John Burke and Steve Fayne

Hollywood Law Impact List

Firm: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

The practice: In a town bubbling over with talent lawyers, Burke and Fayne are members of the less abundant, but no less critical, subset of attorneys who represent the money side of the business — namely, investment banks, equity and hedge funds and high-net-worth individuals.

As hedge-fund mania has hit Hollywood in recent years, they’ve been front and center, helping bridge the gap between Wall Street and the entertainment business.

“We’ve been extremely busy for the last 18 months because of the increased appetite that Wall Street has had for the film business,” says Burke, who along with Fayne has been particularly active in negotiating studio slate financing deals, such as Dresdner Kleinwort’s $300 million backing of Paramount’s slate and Deutsche Bank’s $628 million support of a combined Sony and Universal slate.

“Some of what we do is provide not only legal expertise but business affairs expertise,” Burke explains. “We can give people a good understanding of what’s going on behind the curtain at the studios. We try to provide a lot of transparency in business — a process that is sometimes hard in Hollywood.”

Burke and Fayne also work with individual producer-financiers such as Steve Bing and 2929 Entertainment’s Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner, as well as production lenders including Comerica Bank and the Bank of Ireland.

POV: “We pride ourselves on being able to use innovative solutions to close complex transactions, often in the face of unreasonable deadlines,” Burke says.

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