 10 years ago, and its market cap now far exceeds many of the largest entertainment companies,” he says. Hernand repped DreamWorks Animation in its sale of a 24.5% stake in AwesomenessTV, Germany’s TeleMunchen Group purchase of a stake in Storied Media and Dick Clark Prods. in its now-aborted $1 billion sale agreement to Wanda.
Georgetown Law, 1992
Courtesy of David Hernand
Michael S. Hobel
Partner, Head of Entertainment and Media Practice, Katten Muchin Roseman
As the digital revolution continues to reshape the business of Hollywood, Hobel sees dealmaking undergoing a transformation. Some issues never change: basic pay, scope of rights involved and creative control. Hobel says, “People are talking the same language and listening to each other” but “you have to make predictions and assumptions about an uncertain future.” His transactional practice covers content and finance primarily for companies in entertainment and media. Clients include AMC Networks, FremantleMedia, HBO, Hulu, Lionsgate’s TV programmer Debmar-Mercury, Media Rights Capital and Starz.
NYU Law School, 1981
Courtesy of Michael Hobel
Chair-Entertainment, Media and Sports Practice, Barnes & Thornburg
Karlov says the music industry needs to roll out the welcome mat for emerging platforms such as VR and exercise equipment that bundles tunes. New outlets are “potentially a huge sea of income for music companies and artists,” he says. The industry traditionally sought steep prices from new users that stifles their development. His clients include T Bone Burnett, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead’s song catalog, Stevie Wonder, and Beachbody and Peloton for licensing music. He also reps the NFL, including for its half-time Super Bowl music shows, and John Fogerty, who settled Creedence Clearwater Revival litigation.
USC Gould School of Law, 1995
Courtesy of Jason Karlov
Chair, Global Entertainment and Media Practice, Greenberg Traurig
Katz reps two Russian streamers clinching their first music licenses. Music labels were understandably suspicious at first, but the three major lables and others ultimately concluded deals, says Katz, adding that the accord became a catalyst for closer ties. Separately, he handles China’s Alibaba for music licensing and acquisitions. Katz also reps the Recording Academy for an awards telecast extension with CBS Television; the Michael Jackson estate as counsel; startup school African Music Institute in Gabon; Tim McGraw and Faith Hill for a six-album deal with Sony Music; and entertainment executives for employment contracts.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Law, 1969
Courtesy of Joel Katz
Founding Partner, Kleinberg Lange Cuddy & Carlo
Kleinberg says the major studios increasingly narrowed their focus on superheroes, sequels and heavily marketing-vetted projects. “It’s a concern because they have chosen to isolate themselves into an area where it is increasingly harder to find original source material,” he says. Exceptions are animation —where original-concept films abound — and movies financed by high-net-worth individuals who take a keen interest in rich storytelling and often distribute through major studios. Kleinberg represents singer Peter Cetera; Jack Nicholson, a client since 1973; country star Toby Keith; author J.K. Rowling; director Douglas Trumbull; movie and Broadway producer Paula Wagner; and animators Glen Keane and John Kahrs.
UCLA Law School, 1967
Courtesy of Ken Kleinberg
Co-Managing Partner, Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman
Talent deals for independent films need a makeover for downstream bonuses if over-the-top outfits buy worldwide rights, says Krintzman. Since such streamers as Netflix and Amazon gobble up all revenue sources, “there’s no ancillary revenue filtering in” from a patchwork of buyers, he adds. The streamers typically pay an upfront 20%-25% premium on film budgets. This, Krintzman says, doesn’t adequately reflect the reality of traditional talent bonus deals. His talent-centric practice includes Matthew McConaughey, Zoe Saldana for four new “Avatar” movies, Boyd Holbrook for a new “Predator” movie, Mike Judge for an HBO deal, and writer-director Meg LeFauve for Disney Animation’s “Gigantic.”
