Power Lawyers 2017: Hollywood's Top 100 Attorneys

6:00 AM 4/26/2017

by THR Staff

No envelope mix-up here! Meet the attorneys behind the 'Moonlight' Oscar winner, Melania's litigation, Bill O'Reilly's downfall, the year's biggest media megamergers and pretty much anything that matters in Hollywood.

James Feldman (right) with client Barry Jenkins
James Feldman (right) with client Barry Jenkins
Photographed By Sami Drasin

Extortion. Messy divorces. Nine-figure deals with Chinese media conglomerates. It's been a busy year for Hollywood's power attorneys, who once again gather in THR's pages for the magazine's annual Power Lawyers issue. The men and women on this list handle a range of cases, from simple talent contracts to complex corporate mergers that take months to iron out, but they all have things in common. They all love working in the entertainment industry. They all play a vital role in keeping Hollywood's wheels turning. They're all at the very top of their field. And — judging from THR's survey — they all drink too much coffee (an average of 5.5 cups a day, if calculations include the guy who claimed to down 97 cups).

Below, the Power Lawyers of 2017 discuss their biggest cases, reveal their private political beliefs (only 14 percent think Donald Trump will get impeached) and answer the age-old question, "Which superhero would you most want to represent?"

Profiles written by Ashley Cullins, Mia Galuppo, Eriq Gardner, Natalie Jarvey, Borys Kit, Andy Lewis, Pamela McClintock, Brian Porreca, Bryn Elise Sandberg, Patrick Shanley, Tatiana Siegel, Kate Stanhope and Rebecca Sun.

  • Iddo Arad

    Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

    Why he matters The New York-based lawyer has represented A24 since its inception and in 2016 negotiated the film studio's deal with Plan B to make best picture winner Moonlight. Arad also represents the makers of Risk, the May 2 documentary about Julian Assange that took six years to film, gained unprecedented access to the asylum-holder and had its share of legal challenges.

    Last TV shows binged "The Crown and RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 2. Simultaneously."

  • Karl Austen

    Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Harvard Law School

    Why he matters In film, Austen recently closed deals for the Russo brothers (to direct the next two Avengers movies), Fede Alvarez (to helm The Girl in the Spider's Web) and Matt Reeves (to reinvent Batman for Warner Bros.). On the TV side, he's working on extending Transparent creator Jill Soloway's deal with Amazon as her new dramedy, I Love Dick, readies its debut May 12.

    Last TV show binged Orphan Black

  • Daniel Black

    Greenberg Traurig

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater George Washington University Law School

    Why he matters Black, whose clients include Conde Nast Entertainment, iHeartRadio and BBC America, specializes in helping traditional media break into digital. The Guardian enlisted him to negotiate with Vice to bring its print stories to new platforms. He also helped longtime client Pokemon get back in the game with last summer's Pokemon Go phenomenon.

    Comfort food "I have transitioned from pretzels to crudites."

  • Jake Bloom

    Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman

    Mark Sullivan/WireImage/Getty Images

    Alma mater Cornell Law School

    Why he matters Longtime client Jerry Bruckheimer is producing sequels for several high-profile films and franchises, including Top Gun, National Treasure and Beverly Hills Cop. Nicolas Cage, who has signed to star in the dystopian action-thriller The Humanity Bureau, also keeps Bloom busy, and the attorney also reps Martin Scorsese and Lorenzo di Bonventura.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Skiing. I'm horrible at it."

  • Christopher Brearton

    Latham & Watkins

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater University of Virginia School of Law

    Why he matters Brearton helped auteur brothers Joe and Anthony Russo invade China in their multimillion-dollar joint venture with Huayi Bros. to produce big-budget global films. Brearton also helped media clients make digital buys, including Participant Media's acquisition of Rainn Wilson's production company SoulPancake and AMC Networks' purchase of a minority stake in Funny or Die.

    Comfort food "Sugarfish delivery."

  • Skip Brittenham

    Ziffren Brittenham

    Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law 

    Why he matters Even before Hollywood started playing musical chairs in its C-suites, Brittenham was perhaps the town's most well-connected executive dealmaker, negotiating upward of $1 billion in contracts a year. He's been particularly active this year: He represented former Fox film chief Jim Gianopulos in his move to take over as chairman and CEO of Paramount and helped Toby Emmerich hammer out his deal to become president and chief content officer of Warner Bros. Pictures. Talent clients include Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott.

  • Harold Brown

    Gang Tyre Ramer & Brown

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters With one of Hollywood's biggest stars, Dwayne Johnson (The Fate of the Furious, Baywatch and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, plus HBO's Ballers returning in July), as a client, Brown hasn't had much downtime this year. He also reps Stephen King and Michael Mann, who launched a book imprint in 2016.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Riding my bike. I drove into a parked car, broke my hip and had to have it replaced."

  • John Burke

    Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

    Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

    Alma mater Southwestern Law School

    Why he matters The media finance guru recently helped Spider-Man director Sam Raimi and The Lives of Others helmer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck form an indie production company, Allegory Films (fueled by a co-financing agreement with the Chinese firm Beijing Cultural Investment Holding Ltd.). Burke also reps Abu Dhabi entertainment company Image Nation and RatPac-Dune Entertainment's co-financing agreement with Warner Bros. and oversees Assured Guaranty's portion of The Weinstein Co.'s film library.

    Cups of coffee a day "Five cappuccinos."

  • Joseph Calabrese

    Latham & Watkins

    Courtesy of Gittings Photography

    Alma mater Cornell Law School 

    Why he matters Calabrese is one of the top Hollywood-Asia dealmakers. He not only led the team advising Legendary Entertainment in its $3.5 billion acquisition by China's Dalian Wanda Group but also helped Warner Bros. in its acquisition of DramaFever, a video streaming service that features Korean content. He continues to work with the International Olympic Committee on the development of its over-the-top TV platform.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "The Cresta [sled] run. It's headfirst down a twisting kilometer-long ice chute in St. Moritz, Switzerland."

  • Lisa Callif

    Donaldson & Callif

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Southwestern Law School

    Why she matters If you've got a documentary in the works, Callif and partner Michael Donaldson are the ones you call to make sure your subjects don't sue. This year's Sundance festival featured nearly two dozen films by her firm's clients, including the feature Ingrid Goes West, which she calls a modern-day Single White Female. When Instagram wouldn't give permission to use its logo in the film, Callif didn't bat an eye. "We wrote an opinion letter saying it's fine to use these logos," she says. "You can't make a movie set in the present day without using social media."

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "I had two kids."

  • Lindsay Conner

    Manatt Phelps & Phillips

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Harvard Law School 

    Why he matters When Hollywood and Chinese investors seek to hook up, Conner holds their coats. He represented Tang Media Partners in the first-ever slate co-financing deal in television, a pact between China's Tencent and Stuart Ford's IM Global. Chinese power players Perfect World Pictures, Weying Technology and Huayi Bros. Media Corp. also look to him for guidance.

