THE DEALMAKER: The entertainment industry’s most decorated litigator put his perfect jury trial career record on the line last year to defend “Sahara” author Clive Cussler in a tussle with Philip Anschutz’s Crusader Entertainment. Some might say Bert Fields’ streak ended when a jury awarded Crusader $5 million, finding Cussler inflated his book sales. But the jury also ruled Crusader owes Cussler $8.5 million for rights to a second book, putting Fields’ client $3.5 million ahead (pending appeals). And although the Harvard magna cum laude was dragged into disgraced P.I. Anthony Pellicano’s criminal trial, he didn’t have to testify.
The Greenberg Glusker attorney with six decades of practice has a client list that includes DreamWorks, MGM/United Artists, the Weinstein Co., Sony Music, Tom Cruise, Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, James Cameron, Mike Nichols, Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen, Jerry Bruckheimer, Joel Silver, Sherry Lansing and Madonna. While Fields is known for media-hyped courtroom battles, he says most of his work involves negotiations: “Litigation typically leads to dealmaking.”
KEY DEALS: Fields has been particularly active on behalf of client Tom Cruise of late, working out picture deals and overseeing Cruise’s exit from Par and his landing at UA. His work on behalf of the Weinstein Co. is also robust right now, he says.
,B>DEALMAKER DOS: “Explain why you need what you’re asking for. Try to grasp what the other side really needs and find a way to meet that need without losing your own basic objective.”
DEALMAKER DON’TS: “Don’t be arrogant or arbitrary. Don’t forget the ‘power’ is that of your client, not your own.”
TOP DEALMAKERS ENCOUNTERED: “Lew Wasserman, Jon Dolgen, Brad Grey, Jeffrey Katzenberg and each of the top five entertainment lawyers (they’ll have to guess who I mean).”