University of San Diego School of Law, 1995
Courtesy of David Krintzman
Partner, Media, Entertainment & Technology Practice/Co-Chair, Private Equity Practice; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
As the digital revolution upends traditional business norms for Hollywood, Lanin says industry smarts are more important than ever for lawyering in merger deals. For example, due diligence reviews might verify subscriber growth figures, subscriber retention data, ability to extract value from intellectual property, and for joint ventures whether specific assets can be used as the client intends. “If you don’t know what to look for, you’ve already failed,” Lanin says. His clients includes Jeffrey Katzenberg’s digital investor WndrCo., Chernin Group, incubator FactoryMade Ventures and digital video outfit Otter Media, in which Chernin is an investor.
USC Gould School of Law, 2000
Courtesy of Ari Lanin
Founding Partner, Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler & Feldman
Lichter has a focus on achieving salary parity for women, who she believes routinely get lowball offers. She felt that she was comparatively underpaid before starting the law firm in 1992. When she raises the issue for clients today, “sometimes people are open and other times they get defensive because they feel they are not discriminating,” she says. “It can be a product of unconscious bias.” She represents talent and executives in movies and TV. Clients include directors Susanne Bier and Marc Forster, executive producers Lesli Linka Glatter and Bill Prady, plus writer Linda Woolverton.
UC Berkeley Law, 1976
Courtesy of Linda Lichter
Partner, Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein
Mandelbaum sometimes structures deals for TV creative talent as if they’re mini-studios. When CBS took a stake in client Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, Kaplan maintained flexibility to deal with any television network and distributor, engage in work-for-hire and have CBS provide project financing under certain circumstances. “That enables him to combat the downward pressure on the financial upside by having the ability to behave like a studio and participate more fully in the success of his projects,” Mandelbaum says. Mandelbaum’s clients are actors, writers, directors and producers, including writer-directors Michael Patrick King and Carol Mendelsohn, actors Olivia Munn and Chris O’Donnell.
NYU Law, 1985
Courtesy of Jamie Mandelbaum
Partner, Munger, Tolles & Olson
Masuda says all eyes are on Washington, D.C., to determine the impact of the new administration’s policies governing acquisitions of U.S. assets by foreigners. “There are more foreign ownership and national security concerns that add deal risks for buyers in certain countries,” he says. “Over time, we hope that we will have more clarity.” Masuda repped independent directors at DreamWorks Animation on its $3.8 billion sale, Hugh Hefner in his $100 million sale/leaseback of the Playboy Mansion; MGM Resorts Intl. in its $900 million acquisition of a casino stake; and the NFL Chargers on the team’s move to Los Angeles.
Harvard Law School, 1992
Courtesy of Kevin Masuda
Mickey Mayerson and Susan Zuckerman Williams
Loeb & Loeb
Mayerson sees quite a bit of churn in domestic financing, but feels the net result will be the media and entertainment industries raking in more money. Other players are in the wings to replace retreating commercial banks, and Mayerson predicts a new boomlet with investment funds, including two new clients, Crayhill Versa and VX119, which are backed by hedge funds. “That is a healthy sign in the marketplace despite some of the stumbles over the past few years in terms of films and film slates,” Mayerson says. Longtime collaborators Mayerson and Williams represent companies, financial institutions, hedge funds and high-net-worth individuals: Bank of America, CIT Bank, City National Bank, Comerica Bank, new-entrant Opus Bank, Endgame for a P&A transaction, Union Patriot Capital for two films, and Vine Alternative Investments for multiple movie activities.
Mayerson: Columbia Law School, 1981
Williams: USC Gould School of Law, 1986
Courtesy of Mickey Mayerson/Susan Zuckerman Williams
Partner, Entertainment Department Chair, Los Angeles Office Managing Partner, Fox Rothschild
Streaming upended music’s economics and consumer consumption, and Miller predicts TV is next. He sees video-streaming reshaping consumer behavior from binge watching to on-demand, elevating genres such as documentaries that are backwaters on linear TV, and boosting edgier programming. The video streaming revolution “requires consumers and producers to think differently and embrace change,” he says. “You have to be innovative and meet consumers where they are.” Miller reps Angela Bassett, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, TV showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, Reginald Hudlin, T.D. Jakes, Teyonah Parris and Courtney B. Vance. In 2016 the Beverly Hills Bar Assn. named Miller entertainment attorney of the year.
