Scroll through to learn more about the behind-the-scenes power players who keep the wheels of Hollywood turning, the content flowing, and the money coming in.
Dealmakers profiles written by Robert Marich and Todd Longwell. Up Next profiles written by Todd Longwell.
Founder, Chairman and CEO
While digital disruption invokes fear across Hollywood, Allen feels that “the rapid changes are an enormous opportunity” that will eventually mint more content billionaires. He believes that the direct-to-consumer capability is an “additive” element supercharging the media business. Media companies need to produce content that they own worldwide to tap the consumer-direct avenue. Solely owned by Allen, Entertainment Studios acquired the Weather Channel for $300 million in March, which is synergistic with its seven cable channels. In September, Entertainment Studios nailed down a $500 million credit facility from Deutsche Bank Securities, Comerica Bank and others. The company said it would use the money to make movies, TV shows and possibly more acquisitions.
Tom Ara, Rob Sherman, and David Markman
Ara: Partner, Co-Chair, Entertainment Finance and Entertainment Transactions
Sherman: Partner, Co-Chair, Entertainment Finance
Markman:Partner, Co-Chair, Entertainment Transactions
Ara sees free content introduced via video streaming sometimes a “carrot” to sell devices or platforms. “That, in huge way, is going to disintermediate the way content is both produced and distributed,” says Ara. Sherman says that financiers of individual shows embrace streamers as good credit risks, but that “more and more deals with content producers are, basically, fee-for-service agreements with limited upside.” The two attorneys joined the firm in October, establishing a Los Angeles-based media/entertainment practice. They were soon joined by Markman. Over the past year, Ara repped a slew of major entertainment firms in their acquisitions, and Sherman advised financiers in various offers and sales. Markman’s practice consists of talent representation, studio transactions, TV and new-media production, gaming/AR/VR and brand licensing. DLA Piper is a global law firm with lawyers located in more than 40 countries.
Lynnwood Bibbens and Ron Bloom
Co-Founders Reach TV
Bibbens had founded and sold several tech and e-commerce companies (NETI, Deal Global Holdings). Bloom had launched a series of new-media companies including BiteSizeTV and PodShow. In 2017, the serial entrepreneurs teamed to create Reach
TV, a 24/7 entertainment network currently seen in 84 airports and close to 1 million hotel rooms in the U.S. and Canada. “We figured if we could put content where people already are, think about the marketing dollars you’d save and the opportunities to disrupt an aging industry,” says Bloom. Reach TV has inked a broad range of content deals (Tribeca Film Festival, Draft Kings, Dick Clark Prods., Conde Nast, the NFL, Fortune) and it has ambitious plans to expand. “By this time next year, we plan to be in 30 countries,” Bibbens says.
Daniel H. Black
Vice Chairman, Global Entertainment & Media Practice Greenberg Traurig
After long struggling to connect with elusive millennials, marketers find that branded content via streaming, websites, traditional TV and live events resonates with the youth demographic, Black says. The lawyer observes companies use content to brand “what they do, what their mission is and provide a platform for increasing their profiles, and help develop, communicate and execute business plans.” Black’s clients include hologrammer Base Entertainment, Microsoft for its non-music content initiatives, Pokémon Co. that is producing big-budget movie “Detective Pikachu” with Legendary Entertainment, producer Sonar Entertainment, airline wi-fi company ViaSat, and executive employment contracts with $50 million in guaranteed compensation.
Gordon M. Bobb
Partner Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano
Bobb expects that underrepresented communities and emerging voices will increasingly ride the digital-media express to mainstream success when putting their distinct stamps on stories with universal appeal. “Broad audiences now have access to those stories,” he says. The Los Angeles-based attorney notes that his 13-year-old son loves watching Japanese anime. Bobb worked deals for Tiffany Haddish to star in and produce Netflix animated TV series “Tuca & Bertie,” and also to star in New Line’s gritty live-action drama “The Kitchen.” With a law practice focused on talent, production and distribution, Bobb also handles Malcolm D. Lee, Justin Simien and Lena Waithe.
P. John Burke
Partner Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
Burke feels the recent spate of Hollywood insolvencies is “a trend that will continue as the industry is disrupted in its transition from analog to digital.” Following bankruptcies of Relativity Media, Open Road and others, he believes that financiers are becoming more cautious in some regards. Burke says the financial community is now focusing on greater protections, higher transaction costs in some cases and withdrawal of smaller institutions less willing to absorb occasional sour deals. The attorney repped Lantern Capital in acquiring Weinstein Co. from bankruptcy, CMC Holdings investing in Imagine Television content, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Shamrock Capital and various banks for commercial loan transactions. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., Akin Gump has 21 offices in over 90 countries and includes over 900 lawyers.
Joseph Calabrese, Nancy Bruington, Ken Deutsch, Robert Haymer, Rick Offsay, Lisbeth (Libby) Savill
Calabrese: Global Chair of Entertainment, Sports & Media, Latham & Watkins
Calabrese sees media/entertainment negotiations these days like a poker game in that players have to decide which cards to give up and which to retain. With Hollywood’s ecosystem in flux, he says that negotiation parties are “striking the balance between the rights you are getting or giving versus the rights you will wish you had five to 10 years from now.” The industry is roiled by the integrated content producers that also deliver direct to consumer. Calabrese notes that entertainment media seems to get upended every five to seven years by some seismic change in industry fundamentals. He advises on capital formation, distribution and licensing agreements across the entertainment and sports industries. Bruington specializes in finance matters. Deutsch serves as counsel to companies and advises on media start-ups. Haymer works in M&A, securities and partnerships in entertainment and sports. Offsay handles Hollywood studios, TV networks and entertainment financiers. London-based Savill advises film and TV companies. Their clients include Warner Bros., MGM, A24, beIN Media/Miramax, Hideaway Entertainment, Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., Intl. Olympic Committee, Lionsgate, Netflix, New Republic Pictures, Raine Group and Skydance Media.
Manager to Lady Gaga Mermaid Music Management
With Lady Gaga as his one client, Campbell works her music gigs, including the singer’s Las Vegas residency starting Dec. 28 at the Park MGM, and helped propel her passion for acting. The latter culminated with Lady Gaga’s starring role in blockbuster “A Star Is Born,” in which she sings and co-wrote songs; Campbell co-executive produced the soundtrack album. Showcasing her acting chops in 2015, Lady Gaga sparkled in FX TV series “American Horror Story: Hotel.” Campbell also produced documentary “Gaga: Five Foot Two” and engineered her Super Bowl singing appearances. His management company is under the Live Nation umbrella.
