Power Lawyers: Top 100 Entertainment Attorneys 2013

10:03 AM 5/22/2013

by THR Staff

From Ben Affleck's dealmaker to Keith Olbermann's (Republican) pit bull, The Hollywood Reporter's definitive list of the best in the business.

From left: Warren Dern, Jason Sloane, Michael Bay, Robert Offer, David Weber
Mark Leibowitz

This story first appeared in the May 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Behind nearly every dustup, bust-up, big deal and boldfaced name in Hollywood are the 100 behind-the- scenes players on the following pages. Although diverse in their legal practices (Disney corporate lawyer Brian McCarthy probably never has been mentioned on the same pages as celebrity divorce maven Laura Wasser), what they have in common is influence over how Hollywood operates.

Consider the ability of dealmakers Jim Jackoway and Alan Wertheimer to keep up with serial multitasker J.J. Abrams as he transitions from Star Trek to Star Wars and balances four TV shows. Litigator Patricia Glaser's $50 million lawsuit for Keith Olbermann extricated him from Current TV and positioned him to move to another network. And even moguls need lawyers, as CBS' Leslie Moonves proved when he posed for a photo with his dealmaker Allen Grubman (who calls Moonves "a star in the business arena").

PHOTOS: Power Lawyers: 'Star Trek's' JJ Abrams, Michael Bay and Les Moonves Pose with their Attorneys

Think of THR's Power Lawyers list, now in its seventh year, as a handbook featuring the industry's most effective problem-solvers.

How the Power Lawyers list is chosen

To determine Hollywood's 100 most influential attorneys (listed in alphabetical order -- it's impossible to rank them), THR researches the biggest deals and legal cases of the past year. Lawyers are identified as talent dealmakers, litigators or corporate dealmakers and evaluated against their peers based on cases won/nature of deals closed as well as their reputation within the entertainment legal community. In-house studio, network or talent agency legal executives are not eligible (it's too difficult to gauge influence within a corporate structure). Music and Broadway lawyers are evaluated separately against their peers.

Profiles written by Matthew Belloni, Alex Ben Block, Paul Bond, Tina Daunt, Stephen Galloway, Eriq Gardner, Shirley Halperin, Jonathan Handel, Brandon Kirby, Borys Kit, Pamela McClintock, Lacey Rose, Tatiana Siegel
 and Rebecca Sun.

RELATED LINKS:

How Aereo's Attorneys Beat Hollywood (For Now)

How A Warner Bros. Attorney Fought to Save 'Man of Steel'

How 'Star Wars' Nerds Sold Lucasfilm to Disney

5 Music Attorneys to Know

 

Full List
  • Full List
  • Talent
  • Litigation
  • Corporate
  1. 101
    101

    Karl Austen

    Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein

    Harvard Law School

    Why he matters: With Seth MacFarlane, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig and Joseph Gordon-Levitt among his top clients — all of whom he has repped “forever,” he jokes — Austen has watched his rising stars become A-listers. What did he think of MacFarlane’s jokes — “boobs song” and all — at the Academy Awards? “Seth was hilarious at the Oscars, and it capped off an amazing year for him.”

    Big deal: Along with inking a deal for Simon Kinberg to write and produce X-Men: Days of Future Past, Austen is helping turn Gordon-Levitt’s startup website hitRECordJoe into a show on the new Pivot network.

  2. 100
    101

    Jake Bloom

    Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman

    Cornell Law School

    Why he matters: On the shortlist of Hollywood’s most influential dealmakers (clients include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Bruckheimer, Charlie Sheen and Sylvester Stallone), Bloom officially joins this list after being “banned” (or, rather, publicly shamed) for refusing to take THR’s phone call six years in a row. He still won’t be quoted, but at least he says so in person.

    Big deal: Client Johnny Depp has been especially active
 lately, agreeing to star in the Christopher Nolan-produced Transcendence and the Whitey Bulger crime biopic Black Mass as his The Lone Ranger bows July 3 and Pirates 5 comes together.

  3. 99
    101

    Skip Brittenham

    Ziffren Brittenham

    Getty Images

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: If there’s a major Hollywood deal — such
as moving Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DreamWorks Animation
from Paramount to Fox and setting up Despicable Me producer Illumination at Universal
— chances are Brittenham is involved. But only if you can find him: The avid fisherman often takes off for trips with buddy (and fellow Power Lawyer) Tom Hansen to fish for dorado in Bolivia or arapaima in Guyana. No phones? Even better. “Jeffrey can’t find me there,” he says. “Nobody can find me there.”


    Big deal: Brittenham will play a key role in determining whether Legendary Entertainment re-ups its deal at Warner Bros. or sets up shop at a rival studio. Will he reveal which way Legendary is leaning? “No,” he says curtly.

  4. 98
    101

    John Branca

    Ziffren Brittenham

    AP Photo/Theo & Juliet/Courtesy of John Branca

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: Once known for representing Michael Jackson, Branca has expanded his focus to touring, buying and selling companies and management. That’s in addition to handling the Jackson estate as one of its trustees.

    Big deal: The Ferrari-loving Branca consulted on Sony/ATV’s June 2012 acquisition of EMI Publishing for $2.2 billion and serves as executive producer of Cirque du Soleil’s Immortal tour, which has passed $300 million in total box office. Other recent deals include Carlos Santana’s residency at Las Vegas’ House of Blues and a new joint venture for Rick Rubin’s American Recordings label with Universal Music. A source of great pride for Branca is his co-management of the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary reunion last year, which marked the first time founding members Brian Wilson and Mike Love performed together in two decades.

  5. 97
    101

    Harold Brown

    Gang Tyre Ramer & Brown

    UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters: The introspective dealmaker ironed out a complicated pact for clients Stephen King and Steven Spielberg’s Under the Dome to head straight to series at CBS in the summer (with an Amazon streaming component to kick off four days after the network broadcast). “When you’re dealing with these guys, you’ve got a fair amount of power, so you’re not just working from a template,” says Brown, who also works with firm clients Clint Eastwood, Robert Zemeckis and Dwayne Johnson.

    Big deal: Brown, who has worked at his firm since 1976, paired another set of clients — director Michael Mann and Thor hunk Chris Hemsworth — for an untitled project at Legendary.

  6. 96
    101

    Melanie Cook

    Ziffren Brittenham

    UCLA School of Law

    Why she matters: The first (and currently only) female name partner at the powerful Ziffren firm, Cook handles mega-producer Scott Rudin (including his rich pact to produce the next Cameron Crowe movie for Sony and his new film-finance venture with Barry Diller) as well as such stars as Carey Mulligan and Keanu Reeves and filmmakers Nancy Meyers (the upcoming royal-wedding-themed project at Sony) and Tim Burton (Big Eyes and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children). The travel buff (you’ll find her surfing in Costa Rica) and generous mentor (she supports THR’s Big Brothers/Big Sisters program) also is working to launch a Wicked movie written by client Winnie Holzman.

    Big deal: Cook’s work for director client Sam Mendes (American Beauty) led to the mega-grossing Skyfall: “Now he has an Oscar and a billion-dollar movie!”

  7. 95
    101

    Warren Dern, Jason Sloane, Robert Offer, David Weber

    Sloane Offer Weber & Dern

    Mark Leibowitz

    Some Hollywood law firms foster 
a cutthroat environment. But the four name partners at this top talent boutique have succeeded by sharing their A-list clients — Angelina Jolie, Mark Wahlberg, The Hangover director Todd Phillips, to name just a few.

    Take Michael Bay, for example. the mega-grossing Transformers filmmaker has expanded from directing blockbusters into producing (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the upcoming Almanac) and now into television with TNT’s The Last Ship.

    “He has an uncanny sense of his value and welcomes input from all of us,” says offer, who has known Bay since they were schoolmates 
at Santa Monica’s Crossroads.

  8. 94
    101

    Craig Emanuel

    Loeb & Loeb

    Monash University Law school

    Why he matters: The Australia-born lawyer’s long-term client Ryan Murphy saw his comedy The New Normal canceled by NBC, but the busy showrunner still has three hit shows (Fox’s Glee, Oxygen’s The Glee Project and FX’s American Horror Story anthology) and is directing
the upcoming HBO film The Normal Heart. And thanks to a $24 million overall deal Emanuel inked with 20th Television in 2011, Murphy continues to develop new shows.