Georgetown Law, 1990
Courtesy of Darrell Miller
Entertainment Partner, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan
Moore sees governments, particularly in Europe, becoming more aggressive on tax collection with such practices as objecting to corporate allocations of taxable profits to jurisdictions outside their reach. “They’ve almost given up on taxing net income and so instead they’re imposing withhold taxes on gross income,” he says. In this climate, Moore believes that tax-planning should be “the first thing that people should think about and not the last” in structuring transactions. He repped the $100 million Martin Scorsese-helmed movie “The Irishman”; $80 million U.S./Chinese co-production “Speedhunters”; $50 million local-content financier Globalgate; and Boies/Schiller Film on “Midnight Sun” and “The Babysitter” movies.
UCLA School of Law, 1981
Courtesy of Schuyler Moore
Benjamin R. Mulcahy and Gina Reif Ilardi
Jenner & Block
The web has transformed the way that actors and other celebrities generate revenue in fundamental ways. But online players present some unique issues when it comes to tie-ins with corporate partners, says Reif Ilardi. They usually want to own content, and, in another sticking point, often want to offload responsibility for mandatory endorsements and testimonials to those same partners. On the other hand, Mulcahy says, corporate America likes web celebs because they “come off as authentic, and digital allows better targeting so you don’t have to make a major media spend.” Mulcahy and Reif Ilardi handle tie-in promotions for Broad Green Pictures, Lionsgate, Paramount and STX Entertainment; entertainment deals for Edelman public relations, ESPN, Fiat Chrysler Automotive, Miller Coors and outfitter REI; and digital for Fox Sports, IPSY personalized beauty and Twitch Interactive.
Mulcahy: University of Minnesota Law School, 1994
Reif Ilardi: Fordham University School of Law, 2005
Chair, West Coast Tax and Wealth Planning Practice, Venable
Mulrooney says multi-generational disputes within families are growing over inheritance wealth transfers. Wrangling plays out in negotiations, mediation and litigation over amounts received, the conduct of estate trustees and management of family foundations. Years ago, she says, beneficiaries would “just take their chips and walk away. Now there is a lot more questioning and disputing regarding decedents’ intentions.” Challenges are generally not successful, but Mulrooney expects them to continue as society has become more litigious. She helps Hollywood high-net-worth individuals in international tax compliance, personal tax, prenups, divorce, creating foundations, estate planning and various personal legal issues.
USC Gould School of Law, 1985
Courtesy of Michele Mulrooney
Partner, Donaldson + Callif
With true-story content proliferating, Perez helps Hollywood satisfy insurers and financers, and avoid defamation and invasion-of-privacy lawsuits. True tales usually have big constituencies with many participants, books, magazine articles and news reports. But “you don’t necessarily need all of those rights to produce a film,” he says. Further, Perez notes that innocuous embellishments are protected by case law upholding so-called fictional embroidering. Joining the firm after law school, he advises Hollywood clients on development, financing and distribution. He handled rights clearances for TV series “Nirvanna the Band the Show.”
USC Gould School of Law, 2009
Courtesy of Christopher Perez
Founding Partner, Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham
Rose works with other industry leaders for New York State to extend personal commercialization protections to deceased celebrities. Such post-mortem right of publicity would create “a property right in the deceased individual’s persona that is descendible by will or transferrable by contract,” she says. About half the states in the country, including California, have such “deleb” protections for estates of dead celebrities. Rose’s clients include Lin-Manuel Miranda for “Hamilton” and its ancillary rights; stage producers Marc Platt and David Stone; Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video for a theater project; and showrunners David Javerbaum, Sarah Treem and Beau Willimon.