Founding Partner Chatham Law Group
Chatham says theatrical talent embraces TV streamers to push creative boundaries, receive acclaim and go multimedia, which is a larger trend. “My job is implementing opportunities for my clients’ brands in ways never thought of before, such as podcasts,” he says. Repping Dr. Phil McGraw and son Jay’s Stage 29 Prods., Chatham advised on selling primetime drama series “Chaplain” and “Melanie” to CBS; renewed syndicated “DailyMailTV”; renewed CBS’ “Bull”; and launched syndicated TV show “Face the Truth.” Chatham’s law firm works 800 hours of syndicated TV this season. He also reps a rescue worker on a defamation lawsuit against Elon Musk.
Peter Chernin and Jesse Jacobs
The Chernin Group
Chernin: CEO and Chairman
Jacobs notes that today’s hot new consumer brands are direct-to-consumer properties, which in media include Hulu, Netflix and Spotify. In the prior generation, ESPN and MTV flowered in a media ecosystem requiring middlemen distributors. “Our investing thesis is to invest, build, support and acquire direct-to-consumer brands,” Jacobs says. The best investment prospects have proven consumers are willing to pay for them. Chernin Group operates film and TV production, and also an investment arm for media, technology, commerce and sports. In August, AT&T acquired Chernin’s stake in Otter Media, reportedly valuing the Otter JV at over $1 billion. Chernin produced recent “Planet of the Apes” films, and earlier held senior posts at Fox and its parent. Jacobs previously worked at Goldman Sachs, iFilm and Fox Sports.
Founder and CEO Creative Wealth Media
Cloth sees low-budget films — produced for $1 million to $9 million — increasingly unbankable as cinema audiences tilt to glossy big-budget fare. “It’s tough, tough, tough to fully recoup yourself in this environment,” says the Toronto-based financier/ executive producer. He finds films in the tens of millions of dollars a better bet because they aggregate the creative heft to deliver box office wallop. Cloth’s company co-financed “Greyhound,” starring Tom Hanks, and fest favorite “Leave No Trace”; and is sole financier for “Fonzo,” starring Tom Hardy, and Jason Reitman’s “The Front Runner,” starring Hugh Jackman. He’s a board member of producer Bron Media.
Lindsay Conner and Sophia Yen
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
Conner: Partner and Chair, Media & Entertainment Group
Yen: Partner, Media & Entertainment Group
International content companies encounter new-to-them deal templates as the digital revolution lands on their shores, Yen says. With some content transactions covering all rights, she notes that “traditional forms of contingent compensation are no longer available, so content creators need to be sufficiently compensated on the front end.” Conner feels the content boom has legs, as old and new media both thrive. “Lawyers are business guides as well as legal guides in educating international suppliers about the Hollywood entertainment industry,” Conner adds. He reps AT&T/DirecTV, Michael Eisner’s Tornante Co., and private investors that separately funded New Republic Pictures and Solstice Studios. Yen handles FilmRise, Brazil’s O2 Filmes and China’s Spring Era Films. They advise Sony Pictures Entertainment, China’s Perfect World Pictures and East West Bank.
Robert Darwell, Robb Klein, Linda Michaelson, and David Sands
Klein, Michaelson, Sands: Partners, Co-Leaders of the Entertainment and Digital Media Practice
Hollywood’s traditional players accustomed to end-to-end control of content creation and distribution are being “upended” by digital streamers with pots of money and their direct-to-consumer model, says Sands. “As a result, the traditional players are being forced to re-examine and reposition their businesses.” Meanwhile, Klein says the streamers are casting a long shadow over the traditional independent film sector. Silicon Valley giants “have literally unlimited checkbooks so they can buy the best projects and tie up the best talent,” he says. Darwell handles international film/TV production and distribution companies, including Amazon Studios, Gaumont, Sun Distribution, Hemisphere Media and Alazraki Entertainment. Klein works Hollywood finance in production and distribution including repping a U.K. producer for two picture sequels with Netflix, a Dominican Republic investor in Stuart Ford’s Accelerated Global Content and Televisa for an English-language Amazon series. Michaelson focuses on corporate and securities in entertainment, new media and fashion industries including repping TBS for its joint venture with Conan O’Brien covering television, digital, social and live events. Sands advises on M&A and equity financing in the entertainment and media technology industries.
Thomas Dey and Richard Gray
ACF Investment Bank
Dey: CEO, President and Founder
Gray: U.S. Managing Director and Founder
Legacy TV is experiencing mood swings about disruptive streamers. Dey observes that industry attitude evolved from denial, at first, to fear, to “now I feel that there’s a lot of discussion about co-existence and benefits of selling and competing.” Legacy TV warms to streamings’ consumer-pay model. Dey and Gray worked nine transactions recently, including advising the sale of IAC’s Electus, U.K. producer Greenbird Media’s stake sale and U.K. producer Whizz Kid selling a 70% stake. Their investment bank specializing in transactions for TV production, talent management and film distribution repped 90 deals totaling $5 billion over 15 years.
Chair, Entertainment Department Loeb & Loeb
Over the years, such stakeholders as talent and studio/distributors settled on deal templates fitting a linear media world, but Edel says negotiations today operate “in a completely different revenue structure where the streaming platform pays for the full production cost.” Streamers mostly sit on their content, unlike studios that constantly license to third parties. The Los Angeles-based attorney handles China’s Tencent, serving as outside counsel on many of its Hollywood film and TV matters; Alcon Television, including relocating “The Expanse” to Amazon for its fourth season; Black Label Media; and unscripted producer Big Fish Entertainment on its sale to MGM.
David C. Eisman
Partner, Head of Entertainment Group Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Eisman finds that equipment, services providers including payroll companies and real estate are swept up in Hollywood’s merger mania. “Top companies that service the entertainment industry are well-positioned to capitalize on the continued explosive growth of content production and distribution,” says Eisman, who repped Saban in its Panavision and Sim Video acquisitions. The lawyer advised UTA on receiving equity investments from Investcorp and PSP; acquiring music Circle Talent Agency; buying two eSports agencies; and a TV joint venture. Other clients are Alibaba Pictures, Brillstein Entertainment, Marvel co-founder David Maisel, Monster Inc., Quixote Studios and Solstice Studios.
Chair, Entertainment and Media Group Venable
A transactional attorney with three decades of experience, Epstein handles complex financing, M&A, joint ventures, influencer deals, high-end tax planning and IP migration strategies. In the past year, he’s repped management and production company 3 Arts Entertainment in its majority stake acquisition by Lionsgate Entertainment, Imagine Entertainment in its joint venture with Australian animation studio Animal Logic and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot in the launch of a video game division, Bad Robot Games. “The variety of work that comes across my desk is tremendous,” says the Wisconsin native, whose daughter is actress Eden Epstein (Starz’s “Sweetbitter”). “There’s never a dull moment.”