    Which superhero I'd most want to defend "Batman. He may make a mess, but Bruce Wayne can pay the bills."

  • Melanie Cook

    Ziffren Brittenham

    Courtesy of Photo by Alex J. Berliner/Berliner Photography/BEImages

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law

    Why she matters Cook helped get Dumbo off the ground by negotiating Tim Burton's deal to direct the remake of the Disney classic. She also negotiated Holly Hunter's agreement to star in HBO's Here, Now, a new series from Alan Ball. Robin Wright scored her fourth best actress Emmy nomination for House of Cards, and another client, Naomie Harris, Oscar nominated for supporting actress, saw her film Moonlight win for best picture in a historic upset.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Rock climbing the Via Ferrata in the Dolomites in Italy. Also, helicopter skiing in Canada."

  • Robert Darwell

    Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton

    Courtesy of Gittings Photography

    Alma mater Georgetown Law

    Why he matters Darwell is spending more time on television projects, including the HBO series Sharp Objects, which he's working on for client eOne. "It's an interesting time for TV," he says, noting that the days of a star being exclusive to one series are long gone. "Now talent will be on two shows and doing a feature or a web series." Darwell does some moonlighting himself — he recently started deejaying and played multiple sets at the Zurich Film Festival.

    Cups of coffee a day "I've never had coffee in my life, but I do start the day with a Diet Coke."

  • Warren Dern

    Sloane Offer Weber and Dern

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Southwestern Law School 

    Why he matters Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler is leaping into unscripted TV with The Handmade Project, a competition reality show that she’ll host with former co-star Nick Offerman.  Dern also negotiated blockbuster deals for two of his big-screen clients: J.A. Bayona is directing Universal's Jurassic World sequel, and Zack Snyder helmed Justice League, which opens Nov. 17.

    Cups of coffee a day "Four."

  • Scott Edelman

    Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters Edelman is leading the charge for Discovery Communications in its legal brawl with LMNO Studios over the reality show Little Couple and three other series (both sides are alleging fraud). He also represents Dr. Luke's label, Kemosabe Records, and its owner, Sony Music, in one of the industry's most heated battles: the fight between Dr. Luke and Kesha.

    Comfort food "Fig Newtons."

  • David Eisman

    Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters UTA turned to Eisman to handle its "strategic alliance" with AGM Securities. The agency's acquisition of the financial firm will allow UTA — and its clients — to use the investment bank for guidance in structuring deals. He also represents RatPac Entertainment and Brett Ratner, who recently launched The Hillhaven whiskey brand worldwide, as well as Power Rangers producer Haim Saban and Angry Birds owner Rovio Entertainment.

    Which supervillain I'd most want to defend "Gru, as long as I get to depose the Minions."

  • Craig Emanuel

    Loeb & Loeb

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Monash University Law

    Why he matters The Australia-born attorney represents Ryan Murphy's growing TV empire (Feud, American Horror Story and the upcoming American Crime Story installments, Katrina and Versace) as well as several of this year's Oscar nominees, including Hidden Figures producer Donna Gigliotti and Lion director Garth Davis and screenwriter Luke Davies. Client Daniel Day-Lewis is returning to the screen after a five-year hiatus to star in Paul Thomas Anderson's untitled next project.

    Last TV show binged Peaky Blinders

  • Alan Epstein

    Venable

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law 

    Why he matters One of Hollywood's top corporate lawyers, Epstein in 2016 represented Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment in a joint venture with Australian animation studio Animal Logic. He also repped Aaron Kaplan's Kapital Entertainment in its television co-financing joint venture with CBS Studios.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Rode my bike down Mont Ventoux at 60 mph."

  • Matthew Erramouspe

    O'Melveny & Myers

    Courtesy of Andrew Zinn

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law 

    Why he matters Erramouspe helped Alibaba up its relationship with Hollywood to the next level via a long-term partnership with Amblin Partners. The October deal involves the Chinese internet giant taking a minority stake with the intention of teaming on co-productions. "It's a larger step than just doing a one-off investment," says Erramouspe. He's also helping to expand his firm's sports practice as it gets into stadium financing and team acquisitions.

    Last TV show binged Marco Polo

  • James Feldman

    Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler & Feldman

    James Feldman (left) with client Barry Jenkins
    James Feldman (left) with client Barry Jenkins
    Photographed By Sami Drasin

    Alma mater Harvard Law School

    Why he matters Feldman is the first — and almost certainly will be the only — lawyer to be thanked onstage by two best picture Oscar winners on the same night. He reps Moonlight writer-director Jenkins and La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz. Other clients include Viola Davis (best supporting actress this year for Fences) and writers Josh Singer (Spotlight) and Chris Terrio (Argo).

    Last TV show binged "Atlanta. I don't represent anyone involved but it's fantastic. I watched 10 episodes in a row."

  • Patti Felker

    Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson

    Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

    Alma mater UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why she matters Felker was behind two big legal headlines in 2016, helping Shameless star Emmy Rossum achieve pay parity with co-star William H. Macy and settling Gabrielle Union's dispute with BET over Being Mary Jane (after the show upped the episode count to 20 despite the actress' 13-episode limit per season). She reps Vin Diesel, and as Eric Stonestreet's lawyer, she's in the thick of the ongoing Modern Family renegotiations. "Upfronts are coming," she notes. "I'm assuming they'd like to know if the show were going to be on the schedule."

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "I had a double-knee replacement. I felt like that was dangerous."

  • Sam Fischer

    Ziffren Brittenham

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters Fischer helped Joss Whedon sign to write and potentially direct Batgirl. He negotiated deals for Oscar winner Casey Affleck (who is about to shoot The Old Man and the Gun with Robert Redford) and worked on Simon Cowell's multiyear deal for America's Got Talent. He helped Stacey Snider to become chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox and Bruce Rosenblum to run Disney-ABC Television Group's business operations, and he's now in the middle of negotiating Julia Louis-Dreyfus' contract for a new season of Veep.

  • Ruth Fisher

    Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law 

    Why she matters As co-chair of her firm's media, entertainment and technology practice, Fisher worked on DirecTV's multiyear deal with Disney. DirecTV parent AT&T also tapped her to analyze Time Warner's entertainment assets as part of its $85.4 billion proposed acquisition. She's also working (pro bono) on L.A.'s 2024 Olympic bid.

    Comfort food "Petit Trois omelet."

  • David Fox

    Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Western State College of Law

    Why he matters Fox reps one of the busiest producers in town, Dan Lin, who this year has The Lego Batman Movie, Lego Ninjago, Death Note and an adaptation of Stephen King's It. Christopher McQuarrie is returning for a second Mission: Impossible movie, while another client, James Wan, who is now directing Aquaman, continues to expand his Conjuring movie universe.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Get remarried."