George Washington University Law School, 1983
Courtesy of Nancy Rose
Shareholder & Co-Chairman, Atlanta Entertainment & Media Practice, Greenberg Traurig
As streaming reshapes consumer consumption of music, Rosenbloum says artist contracts and marketing “need to go through a similar revolution to keep up with developments on the distribution side.” He adds the music business remains fixated on traditional front-loaded pay generated by physical media, including CDs, but needs to understand that streaming revenue is spread out. He says subscription music at $10/month can create wealth. Rosenbloum handles music and entertainment-related transactions for app Musical.ly; iHeart Media; Audible Magic; Harmonix Music Systems; Microsoft; Neil Young’s Pono service; plus trade groups the Recording Academy, Digital Media Assn. and Latin Recording Academy.
Harvard Law School, 1994
Courtesy of Bobby Rosenbloum
Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Chinese online influencers and style curators have gotten good at monetizing their content in recent years, and Ross says they bear watching. “They are not unique to U.S.,” he says. “They grow with scale and you can’t beat the scale in China.” He represents multichannel networks, which hook up with online reality talent. Ross handled CBS in its investment/distribution deal with Kapital Entertainment; Jeffrey Katzenberg’s investment startup WndrCo; AT&T and Chernin Group’s video venture Otter Media; Chernin Group for a solo venture; Technicolor in its sale of M-GO stake; and Universal Pictures in a film partnership.
NYU Law School, 2004
Courtesy of Benyamin Ross
Partner and Chair of the Transactional Entertainment Department, Glaser Weil
Broadcast TV station groups use individual outlets as proving grounds for original programs, and then with success expand a program to all the group’s stations and possibly national syndication. Rubin says the challenge is to “craft deal memos that are consistent with the economics of the three phases of success.” One consideration: at what point do talent agency packaging fees kick in? Clients include the Scripps and Tegna station groups; “Designated Survivor” showrunner Jeff Melvoin; Martin Sheen; actress-producer Alison Sweeney; Anonymous Content; and the BBC. She joined the firm in 2013, and earlier worked for Spelling Television and A&E West Coast Entertainment.
Loyola Law School, 1978
Courtesy of Barbara Rubin
Partner and Chair, Asia Entertainment and Media, Loeb and Loeb
Saltzman sees several reasons behind the Chinese government’s recent crackdown on cross-border mergers and acquisitions. When Chinese companies not in entertainment/media go Hollywood, “the government might look at that as capital flight instead of strategic dealmaking,” he says. Also, there’s worry that the bubbly local stock market drives Chinese companies to stretch too much. He repped state-owned Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment in developing a Universal theme park in Beijing; Huayi Bros. Media in a $350 million capitalization and tie-in with Hollywood’s Russo brothers; Beijing’s Le Vision Pictures USA on English-language films; and Cattleya, which is producing Netflix’s first Italian-language TV series.
Columbia University School of Law, 1986
Courtesy of Stephen Saltzman
Nina Shaw and Jon Moonves
Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano
Deep-pocketed tech firms diversifying into Hollywood programming are an epic movement because “of the quantity and quality from new digital platforms,” says Moonves. Noting that the earlier cable TV revolution simply dipped into broadcast TV’s pool of existing creative talent, Shaw hopes “we don’t allow ourselves to fall into the trap of limiting the voices of the creative community. ” Shaw repped Ava DuVernay and Raoul Peck on their Oscar-nominated documentaries. DuVernay is also directing big-budget Disney yarn “A Wrinkle in Time.” Moonves handles Apple for computer apps, Marc Cherry for a network TV pilot and Robert and Michelle King for “The Good Fight” series at CBS All Access.
Shaw: Columbia Law School, 1979
Moonves: University of Virginia School of Law, 1985
Courtesy of Nina Shaw/Jon Moonves
Partner, Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell
Steuch expects big media/entertainment companies to pick up the pace of digital acquisitions in order to latch onto superior growth prospects as economics soften for traditional cash-cow basic cable networks. Digital targets “need a ton of funds to get profitable and could find happy homes at these larger media companies,” he notes. The biggest digital outfits aren’t on shopping lists because they can tap more lucrative IPOs. Steuch’s practice covers digital media and some non-entertainment sectors. He repped Variety-owner Penske Media Corp. on the acquisition of IndieWire and in creating the Robb Report joint venture with a private equity fund.