    Key deal: He reps producers
 of the Steve Carell comedy The Way, Way Back, which sold in January at Sundance to Fox Searchlight for $9.75 million, one of the richest deals in festival history. Emanuel did a similar deal in 2012 with the same team for The Sessions. He jokes, “I told the execs I looked forward to seeing them next year and to make a preemptive bid.”

  9. 93
    101

    Patti Felker

    Felker Toczek Gellman Suddleson

    UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why she matters: Call her the franchise queen. She is closing Vin Diesel’s deal to return for Fast & Furious 7, worked on Jeremy Renner’s pacts for the relaunch of Universal’s Bourne series as well as The Avengers, and she helped Mila Kunis join Andy and Lana Wachowski’s upcoming franchise hopeful Jupiter Ascending. (Kunis has the option for a sequel.) “It’s tricky making deals when
clients are in multiple franchises because every franchise would like to see itself in first position and shoot in a certain time,”
says the laid-back Felker, who hosts casual dinners for industry women and often wears sweat pants at fancy premieres.

    
Big deal: Felker found herself smack in the middle of a salary standoff when the stars of Modern Family banded together in summer 2012 for raises. Tense renegotiations and a lawsuit
led to her client Eric Stonestreet and the other adult castmembers not only receiving raises
(jumping from about $105,000 an episode to about $170,000) but also getting a small cut of the backend.

  10. 92
    101

    Sam Fischer

    Ziffren Brittenham

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: After client Joss Whedon directed the billion-dollar hit The Avengers, Fischer hammered out a deal with Marvel Studios that will see Whedon not only come back to direct an Avengers sequel but become a consultant for all of its movies (Whedon got a special-thanks mention in Iron Man 3) as well as co-write and direct Marvel’s foray into TV, this fall’s ABC series Agents of SHIELD. “The first deal with Avengers was a very tough deal, but they rewarded him in success,” says Fischer. “The deal was not just about Avengers 2 but more about becoming part of the Marvel family.”


    Big deal: After client Ben Affleck won the best picture Oscar and grossed $230 million worldwide with Argo, Fischer scored him a huge Warners deal to produce, direct and star in an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night. Fischer also negotiated Bruce Rosenblum’s exit as president of Warner Bros. TV, which he won’t talk about.

  11. 91
    101

    Howard Fishman

    Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof & Fishman

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: The laid-back surfer closed big deals this
year for Rachel McAdams
 (the upcoming About Time), Noomi Rapace (to star opposite Tom Hardy in Animal Rescue) and Hailee Steinfeld (this fall’s Ender’s Game), among others. He also handled Christina Hendricks’ Johnnie Walker endorsement deal and helped put her in Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, How to Kill a Monster.

    Big deal: After weeks of top-secret negotiations, client Seth Meyers landed NBC’s Late Night hosting gig, a deal Fishman shepherded with his longtime dealmaking partner David Matlof, with whom he’s worked for 17 years. He says, “The ‘two heads are better than one’ concept is a very useful tool in negotiation.”

  12. 90
    101

    David Fox

    Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light

    Western State College of Law

    Why he matters: Fox got long- time client Jon Cryer a raise for his 11th season of Two and a Half Men (the actor will earn about $620,000 an episode), extended producer Dan Lin’s relationship with Warner Bros. by changing his deal from an exclusive one to first-look and made writing- directing deals for Christopher McQuarrie, William Monahan and Sheldon Turner.

    Big deal: Director James Wan had just signed a development deal with New Line for three movies when out of left field came the offer to direct Fast & Furious 7, which Universal needs completed by summer 2014. It was one of the fastest deals Fox has ever made, closing just over 24 hours after the offer. “The studio had leverage in that they were coming to us with the keys to the car, a billion-dollar franchise,” he notes. “On the other hand, my client went through a long vetting process and was their first choice.”

  13. 89
    101

    John Frankenheimer

    Loeb & Loeb

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: Founder of his firm’s music industry group, Frankenheimer represents both talent and record labels, emerging tech companies and storied publishing libraries.

    Big deal: He recently negotiated the sale of Criterion Music, bringing a catalog that spans seven decades of music — among its titles: “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ” and Jackson Browne’s “Doctor My Eyes” — to Universal Music Group. “For the first time in many years, there seems to be a renewed interest on the recorded music side as opposed to just publishing,” he says. “We’re a long way from fully understanding what the impact of streaming will be, but we’re seeing very encouraging signs.”

  14. 88
    101

    Matt Galsor

    Greenberg Glusker

    Columbia Law School

    Why he matters: Galsor handles day-to-day deals for two of
his partner Bert Fields’ biggest clients: Tom Cruise and James Cameron. During the past year, Galsor closed a deal with Paramount for Cruise to star in Mission: Impossible 5 and is negotiating with Warner Bros. for the actor to star in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. And when going to the mat for Cameron on a multiplatform National Geographic project, Galsor says he took his cue from the director’s willingness to risk his life on undersea adventures. Dealmaking is similar — “with less chance of dying,” he says.

    Big deal: Galsor brokered a complex pact between client Ubisoft and New Regency to bring the video game Assassin’s Creed to the big screen with Michael Fassbender starring.

  15. 87
    101

    Seth Gelblum

    Loeb & Loeb

    Georgetown University Law Center

    Why he matters: With more and more stage musicals adapted from movies, Gelblum has been able to bridge the gap between Hollywood and the slow-yield business of Broadway. A fixture at opening nights, he this year negotiated music rights for EMI Publishing on Motown: The Musical and set up Sony’s unique firstlook deal with Scott Sanders Theatrical Productions to develop stage versions of studio hits.

    Big deal: Gelblum helped settle director client Julie Taymor’s litigation with producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. “Julie’s an important artist, and this was really a terrible disruption in her career.”

  16. 86
    101

    Michael Gendler

    Gendler & Kelly

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: Disney’s upcoming Into the Woods will bring together three Gendler clients in harmony. Rob Marshall will direct, with Meryl Streep and Star Trek’s Chris Pine lending vocals. “For me, it was very satis- fying as the lawyer to negotiate these deals,” says Gendler. “In the world of tentpoles, this one is pretty intellectual and not dumbed down at all.”

    Big deal: During pilot season, Gendler was on fire, boasting 18 pilots that spawned nine pickups including David E. Kelley’s The Crazy Ones (CBS) and Howard Gordon’s Legends (TNT). Gendler also struck
a two-year, first-look deal
that brought tentpole writer- producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to the Universal fold in 2012.

  17. 85
    101

    Cliff 
Gilbert-Lurie

    Ziffren Brittenham

    UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters: Besides talking to superproducer Dick Wolf nearly every morning, Gilbert-Lurie continues to serve Sandra Bullock (the star of this summer’s The Heat), he scored Michael J. Fox a series commitment for his new NBC comedy, and he’s renegotiating Claire Danes’ deal for the hit Showtime series Homeland.

    Key deal: Gilbert-Lurie closed Tina Fey’s rich pact to develop shows at NBC for another 
four years and shepherded a deal for Lena Dunham to create a comedy for HBO with fellow Girls executive producer Jenni Konner. The mild-mannered lawyer isn’t sure why he has ended up representing so many comedians. “Maybe it’s because I let them be the funny one,” he says. “I don’t try to compete with them.”

  18. 84
    101

    Carlos Goodman

    Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: Goodman’s client roster includes Christian Bale and an enviable cadre
of directors, including Paul Greengrass, who is in theaters in the fall with the Somali pirates drama Captain Phillips, and Darren Aronofsky, who is shooting the Bible epic Noah for Paramount. Goodman arranged the deal for Eli Roth’s original Netflix series Hemlock Grove as well as the pact for Duncan Jones to direct World of Warcraft for Legendary.


    Big deal: Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained has earned more than $421 million at the worldwide box office, mark- ing the auteur’s biggest film to date. And it won the original screenplay Oscar. “It was a big high,” says Goodman, who attended the Academy Awards. “On paper, it was a risky film that ended up working on a lot of levels.”

  19. 83
    101

    Eric Greenspan

    Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light

    Washington College of Law

    Why he matters: As head of his firm’s music department, the onetime concert promoter handles major names such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Slash — along with his former cook, Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis, who for five years fixed dinner for his family three times a week.