  • Jeff Frankel

    McKuin Frankel Whitehead

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters He reps a slew of film and TV writers, including Fate of the Furious' Chris Morgan, Ready Player One's Zak Penn, Moana's Jared Bush, Master of None's Alan Yang, New Girl creator Liz Meriwether and Mr. Robot's Sam Esmail. He also handled Milo Ventimiglia's acting deal for the NBC breakout This Is Us and represents Netflix's Luke Cage lead Mike Colter.

    Last show binged The Night Manager

  • Bryan Freedman

    Freedman & Taitelman

    Todd Williamson/Getty Images

    Alma mater McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific

    Why he matters Freedman specializes in inside-baseball industry disputes, from agency wars to idea theft. He's repping UTA in its agent-poaching fight with CAA and beat an antitrust lawsuit over UTA's packaging practices. He's also representing Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and hidden-camera magician Michael Carbonaro of The Carbonaro Effect (who are each being sued by individuals claiming they're owed a stake in those series) as well as Silicon Valley's T.J. Miller, who's countersuing a cab driver he says used bogus assault claims to extort him.

    Supervillain I'd most want to represent "Anyone from CAA."

  • Matt Galsor

    Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Columbia University School of Law

    Why he matters For client James Cameron, Galsor negotiated deals for The Informationist (to follow the Avatar sequels) as well as Disney's Pandora theme park attraction. He also closed Tom Cruise's deal for Mission: Impossible 6 and is working on another for a Top Gun sequel.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Hit 'reply all.' "

  • John Gatti

    Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law

    Why he matters Gatti caught everyone's attention in January with a lawsuit that alleges Johnny Depp's former business managers robbed him of tens of millions of dollars through gross mismanagement and outright fraud. For Fox Television, he dealt with a major contractual dispute over the licensing of The Simpsons, and he's also going toe to toe with Vin Diesel over xXx sequel credits and producer fees.

    Superhero I'd most want to represent "Captain America because I think he would be great in front of a jury."

  • Michael Gendler

    Gendler & Kelly

    Courtesy of Subject

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law 

    Why he matters Gendler reps some of Hollywood's top showrunners: Shonda Rhimes, Shawn Ryan, David E. Kelley, Kurt Sutter, Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa. He advised Rhimes on taking her company private (her employees now work for Shondaland, not ABC) and was behind Kelley's comeback year (Big Little Lies, Goliath). On the big screen, he forged the deals for Rob Marshall to direct and John DeLuca to produce Disney's Mary Poppins sequel, reuniting them with client Meryl Streep.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "I negotiated directly with Harvey Weinstein."

  • Rick Genow

    Stone, Genow, Smelkinson, Binder & Christopher

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Harvard Law School

    Why he matters Genow, a prolific signer, recently closed a deal that will see Debra Messing return for a new season of NBC's Will & Grace and renegotiated Taylor Schilling's new season of Orange Is the New Black (doubling her fee) and made a film deal for client Michael Pena for Extinction.

    Comfort food "Anything Dan Tana's is serving."

  • Cliff Gilbert-Lurie

    Ziffren Brittenham

    Todd Williamson/Getty Images

    Alma mater UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters Gilbert-Lurie is the real lawyer behind Dick Wolf's Law & Order empire, which has entered the true-crime and unscripted space with NBC's Law & Order: True Crime — The Menendez Murders. Wolf's Cold Justice was revived by Oxygen, which is rebranding as a true-crime network, and the docuseries Inside the FBI: New York premieres April 27 on USA. Gilbert-Lurie also negotiated Tina Fey's latest deal with NBC, Sandra Bullock's pact for Ocean's 8 and Claire Danes' deal for two more seasons of Homeland.

    Last TV show binged The Americans

  • Patty Glaser

    Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro

    Courtesy of Subject

    Alma mater Rutgers Law School

    Why she matters Glaser, one of the town's most aggressive litigators, isn't at all amused by the ongoing lawsuit accusing client Conan O'Brien of stealing Twitter jokes for his monologue. "It completely undermines free speech because somebody else said something slightly similar five years ago," she says. She's also representing Chris Brown's former manager Mike G in his suit against the singer and is the Hollywood attorney for China's Bliss Media.

    Comfort food "Steak. Really rare."

  • Carlos Goodman

    Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman

    Courtesy of Susan Ledgerwood

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters Last year's workload included deals for client Paul Greengrass to direct Ness, about iconic lawman Eliot Ness; Christian Bale to play Dick Cheney in Adam McKay's untitled biopic of George W.'s vice president; and Darren Aronofsky to direct Mother! starring Jennifer Lawrence. Other clients: Ex Machina director Alex Garland (in postproduction on Paramount's Annihilation), Steve McQueen, Quentin Tarantino and Jake Gyllenhaal.

    Best gift a client ever gave me "A Leica M7 camera."

  • Marissa Roman Griffith

    Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Stanford Law School

    Why she matters Griffith helped secure financing for two of this year's most anticipated projects — Edgar Wright's Baby Driver and the adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower. On the TV side, she helped with financing for Media Rights Capital productions including Netflix's House of Cards, the Jason Bateman-Laura Linney series Ozarks as well as the J.K. Simmons sci-fi thriller Counterpart for Starz.

    Superhero I'd most want to represent "Wonder Woman. She's a strong, confident woman. And her lasso of truth rocks."

  • Joshua Grode

    Irell & Manella

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Loyola Law School 

    Why he matters Grode is an expert on China, helping client Dalian Wanda Group purchase Legendary in 2016 and ink a broad strategic marketing and co-financing deal with Sony Pictures that will bring future releases, including Spider-Man: Homecoming, to China. He also has brokered a television financing deal on behalf of Bank of America and has begun work in the virtual reality space, helping Ghost in the Shell producer Avi Arad bring his skills into the immersive medium.

    Last TV show binged "I watched Planet Earth II on a plane."

  • Tom Hansen

    Hanson, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law

    Why he matters Hansen's clients Stephen Colbert and Mel Gibson both had roaring comebacks this year, while Robert Downey Jr. signed a deal to star in Dr. Doolittle for Universal. David Lynch made a long-awaited return with Showtime's Twin Peaks reboot. Client Bill Simmons' HBO show Any Given Wednesday was canceled, but he's already bouncing back by producing an Andre the Giant documentary there.

  • Charles Harder

    Harder Mirell & Abrams

    Courtesy of Westside Studio

    Alma mater Loyola Law School 

    Why he matters The Beverly Hills litigator has been riding high since landing a landmark verdict against Gawker for publishing a Hulk Hogan sex tape. Attention over the outcome, which resulted in Gawker's bankruptcy after a $31 million settlement, won him new work representing Melania Trump in a defamation lawsuit over a Daily Mail story suggesting the first lady once was an escort. That case was settled for a reported $2.9 million and earned Trump an apology.