Matthew Erramouspe, Bruce Tobey, Amy Siegel, Silvia Vannini, and Sean Monroe
O’Melveny & Myers
Erramouspe, Tobey: Co-Chairs, Entertainment, Sports, & Media Corporate Practice
Siegel, Vannini: Partners, Entertainment, Sports, & Media Corporate Practice Monroe: Partner, Mergers & Acquisitions Corporate Practice
Hollywood giants walk a tightrope as they dial back income-generating licensing to third-party streamers to hoard their content for their own ventures, Tobey says. “There will be a tradeoff between trying to create enterprise value through their new OTT networks versus traditional licensing revenue that has always kept the lights on.” While Hollywood laments Chinese investment drying up, Siegel says China is still a moneymaking destination for content and advises connecting with locals to navigate. “You can’t ignore that territory because it is the fastest-growing theatrical market in the world and a rapidly growing streaming business.” Erramouspe reps entertainment and media companies in finance, JVs and distribution, including Alibaba investing in mobile startup Quibi.
Tobey focuses on content transactions in film, TV and new media, including representing Paramount Pictures in its overall deal with toy giant Hasbro. Siegel works a wide range of entertainment and sports content transactions, including repping Pearl Studio (formerly Oriental DreamWorks) in deals with Universal and Netflix. Vannini handles finance, M&A and JVs, including Starz for its Middle East OTT. Monroe advises on strategic, corporate and M&A matters including 30West buying a majority stake in distributor Neon. The quintet’s shared clients include Warner Bros., Lionsgate and Skydance Media.
CEO & Vice Chairman Liberty Global
While the U.S. media/entertainment sector consolidates around content, Fries notes that in Europe — lacking equivalents to Hollywood’s major studios — convergence centers around networks. Fixed networks including cable systems merge with broadband wireless such as cell phones in each European country. “That’s happened or going to happen everywhere,” he says. Under the Denver-based Fries, Liberty Global announced or closed 30 deals in a year with an enterprise value of over $25 billion. These include selling cable systems in Germany, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic for $22.7 billion. Liberty also bought remaining stakes in two Latin American cable systems for $700 million.
Partner, Head of Entertainment Group Greenberg Glusker
Today’s merger mania in traditional Hollywood film/TV would ordinarily mean a contraction in purchasers for content, but Galsor sees “the negative effects of consolidation are offset, and not felt as sharply, because a multiplicity of buyers are coming out of the woodwork.” Video streamers are popping up across cyberspace, though Galsor notes that, if history is any guide, the current period of fierce streaming competition will eventually stabilize. The attorney advises talent, production companies and financiers in film, TV and new media. His clients include James Cameron, Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, David Fincher, Chris Hemsworth and video gamer Ubisoft Entertainment.
President, CEO Bron Studios
Since founding Vancouver-based Bron with his wife, Brenda, in 2010, Gilbert has produced and co-financed a string of high-profile projects, from the acclaimed films “Fences,” “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” and “The Birth of a Nation” to the “Mighty Mighty Monsters” animated franchise, and gained some hard-earned wisdom: “Emotion can get in the way of strong decisions,” says Gilbert. “You have to find a way to keep an even keel.” The company is involved in $590 million of production in 2018 alone, including “The Mule,” directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, and Jason Reitman’s “The Front Runner,” starring Hugh Jackman.
Partner Ginsburg Daniels
In Ginsburg’s view, TV talent is in the driver’s seat as creators are now being wooed across Hollywood by video streamers to feed their seemingly insatiable appetite for original programming. “The current buyer marketplace favors creators, especially hyphenates, who have a distinct point of view” in crafting originals, he says. Ginsburg represents actors, writers and directors. Among them: Colin Trevorrow for his pact in March to write, direct and produce “Jurassic World 3.” Other clients include popular actor-rapper-comedian Donald Glover, who has an Adidas endorsement deal; hot actors Timothée Chalamet and Lakeith Stanfield; and also Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark for comedy podcast “My Favorite Murder.” Beverly Hills-based Ginsburg Daniels also represents digital media influencers and brands.
Chuck Googe and Justin Hamill
Googe: Partner and Chair of the Entertainment Department
Hamill: Partner in the Corporate Department, and Head of Media, Sports and Entertainment
Hamill expects more mergers among content distribution platforms as they aim to aggregate eyeballs. Consolidation enables “more targeted opportunities to reach interested and more directly engaged audiences,” he says. Meanwhile, Googe points out that Hollywood’s content boom elevates values for libraries — finished movies, TV series, recorded music and music publshing. He advises libraries to license in pieces by territory, language and media because “that’s the way you can maximize the return.” Googe handles entertainment and intellectual properties, including China’s Tencent Technology for its Skydance Media investment, General Atlantic Partners and Searchlight Capital Partners. Hamill works corporate advisory, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and capital-raising across the worlds of Hollywood and sports. The New York attorneys both rep Vice Media and Endeavor, which received $1.4 billion in equity injections from four private equity investors. Paul, Weiss has been a presence in New York law for 150 years.
Moshe “Mooky” Greidinger, Israel Greidinger, Nisan Cohen, Renana Teperberg, and Nigel Kravitz
M. Greidinger: Chief Executive Officer
I. Greidinger: Deputy Chief Executive Officer
Cohen: Chief Financial Officer
Teperberg: Chief Commercial Officer
Kravitz: General Counsel
Greidinger injects a showman’s flair into his cinemas: big Imax screens, 4DX motion seats, ScreenX panoramic projection, wall-to-wall Superscreen and Regal Premium Experience. And in a throwback to old-time ticketing, he’s rolling out reserved seating so patrons “have more time in the lobby to use the concessions, and they don’t have to run to get their seat.” He and his brother Israel preside over the world’s second-largest movie theater chain, measured in screen count, after their London-based Cineworld acquired the biggest U.S. circuit Regal Entertainment in February for $3.6 billion. They own 28% of publicly traded Cineworld Group. In June, Cineworld spent $78.4 million raising its stake in theater-advertiser National CineMedia to 26.1% from 19.3%; and in April contracted for more Imax screens. The Greidingers’ family roots in cinema date to 1929 in what is now Israel. Cohen is a 16-year veteran. Teperberg is a 20-year veteran who began as a cashier. Kravitz joined in 2015 from private law practice in London.
David Hernand, Craig Emanuel, Erik Hyman, Mickey Mayerson, Stephen Saltzman and Susan Williams
Hernand: Office Chair; Partner, Corporate Dept.