UCLA School of Law, 1998
Courtesy of Michael Steuch
Founding Partner, Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman
Yorn reached into his startup tool box when client Zoe Saldana created Latino digital venture Be Se. “It has enormous potential for both profit and purpose” for the “Avatar” and “Avengers: Infinity War” actress, he says. Tasks included researching the marketplace, exploring integrations with advertisers, raising funds and creating organizational and legal structures. He also repped Ellen DeGeneres, who extended “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” through 2020-21; Ansel Elgort, including on Sony’s “Baby Driver”; Scarlett Johansson to star in Paramount’s “Ghost in the Shell”; and Marlene King for her Warner Bros. Television deal.
Tulane University Law School, 1990
Courtesy of Kevin Yorn
Michael Auerbach (Up Next)
Partner, Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein
Auerbach, who joined Jackoway Tyerman shortly after graduating from law school, now represents a slew of clients including “Broad City” stars and co-creators Ilana Glazer and Abi Jacobson, “24: Legacy” lead actor Corey Hawkins, “La La Land” producer Marc Platt and his son Ben Platt, star of the hit Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” “What I look forward to…is working with really great people with unique voices and perspectives who I know will use the platform that they have for good,” he says.
New York University School of Law, 2009
Courtesy of Michael Auerbach
Nicholas Dashman, Mariya Levy, and Matthew Levy (Up Next)
Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman
This trio became close friends in law school and now specialize in scripted and unscripted television. “It’s especially important for us to be viewed as problem-solvers,” Dashman notes. Their clients include Endemol, All3media and “The Bachelor” creator Mike Fleiss, and they have worked on shows such as “MasterChef,” “Lip Sync Battle,” “The Voice” and “Undercover Boss.” “With the proliferation of new outlets and buyers and changing business models, my ambition is to be one of the advisers who’s helping to shape what those deals look like,” Matthew Levy says. For Mariya Levy, who also reps “Gilmore Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, the goal is for clients to “always trust that we’re going to be the most zealous advocates.”
Stanford School of Law, 2010
Courtesy of Nick Dashman, Mariya Levy, and Matthew Levy
Hayden Goldblatt (Up Next)
Counsel, Franfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
After gaining film production experience while working for helmer Robert Altman prior to law school, Goldblatt’s practice now covers all aspects of the movie business, from representing Jim Jarmusch in negotiating distribution deals with Amazon Studios for his film “Paterson” and documentary “Gimme Danger,” to repping alternative distribution platform Tugg. “My ambitions for the future are to continue to grow my practice, focusing on financing, distribution, and talent, with a heavy emphasis on digital distribution and alternative distribution,” he says.
Brooklyn Law School, 2008
Courtesy of Hayden Goldblatt
Trevor Katende (Up Next)
Senior Associate, Paul Hastings
Katende’s recent work includes representing investment group Eldridge Industries in its strategic investment in Standard Vision and repping the lead investor in Jeffrey Katzenberg’s newly unveiled digital media and technology investment firm WndrCo. Having begun his career in Silicon Valley, the impact of technological developments on content continues to intrigue Katende. “I would really like to continue working with clients that are in the entertainment-sports world as they figure out how to deal with evolving technology,” he says.
Stanford Law School, 2006
Courtesy of Trevor Katende
John Kulback (Up Next)
Associate, Loeb & Loeb
Kulback, who previously served as lead attorney on the “Avatar” sequels while at 20th Century Fox, now reps virtual and augmented reality players including Baobab Studios, Media Monks and TaleSpin, as well as VR filmmakers Peter Martin, Eliza McNitt, Cody Karutz and Nick Bicanic. Kulback says he hopes to continue having conversations with people looking to “build out their perspective and understanding of the industry. I enjoy being both a lawyer and a strategic business adviser.”