    Last TV show binged "I stopped watching TV a year ago."

  • Alan Hergott

    Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman

    Courtesy of Patrick McMullan

    Alma mater Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

    Why he matters Hergott (almost rhymes with Hogwarts) recently helped seal a deal for director David Yates and producer David Heyman to make the sequel to author J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He also had a hand in several reboots: Client Russell Crowe is starring opposite Tom Cruise in Universal's The Mummy, while writer-director Shane Black is prepping to shoot The Predator for Fox. Other longtime clients include Brad Pitt, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall.

    Comfort food "Anything at Manuela."

  • David Hernand

    Paul Hastings

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Georgetown Law

    Why he matters Hernand's most buzzed-about current deal involves an undisclosed client who became a lead investor in Jeffrey Katzenberg's new fund, WndrCo, which is expected to close at $750 million. In 2016, he worked on Wanda's planned $1 billion acquisition of client Dick Clark Productions, which ultimately fell through. But he had better luck with other clients, including Germany's Tele Munchen Group, which invested in Santa Monica-based Storied Media Group in January.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Bungee jumping or skydiving."

  • Neal Hersh, Joseph Mannis

    Hersh Mannis

    Left, courtesy of subject, right, courtesy of Juan Bastos

    Alma mater 
    Hersh: Southwestern Law School
    Mannis: Loyola Law School

    Why They Matter: Mannis has been representing celebrity clients since the early 1980s when he repped Marilyn Wilson in her high-profile divorce from Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson. Hersh won't name names, but Hollywood's go-to guy for splitting stars just handled a custody battle between two separating A-listers — and not a word of it got leaked to the press. "Neither of them saw the inside of a courtroom," he says. The partners are trusted by power players because of their discretion, but public records show that they've repped Halle Berry, most of the Beverly Hills housewives and Superman producer Jon Peters, among others. Over the past year, Mannis tried a difficult domestic violence case to conclusion over four days. He was also able to negotiate a full agreement for a particular foreign movie star, deftly navigating the complex tax and jurisdictional matters involved in international spousal support cases.

    Who should play me in the movie of my life 
    Hersh: "The Dos Equis guy."
    Mannis: "Mandy Patinkin."

     

     

     

  • Ken Hertz

    Hertz Lichtenstein & Young

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UCLA Law School 

    Why he matters Hertz is general counsel for Will Smith and family (wife Jada Pinkett Smith and kids Willow and Jaden), handles will.i.am (part of Apple's Planet of the Apps show and recording a new Black Eyed Peas album) and advises toymaker Hasbro and VR startup Infinadeck. But he's devoting considerable time now to new media talent like Ted Talk stars Simon Sinek and Sir Ken Robinson. "What people have to say is just as important, if not more, than what they do," he says.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Ask the waiter at Gjelina to make a substitution."

  • Jim Jackoway

    Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein

    Alma mater Yale Law School

    Why he matters He's found a niche in helping creators revive dead TV shows, including Mitchell Hurwitz with Arrested Development and Max Mutchnick and David Kohan with Will & Grace. Other deals Jackoway forged this year include Reba McEntire's pact to headline Marc Cherry's forthcoming ABC soap opera and Seth MacFarlane's agreement to star in and produce Orville for Fox, his first live-action comedy.

    Last TV show binged Big Little Lies

  • Craig Jacobson

    Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater George Washington Law 

    Why he matters Jacobson maneuvered Scott Stuber into the head job in Netflix's burgeoning film division, and Stuber wasn't the only exec to secure a high-profile position with the lawyer's help — Jacobson also negotiated Universal chair Donna Langley's six-year deal with the studio.

    Comfort food "Granola."

  • Matthew Johnson

    Ziffren Brittenham

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater NYU School of Law

    Why he matters His powerhouse clients include Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Jamie Foxx, Tyra Banks, and Phil Lord and Chris Miller (whose deal to direct Disney's Han Solo movie Johnson recently crafted). But perhaps his most high-profile negotiation in the past year was for Michael Strahan, who made huge headlines — and undoubtedly required lots of legal advice — when he abruptly left Live! for Good Morning America.

    Best gift a client ever gave me "A Steinway grand piano."

     

  • Neville Johnson

    Johnson & Johnson

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Southwestern Law School

    Why he matters In April, Johnson filed a lawsuit on behalf of Sylvester Stallone alleging that Warner Bros. has been "dishonest" in profit participations. The complaint continues an active period for the attorney, who recently scored a settlement for three individuals who claimed that ABC's Quantico derived from their work.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Getting close to the gorillas in Rwanda."

  • Marty Katz

    Sheppard Mullin

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater University of Michigan Law School

    Why he matters When you're a Hollywood litigator, all sorts of weird stuff can pop up. Like a dancer's fall on a Carnival cruise ship. Katz is working on this while also preparing to go to trial for investors looking to recover what they spent for the troubled film adaptation of Martin Amis' London Fields. But his bread and butter continues to be profit-participation cases. He's representing MGM in a dispute over a pair of Clint Eastwood classics and recently finished arbitrating a case involving a music video that became a viral sensation online.

    Comfort food "Pizza and fries."

  • Howard King

    King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano

    From left: Howard King, clients Dr. Dre and Pharrell Williams, and Peter Paterno
    From left: Howard King, clients Dr. Dre and Pharrell Williams, and Peter Paterno
    Photographed by Koury Angelo

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters King is handling the famous "Blurred Lines" case for Pharrell. He helped Dre gain royalties to The Chronic after the artist's split with Death Row. Last year, Dre thanked him at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when N.W.A was inducted. King has been around a long time. Remember Metallica's lawsuit against Napster? That was him. Plus, he reps Kanye West, a full-time job in itself.

    Comfort food "All of them."

  • Dale Kinsella

    Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters The litigator is embroiled in two of the biggest profit-participation lawsuits in recent memory. He represents The Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont as well as CAA in the four-year battle against AMC over series profits. Kinsella also reps Bones producer Barry Josephson, who is suing 20th Century Fox for allegedly cheating him out of profits (an allegation that stars and executive producers David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel also have made against the studio).

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Heli-skiing in Alaska."

  • Kelly Klaus

    Munger, Tolles & Olson

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Stanford Law School 

    Why he matters He defended the MPAA and NATO against a lawsuit that would have given movies with smoking an automatic R-rating and helped several studios win an injunction against streaming site VidAngel. He's also taken the lead on two copyright claims, including Warner Bros. in a screener piracy lawsuit against Innovative Artists. Klaus also successfully defended TMZ when Jared Leto sued the site for publishing a video of him talking smack about Taylor Swift.