    Big deal: Greenspan ran point for the complicated, ultrasecret negotiations to bring Christina Aguilera back to NBC’s The Voice for the fall season. He notes, “It’s a process that lasted months.”

  20. 82
    101

    Allen Grubman

    Grubman Indursky Shire & Meiselas

    “I’ve represented many stars in my life. What makes Les unique is, he’s a star in the business arena,” says Grubman, who, in addition to handling the CBS chief’s employment deals, counts music powers Lady Gaga, Sting, U2 and Madonna as clients.

    He also is a bit of a man about town in New York. “Last night, I met Prince Harry,” he volunteers. “I asked if he was interested in becoming a rock star because I think he could. He asked if I had a card.”

  21. 81
    101

    Tom Hansen

    Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman Newman Warren Richman Rush & Kaller

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: Three words: Robert Downey Jr. The Iron Man 3 star, whom Hansen has represented since before his public personal struggles, stands to make a killing in a new deal being negotiated for the next Avengers (his pay raced past $50 million for the last film, and he stands to make in that range for IM3).


    Big deal: Hansen’s work for Jon Stewart is allowing the host to take a summer hiatus from The Daily Show to direct his first film.

  22. 80
    101

    Alan Hergott

    Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman

    Northwestern University School of Law

    Why he matters: Hergott’s A-list actor roster includes Brad Pitt — look for Hergott at the London premiere of World War Z Russell Crowe and Jake Gyllenhaal. The avid art collector got Neil Patrick Harris a big raise for the final season of How I Met Your Mother, and he repped producer Kathleen Kennedy 
in her ascent to president of Lucasfilm when Disney bought the company.

    Big deal: Hergott has repped writer-director Shane Black for nearly 30 up-and-down years (since before he sold the spec script for Lethal Weapon), so Iron Man 3’s $1 billion-plus gross is especially significant. “This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often,” he notes. “It’s humbling.”

  23. 79
    101

    Barry Hirsch

    Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof & Fishman

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: Hirsch’s five decades of practicing law have allowed him to pick and choose clients. This year, the licensed therapist helped Julia Roberts join Meryl Streep in August: Osage County, put Sean Penn 
in Gangster Squad and closed deals for The Great Gatsby producers Douglas Zwick and Lucy Fisher to take on franchise- hopeful Divergent.

    Big deal: Hirsch, who has represented Francis Ford Coppola 
for decades, also handled daughter Sofia’s deal to direct Cannes entry The Bling Ring.

  24. 78
    101

    Craig Jacobson

    Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman Newman Warren Richman Rush & Kaller

    George Washington University Law School

    Why he matters: Jacobson is the man behind some of the industry’s most powerful women, having negotiated hefty new deals for A&E Networks’ incoming CEO Nancy Dubuc, NBCUniversal’s cable chairman Bonnie Hammer and Warner Bros. marketing chief Sue Kroll. Other clients include ever-busy Ryan Seacrest, rising star Channing Tatum and Ben Silverman’s Electus.

    Big deal: Earlier this year, he joined the board of media conglomerate Tribune Co., which emerged from bankruptcy in late 2012. He says he was lured by the opportunity to be part of a corporate makeover under CEO Peter Liguori and to be able to make pivotal decisions about the future of such challenged businesses as newspapers and local TV stations. “It’s fun to be at the table thinking about that,” he says. “They are big questions with big answers and big ramifications.”

  25. 77
    101

    Jim Jackoway and Alan Wertheimer

    Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein

    Austin Hargrave

    The Star Trek Into Darkness filmmaker is so busy, he requires two top dealmakers. Jackoway, who also reps David Letterman, handles television (next season, Abrams’ Bad Robot will boast a whopping four broadcast series on the air). Wertheimer takes the lead for film, including the top-secret negotiations that led to Abrams directing the next Star Wars film. “J.J.’s enthusiasm and seemingly infinite capacity to multitask are inspiring,” says Jackoway. Adds Wertheimer, “His creative genius is only exceeded by his modesty and generosity to others.”

     
  26. 76
    101

    Matthew Johnson

    Ziffren Brittenham

    NYU School of Law

    Why he matters: Johnson
 was busy with directors this 
year as Shawn Levy revived 
This Is Where I Leave You at Warner Bros. and Antoine Fuqua reteamed with Denzel Washington for The Equalizer. For Matthew Vaughn, he negotiated a noteworthy deal that
 saw the filmmaker’s MARV Films finance an adaptation
of the Mark Millar comic The Secret Service, with Vaughn directing and Fox distributing. The rare Hollywood lawyer
 who dabbles in sports, Johnson negotiated ex-New York 
Yankee Nick Swisher’s $60 million to $70 million pact to join the Cleveland Indians.

    Big deal: Johnson reps both Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, and this year he brought them together for three Perry-produced shows on Winfrey’s OWN.

  27. 75
    101

    Joel Katz

    Greenberg Traurig

    University of Tennessee College of Law

    Why he matters: The Atlanta-based music attorney has expanded into representing
the Latin Recording Academy, which struck a six-year deal with Univision for a Latin Grammy broadcast. His sprawling firm represented manager Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber, Usher, Psy) in a recording and publishing agreement with Universal Music Group, and earlier this year Katz partnered with Ron Burkle and publishing exec Richard Beckman to launch a branded entertainment company.

    Big deal: Katz spearheaded Justin Timberlake’s negotiation for a minority stake in the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. “Some of the dealmaking was done in Puerto Rico because Justin was doing a movie down there, so that was a lot of fun,” says Katz, who also handles matters for the Michael Jackson estate.

  28. 74
    101

    Deborah Klein

    Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein

    USC School of Law

    Why she matters: Klein boasts a client list heavy on comedic talent, including Jim Carrey, 
the prolific Paul Rudd and Vince Vaughn, who wrote, produced and stars in Fox’s June comedy The Internship. Client Toni Collette’s first network TV series, Hostages, was picked up by
CBS. And Samuel L. Jackson is on a roll with The Avengers and Django Unchained.

    Big deal: Persuading Paramount to greenlight Anchorman: The Legend Continues for client Will Ferrell and his Gary Sanchez Productions meant structuring a unique deal that will pay off if the film performs.

  29. 73
    101

    David Lande

    Ziffren Brittenham

    University of Pennsylvania Law School

    Why he matters: Representing Justin Timberlake’s music business this year meant renegotiating his Sony record deal, putting together a massive touring pact with Live Nation for a run of sold-out shows with Jay-Z and devising major marketing partnerships
with Anheuser-Busch, Target and Clear Channel, among others. “Every single Clear Channel radio station in every format in the entire country broadcast an interview with Justin and played his songs at the same time,” notes Lande of the innovative partnership that led to a No. 1 debut on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “No other artist has ever done such a simultaneous ‘takeover’ of every radio station.”

    Big deal: Lande helped put Shakira on NBC’s The Voice and handled her renegotiation to return next spring.

  30. 72
    101

    jared Levine

    Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein & Kohner

    Harvard Law School

    Why he matters: A top dealmaker for TV creators (Justified's Graham YostOnce Upon a Time's Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz; the prolific Bill Lawrence), Levine handled the complex negotiation for How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas to make a ninth and final season for CBS and 20th TV. He also reps several sports broadcasters, including ESPN's Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.

    Big deal: Levine client Zach Galifianakis has gone from stand-up comic to a $15 million payday for The Hangover Part III.

  31. 71
    101

    Linda Lichter

    Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler & Feldman

    UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why she matters: Lichter is hoping for a big summer as World War Z (directed by client Marc Forster) competes with The Lone Ranger (she reps the writers and executive producers). A fixture on the festival circuit (when she isn't in Hawaii), she also counts The Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb and Maleficent writer Linda Woolverton as clients.

    Big deal: Yes, she's excited about indie director Sam Fleischner's new movie Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, which premiered in April at Tribeca. But not only because he's her client: Lichter's daughter Rose Lichter-Marck co-wrote the script. Says Lichter, "We're hoping it's this year's Beasts of the Southern Wild."

  32. 70
    101

    David Matlof

    Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof & Fishman

    UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters: The Cal sports fan and his partner Howard Fishman teamed to help Seth Meyers take over NBC's Late Night in 2014, and he handled producer Lauren Shuler Donner's deal for this summer's The Wolverine. In the fall, writer-producer client DJ Nash's comedy The Family Guide will premiere on NBC.