Emanuel, Hyman, Mayerson, Saltzman, Williams: Partners, Entertainment & Media
In May, Paul Hastings hired five attorneys from Loeb & Loeb to join Hernand in launching an office in the Century City neighborhood of Los Angeles catering to the entertainment industry. “The goal was to bring together a group of all-stars to create the premier transactional practice for entertainment and media clients,” Hernand says. “The entertainment business has changed and morphed over the last 10 years. It’s much more global and a blend of entertainment and technology and celebrity and commerce, so you need a broader set of skills to serve clients.” Emanuel and Hyman are talent lawyers who make TV, film and media deals for creatives and production companies. Mayerson and Williams handle entertainment and media finance, while Hernand specializes in M&A and capital-raising transactions and Saltzman focuses on repping international entities, particularly those from China, in their dealings with Hollywood. “We’re not just Balkanized and handling our own business,” says Hyman. “I can walk down the hall and say, ‘This is something for you, Susan.’ I feel not only does it get the client better outcomes, it gives us the opportunity to be better lawyers.”
Holme and Feeney have worked in tandem to bring almost every major studio and network to Hulu’s live and on-demand services. Overseeing the SVOD side of the business, Holme recently brought full runs of popular animated series to Hulu including “South Park,” “Family Guy,” “Futurama,” “Bob’s Burgers” and “Rick and Morty,” and cut an expanded deal with Discovery securing the exclusive streaming rights to over 4,000 episodes of unscripted programming. Feeney handles deals for the live TV business, launched last year, which recently passed the 1 million subscriber mark. “It’s like being on a roller coaster in a really fun way,” says Feeney. “If you don’t like what you’re doing one day, wait a minute, because the next day you’ll get thrown into [another] project.”
Global Head, Business Affairs & Legal/General Counsel APA
A Southern California native, Johnson came to APA from ABC Studios in early 2017 and, in the nearly two years since, she’s negotiated a series of big deals for agency clients including Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (an overall production deal with Starz worth upward of $150 million), Mary J. Blige (unscripted, scripted, short- and long-form content celebrating the 25th anniversary of her album “My Life”), filmmaker John Carpenter, who’s developing new and rebooted properties, and videogame companies Atari, Bandi Namco, CapCom and Square Enix. “Everybody is going from a place where they’re established and looking to expand into complementary businesses and a multi-hyphenate approach,” says Johnson.
SVP, Premium Seating Staples Center and Microsoft Theater
Kajiwara had a varied and circuitous career, from Hollywood executive assistant to catering sales manager in New York, before winding up at Staples Center in Los Angeles, where today she handles all sales, management, service, special events and marketing initiatives for its private suites, premier tables and lounges, and other premium seats, which bring in more than $105 million annually. This year, one of her chief tasks was crafting a business strategy for LeBron James’ arrival as an L.A. Laker. “He’s the biggest game-changer I’ve seen in a very long time,” says Kajiwara. “He created a massive economic storm that we’re taking full advantage of.”
Jason Karlov, Carolyn Hunt, Rebekah Prince, Steve Weizenecker, Bryan Thompson, and Scott Witlin
Barnes & Thornburg
Jason Karlov: Chair, Entertainment, Media and Sports
Hunt, Prince, Weizenecker: Partners
Thompson: Special Counsel, Corporate & Entertainment Witlin: Partner, Head of CaliforniaLabor & Employment Law Practice
Industry economics are based on real revenue flow, though labor contracts are often grounded on dated templates, Witlin says. “We’ve got models that provide for residuals and contingent compensation when pay TV and home video were just add-ons to the main business,” he says. Meanwhile, Hunt finds that producers and financiers are more proactive in tackling potential insolvencies after the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy. At early stages, they “take collaborative steps with distributors to resolve issues to have a positive result at end,” Hunt says. Karlov specializes in music and live events; his clients include Michael Bolton, Bob Dylan, T Bone Burnett, John Fogerty and the NFL for half-time shows. Hunt focuses on film, TV, digital, and financiers; she advises City National Bank, Natixis Coficine and MUFG Union Bank on project financings; and producer K Period Media. Prince works sports & entertainment corporate transactions; her clients include basketball players Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant. Thompson handles TV, digital media and finance matters including online platform for influencer brands WhatsMode. Atlanta-based Weizenecker advises in production financial incentives, film, TV and video games; his clients include Cast & Crew Financial Services and Ingenious Media. Witlin specializes in labor matters for entertainment, broadcasting, video game, hospitality and non-Hollywood clients; Witlin reps the video game industry in labor contract talks.
COO Lionsgate Television
With talent, platform partners and co-producers crowded around negotiating tables, Kennedy says there’s a need to balance “how you are divvying up the pie and how you keep each party incentivized” in TV’s increasingly complex ecosystem. Platforms proliferate as do audience devices enabling consumption, she says. Kennedy spearheaded the majority-stake investment in 3 Arts Entertainment, which represents a first for a studio making an equity investment in a talent management/production company for creating content. Lionsgate has 70 TV series on 25 video channels. Earlier, she worked on the Starz merger and buying into unscripted TV’s Pilgrim Studios.
Arash Khalili and Steve Hurdle
Loeb & Loeb
Khalili: Partner, Co-Chair of Capital Markets & Corporate; Co-Chair Sports Group Hurdle: Partner, Deputy Chair Capital Markets & Corporate
Khalili expects merger mania to continue with “an increase in strategic rollups and consolidations in the media/entertainment space. The smaller companies are getting eaten up by the large companies.” In TV, Hurdle sees private equity financiers, video steamers and other digital players moving into content. And legacy TV companies are “getting more selective, and searching for companies with ancillary revenue streams or retained IP rights,” Hurdle adds. Khalili works M&A in media, entertainment and sports technology. He advised Picture Head Holdings in its recapitalization, Annapurna Pictures, and individual talent including Carrie Underwood for her branded fitness/lifestyle apparel. Hurdle focuses on M&A in entertainment, media and technology, including Big Fish Entertainment for its sale to MGM and Arash Khalili advised Carrie Underwood for her branded fitness and lifestyle apparel.
Managing Director & Head of Entertainment Finance MUFG Union Bank
LaCour says nimble indies can fashion profitable films with differentiated content, allowing inexpensive marketing via a sharp focus on specific demographics and emphasizing social media, which reduces need for paid advertising. “Despite all the market noise and challenges in the independent theatrical business, the indie release business continues to have significant success stories,” says LaCour. His clients include TV program financiers for eOne’s Mark Gordon Co. and the deal to move its series “Designated Survivor” to Netflix; Gaumont Television; Legendary Entertainment; he navigated full repayment of bank loans from Weinstein Co. bankruptcy; Vine Alternative Investments.