    Supervillain I'd most want to defend "The Joker — although the consequences of losing might not be so easy."

  • Robert Klieger

    Hueston Hennigan

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Stanford Law School 

    Why he matters Sumner Redstone and daughter Shari turn to Klieger to handle their (often salacious) litigation. He cleaned up several legal dustups involving board members last summer and now is setting his sights on reclaiming the millions Sumner gifted his former companions while they still were in his good graces. The girlfriends, meanwhile, are separately suing Sumner's daughter, claiming she enlisted staff to spy on them.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Tried to trim my cat's claws."

  • Michael Kump

    Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater University of Michigan Law School 

    Why he matters The Kardashian-Jenner clan turns to Kump to protect their business ventures and, um, intellectual property. In August, sisters Kourtney, Kim and Khloe won an injunction barring Haven Beauty from using their trademarks in a $200 million suit. He also represented all five sisters in a suit against their former licensing agency APA over alleged unpaid commissions. Now Kump is handling The Management Group's multimillion-dollar dispute with former client Johnny Depp, in which both sides are alleging fraud.

    Comfort food "Ice cream."

  • Robert Lange

    Kleinberg Lange Cuddy & Carlo

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater University of Michigan Law School

    Why he matters Lange brokered Billy Bush's jump from Access Hollywood to Today, then handled Bush's contentious exit negotiations after the release of the infamous Trump tape. He also was involved in more than $150 million of production deals for his clients in the past year, including ones for ThinkFactory Media, Authentic Entertainment and Intuitive Entertainment.

    Comfort food "Chicken Parmesan."

  • Ari Lanin

    Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law 

    Why he matters He was his firm's lead partner in the formation of WndrCo, the digital and tech investment company that is Jeffrey Katzenberg's $750 million post-DreamWorks passion project. He also guided Otter Media, the joint venture between AT&T and Chernin Group, in the formation of Gunpowder & Sky with Van Toffler and Floris Bauer. The independent studio already is racking up acquisitions, including New York-based indie distribution company FilmBuff and several festival titles like Sundance standout Novitiate.

    Who should play me in the movie of my life The Rock

  • Jared Levine

    Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Harvard Law School

    Why he matters Levine was a party to one of Hollywood's biggest success stories of the year: Jordan Peele's deal to make Get Out with QC and Blumhouse ($170 million earned so far on a $4.5 million budget). The Dodgers superfan also negotiated Skip Bayless' jump to Fox Sports and Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon's long-term extension at ESPN. Client Mike Royce co-created Netflix's One Day at a Time reboot, Aziz Ansari won an Emmy for writing Master of None and Zach Galifianakis saw his FX comedy Baskets renewed for a third season.

    Best gift a client ever gave me "A Segway."

  • Linda Lichter

    Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler & Feldman

    Todd Williamson/Getty Images

    Alma mater UC Berkeley School of Law 

    Why she matters Lichter has been working her magic on business affairs execs at Disney's live-action studio. Linda Woolverton is writing Maleficent 2, Niki Caro will direct Mulan and Marc Forster will helm Christopher Robin. But she also remains a force on the indie scene: Lichter was at Sundance in January when Fox Searchlight struck fat deals for Patti Cake$ (she reps producers Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald) and client Amanda Lipitz's documentary Step. "I was up two nights in a row, then decided to fly home," she says. "I'm not that young anymore."

    Last TV show binged Occupied on Netflix.

  • Steve Marenberg

    Irell & Manella

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater University of Chicago Law School 

    Why he matters Marenberg has been involved in several lawsuits dealing with the poaching of creative executives. One noteworthy success was getting a court to issue a temporary injunction preventing a former Telemundo executive from starting a job at TV Azteca SA de CV in Mexico. Marenberg also is handling class actions over home video profits as well as seeking to preserve the dismissal of an antitrust case over the way UTA collects "packaging fees" on television projects.

    Who should play me in the movie of my life "No sane producer would make a movie of my life, but if one did, Idris Elba. (Go big or go home!)"

  • Mickey Mayerson

    Loeb & Loeb

    Courtesy of Jon Didier

    Alma mater Columbia Law School

    Why he matters As one of Hollywood's top film finance gurus, Mayerson advised Indian Paintbrush as it raised the money for Wes Anderson's next film, Isle of Dogs; represented China's Tencent in its recent first-look deal with David Goyer; handled a trio of Union Patriot Capital films; and helped CIT Bank in connection with post-bankruptcy litigation involving Relativity. Mayerson also structured the complex financing for Warren Beatty's passion project Rules Don't Apply (thus the 16 credited producers).

     

  • Joel McKuin

    McKuin Frankel Whitehead

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Harvard Law School 

    Why he matters He negotiated Kristen Stewart's deal for the 2018 action film Underwater, then negotiated the actress' overall branding pact with Chanel. He signed two of the breakouts from Stranger Things — Gaten Matarazzo and Noah Schnapp — and repped video game maker Activision in connection with its next project, a Candy Crush game show for CBS. Client Noah Hawley (Fargo, Legion) is adapting his thriller Before the Fall for Sony and preparing to direct Reese Witherspoon in the thriller Pale Blue Dot.

    My coffee habit "Five — two macchiatos at home, plus three at the office."

  • Darrell Miller

    Fox Rothschild

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Georgetown Law 

    Why he matters Miller is known for helping talent explore entrepreneurial ventures but recently has been negotiating record deals for Mariah Carey and DMX to get them back to music where they started. He's also helping Courtney B. Vance capitalize on his People v. O.J. Simpson heat with a new half-hour ABC series. Clients Ludacris and Terrence J each inked overall deals with MTV, while Angela Bassett is continuing her work with Ryan Murphy in a not-yet-titled procedural drama.

    Last TV show binged Luke Cage

  • Jon Moonves

    Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater University of Virginia Law School

    Why he matters Moonves does mostly digital deals these days: He worked on the one for Robert and Michelle King's The Good Wife spinoff at CBS All Access, is advising Apple on its first original programming (Planet of the Apps) and is repping Instagram and YouTube stars Lele Pons and Bethany Mota. With former Maker Studios exec Chris M. Williams, he's launching a kids' digital media startup, Pocket.watch, which has raised $6 million from such investors as Robert Downey Jr. and brother Leslie Moonves.

    Superhero I'd most want to represent "Iron Man. I could see him being on Shark Tank."

  • Schuyler Moore

    Stroock & Stroock & Lavan

    Courtesy of Imagegroupla.com

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law 

    Why he matters His extensive experience with foreign financing often comes in handy for the Globalgate Fund, the Lionsgate-led consortium that is raising $100 million to remake films in local languages around the globe. "You're up at 3 in the morning coordinating calls around the world," he says. He handled the $60 million financing for Martin Scorsese's Oscar-nominated 2016 film Silence and is negotiating the deal for his follow-up, The Irishman, which may go to Netflix. He also helped Morgan Freeman's former driver launch Motev, an all-Tesla black car service (the actor, who has been Moore's client for 25 years, provided the company's initial $25 million investment).