    Key deal: Making deals both for Bill Skarsgard to star in Netflix's Hemlock Grove and the show's creators, Brian McGreevy and Lee Shipman, has been "interesting because the rules are being made up as we go."

  33. 69
    101

    James Mandelbaum

    Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein

    NYU School of Law

    Why he matters: Mandelbaum's business is booming with a stable of top TV creators (2 Broke Girls' Michael Patrick KingCSI's Carol Mendelsohn, Defiance's Rockne S. O'Bannon and Kevin Murphy) and a pair of well-paid CBS procedural stars in Chris O'Donnell (NCIS: Los Angeles) and Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary).

    Big deal: A few years ago, Mandelbaum helped departing William Morris agent Aaron Kaplan start a TV production company. Now, after a huge pilot season, Kaplan will have six series on the air in the fall. Says Mandelbaum, who has spent 25 years at the same firm, "I need an aggressive client to allow me to be my aggressive self."

  34. 68
    101

    Joel McKuin

    McKuin Frankel Whitehead

    Harvard Law School

    Why he matters: Kristen Stewart's lawyer has made a deal with his partner Scott Whitehead for a young new client, 12-year-old British actress Raffey Cassidy, to star opposite George Clooney in Disney's Tomorrowland. He also set up an eight-figure overall TV deal for Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage at ABC. "Those are always a little bit trickier," says McKuin about overall deals. "You're contemplating making different kinds of shows, and you have to plan for success."

    Big deal: Writer-showrunner Noah Hawley's adaptation of Fargo as a series for FX required another deal to have him personally write all 10 episodes for a fall start.

  35. 67
    101

    Darrell D. Miller

    Fox Rothschild

    Georgetown University Law Center

    Why he matters: Miller was touring the world, performing as a singer during the mid-1980s, when he reached Mumbai and had an epiphany: "I asked myself, what if one person had a singular understanding of both the business and creative sides of deals so as to improve the chances of them happening?" He returned to New York (after finishing his performance in The Princess and the Pea) and applied to law school. A quarter-century later, he is chairman of his firm's entertainment department and reps some of Hollywood's leading African-American talent, including Angela Bassett, Ludacris and influential producer T.D. Jakes.

    Key case: Miller helped NeNe Leakes leverage her day job on Bravo's top-rated The Real Housewives of Atlanta into a regular role on NBC's The New Normal. "Every network wants exclusivity and refuses to let one of its stars be on another network," he says. "But in the wonderfully vertically integrated society we now live in, after the Comcast merger with NBC, we were able to say, 'It should be looked on as staying within the same family.' And they agreed."

     
  36. 66
    101

    Kenny Meiselas

    Grubman Indursky Shire & Meiselas

    Hofstra University

    Why he matters: With clients like P. Diddy, Usher and Nicki Minaj, he’s helping several top artists graduate from mere pop stars to multiplatform giants. That includes putting Usher on The Voice, Minaj on American Idol and Diddy in the film Draft Day opposite Kevin Costner that’s due out in 2014.

    Big deal: “This has become the year of electronic dance music,” says Meiselas, who represents three of the genre’s busiest acts: Avicii, Afrojack and Swedish House Mafia.

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    Jon Moonves

    Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano

    University of Virginia Law School

    Why he matters: Leslie's brother had just finished a big renegotiation for the cast of MTV's Buckwild when tragedy struck and star Shain Gandee died, causing MTV to cancel the show. The news was better in 2012 for The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King, who inked an extended development deal with CBS. Moonves also renegotiated sister-in-law Julie Chen's deals for Big Brother and The Talk.

    Big deal: In March, he completed a major pact with CBS for Jeff Foxworthy to host this summer's cooking show The American Baking Competition, marking the network's largest-ever initial hosting deal. He also is helping the Blue Collar comedy brand expand with a theme park in Alabama. Says Moonves, "I tell my clients to always maximize on a brand and look for unconventional sources of revenue."

  38. 64
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    Marcy Morris

    Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein

    UCLA School of Law

    Why she matters: Morris reps her share of movie stars (Cameron Diaz, Chloe Grace Moretz), but she now has more than 35 clients in key television roles, including January Jones (Mad Men) and Peter Krause (Parenthood).

    Big deal: This year, Morris negotiated for Alexis Bledel to return to a series regular role for the first time since starring on Gilmore Girls. When Fox's Us & Them was picked up in mid-May for the 2013-14 season, Morris gathered Bledel's manager and agent to deliver the good news personally.

  39. 63
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    Bob Myman

    Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: Myman client Damon Lindelof is having a hot streak of a year: He co-wrote Star Trek Into Darkness and the shrouded-in-secrecy Tomorrowland, and he's prepping the HBO series The Leftovers. The latter deal was especially rare because of the network's use of an outside production company (Warner Bros., where Lindelof has a deal), which has been done only a handful of times.

    Key deal: Alexander Payne's black-and-white feature Nebraska is in competition at this year's Cannes after the script by Myman client Bob Nelson had been sitting in Payne's pocket for years. Says Myman of the prolonged deal, "Sometimes you have to be really patient and stick with a writer you believe in and really push."

  40. 62
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    Peter Nelson

    Nelson Davis Wetzstein

    UC Hastings College of the Law

    Why he matters: Who says Marvel always holds the upper hand when it comes to talent negotiations? Nelson says he managed to ink a favorable deal for client Chris Pratt to star in Guardians of the Galaxy. "We were able to negotiate on equal footing with Marvel, which is a credit to the demand for Chris in the marketplace," explains Nelson, known as an especially aggressive dealmaker, who this year also hammered out a pact for Edgar Wright to direct Marvel's Ant-Man. When client Jason Clarke signed to star in Fox's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Nelson says he faced "a daunting negotiation environment, but Jason had so many fans from Zero Dark Thirty and his other work that it evened the playing field." Other coups include striking a seventh-season pact for Californication star David Duchovny that makes him among the only cable actors earning backend profits.

    Big deal: Nelson also extended longtime client Peter Jackson's The Hobbit deal to include a third installment, due in 2014.

  41. 61
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    Jeanne Newman

    Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman Newman Warren Richman Rush & Kaller

    USC School of Law

    Why she matters: A pioneer in representing reality television producers (not to mention Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, for whom she scored a famous $30 million deal), Newman this year branched into the digital realm, shepherding writer-producer Rob Thomas' successful Kickstarter campaign to finance a Veronica Mars movie.

    Big deal: More than a decade ago, Newman -- who owns a winery with husband and 20th Television chief Gary Newman-- helped Dutch mogul John de Mol start Endemol USA in the aftermath of the success of Big Brother. This year she was instrumental in de Mol restarting a U.S. production company, Talpa Media USA, in the wake of The Voice. She jokes, "I've enjoyed the deja vu."

     
  42. 60
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    Don Passman

    Gang Tyre Ramer & Brown

    Harvard Law School

    Why he matters: Aside from representing such superstars as Adele, Pink and Paul Simon, Passman is the author of industry bible All You Need to Know About the Music Business, which was released in an eighth edition in December.

    Big deal: Client Mariah Carey scored a reported $18 million to judge American Idol this season. Passman won’t comment on the number, saying only, “Our job is to maximize what our clients are able to get.”

  43. 59
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    Lee Phillips

    Manatt Phelps & Phillips

    Cornell Law School

    Why he matters: The former tax expert is the rare lawyer who gets involved in both deals and disputes. Client Barbra Streisand recently renegotiated a pact to keep her at one label (Columbia Records) for her entire 50-year career. Phillips also untangled years of Beach Boys bad blood that allowed them to tour.

    Key case: Phillips' thorniest cases usually involve someone claiming an interest in his clients' songs. "Right now, Burt Bacharach has a lawsuit in Italy by someone claiming they wrote the Italian lyrics to one of his songs; Paul Anka is being sued in Boston by a man who's claiming an interest in the Michael Jackson song 'This Is It' that Paul co-wrote," he says. "Unfortunately, celebrities become targets for these crazy lawsuits."