Ari Lanin and Benyamin Ross
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Lanin: Partner and Co-Chair, Private Equity Practice Group Ross: Partner
Lanin says that mergers and acquisitions between private media companies move at lightning speed these days, pushed by a variety of pressures and individuals motivated by a hot marketplace. “Nobody ever used to have the guts to say, ‘I want this done in 48 hours or over the weekend,’” Lanin says. In television program deals, Ross notes that digital television platforms have access to copious audience information that drives “where they will direct their capital based on consumer tastes.” Ross sees such data smarts filtering down to even small digital players. Lanin and Ross repped Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo forming NewTV and its $1 billion capital raise, and Chernin Group selling its Otter Media stake to partner AT&T. Ross advises Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures, CBS and Oak View Group. Based in Los Angeles, Gibson Dunn includes 2,000 attorneys in 20 offices worldwide.
Owner and Founder LaPolt Law
The major force in shepherding recently passed landmark federal legislation the Music Modernization Act, LaPolt is proud that songwriters get seats on the newly created Music Licensing Collective that oversees mechanical streaming royalties. “So they are not in the pocket of music publishing companies” anymore, she says. Record labels and music publishers previously handled those royalties without much songwriter input. The attorney’s clients include Steven Tyler, Deadmau5, and Britney Spears. She handles Spears’ Domination residency concerts. LaPolt founded her law firm in 2001 and teaches at UCLA Extension.
Alison Lima, Bryan Noon, Amy Paquette, and Liz Polk
Lima: VP, Business & Legal Affairs, Kids & Family
Noon: VP, Original Series
Paquette: VP, Business and Legal Affairs
Polk: Senior Counsel, Independent Film
Clinching megadeals with top talent for content is not just about money, says Paquette; non-financial elements also matter, including creative freedom. “It’s being nimble and flexible, and reading the parties in the room to understand what’s important to them,” she says. Meanwhile, Polk adds that Netflix, as a Hollywood newcomer and, some would say, disruptor, evangelized talent and dealmakers on its approach toward financial structures, distribution models and other contractual elements. With that education process completed, Polk says, “we’ve been able to move at a quicker pace now” because everyone is now on the same page for transactions. Joining earlier this year in business/legal affairs, Lima shepherded Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion musical “Pinocchio” and Chris Williams’ CG-animated feature “Jacob and the Sea Beast.” Previously, Lima worked at DreamWorks Animation for 17 years. On the business side, Noon spearheaded dealmaking for hit series “Stranger Things,” Obama’s Higher Ground Prods., and Netflix’s talent deals, including head-turning pacts with showrunners Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes. Noon joined six years ago prior to the launch of “House of Cards,” after nine years at Walt Disney Co. Paquette, leading original studio features business/legal affairs, worked on Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” and Michael Bay’s “6 Underground.” In her four years at Netflix, her department grew to 18 executives. Polk handled romantic comedy “Someone Great” starring Gina Rodriguez; at Netflix since 2013, attorney Polk previously worked at IM Global. All four execs are based in the company’s Los Angeles office.
Head of Business Affairs Endeavor
The New Jersey native ran point on a series of big transactions in the past year, including Jim Carrey’s return to television in Showtime’s “Kidding,” the straight-to-series deal for M. Night Shyamalan’s “Servant” at Apple, and Amblin, Steve Zaillian and Javier Bardem’s deals for the limited series “Cortes” at Amazon. “I think sometimes language gets in the way of understanding, so I spend a lot of time trying to understand things in a deep enough way that I can translate it across to business people and creative people so that we can find a way to make deals,” Limerick says.
President, Business Affairs Columbia Pictures
Marshall didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of his lawyer parents, but after a post-undergrad stint at the Disney Channel he relented and entered law school at Pepperdine University. “I thought if I got a law degree I could always figure out a way to make a living while I pursue what I want to do,” which is get into production, he says. Since 2011, he’s led Columbia’s negotiations on development and production-related deals for all their features, including the recent hit “Venom” and Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” He also recently closed a multi-year development and production deal with Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media.
Darrell D. Miller
Chair of Entertainment Department Fox Rothschild
Video streamers upend convention by ordering fewer episodes for their TV series, which Miller views with mixed feelings: sometimes that frees talent to quickly pursue other gigs but there’s also arm-wrestling over exclusivity. Streamers “aggregate their own content to their own audiences under their own brands,” he says. Miller reps Angela Bassett starring in Netflix’s “Otherhood” and starring in and executive producing Fox procedural “9-1-1”; Chris “Ludacris” Bridges for hosting/executive producing game show “Fear Factor”; Irv Gotti for renegotiation of BET’s “Tale”; Justin Prentice’s renegotiation for Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why”; and Courtney B. Vance starring in HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.”
Founder DMG Entertainment
Fluent in Mandarin, Brooklyn native Mintz has leveraged connections in China to build DMG into a multi-pronged media company involved in movies (“Chappaquiddick,” “Blockers,” “Iron Man 3,” “Looper”), television, gaming and location-based entertainment. Earlier this year, DMG closed a deal to acquire comic book publisher Valiant Entertainment that has already spawned a Vin Diesel-toplined feature “Bloodshot” (part of a five-picture deal with Sony and Neal Moritz’s Original Film). “DC Comics is of the ’30s, mentality-wise, and Marvel is of ’60s,” says Mintz. “Valiant is of the ’90s. It’s younger. The problems and issues that arise are much more relatable, and it has amazing depth to it.”
Lex Miron and David Robbins
Partners UltraV Holdings
Miron and Robbins are private equity investors, new to the movie business who are bullish on industry economics, spurring their $40 million acquisition of Relativity Media out of bankruptcy in October. Hollywood-product consumption and prices are rising faster than costs, and “the spread between those two lines will continue to widen,” Robbins predicts. Miron notes that incumbent premium pay TV buyers such as HBO are joined by growing ranks of streamers “and that fragmentation drives prices.” They bought Relativity for its Netflix output deal, film library, development slate and for being an investment non-correlated to the overall economy. Miron has been a private equity investor for 15 years, and Robbins, a former chairman of gambling products company Bally Technologies, for 20 years.
Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic
Partners Lantern Capital Partners
Mitchell believes that Hollywood should take comfort that consumption of film, TV and music content soars via digital, despite uncertainty about monetization. The uncharted digital landscape “is making the industry nervous because of the disruption, but this is nothing new,” says Mitchell, who is based in Dallas. In July, Lantern bought Weinstein Co., paying $289 million cash, getting its 270-film library. Lantern specializes in turnarounds and is new to Hollywood. Before co-founding Lantern in 2010, Mitchell worked private equity and investment banking, as did Brajovic, who is now based in New York. Earlier, they worked at investment banker Houlihan Lokey in media/entertainment.