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Either going 140 mph on my motorcycle or hang gliding."

  • Aaron Moss

    Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Harvard Law School

    Why he matters Moss is representing Riot Games in a case involving trafficking in stolen League of Legends accounts. He's also repping Discovery Communications over whether the company is responsible for the social media account of a reality TV star.

    Comfort food "Chili with mac and cheese on top."

  • Bob Myman

    Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light

    Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law 

    Why he matters Myman was working with The Leftovers showrunner Damon Lindelof before the Lost scribe even had an agent. He saw another of his longtime clients, Billy Bob Thornton, score a Golden Globe win for his performance in Amazon's legal drama Goliath, and he closed deals for Angela Lansbury (Mary Poppins Returns) and Benjamin Bratt (Doctor Strange, Star) and for Laura Prepon (Orange Is the New Black) to direct her first television episode.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Playing golf in Yosemite last year. I came around a corner, and there was a bear on the course."

  • Jeanne Newman

    Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman

    Courtesy of Subject

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law

    Why she matters Like everyone else these days, Newman is striking deals with Amazon: an eight-episode anthology series for Matthew Weiner as well as a two-season order for Amy Sherman-Palladino's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. On the film side, Fox bought longtime client (and The Martian writer/executive producer) Drew Goddard's spec script Bad Times at the El Royale (with him directing).

    Best gift a client ever gave me "Four-inch-high black patent leather Louboutin pumps."

  • Peter Nichols

    Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler & Feldman

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Stanford Law School 

    Why he matters The long-anticipated sci-fi epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will finally become reality thanks in part to Nichols, who has repped director Luc Besson and his EuropaCorp for more than 20 years. Nichols also recruited EuropaCorp's new CEO, former Universal chairman (and client) Marc Shmuger. Other clients include animation directors Dean DeBlois (How to Train Your Dragon 3) and Chris Sanders (The Croods 2).

    Comfort food "Fried chicken."

  • Robert Offer

    Sloane Offer Weber & Dern

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters Offer reps Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson and Tom Holland, all of whom will be in multiple Marvel movies this year as well as their own projects (Larson is due to make her directing debut with Unicorn Store later this year; Cumberbatch and Holland both recently finished shooting the Edison-Westinghouse period drama The Current War). Other clients include Michael Bay, Angelina Jolie and Ryan Gosling.

    Who should play me in the movie of my life Steve Guttenberg

  • Anthony Oncidi

    Proskauer Rose

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater University of Chicago Law School 

    Why he matters Oncidi is leading the charge for CAA in its ongoing agent-poaching legal battle with UTA, which could upend industry employment practices. Oncidi says the case — which goes into arbitration in January — reflects a trend in lawsuits that are challenging the legality of employment contracts every film and TV studio has used for decades. "The lawyers who are attacking fixed-term contracts need to be careful what they wish for," he warns. "If they succeed, a lot of employees may be disappointed."

    Supervillain I'd most want to represent "Kim Jong-un – I think the guy just needs someone to talk to…"

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Offered to represent Kim Jong-un."

  • Charles Ortner

    Proskauer Rose

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Brooklyn Law School 

    Why he matters Long a litigator for music stars including Madonna and Lady Gaga, and the guy who has been most involved in the crackdown on Grammys ticket scalping, Ortner lately has been pulled to the transactional side of law (he represented the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences in a deal to establish three Grammy museums in China). In 2016 (just before Obama left office), he got a rare second six-year term on the board of the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

    Superhero I'd most want to represent Mighty Mouse

  • Daniel Petrocelli

    O'Melveny & Myers

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Southwestern Law School

    Why he matters His most headline-grabbing case in 2017 was defending Donald Trump in the Trump University fraud case. That settled around the time his client won the presidential election. Petrocelli also settled a lawsuit for client SiriusXM (in a dispute over public broadcasting of pre-1972 sound recordings), worked with Fox on its lawsuit against Netflix for poaching executives and defended Kesha in her legal war with Dr. Luke.

    Last TV show binged Narcos

  • Marvin Putnam

    Latham & Watkins

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Georgetown Law

    Why he matters Putnam successfully represented MGM and Mark Burnett Productions to prevent the release of unaired raw footage of Donald Trump from The Apprentice (heading off another potential Access Hollywood-style scandal). He's also representing longtime client Open Road Films in a suit brought by The Weinstein Co. over distribution rights to the upcoming animated Playmobil movie and advised Sundance (his wife, Keri Putnam, runs the Sundance Institute) when it was hacked during the festival's opening weekend.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Coachella 2017."

     

  • Bruce Ramer

    Gang Tyre Ramer & Brown

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Alma mater Harvard Law School

    Why he matters He has been Steven Spielberg's mouthpiece since before Jaws. Other clients include David O. Russell (who's working on an untitled Mafia drama for Amazon that will star Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore) and recently signed Hidden Figures director Theodore Melfi. Ramer also is the chairman of the Institute on Entertainment Law and Business at USC, where he curates the annual entertainment law symposium.

  • Nancy Rose

    Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater George Washington University

    Why she matters The New York-based TV and theater attorney represents Broadway's biggest star, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Over the past year, she has negotiated his deals for Hamilton's Chicago, London and national runs and his big movie turn opposite Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns. She also represented Lorne Michaels in his deal to adapt Mean Girls for Broadway.

    Superhero I'd most want to represent "The Flash. I love that he uses speed for good."

  • Mathew Rosengart

    Greenberg Traurig

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Boston University

    Why he matters Rosengart repped Sean Penn in his high-profile defamation case against Lee Daniels — winning a formal apology letter and a generous donation from Daniels to Penn's charity. The former federal prosecutor is representing producers of the film London Fields in a $10 million suit against Amber Heard (she co-starred in the film with ex-husband Johnny Depp) and another against Terrence Howard on behalf of Howard's former managers regarding the actor's Empire deal.

    Cups of coffee a day "Three, unless I'm in a deposition or in court — in which case, six."

  • Faiza Saeed

    Cravath Swaine & Moore

    Alma mater Harvard Law School 

    Why she matters In January, after advising on several of the biggest media deals in years — Time Warner's pending $85.4 billion acquisition by AT&T, Amblin Partners' strategic partnership with China's Alibaba Pictures, DreamWorks Animation's $3.8 billion acquisition by NBCUniversal, Yahoo's pending $4.83 billion acquisition by Verizon — Saeed became the first female presiding partner in her elite law firm's two-century history. "Selling DreamWorks Animation was a special milestone because I worked on its formation in 1995," she says. "It was the culmination of a long relationship."