  44. 58
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    Bruce Ramer

    Gang Tyre Ramer & Brown

    Harvard Law School

    Why he matters: Ramer's intellectual, hyper-professional style permeates every aspect of the law firm he leads, helping guide the careers of A-list filmmakers (Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, David O. Russell) and even top TV brands (Gordon Ramsay). The secret, he says, is sticking to the deals and not the scripts, a lesson he learned the hard way a few years ago after agreeing to a client's request to read a screenplay over the weekend. "I called on Monday and said, 'Thanks for the joke on me; obviously you're kidding, you'll never do that,' " recalls Ramer. "But he did, albeit with a different title. It was his most successful film ever. He never asked again."

    Big deal: Ramer recently closed Spielberg's pact to make Bradley Cooper's military biopic American Sniper his next movie.

  45. 57
    101

    Ken Richman

    Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman Newman Warren Richman Rush & Kaller

    Harvard Law School

    Why he matters: Riding high after a big week at the TV upfronts, Richman counts among his top TV clients Parks and Recreation co-creator Michael Schur and Ted writing partners Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, who landed new series at Fox (Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Dads, respectively). He also reps Girls producer Jenni Konner and The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons.

    Big deal: Richman jumped into uncharted territory helping client Zach Braff raise more than $2.6 million for his next film via Kickstarter. "It's new for all of us," says Richman of the crowd-sourced financing model. "It's always interesting to see how things evolve."

  46. 56
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    Lawrence Rose

    Gang Tyre Ramer & Brown

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: The founder of animal nonprofit The Rascal & Chloe Rescue displays the same dogged advocacy in his day job: He secured Jason Sudeikis' return for Horrible Bosses 2, "rejiggered" (his words) Martin Lawrence's Lionsgate deal when Kelsey Grammer boarded his upcoming 10/90 comedy from Lionsgate and arranged for Steven Zaillian's Criminal Justice to air as an HBO limited series after the networks passed on the pilot.

    Big deal: Ben Stiller keeps Rose busy with deals for the actor's Red Hour shingle to produce a Dodgeball sequel and develop television projects for ABC Studios. "You can't have two trains running on the same track," says Rose of juggling Stiller's many commitments. "Fortunately, he has the kind of relationships around town where we're able to sort things out based on his desire."

  47. 55
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    Nancy Rose

    Schreck Rose Dapello & Adams

    George Washington University Law School

    Why she matters: Rose’s client list of playwrights, directors, composers and lyricists is one of the most significant artist-based stables in New York. A number of them had crossover success in film and television this year, including Tony Kushner (Lincoln), Beau Willimon (House of Cards) and David Lindsay-Abaire (Oz the Great and Powerful).

    Big deal: Rose was instrumental in packaging the largest theatrical blockbuster of the past decade in Wicked, which has grossed $3 billion worldwide. A Universal movie is planned.

  48. 54
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    Ira Schreck

    Schreck Rose Dapello & Adams

    Columbia Law School

    Why he matters: This past awards season, Schreck had plenty to root for with clients Ang Lee (who won the best director Oscar for Life of Pi) and Tony Kushner (screenplay nominee for Lincoln). And though Lee's deal was papered years ago, Schreck says he repeatedly went to the mat for the helmer over marketing and distribution matters. The New York-based former litigator says he can enter a negotiation guns blazing when necessary but that the cooperative approach yields more goodwill. "When Tony Goldwyn needed three episodes off from Scandal to executive produce and direct a pilot he had developed, we had to convince ABC Studios how meaningful this was to Tony, and because of the approach we took when making his deal, everyone was much more amenable to figuring it out," says Schreck of Goldwyn's untitled drama, which has been ordered to series at WE tv. He also reps Elementary's Lucy Liu and Aidan Quinn as well as Kevin James and Sarah Jessica Parker.

    Bid deal: Schreck helped score a $15 million payday for Ed Helms for the third chapter of The Hangover franchise.

  49. 53
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    P.J. Shapiro

    Ziffren Brittenham

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: The youngest of the Ziffren firm's top partners at 39, Shapiro has some of its hottest clients: Mindy Kaling of Fox's The Mindy Project; Emma Stone, for whom he has "spent sleepless nights managing one of the most hectic plates out there," including The Amazing Spider-Man sequel and extending her role as a Revlon brand ambassador; Andy Samberg, whose Fox cop show Brooklyn Nine-Nine debuts in the fall; and Justin Timberlake's film and television work.

    Key deal: Shapiro helped steer the acquisition of VFX house Rhythm & Hues out of its recent high-profile bankruptcy.

  50. 52
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    Nina Shaw

    Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano

    Columbia Law School

    Why she matters: Recently named the Beverly Hills Bar Association's entertainment lawyer of the year, the humble Shaw ("It was so unexpected," she says of the honor) has handled some of Hollywood's top African-American stars for nearly 20 years. She reps Cedric the Entertainer, who was named the new host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and counts Jamie Foxx (starring in June's White House Down, set to play Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man sequel and being courted for Annie) and Laurence Fishburne, as clients.

    Big deal: Client Arsenio Hall is busy preparing for his return to late-night TV in September.

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    Gary Stiffelman

    Ziffren Brittenham

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: The veteran music specialist -- clients include Trent Reznor, Toni Braxton and electronic dance music star David Guetta, and he moonlights as a music law professor at his alma mater -- has expanded into the tech space, advising startups like hot web retailer Nasty Gal, which has raised more than $50 million in equity.

    Big deal: Stiffelman represents Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, whose best-seller Lean In and accompanying 60 Minutes interview have sparked nationwide debate over how women should conduct themselves in the workplace. Says Stiffelman, "None of us anticipated this level of success or controversy."

  52. 50
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    Fred Toczek

    Felker Toczek Gellman Suddleson

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: Toczek has a knack for nurturing young talent, transitioning Daniel Radcliffe from eight Harry Potter films to a thriving career as an adult. Seth Rogen, who has This Is the EndTownies and The Interview on his docket, has been with Toczek since Rogen was a teenager. Toczek's work on Idris Elba's one-two punch of Pacific Rim and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom has the long-simmering actor poised for a breakout.

    Big deal: Toczek has ushered Shailene Woodley from ABC Family star to movie "It" girl. "The challenge has been the high-class problem of juggling a lot of things at the same time," says Toczek, who worked out deals for the actress to shoot The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and buzzy YA adaptation Divergent concurrently.

  53. 49
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    Steve Warren

    Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman Newman Warren Richman Rush & Kaller

    Harvard Law School

    Why he matters: Warren's roster list of A-list stars is as impressive as any lawyer's: Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon, Charlize Theron, Drew Barrymore and Zooey Deschanel, to name a few. A fierce advocate for gay rights, Warren was honored by GLAAD in April and gave an impassioned speech -- he called Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia an "old-fashioned bully" for comparing same-sex intimacy to bestiality -- that drew praise from President Clinton, among others.

    Big deal: Last summer, Warren negotiated a $10 million payday for client Jennifer Lawrence to reprise her role as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The deal consisted of a combination of salary, bonuses and escalators and could even exceed the $10 million figure depending on the box-office performance of the November sequel.

  54. 48
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    Laura Wasser

    Wasser Cooperman & Carter

    Amanda Friedman

    The gold-stamped initials on her butter-soft black leather Clare Vivier bag say it all: “LAW.” Explains chic, high-power divorce attorney Laura Wasser, “I was supposed to be a Rebecca,” but because “my dad passed the bar the night I was conceived,” she became Laura, middle name Allison. Wasser — a partner in father Dennis’ Century City firm Wasser Cooperman & Carter and the woman behind the uncouplings of Angelina Jolie, Maria Shriver and Heidi Klum, to name a few — has a polished, California-cool style that rivals those sported by her clotheshorse clients. In the fall, she’ll publish her first book, from St. Martin’s Press, It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way: How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself.

  55. 47
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    Bryan Wolf

    Ziffren Brittenham

    Columbia Law School

    Why he matters: While continuing to negotiate talent deals for clients like Steve Carell, Wolf is bolstering his reputation in finance, representing David Ellison's Skydance Productions and structuring the debt and equity fund that allowed Hemisphere Media Capital to partner on several studio projects, including this summer's The Smurfs 2 and World War Z.

    Big deal: Wolf pulled several all-nighters to close YouTube channel AwesomenessTV's $33 million acquisition by DreamWorks Animation in time for YouTube's May 1 announcement at its NewFront. "We had our board meeting six hours before the market opened," says Wolf. "We were all in different places and did a telephonic roll call to approve the deal at about 1 a.m."