Partner Greenberg Glusker
Moore laments that the bottom is falling out for theatrical films budgeted under $100 million. With video streamers emerging as the only reliable financers for such movies, “it’s become just a completely digital world,” says the Los Angeles-based attorney. Moore repped special effects shop Pixomondo in selling a majority stake; Greece-based Hercules investing in a Lionsgate film slate; Cross Creek Pictures co-producing Sony Pictures’ “Bloodshot”; and Hemisphere Capital co-investing in “Men in Black III.” He worked for producer Marvin Peart extracting “War With Grandpa,” starring Robert de Niro, from the Weinstein Co. and also producer Moritz Borman regaining “Playmobil” from Open Road.
Ben Mulcahy and Gina Reif Ilardi
Mulcahy: Partner-Co-Chair of the National Advertising Team
Ilardi: Partner-Co-Chair of the National Advertising Team
For Mulcahy, the growth of eSports is galvanizing advertisers and sponsors because the multiplayer video game competitions are an “efficient aggregator for an almost-unreachable audience” of digital natives. Meanwhile, Reif Ilardi worked a complex TV commercial series using 10 music artists for Chrysler Fiat pitching its Apple Experience car package. The music contracts span multiple countries for different time periods covering numerous media for various rights-holders involving talent and music licenses. “It’s a lot wider net than it used to be,” she says. Los Angeles-based Mulcahy specializes in digital content initiatives in sports and entertainment. New York-based Reif Ilardi works sponsorships, promotions and endorsements in sports, entertainment, e-commerce and branded entertainment. They represent Paramount Pictures, 21st Century Fox, Atlanta Esports Ventures, Lionsgate, outdoors REI and STX Entertainment.
President and CEO CBS Global Distribution Group
Nuñez feels content distribution is akin to three-dimensional chess with the wall between domestic and foreign falling, and new buyers sprouting. Deals are “complex,” he says, requiring “many strategic conversations and points on how you want to monetize/utilize your programming assets.” For example, program sellers sort through competing offers for global, multi-territory or just single-territory deals. Nuñez is also chief content licensing officer for CBS Corp. He spearheaded the acquisition of Network Ten in Australia and is preparing the launch of CBS All Access streaming in Australia. He manages 11 channel ventures covering 109 territories.
Partner Sidley Austin
Petretti sees the indie film sector grappling with evolving financial models to keep up with industry changes. Among new wrinkles are streaming platforms buying all rights and the direct-to-consumer ecosystem. “I don’t think it’s shaken out yet as how the financing models will adjust going forward,” he says. Petretti represented J.P. Morgan for an $800 million revolving credit for Legendary Entertainment and $200 million for China’s Perfect World; City National Bank for library acquisition and film/TV project financings; and Shamrock Capital for acquiring a TV library. He’s worked $16.5 billion of media and entertainment financing transactions over his career.
VP, Business Affairs, Television ICM Partners
Riley first declared her ambition to become an entertainment lawyer when she was a 13-year-old kid growing up in Arizona. Now, she’s living out her dream at ICM, where she’s built a reputation for cutting innovative deals in the streaming space, including John Cena’s pact to executive-produce and voice the lead role in the YouTube Premium animated comedy series “Dallas & Robo” and Mark and Jay Duplass’ DBP Donut Prods. original content deal with Snap and NBCUniveral’s new joint-venture studio. “The television business is evolving in real time right in front of everyone’s eyes, and keeping up with it keeps you on your toes,” she says.
Vice Chairman, Global Entertainment & Media Practice Greenberg Traurig
Record companies and music publishers had earned their money for services including distributing physical product, but “new technologies have disrupted those traditional roles,” says Rosenbloum. “We’re going to see a significant realignment of the role of the traditional companies in the music industry.” Digital tools enable artists to self-serve, which Rosenbloum thinks will elevate the importance of personal managers that oversee talent’s affairs. The Atlanta-based lawyer handles music-related initiatives for Amazon, its Twitch Interactive unit, Facebook and content-platform ByteDance. Rosenbloum also reps the Digital Media Assn., the Recording Academy, Spotify and the Latin Recording Academy for its 10-year Latin Grammy Awards TV deal. Headquartered in Miami, Greenberg Traurig has 38 offices and 2,000 lawyers around the world.
Partner, Entertainment & Media Practice and Corporate Practice Sklar Kirsh
Offshore buyers of films, rattled by U.S. indie bankruptcies, are pushing conditions that turn off financiers, says Rosner. “When foreign sales are made, they are looking for domestic release commitments” such as minimum screen count and advertising spend, he says. Rosner finds that banks balk because financiers don’t control theatrical releases. The lawyer repped Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios in acquiring the Weather Channel, P&A for three theatrical releases, a receivables credit facility and a syndicated corporate loan. Rosner also advises banks, MarVista Entertainment in a production loan, and celebrity stylist Karla Welch for a branded apparel line.
EVP, Head of Entertainment & Private Banking Banc of California
The media/entertainment landscape is becoming a land of the giants due to mega mergers, which Sanders says emphasize large scale that can squeeze small players. While big seems the flavor of the month, Sanders believes that “there are always going to be the niche players that have good ideas and need good financial partners.” Sanders enlarged the bank’s entertainment division, doubling its relationship manager staff since joining in 2016; he previously worked at Merrill Lynch and was an attorney at Loeb & Loeb. Clients include Hollywood talent, their business managers, law firms, talent managers, athletes, project financing for TV/film/digital and entertainment/media companies.
Todd Weinstein and Tara Senior
Partners Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano
Senior believes talent reps should “not only be reactive to deals, but act as a consigliere to clients for their broader goals.” For Weinstein, those nonmonetary ambitions can include launching personal passion projects. Senior and Weinstein handle talent and production companies and co-head the firm’s unscripted and alternative practice. They repped unscripted TV producer Big Fish Entertainment in its sale to MGM; Big Fish renegotiations for “Live PD” on A&E for 450 live-action hours: Scooter Braun and J.D. Roth to create their GoodStory unscripted production company; producers for Facebook Watch’s first talk show.
David Shaheen, Reggie Lang, Jeff Bazoian, and Darian Singer
Shaheen: Head of Corporate Client Banking, Entertainment Industries Group & West Region
Lang, Bazoian: Managing Directors
Singer: Executive Director
Hollywood’s leading lender, with $25 billion in syndicated debt deals since 2015, J.P. Morgan finds that “transaction volume continues to be strong,” says Shaheen. “This is being driven by strategic M&A and opportunistic access to capital markets.” There’s no slow-down in sight because the underpinnings of entertainment remain boffo. Global audiences “are consuming more content than ever,” says Singer. “The media and entertainment sectors continue to grow and evolve on the back of technology advancements and shifts in consumer consumption habits.” The foursome is based in Los Angeles. Their transactions include a $3.5 billion refinance for Lionsgate in March, $2.6 billion in first and second lien financing for MGM in July, $1.5 billion senior unsecured revolving credit for Activision in August, an $800 million re-financing for Legendary Entertainment in June and $160 million refinancing for Tyler Perry Studios in January. Other clients active in the past year are Endeavor Content, Kobalt Music and National Cinemedia.