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Accept my current job."

  • Kelli Sager

    Davis Wright Tremaine

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater University of Utah College of Law

    Why she matters Sports photographers have Sager to thank for a victory in Maloney v. T3Media. A bunch of former NCAA student athletes sued a league-sanctioned website that was licensing images from their games, but the 9th Circuit sided with the site, holding that federal copyright law trumps right of publicity claims. Sager also won a case on behalf of screenwriter Caroll Cartwright, whose ex-girlfriend sued for libel claiming his script for What Maisie Knew was based on her.

    Comfort food "Macaroni and cheese (I almost said pizza, but that's more of a staple)."

  • Stephen Saltzman

    Loeb & Loeb

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Columbia Law School

    Why he matters One of Hollywood's most active dealmakers in China, Saltzman represented Huayi Bros. in its $350 million investment in a joint venture with Captain America: Civil War directors Joe and Anthony Russo and helped client Le Vision Pictures USA strike a deal to hire former Paramount Pictures president Adam Goodman as its head of U.S. operations.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "I confronted some teen pickpockets at a Metro station in Paris. I had no idea how dangerous that was."

  • Stephen Scharf

    O'Melveny & Myers

    Alma mater Stanford Law School

    Why he matters Scharf helps Hollywood get into the Chinese film industry. He recently advised Imax Corp. on the creation of the Imax China Film Fund to help finance a minimum of 10 tentpole films in Mandarin. Back in L.A., he repped Revolution Studios in its acquisition of Tango Films' movie library, including such films as Brad Pitt's zombie epic World War Z and Martin Scorsese's Hugo.

  • Michael Schenkman

    Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters The Nolan brothers, Christopher and Jonathan, rely on Schenkman to handle their deals — like Dunkirk, which is Christopher's first directorial feature since 2014's Interstellar (for Jonathan, the year largely has been focused on his HBO hit Westworld). Schenkman also reps Geoffrey Rush, who's playing Albert Einstein onscreen in National Geographic's Genius.

    Comfort food "The chicken Parm at Craig's."

  • Robert "Bobby" Schwartz

    Irell & Manella

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law

    Why he matters In 2016, he helped client CBS prevail in a case over whether it could play sound recordings made before 1972 without paying royalties. His novel approach: that CBS wasn't playing the original recordings but remastered versions with different acoustic properties. "It's the kind of stuff that we like to do," says Schwartz, "taking a situation and coming up with something nobody else has thought of to win the case."

    Last TV show binged Stranger Things

  • Jeff Scott

    Greenberg Traurig

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater University of Michigan Law School 

    Why he matters When NWA's former manager sued just about everybody associated with Straight Outta Compton over his portrayal in the biopic, Scott led Universal's defense and persuaded the court to toss nearly every claim. No stranger to the world of big-name musical acts, Scott came up representing Guns N' Roses, who he says "got sued all the time." He's currently representing 20th Century Fox in a class-action lawsuit over home video profits that was filed by Singin' in the Rain director Stanley Donen.

    Best gift a client ever gave me "A Guns N' Roses pinball machine."

  • P.J. Shapiro

    Ziffren Brittenham

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law

    Why he matters He brokered client and newly minted Oscar winner Emma Stone's deal for the drama The Favourite opposite Rachel Weisz. He also inked pacts for Oscar nominee Bryan Cranston's next two films (Last Flag Flying and Untouchable) and helped Mindy Kaling secure roles in Ocean's 8 and A Wrinkle in Time.

    Who should play me in the movie of my life "If you could morph Dwayne Johnson with Larry David, that would be ideal."

  • Nina Shaw

    Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano

    Nina Shaw with client Nick Cannon
    Nina Shaw with client Nick Cannon
    Photographed by Hussein Katz

    Alma mater Columbia Law School

    Why she matters Lupita Nyong'o called Shaw a "badass" in a November New York Times profile — and she earned the description this year. Two of her clients, Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro) and Ava DuVernay (13th), were nominated for best documentary at the Oscars. And she deftly negotiated client Cannon out of his America's Got Talent hosting gig to turn his sights toward a YouTube Red project that he wrote, directed, executive produced and stars in alongside Whoopi Goldberg. Other clients include Misty Copeland, Fate of the Furious director F. Gary Gray and Laurence Fishburne.

    Comfort food "Homemade macaroni and cheese."

  • Marty Singer

    Lavely & Singer

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Brooklyn Law School 

    Why he matters This past year, the master litigator won a $2.3 million arbitration award for Content Partners in a dispute with Cross Creek Pictures over feature The Woman in Black. He's currently preparing for a July trial against The Weinstein Co. on behalf of director David Frankel, who alleges that Harvey Weinstein had no intention of paying up after burying Frankel's film, One Chance, despite guaranteeing a wide release. Client Sharon Stone also is going to trial this summer in a lawsuit against producer Bob Yari; the actress claims he tried to get her to falsify documents to work in Cuba on his recent Ernest Hemingway biopic.

    Comfort food "Turkey burgers."

  • Jason Sloane

    Sloane Offer Weber & Dern

    Todd Williamson/Getty Images

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters Sloane's biggest success this year had to be helping to get X-Men character Logan onto the screen; clients Hugh Jackman and James Mangold sold Fox on the idea of making a grown-up R-rated swan song for the adamantium-clawed Marvel hero despite the studio's reluctance — and the film went on to gross more than $600 million worldwide. Other clients include Chris Pratt, Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams and Anne Hathaway.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Shark diving and cliff jumping — but not at the same time."

  • Kalpana Srinivasan

    Susman Godfrey

    Courtesy of Robert Millard

    Alma mater Stanford Law School 

    Why she matters In the ever-changing world of music streaming services, Srinivasan makes sure artists get paid what they're due, especially when long overdue. The litigator served as co-lead counsel to the legendary rock group The Turtles in their class-action copyright-infringement case against satellite radio company SiriusXM, seeking royalty payments for songs recorded before 1972 — and winning a settlement deal that was valued at as much as $99 million.

    Who should play me in the movie of my life "Archie Panjabi. She brings just the right amount of sass and, of course, the amazing boots."

  • Larry Stein

    Liner

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law

    Why he matters Stein nabbed a big win for client Blake Shelton in his federal defamation lawsuit against In Touch Weekly. He convinced the court the suit shouldn't be dismissed because the cover story that suggested the country crooner was in rehab wasn't protected speech. (The magazine and singer later settled.)