Northwestern U. of School of Law, 2007
Courtesy of John Kulback
Teresa Y. Lin (Up Next)
Associate, Hersh Mannis
Lin’s recent work includes serving as co-lead counsel on a court of appeals win, which set legal precedent in California to prevent judge-shopping in lower court, and settling a child-support case for a client whose work income had significantly decreased due to a reduced number of acting roles. “The law sometimes is blind to different experiences and different cultures and different viewpoints, so what I hope to do in my career is to bring a new flavor to the law,” Lin says.
University of Michigan Law School, 2010
Courtesy of Teresa Lin
Amy Lucas (Up Next)
Counsel, O’Melveny & Myers
As a litigator, Lucas has advocated for clients such as Hulu and Warner Bros., and helped lead the O’Melveny & Myers legal team that secured a win for Warner Bros. in a suit brought by producer Irwin Winkler regarding allegedly unpaid homevideo contingent compensation from “Goodfellas.” “I would like to continue doing trial work and I would eventually like to become the sort of litigator that is retained because my clients want to convey to their opponent that they take the case very seriously,” she says.
UCLA School of Law, 2008
Courtesy of Amy Lucas
Alexander Plitt (Up Next)
Associate, Kleinberg Lange Cuddy & Carlo
Before joining Kleinberg Lange Cuddy & Carlo in 2016, Plitt served as production counsel on Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” which won the best picture Oscar in 2014, and worked at DreamWorks Animation. For the law firm, he now handles talent transactions for such stars as Mark Hamill, Dean Cain, Rick Fox and Kiss, counsels corporate clients including Alcon Entertainment, and plays a key role in repping Chinese film production house Mandoo Pictures. Plitt’s goals include “acquiring more clients and building more trust with the clients I already do have, and just always learning — always expanding my knowledge base, always being curious.”
UCLA School of Law, 2011
Courtesy of Alexander Plitt
Simon Pulman (Up Next)
Associate, Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard
Pulman delved into entertainment law while interning at Country Music Television during law school. He now provides business affairs and legal services for Blumhouse TV and to producers in connection with negotiations with Netflix for the relaunched “Mystery Science Theater 3000” series. “My goal is to continue to work with great talent and great companies that are doing progressive things,” he says.
Vanderbilt University Law School, 2008
Courtesy of Simon Pulman
Vanessa Foltyn Roman (Up Next)
Counsel, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
Roman advises East West Bank in a credit facility to Bona Film Group for a $235 million investment in a 20th Century Fox slate, and counsels Ratpac-Dune Entertainment in structuring its co-financing agreement with Warner Bros. “One area I want to look at is the changing digital world and what I see as being the next trends,” she says. “I’m interested in how those projects will be financed.”
USC Gould School of Law, 2011
Courtesy of Vanessa Foltyn Roman
Tara Satler (Up Next)
Associate, Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corp.
Sattler reps producers, financiers and content creators in film, TV and digital. Recent work includes repping Ryland Aldrich, a producer on 2017 Sundance title “L.A. Times,” as well as Kicked to the Curb Prods. and Mandy Teefey, executive producer of the new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.” “Opportunities are endless in today’s media world for content creators to be innovative and pursue their passion projects,” she says.
Southwestern University School of Law, 2011
Courtesy of Tara Sattler
Joe Trofino (Up Next)
Associate General Counsel, ICM Partners
Having risen through the ranks at ICM, Trofino helped negotiate and finalize the agency’s acquisition of Headline Media Management, whose clients include Savannah Guthrie, Chris Berman, Wolf Blitzer and Meredith Vieira. “It’s a really exciting time to be at ICM,” says Trofino, who also negotiated ICM’s co-agency agreement with radio talent agency Workhouse Media. His ultimate goal is to become general counsel. “I want to continue to learn as much as I can.”
Duquesne University School of Law, 2008
Courtesy of Joe Trofino