Michael S. Sherman
Partner, Leader of Film/TV Sector, Entertainment & Media Industry Group Reed Smith
As the streaming business goes global, Sherman sees a surge of production based on storytelling originating outside the U.S. The new content is being produced offshore and financed or acquired by American companies. “It’s a big wave of activity and there’s a lot of money available for high-quality [material],” he says. With a law practice focused on entertainment and intellectual property, Sherman reps posthumously published Michael Crichton novels, P&A funds, the 11th “Halloween” for reuse of the original music score from the series’ first movie, film slate funding including from China and motion picture/TV production financing.
Partner, Chairman of New Media, Motion Picture, Television, Theater, Publishing and Sports Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks
Silicon Valley is accustomed to rapid-fire dealmaking, to which Shire advocates “balancing our clients’ desires of wanting to close things quickly, while still making sure that deals are negotiated thoroughly and carefully.” Shire says among the fine points to consider are contingent compensation, exclusivity and rights granted to talent. The New York-based lawyer repped Facebook in content deals with NBA star Stephen Curry, as well as Will Smith and Sofia Vergara; Bruce Springsteen for Broadway; Elton John, including his farewell tour; Lady Gaga for “A Star Is Born”; LeBron James for endorsements and digital; and numerous talent in their digital deals.
President & COO Skydance Media
While some find partnerships scary for their reliance on outsiders, Sisgold feels they can create a multiplier effect. He says alliances can fill voids such as gaps in geography, expand reach by utilizing a partner’s resources efficiently and provide fresh expertise. “Partnerships allow us to scale quickly and compete within what is clearly becoming consolidating content market,” Sisgold says. He notes Chinese giant Tencent Holdings’ investment in Skydance is an example of a multifaceted partnership. He also shepherded big-budget Michael Bay action movie “6 Underground,” starring Ryan Reynolds, to a Netflix deal.
Of Counsel Glaser Weil
Notre Dame college basketball player Arike Ogunbowale competed on ABC dance competition stalwart “Dancing With the Stars” without losing her amateur status after Stewart mounted a full court press for producer BBC Studios. College sports regulator NCAA classified the athlete’s substantial earnings as prize money, not employment earnings; Notre Dame provided injury insurance coverage; and SAG-AFTRA granted a waiver since the player did not join the union, Stewart says. “This could be a beginning of a new wave” for amateur-athlete performers, she adds. The entertainment attorney specializes television, film and new media for producers and production companies. Clients include Anonymous Content, APA and Legendary Entertainment. Based in Century City, Glaser Weil is a full-service law firm with strengths in both litigation and transactional law.
EVP, Business Affairs Sony Pictures Television
Tatevosian remembers herself being a “living, breathing TV Guide” growing up in Burbank in the ’80s. Now, she’s on the other end of the supply chain. In recent months, she’s negotiated overall deals with show creators Vince Gilligan and David Shore and first-look deals with actresses Mila Kunis and Gabrielle Union and Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media, and pacted with Apple for the sci-fi drama “For All Mankind” and Spectrum for crime show “L.A.’s Finest.” “It’s really interesting to be able to look at each platform, understand their needs and be able to shift each deal to make sure what we deliver fits their needs,” she says.
Spingarn says Hollywood talent is in high demand as “as emerging platforms use content as a key differentiator to drive subscriber acquisition and retention. And traditional networks reliant on advertising and affiliate fees are forced to dramatically adapt, as they face new, well-capitalized competitors and changing consumer behavior.” The talent agency executive feels that being platform-agnostic is the best approach. Thau and Spingarn shepherded equity investments by private equity funds Investcorp and PSP Investments; acquisition of electronic dance music-focused Circle Talent Agency; purchase of eSports talent agency/management company Press X and Everyday Influencers; and established Civic Center Media venture with Valence Media’s MRC to co-produce content.
Partner, Head of Media/Entertainment Global Practice Sidley Austin
Thompson believes that the merger mania sweeping Hollywood, such as Disney buying Fox’s studio business, has legs. He says majors and mini-majors sidelined initially will be galvanized by rivals that bulked up and by Silicon Valley behemoths barging into Hollywood. “The direct-to-consumer business is forever changing our industry, and driving transactions big and small,” he says. Thompson repped eOne in various transactions, IPC companies in their sale to CORE Media, PSP Investments in buying a stake in talent agency UTA, and Shamrock Capital purchasing a TV library. He also advised uber producer Mark Burnett in re-upping as chairman of MGM Television Group, and host-comedian-producer Conan O’Brien in extending his deal at TBS. Based in Chicago, Sidley Austin has 20 offices worldwide that employ over 2,000 attorneys.
President, CEO Entertainment One
Throop finds that creative talent gravitates to employers that sport numerous distribution avenues to tap the consumer and business markets. So it’s necessary to “build a diverse platform of assets that can speak to ever-changing demand from consumers and from creators,” Throop adds. His publicly traded Toronto-based eOne bought the remaining 49% of Hollywood titan Mark Gordon Co. for a reported $209 million and completed the final acquisition of production/foreign sales shingle Sierra/Affinity. EOne also invested in Jeffrey Katzenberg’s startup Quibi, renewed licensing of the Peppa Pig children’s property, and acquired Round Room Entertainment.
EVP, Business Affairs Paradigm
Since Wagner came to Paradigm in 2005, he has overseen scores of film and TV deals, including: renegotiations for “Stranger Things” at Netflix; “NCIS” at CBS; “black-ish” at ABC; sales of several international series formats to domestic outlets, including Norway’s “Maniac” to Netflix, Argentina’s “Tell Me a Story” (“Había Una Vez”) to CBS All Access and Korea’s “The Masked Singer” to Fox; and Paradigm’s acquisition of Dale Morris & Associates, the touring unit of Morris Higham Management. “With the changing marketplace, we get to make deals in new areas of the business,” says Wagner. “It keeps it fresh, exciting and interesting.”
Senior VP/Team manager, Entertainment Banking division City National Bank
Wheeler finds business is booming for privately owned companies in her turf of music, sports and talent agencies. A 26-year veteran of the bank, she’s working three $100 million credit transactions right now. One client that had sold a stake in itself now borrows to buy back figuring “in a few years it’ll be enormously more expensive” as industry fortunes soar, she says. Wheeler manages a 25-person team handling $3 billion in deposits and $2.5 billion in loans for Hollywood individuals, business managers and commercial loans. CNB is a Royal Bank of Canada company.