     
  56. 46
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    Kevin Yorn

    Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein & Kohner

    Tulane Law School

    Why he matters: When not turning his stars into superheroes (The Avengers' Scarlett JohanssonGuardians of the Galaxy's Zoe Saldana), Yorn, managing partner of the firm he co-founded, likes to expand beyond traditional entertainment confines. He often acts as a liaison between Hollywood and such entities as the NFL and eyewear brand Warby Parker.

    Big deal: Yorn this year worked on the deal to renew Ellen DeGeneres' talk show through 2016-17, and her Finding Nemo character will be the focus of its long-awaited sequel, Finding Dory. While working out the deal with Pixar, "of course they didn't tell us what the title was," says Yorn. "That would have been really bad for them. But she was going to do it no matter what."

  57. 45
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    Lincoln Bandlow

    Lathrop & Gage

    Why he matters: Where there is free speech under attack, there are speakers who need lawyers. Bandlow represents quite a few of them, including Craig Nevius, producer of Chasing Farrah, who is fighting a defamation claim filed by actor Ryan O’Neal. Bandlow also does pre-publication clearance on documentaries and TV shows, representing clients like Morgan Spurlock and Conan O’Brien.

    Key case: “I’ve seen a bunch of claims against Conan O’Brien’s show arising from parodies that he does on public figures – particularly bits making fun of D-list celebrities,” he says. “I think the D-listers are not upset at the material as much at being pointed out as the D-listers they are and not being invited on the show."

  58. 44
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    Richard Busch

    King & Ballow

    Loyola University Law School

    Why he matters: The Nashville-based litigator is leading the charge in pursuing a bigger share of digital download income from hit songs. Busch has counseled REO Speedwagon, James Taylor, Kenny Rogers and more, and he’s convinced there are “hundreds of millions of dollars” out there owed to underpaid artists. “There will be very important decisions that will address this in the next couple of years,” he says. “No doubt about it.”

    Key case: Busch spent the better part of seven years arguing on behalf of FBT Productions that a digital download should be viewed as a license rather than a sale. The case, which pitted Eminem’s production team against his record label, Universal Music Group, was settled confidentially in October after a ruling in his favor.

  59. 43
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    Richard Charnley

    Ropers Majeski Kohn & Bentley

    Pepperdine University School of Law

    Why he matters: Charnley tried his hand as a screenwriter before making his name representing Miramax in a key case involving the film Rounders that ended up helping set rules for when studios must pay writers for their ideas.

    Key case: In December, Charnley settled a four-year-old lawsuit against Chris Rock
over allegations that the actor hired Anthony Pellicano to
 spy on a Hungarian model in the midst of a paternity dispute.

  60. 42
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    Scott Edelman

    Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

    UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters: Edelman launched his Hollywood career with a $120 million federal jury verdict in 2004 in favor of a German film distributor against Elie Samaha’s Franchise Pictures in a trial over phony budgets. Today, he’s a go-to studio-side litigator for clients including Warner Bros. and CBS. And he repped Fox when American Idol creator Simon Fuller sued seeking The X Factor profits (it settled confidentially in April).

    Key case: Edelman represented CBS in a heated profit-participation dispute with JAG and NCIS creator Donald Bellisario over whether NCIS: Los Angeles was a spinoff (it settled confidentially in January on the verge of trial).

     
  61. 41
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    Bonnie Eskenazi

    Greenberg Glusker

    Stanford University School of Law

    Why she matters: In a bold move, Eskenazi is taking on Universal Music for a vendor of accounting software that claims the music label isn’t paying royalties in an accurate and timely manner. The case dovetails with her practice that often involves fights over multimillion-dollar properties like The Lord of the Rings. To that end, Eskenazi has been acting as the outside general counsel of Bob Marley’s estate, including helping with the development of a film project.

    Key case: Eskenazi is back in litigation against Warner Bros. for the Tolkien estate, this time targeting revenue from Rings and Hobbit online games and
slot machines. She notes that the Tolkien heirs are “older British folks, and it is not in their nature to litigate. We spent a couple years trying to settle this privately in meetings and mediations in two different cities. When that failed, we were left with no choice but to sue.”

     
  62. 40
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    Bert Fields

    Greenberg Glusker

    Harvard Law school

    Why he matters: Fields, 84,
still is the dean of entertainment law, going strong after six decades. He arrives at the office in his chauffeur-driven town
car before some at his firm are awake, and he remains active in headline-making litigation. This year, he repped the Mario Puzo estate against Paramount over a literary sequel to The Godfather and appeared on behalf of The Weinstein Co. in a dispute with Scream writer Kevin Williamson.

    Key case: Don’t believe the rumors that Tom Cruise’s$50 million defamation lawsuit against the publisher of Life & Style magazine will be resolved in mediation. Says Fields: “You can’t just say he abandoned his child. Tom is going to want to push this one all the way.”

  63. 39
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    Russell Frackman

    Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp

    Columbia Law School

    Why he matters: Frackman
 has become a respected elder in the copyright world. He’s been around long enough to have been part of many of the industry’s defining battles with technology (Napster, Grokster, etc.) and
yet nimble enough to represent
a youthful band like The Black Keys in several lawsuits this 
year over the use of sound-alike music in TV commercials. He recently settled a rights fight for the Philip K. Dick estate with the producer of The Adjustment Bureau, based on a Dick story.

    Key case: Frackman is waiting on an important summary judgment ruling on behalf of the record industry against Vimeo, alleged to have ignored infringements on its network.

     

  64. 38
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    Bryan Freedman

    Freedman & Taitelman

    University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

    Why he matters: No litigator
in Hollywood keeps better tabs on the talent agency world than Freedman. He represented
 UTA in a dispute with Barry Sonnenfeld over commissions on the director’s 2010 agreement to direct Men in Black III and recently sued ex-UTA client Donald Faison for commissions. And he’s repping Christopher Nolan in a dispute over whether CAA or WME is entitled to commissions from The Dark Knight Rises because Nolan fired the former to join the latter before the movie came out. Next,
he’s going up against producer Joe Roth over credit and backend ownership on the FX series Anger Management.


    Key case: Freedman also represented TV Line’s parent in a law- suit against THR’s owner over website coding (it settled). He jokes, “You know I must be good because I sued The Hollywood Reporter and still made the list!”

     
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    John Gatti

    Stroock

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: Gatti established himself as a profit-participation expert with a $96 million verdict in Alan Ladd Jr.’s suit against Warner Bros. over Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire and the Police Academy movies. More recently, he’s worked behind the scenes to resolve a “convoluted rights situation” that paved
the way for a remake of Keanu ReevesPoint Break.


    Key case: Gatti represented producer Evergreen Media Group
in connection with New Line’s July horror movie The Conjuring, which required unraveling complicated life rights issues and securing rights to the working files of paranormal investigators.

     
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    Patricia Glaser

    Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro

    Wesley Mann

    Glaser, the West Virginia-bred legal pit bull of choice for such clients as WME and Conan O’Brien, is a hard-core Republican.

    So she might seem an odd fit to represent famously liberal commentator Olbermann in his $50 million lawsuit over his exit from Al Gore’s Current TV, which was dismissed May 16 after a confidential settlement.

    But politics never gets in the way of their relationship. “He is so far to the left of me, he’s falling off the world,” jokes Glaser. “But we get along great. We talk about the Yankees.”

     
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    Charles Harder

    Harder Mirell & Abrams

    Loyola University Law School

    Why he matters: Harder has a peculiar specialty: In the past few years, he has filed about 30 right-of-publicity cases against various retailers that have tried to capitalize on the name and likeness of such heavy hitters as Clint Eastwood, George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jude Law. The cases typically settle after Harder explains you can’t just name your chair or watch after a big star.

    Key case: He recently won
an injunction for Hulk Hogan against Gawker Media over its posting of a sex tape; the case
is on appeal.

     
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    Mark Holscher

    Kirkland & Ellis

    UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters: A former federal prosecutor, Holscher picked up Don Johnson as a client in 2008 and boldly sued Rysher Entertainment, 2929 Entertainment and Qualia Capital for half the profits from Nash Bridges. He won the case two years later with a $51 million verdict (cut in October to $15 million plus interest); since then, his practice has been more than 50 percent entertainment, with
a heavy focus on slate financing and profit-participation disputes.