    Last TV show binged Mozart in the Jungle

  • Skip Stern

    Sidley Austin

    Courtesy of David Durochik

    Alma mater Northwestern University School of Law

    Why he matters Stern represents financial institutions opposite such production companies as The Weinstein Co., Fox and Sony, who turn to Stern when they need financing deals to keep their projects moving — he likens his work to that of a plumber: "We talk about the movie as going to the kitchen sink and turning on the faucet and water comes out," he says. "But you don't think about the pipes bringing you the water." Among other deals, he counseled Bank of America in connection with a financing deal involving shares of Warner Bros. films and assisted a hedge fund in issuing notes for a $350 million co-financing deal opposite 20th Century Fox.

    Comfort food "Chicago deep-dish pizza."

  • Doug Stone

    Stone, Genow, Smelkinson, Binder & Christopher

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters Stone has been spending more time in television — client Daniel Craig made a move to the small screen with the Showtime series Purity (any new James Bond deals are top secret), while client Dean Devlin scored a new season for his show The Librarians — and has seen firsthand what the encroachment of new digital players has done to shake up the TV landscape: shorter seasons, for example, which can hit writers and actors hard. "[It] presents challenges to make a living," he notes.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Get divorced."

  • Matthew Thompson

    Sidley Austin

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UC Hastings College of Law

    Why he matters Thompson is helping Canadian client Entertainment One launch a mini studio to focus on star-driven film projects in the U.S. He also just negotiated Russian billionaire Len Blavatnik's Access Entertainment's first big Hollywood investment: a buyout of James Packer's stake in RatPac Entertainment and a restructuring of Brett Ratner's deal.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Fish dive. Google it."

  • Fred Toczek

    Felker Toczek Suddleston Abramson

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law

    Why he matters He continues to attract emerging talent, recently signing Ashton Sanders (Moonlight) and Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time), while juggling the busy feature and TV slates of longtime clients like Bill Hader (making his directorial debut with HBO's Barry) and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

    Last TV show binged "Netflix's Fauda (with subtitles)."

  • Steve Warren

    Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman

    Mike Coppola/Getty Images

    Alma mater Harvard Law School 

    Why he matters Warren's roster includes Charlize Theron, who stars in the upcoming Atomic Blonde and executive produces Netflix's Girlboss and Mindhunter, and Colin Farrell, who is doing double duty at Cannes this year, starring in Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled as well as reuniting with his The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos for The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Other clients: Jennifer Lawrence, Reese Witherspoon, Leonardo DiCaprio, and sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning.

    Cups of coffee a day "I've literally never had a cup of coffee in my life."

  • David Weber

    Sloane Offer Weber & Dern

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law

    Why he matters Weber's acting and behind-the-camera clients (such as Andrew Garfield and David Ayer) continued their roll, but nobody has been on a hotter streak than Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, who'll star in the much-better-paying sequel that shoots this summer. New client Rami Malek struck a deal for season three of Mr. Robot and also signed on to play rock icon Freddie Mercury in a biopic to be directed by Bryan Singer.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "I took on my ex-wife, divorce mega-lawyer Laura Wasser."

  • Howard Weitzman

    Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert

    Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law

    Why he matters Michael Jackson's estate relies on Weitzman to handle its frequent disputes — including a potential billion-dollar tax battle with the IRS over the valuation of posthumous rights to the King of Pop's name and likeness. Weitzman also recently won a copyright-infringement case for client Justin Bieber against songwriters who accused the Biebs and Usher of ripping off their 2010 hit "Somebody to Love."

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Fly United Airlines."

  • Alan Wertheimer

    Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein

    Courtesy of subject

    Alma mater Stanford Law School

    Why he matters Wertheimer's recent signings include Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie, It Comes at Night helmer Trey Edward Shults and Sundance Film Festival breakout Cory Finley (Thoroughbred). He also counts Nicole Kidman, Sigourney Weaver, Wes Anderson and J.J. Abrams (he calls him "an industry on his own") as clients.

    Last TV show binged Westworld

  • Alonzo Wickers

    Davis Wright Tremaine

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters When the South Park guys aren't sure if they're taking a joke too far, they ask Wickers. The litigator handles rights issues and day-to-day production advice for several networks, programs and production companies, including Amazon Studios, Comedy Central, Orange Is the New Black, HBO and Full Frontal With Samantha Bee. This past year, he was lead counsel in litigations for Universal Pictures, News Corp and video game giant Electronic Arts. (He also reps THR for First Amendment issues.)

    Comfort food "Pumpkin doughnuts."

  • Susan Zuckerman Williams

    Loeb & Loeb

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater USC Gould School of Law 

    Why she matters Relativity's bankruptcy meant steady work for Williams, who has been advocating on behalf of CIT Bank, which loaned the Ryan Kavanaugh studio millions during better days. Williams' media finance practice has included helping Crayhill Versa and VX119 form a film fund to finance A24's Under the Silver Lake and Open Road's Johnny Depp vehicle Labyrinth.

    Most dangerous thing I've done in a decade "Drive down Benedict Canyon every day."

  • Bryan Wolf

    Ziffren Brittenham

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Columbia Law School

    Why he matters A big year for Judd Apatow means a longer workday for Wolf. He repped the comedy auteur in multiple deals, including one with HBO for Crashing, another with Netflix for the second season of Love and the $12 million deal with Amazon for Sundance hit The Big Sick. He also negotiated the deal on behalf of Weinstein Co. Television for David O. Russell's upcoming Amazon series.

    Comfort food "Anything with avocado."

  • Kevin Yorn

    Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Tulane Law School 

    Why he matters Yorn advises A-list clients like Ellen DeGeneres on how to expand their brands beyond their onscreen fame. He's helping Zoe Saldana, who soon will be shooting the Avatar sequels, incubate a digital-first Latin media company and is working with Scarlett Johansson, fresh off her starring role in Ghost in the Shell, build a beauty business.

    Who should play me in the movie of my life "Bruce Willis. We have the same haircut."

  • Jonathan Zavin

    Loeb & Loeb

    Courtesy Photo

    Alma mater Columbia Law School

    Why he matters Zavin is among Hollywood's go-to copyright litigators. This past year, he represented Paramount and CBS in a copyright suit against the producers of a $1.4 million crowdfunded Star Trek fan film. In a big win for Zavin in January, a judge dismissed the fan film's fair use claims. He also achieved a victory for Viacom against Gibson Guitar's claims of infringement on its Flying V trademark.

    Last TV show binged Downton Abbey

  • Ken Ziffren

    Ziffren Brittenham

    Courtesy Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

    Alma mater UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters The talent lawyer and UCLA professor — and L.A. film czar — helped the Academy negotiate an eight-year extension of ABC's deal to broadcast the Oscars through 2028. "It was a complicated negotiation that took six months," he says. Negotiating a new affiliation agreement between client Tribune Media and The CW took even longer: 18 months. UCLA's new Ziffren Center for Media, Entertainment Technology and Sports Law also keeps him busy.

    Cups of coffee a day "I don't drink coffee, but I do share a bottle of wine virtually every evening with my wife."

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