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Dealmakers Impact Report 2010

Susanna Felleman

As veep of business affairs, Felleman is a strategic thinker on the development, production, co-production and financing of films and miniseries, as well as new media projects on the West Coast such as the irreverent “Funny or Die Presents.” Key negotiations include HBO’s foray into theatrical production and distribution. Felleman’s formula for success is to be a good listener and flexible negotiator. “If you don’t understand what the talent needs, you’re never going to be able to make a good deal,” she explains. Another key objective is to be a steward of the cabler’s reputation. “People enjoy working here,” she adds.

Jonathan Gardner
Cohen Gardner LLP

Gardner formed the Beverly Hills showbiz law firm with Jeff B. Cohen in 2002 following their stint at U’s TV division. He always strives for fairness in negotiations, adding: “The truth is always the strongest argument. Professionals recognize it immediately.” Inked seven-figure deals for director Patrick Jean and French vfx house One More Production on viral sensation “Pixels,” as well as helmer Rodrigo Cortes’ Sundance hit “Buried” for Lionsgate. Helped Karen Murphy navigate hurricane Katrina docu “The Big Uneasy” and guided spoof writers/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer through “Vampires Suck.” Also assembled roster of talented indie filmmakers and scribes.

Lanre Idewu
Queen Nefertari Productions

As chief operating officer, Idewu manages a multimillion-dollar film fund, focusing equally on creative and fiduciary responsibilities. He selects slates of films and TV shows, and prepares a financial appraisal for each project with producer Jay Cohen of the Gersh Agency, which represents the fund, for a full accounting of every dollar and best possible return on investment. “We’re bringing a new level of transparency to the deals that we make and are demanding the same from everybody that we choose to do business with,” he says, noting that the market is now ripe for projects that require little capital.

Alison Lima
DreamWorks Animation

In a year when DreamWorks Animation released three theatrical features for the first time, Lima was particularly gratified to negotiate sequel deals for “How to Train Your Dragon.” As head of motion picture business and legal affairs, she is the chief negotiator for rights acquisitions and other development and production-related matters, as well as for writers, producers, directors and actors. “Some of my most successful negotiations involve a personal touch,” she says. Lima repped DWA topper Jeffrey Katzenberg in his lawsuit against the Mouse House while at law firm Greenberg, Glusker.

Phil Lynch
Sony Pictures Television

Lynch helped put the sizzle in Crackle, whose online service was internally launched on Sony’s Bravia, Dash and PlayStation platforms. It also became the first third-party player on YouTube to go global, and the first subscription full-length TV and feature film application on the Android platform, not to mention being a fixture on Google TV and Sprint TV. Other Crackle activity under the veep of digital distribution’s watchful eye involved deals with Boxee, FiOS, TiVo, IMDb, Dailymotion and Metacafe. Lynch cautions against one-sided arrangements with content providers, noting the importance of renewing licensing agreements, and says it’s critical to secure early strategic involvement from engineers, product and marketing execs.

Bert Marcus
Bert Marcus Productions

Marcus raised $15 million from Wall Street, private equity firms and biotech companies to bankroll what he calls “thought-provoking films that can have a big social impact, but at the same time provide the most entertaining theatrical experience.” His philosophy: Match passionate creative talent and stylish filmmaking with the right investors and distributors. Marcus teamed with “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier on “Teenage Paparazzo,” a feature-length docu sold to HBO, and “How to Make Money Selling Drugs.” Marcus recently made his directorial debut on a docu about boxing and mixed martial arts in partnership with Mario Lopez.

Michael Williams & Amy Nickin
Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

The Gotham-based partners inked deals for a range of talent — from thesps, scribes and directors to authors, models and fashion designers. They negotiated on behalf of Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”), Amanda Seyfried (“Red Riding Hood,” “Letters to Juliet” and “Dear John”), “Glee” co-creator Ian Brennan (Fox), Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (replacing Megan Fox on “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”), James Wolk (Fox and Disney) and Bradley Whitford (Fox). Also pitched John Goodman (“Monsters Inc. 2”) and Jason Smilovic (“Replay” and “The Detail”).
Williams believes that “depending on who your client is, the project or person on the other side, you need to adapt your negotiating style to achieve the best possible results.” Firm’s celebrity branding expertise encompasses corporate, tax and advertising areas with an emphasis on mining new income streams related to key endorsements as well as merchandising and licensing agreements. Adds Nickin: “Our philosophy is more about bridging the gap than taking a position on the other side.”