    Key case: He represented slate financier Melrose Investors 2 in a breach-of-contract action against Paramount and DreamWorks to recover profits related to its $375 million investment in 29 films, including Mission: Impossible 3, Blades of Glory and the Transformers series; the case settled in January on confidential terms.

     
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    Neville Johnson

    Johnson & Johnson

    Southwestern Law School

    Why he matters: It’s hard to
tell whether Johnson is a bigger pain in the backside of studios or vice versa. He’s now representing Knight Rider producer Glen Larson against Universal over millions of dollars from some of the most iconic television shows of the 1970s and 1980s. And when he’s not playing with his folk-rock band Trevor McShane, he’s spearheading mega class actions against record companies over digital downloads income and many of the film studios over accounting issues.

    Key case: On the Larson matter, the court recently allowed him to sue for fraud over the way that Universal interprets contracts. “We are pioneering the law, and it’s so difficult,” he says. “Lots of lawyers don’t want to take these issues on because they work with studios, and talent doesn’t want to be blacklisted.”

     
  70. 32
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    Martin Katz

    Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton

    University of Michigan Law School

    Why he matters: Katz is one of the industry’s most aggressive studio-side litigators (a judge once asked if he was “pulling an Abraham Lincoln,” referring to Lincoln, as a lawyer, once arguing — and winning — two opposing arguments in a single day.) He has handled a slew of matters for MGM, Sony and Disney, this year repping Miramax in the revived lawsuit by producer Saul Zaentz over profits from The English Patient.

    Key case: Last year’s major federal court win for Dick Clark Productions in its battle with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association over rights to the Golden Globe Awards doesn’t mean the fight is over. “The case is now up on appeal,” says Katz dismissively. “They are trying to re-argue the case rather than prove error by the trial court.”

  71. 31
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    Richard Kendall

    Kendall Brill & Klieger

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: Kendall is a seasoned litigator with a sophisticated appreciation of the First Amendment and a high-level courtroom background that includes serving as lead counsel in more than 30 trials (plus two arguments before the Supreme Court). He won a major victory for longtime client Paramount in 2012 involving distribution of profits from the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men. Kendall currently is defending Universal in a case filed by StudioCanal, which claims it is owed “tens of millions of dollars and likely more” in film revenue. He also repped Paramount in a breach-of-contract case filed by director-producer John Singleton.

    Key case: Kendall persuaded a federal judge to deny a request by the estate of the late Mario Puzo to void a decades-old contract giving Paramount film rights to his Godfather novels. He also struck a deal that resolved litigation over a new Godfather volume.

  72. 30
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    Howard King

    King Holmes Paterno & Berliner

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: Dr. Dre’s long- time lawyer won an endurance war this year representing Dog the Bounty Hunter co-executive producer Boris Krutonog. After six years of litigation with Duane “Dog” Chapman in various courts and labor forums in New York, California and Hawaii, King extracted a favorable multimillion-dollar settlement on a claim over profits from the show just weeks before a jury trial was to begin.

    Key case: King successfully defended Latin rock star Juanes against a $10 million claim by his former manager. He remembers a deposition in Peru: “During Juanes’ cross-examination, he drew a picture. The other attorney asked he show it. I was nervous because I had no idea what he had written. Turned out to be a doodle of a woman and unrelated to the case.”

     
  73. 29
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    Dale Kinsella

    Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: Kinsella was involved in the “War of the Simons” — representing American Idol creator Simon Fuller in a lawsuit against Fox over money on the Simon Cowell rival The X Factor.
That settled, as did his case for Smallville co-creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough against Warner Bros. Television allegedly for making “sweetheart deals” to license the show to sister networks.


    Key case: Kinsella now is representing Legendary Entertainment in a closely watched case against producers who claim they brought a Godzilla reboot to the studio but were booted from the project.

     

  74. 28
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    Barry Langberg

    Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

    University of San Francisco School of Law

    Why he matters: Since winning a landmark victory for Carol Burnett against the National Enquirer in 1981, boosting celebrities’ rights in cases against tabloids, Langberg has become a top defender of reputations.
He also has become a pioneer in extending libel and defamation protections into the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle.

    Key case: A $20 million judgment for gaming magnate Steve Wynn against Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis (who called Wynn a “criminal”) is one of the largest defamation verdicts in California in years. “This is the first high-profile defamation case that involves the mass publication of the Internet,” says Langberg of the Francis case, which is on appeal. “Hopefully, this jury verdict
will communicate a message that you can’t just commit online character assassination without realizing that there is going to be a consequence.”

     
  75. 27
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    Adam Levin

    Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp

    University of San Diego School of Law

    Why he matters: The yoga-loving litigator represented ABC’s The Bachelor when African- American men sued claiming the lack of nonwhite contestants is racial discrimination. Levin, an employment specialist, got the case thrown out of court and won on appeal. He also is repping ABC in the ongoing battle with actress Nicollette Sheridan, who claimed she was unfairly fired from Desperate Housewives when she complained about creator Marc Cherry hitting her. After rulings in ABC’s favor, the case has been narrowed to a labor code issue. Levin is set for trial in August for Warner Bros. in a suit by a former employee who is suing for gender discrimination, saying she was fired after she went on maternity leave.

    Key case: Away from the courtroom he negotiates entertainment labor contracts, including one for a television show
with IATSE, and handles “under the radar” arbitrations when executives or actors are accused of misdeeds. He says, “My job is to shut the matter down at
its inception.”

     
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    Steve Marenberg

    Irell & Manella

    University of Chicago Law School

    Why he matters:  An intellectual property expert, Marenberg has represented Paramount, NBCUniversal, Pixar, MTV and Mark Burnett, among others. He negotiated for Disney with third parties over rights disputes following the sale of Miramax. He currently represents Warner Bros. in a top-secret profit-participation case and represents Alvin and the Chipmunks owner Bagdasarian Productions in a nasty case against 20th Century Fox over authorship of the script for 2009's Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

    Key case: On New Year's Eve, he settled a big $100 million case for Universal Music Group against its former partner NBCUniversal over a 2008 fire on the Universal lot that destroyed master recordings. "The question is, what is a master recording in the digital era?" saysMarenberg. "Presumably, anything out there is on CD, so you have a digital file, yet the analog master is still very valuable because it is what will be used to make a new copy."

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    Louis "Skip" Miller

    Miller Barondess

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: The rare trial lawyer who takes on Hollywood cases, Miller recently repped Bret Michaels and has handled several cases for Axl Rose and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi. He is representing management company 10th Street Entertainment against its former attorney for breach of fiduciary duty relating to clients Steven Tyler and Motley Crue. He also arbitrated issues between The Eagles and former member Don Felder, who wrote the music for "Hotel California. "

    Key case: Miller is representing former Universal executive Brian Mulligan in a $20 million lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department and its police union after an officer beat his client during a bizarre confrontation while he was struggling with a drug called bath salts. "This is a big case for a good guy," says Miller with passion. "Brian's never been in trouble in his life. He just ran into a bad cop."

     
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    Daniel Petrocelli

    O'Melveny & Myers

    Southwestern Law School

    Why he matters: He famously beat O.J. Simpson in a wrongful-death civil suit for the Goldman family and now takes on what he calls "challenging hot cases." That has included winning a judgment for Warner Bros. against a man who claimed he thought up the idea for the Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai. A jury ruled against his client the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in a high-profile contract dispute with Dick Clark Productions over the Golden Globes, but he is appealing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Key case: Petrocelli scored a huge win for Warner Bros. when an appeals court found in January that heirs of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel were bound by a 2001 contract and could not terminate the studio's copyright. "That case went through a lot of peaks and valleys and veered off in various directions because of court rulings," says Petrocelli. "We were able to bring the case back to the fundamental issue: the contract our client had."

     
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    Kelli Sager

    Davis Wright Tremaine

    University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

    Why she matters: Sager defends First Amendment cases for media and entertainment clients including Discovery, Turner Broadcasting and E! Entertainment Television. She won a clear victory on behalf of A&E Television Networks when a heckler who confronted Bristol Palin at L.A.'s Saddle Ranch bar as she was being recorded for a reality show later sued claiming his privacy was invaded. She got the case dismissed and forced him to pay more than $60,000 in legal fees.