Managing Director, Head of Media & Entertainment, Technology, Media & Telecom Group Houlihan Lokey
Wieshofer’s years of experience at big entertainment companies including Media Rights Capital and Lionsgate (where she was CFO) served her well this past year as she advised the senior lenders to the Weinstein Co. on the rocky road through its bankruptcy filing and ultimate sale to Lantern Capital Partners in a $300 million deal that closed in July. “I’ve released films, dealt with talent and studio space issues, negotiated with the guilds, banks and lawyers,” says Wieshofer, who also recently advised visual effects company Pixomondo on the sale of a majority interest to Mayfair Equity Partners. “I know the challenges and where people hide things.”
Masami Yamamoto and Lee Straus
Yamamoto: EVP, Business Affairs, Scripted Programming
Straus: EVP, Business Affairs, Alternative & Specials
Yamamoto and Straus work on separate teams, with the former handling deals for scripted programming ranging from “This Is Us” to “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” and the latter overseeing negotiations for non-scripted fare including “The Voice” and Dwayne Johnson’s “The Titan Games.” But this year they teamed to close an eight-year megadeal with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and Dick Clark Prods. for the broadcast rights for the Golden Globes, which were up for grabs following a 23-year run at NBC. “License agreements are all about who gets to do what, and Lee and I had to fight really hard to get what we needed to have a meaningful return on our investment, while HFPA and DCP tried to hold to what they could,” says Yamamoto.
Famous faces launching personal branded products need “a very strong point of view,” Yorn says. “Vague points of view won’t work in this crowded marketplace. … Be bold with it; be audacious.” Even if that positioning is a turnoff for many consumers, Yorn finds that activating an inspired minority leads to success. He repped Scarlett Johansson, including her big payday for Disney/Marvel’s “Black Widow”; Ellen DeGeneres, including her ED by Ellen brand; renegotiated Zoe Saldana’s deals for her Disney/Marvel movies; and Ansel Elgort’s pacts for his movies “The Goldfinch” from Warner Bros./Amazon Studios and “West Side Story” at Fox.
Up Next: Paul Azzi
Business Affairs Executive Paradigm Talent Agency
When it comes to negotiations, “it’s you and me versus the problem, not you and me versus each other,” says 28-year-old Azzi, who joined Paradigm three years ago, one week after taking the bar exam. Today, he handles all unscripted package deals for the agency (e.g., Jada Pinkett Smith’s “Red Table Talk”), as well as film and TV deals for talent and literary properties, including deaf actress Millicent Simmonds’ pact for “A Quiet Place,” brand partnerships and social-media endorsements.
Up Next: Adam Beasley
Associate Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard
“I like that I have a hand in the creative arts in some way, working on projects people talk about,” says New York-based Beasley, who played guitar and sang lead in a classic rock cover band before entering law school. In the past year, he’s provided legal services for A&E’s documentary projects and Netflix’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000” reboot, negotiated development, financing and distribution deals for numerous indie filmmakers and studios, and executive-produced the upcoming feature “The Garden Left Behind.”
Up Next: Erika Canchola
Partner Ramo Law
Canchola splits her time between L.A. and New York, handling financing, production and distribution legal work on a wide swath of independent films, including Oscar nominees “Call Me by Your Name” and “The Disaster Artist,” Sundance pick-up “Hearts Beat Loud” and recently announced drug drama “Arkansas,” starring Liam Hemsworth. With indies, “you have to be a little more creative,” Canchola says. “You can bifurcate and customize the [financing] structure for your film, and when that happens, it ups the complexity of everything.”
Up Next: Ben Enowitz
VP of Innovation Endeavor
The website that Enowitz launched at Harvard, CollegiateSpark, never took off like Facebook, but he’s nonetheless enjoyed success helping spearhead Endeavor’s cutting-edge investments in Epic Games (creator of “Fortnite”), data-driven marketing company AppleCart, artificial intelligence startup AI Foundation, influencer marketing platform Influential and premier sneaker event Sneaker Con. “When we invest, we want to find interesting ways to work with the company across the Endeavor ecosystem, so it’s not just ‘corporate venture capital,’” says the New York-based Enowitz, who runs marathons in his spare time.
Up Next: Michael Gaspar
Director of Business and Legal Affairs for Television Entertainment One
Prior to law school, Gaspar studied painting, and he believes that experience informs his work for eOne. “I understand the personality of artists and their desire to put their own stamp on their work, and I love getting to enable that,” says the Washington, D.C., native, who recently closed deals for two-time Emmy-winner Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson to co-star in the studio’s HBO pilot “Run” and negotiated for the rights to the books “The Lying Game” and “An Anonymous Girl.”
Up Next: Steven Hamilton
Senior Director, Entertainment Banking Banc of California
Since joining Banc of California from City National Bank in July, Hamilton and his team have closed over $100 million in deals, and they have $122 million more worth in the pipeline for their clients, which include production companies, talent agencies, law firms, technology companies, music publishers, record labels and high-net-worth individuals. “I work hard to understand how the different market segments within the industry are operating so I can add value,” he says.
Up Next: Phil Voss
Associate General Counsel United Talent Agency
In two years with UTA, Voss helped negotiate multiple deals, including the agency’s partnership with Valence Media and Media Rights Capital to establish Civic Center Media, and its minority-stake sale to Investcorp and PSP. “In one day, I can work across our marketing practice on projects with corporate clients, help structure a joint venture deal with our ventures team and then help close a purchase agreement for an acquisition with our business development team,” Voss says.
Up Next: Danice Woodley and Stacey Fong
SVPs, Business & Legal Affairs Participant Media
Fong handles Participant’s development and production; Woodley oversees sales and distribution on its films, which include Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” and Mimi Leder’s “On the Basis of Sex.” They’ve also been expanding into television with the Starz docuseries “America to Me” and Ava DuVernay’s upcoming fact-based Netflix mini “Central Park Five.” “We consider more potential distribution partners than we did five years because there are some nice partnerships to be had with streaming players,” Woodley says.
Up Next: Emily Zipperstein
Associate Sidley Austin
Zipperstein served as a key member of the Sidley team that crafted the recent joint venture between TBS and Conan O’Brien. The pact extends beyond his TV show and into social media, branded content, podcasting and live events. She was a lead associate handling eOne’s investment in CAA’s start-up Creative Labs. “My practice is a unique hybrid of traditional mergers and acquisitions and the digital media and commercial work we do for our studio clients,” says Zipperstein, who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro on her honeymoon.