    Key case: In a theft-of-ideas case, a man sued NBCUniversal, Dick Wolf and Mark Burnett, claiming the show Stars Earn Stripes was stolen from him. Sager got a copyright-infringement claim thrown out, but she still is trying to persuade a judge to dismiss the case. "Everybody thinks their idea is brilliant and nobody else could come up with it," she says. "In fact, people pitch the same ideas all the time."

     
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    Robert "Bobby" Schwartz

    O’Melveny & Myers

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: In his first big case during the late 1980s, Schwartz represented Paramount against columnist Art Buchwald, who claimed Coming to America was stolen from his work. (Buchwald only won a miniscule settlement.) He since has become a top studio-side litigator, recently settling (with partner Daniel Petrocelli) for Warner Bros. and The CW a heated profits dispute brought by the creators of Smallville.

    Key case: On May 31, 2012, just as jury selection was beginning, his clients Jason West and Vince Zampella, creators of the video games Call of Duty and Modern Warfare, confidentially settled with Activision amid bitter accusations that they were fired and cheated out of tens of millions of dollars. "It was amazing to see how vindictive [Activision] was," says Schwartz. "There were all these secret documents we uncovered. It was more over-the-top than a John Grisham novel."

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    Marty Singer

    Lavely & Singer

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Brooklyn Law School

    Why he matters: The leader of Hollywood's most in-demand talent litigation firm often is on the receiving end of the first call celebrities make when they find themselves in trouble. Consider that this year Singer made disappear several lawsuits claiming John Travolta sexually assaulted men. "You have to fight these people or they will come out of the woodwork," he notes of his hyperaggressive strategy honed after years of working for such trouble-prone clients as Charlie Sheen and Arnold Schwarzenegger. ("They've been behaving this year, for the most part," he says.) Singer is set to go to trial this summer for Johnny Depp against a woman who claims the star's security team beat her up at the Hollywood Palladium.

    Key case: Singer's legal tactics are the subject of an appeals court review after a judge found that one of his infamous cease-and-desist letters amounted to extortion. A ruling is expected this summer.

     
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    Larry Stein

    Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: During the 1980s and '90s, Stein was one of the only top litigators willing to take on a studio (his work for David Duchovny and the creators of Home Improvement helped alter how talent is paid by vertically integrated studios and distributors). He still is talent-focused -- clients include Rob Lowe and Eva Longoria -- but he has branched out to include video game companies and minimajors like Marvel as well.

    Key case: Stein in early May convinced a Los Angeles Superior Court judge that three producers deserve a trial -- rather than arbitration -- on claims that they were wrongly ousted by Legendary Entertainment from the new Godzilla movie. "Studios, in general, are trying to force everything into arbitration because they don't want it to be a matter of pubic record," notes Stein. "We're delighted we are going to be able to go to a courtroom in front of a jury."

     
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    Richard Stone

    Jenner & Block

    Loyola Law School

    Why he matters: The tough-minded attorney is handling many of Fox's most important battles, including the one with Dish Network over the ad-skipping DVR The Hopper, and the nasty fight with Aereo over digital television technology. In the Dish case, Stone soon will be appearing at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to argue that a judge was wrong to reject Fox's requested injunction against the service.

    Key case: Stone believes Dish's tactics are dirty, noting, "Dish is more concerned with its own bottom line than with protecting ad-supported broadcast television, which benefits millions of consumers every day."

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    Howard Weitzman

    Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert

    USC School of Law

    Why he matters: Weitzman and his Santa Monica boutique litigation firm often find themselves making headlines thanks to such clients as Justin Bieber (Weitzman got a paternity claim dismissed), the Kardashians (Kim K. alone could probably keep a lawyer busy 24/7) and, most significantly, the Michael Jackson estate. Weitzman in September scored a reported $2.5 million settlement of a copyright case against a Canadian memorabilia dealer who launched a website using the late singer's music and likeness. (He also has done some work for THR this year.)

    Key case: Weitzman is knee-deep in defending the Jackson estate against bombshell allegations by the late King of Pop's former confidant Wade Robson, a dancer-choreographer who testified for Jackson in 2005 but now alleges he was molested by the star as a child. "Robson claims the filing of his case against the Jackson estate was not about the money," says Weitzman dismissively. "Of course it's about the money."

     
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    Alonzo Wickers

    Davis Wright Tremaine

    UC Berkeley School of Law

    Why he matters: Wickers is a go-to lawyer for broadcast networks, production companies and video game publishers wondering whether their writers' latest edgy monologue, joke or parody skit skates a little too close to the legal edge. He also has become a leading legal advocate for ensuring that game producers enjoy the same First Amendment protections as music, film and TV creators.

    Key case: Years after vetting the infamous South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet" featuring a parody of Tom Cruise, Wickers successfully defended Comedy Central and South Park Digital Studios against charges that the animated series' sendup of the Internet viral video "What What in the Butt" infringed a copyright. The victory, says Wickers, "shows that the law has room for humor in our society."

     
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    Jonathan Zavin

    Loeb & Loeb

    Columbia Law School

    Why he matters: Zavin has become a top litigator for studios facing copyright, trademark and intellectual property theft claims. He's repped MGM, CBS and DreamWorks Animation as well as Fox TV, which he recently successfully defended against a mystical book writer's allegations that the show Touch was based on his screenplay.

    Key case: Zavin defended DreamWorks Animation against two claims that it stole the idea for its blockbuster Kung Fu Panda. A jury sided with DreamWorks in the first case; the second case, involving an artist who claims his drawings inspired the panda character, could be headed to trial in the fall. "Many of these plaintiffs think their idea is so unique that no one else could have come up with it," says Zavin, adding that he's hired to prove otherwise.

     
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    Daniel Black

    Greenberg Traurig

    George Washington University Law School

    Why he matters: Having represented Microsoft for several years on its Halo video game franchise — which, 11 years after its debut, passed 50 million unit sales in 2012 — Black has developed a specialty in digital entertainment (hence his ongoing effort to help Pokemon expand its online presence). In 2012, he represented Kathie Lee Gifford in a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal to continue co-hosting Today’s fourth hour, and he helped launch Back9Network,a golf channel that counts Clint Eastwood as an investor.


    Big deal: Black handled legal aspects for the creation and rollout of Forward Unto Dawn,
a five-episode live-action web series Microsoft created as a companion to Halo 4. The first episode was viewed 11 million times, and the show proved so popular, it made its way to DVD and Blu-ray. “Some companies brag about how well they do digital entertainment — and they use all the right sound bites — but very few can actually do it,” says Black. “No disrespect to my other clients, but what Microsoft did here was very special.”

     
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    Christopher Brearton

    O’Melveny & Myers

    University of Virginia School of Law

    Why he matters: Participant Media, a studio that tries to make films with positive social messages, has been a longtime client, and Brearton recently helped it raise $100 million to finance movies. He also helped Participant invest in
the Audience, a company co-founded by WME’s Ari Emanuel and Napster co-founder Sean Parker that manages social media for celebrities. Brearton represented American Media Productions in the upcoming launch of SportsNet LA, a regional network for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and represented Univision in a joint venture with ABC.

    Big deal: Participant purchased Documentary Channel and Halogen TV and combined them to make Pivot, a cable channel that will launch in the summer, and Brearton represented the venture every step of the way. “Despite Participant’s reputation as being more liberal, they’re trying to make Pivot extraordinarily nonpartisan,” he says. “John McCain’s daughter is a host of one of the shows.”

     

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    John Burke

    Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

    Southwestern University School of Law

    Why he matters: One of Hollywood’s top finance
lawyers, Burke’s duties include management of 250 films in 
The Weinstein Co. film library, legal oversight of Dune Capital Management’s $600 million production and distribution arrangement with Fox, slate financing deals to the tune of $300 million and $100 million for Spyglass Entertainment
and Focus Features, respectively, and Bank of America’s participation in a $1.2 billion credit facility for Village Roadshow to co-finance Warner Bros. movies. And in 2012, he helped raise $275 million more for Village Roadshow. Burke also represents three major New York hedge funds that are recapitalizing Relativity Media.

    Key deal: Burke represented Bank of America and JP Morgan in a credit facility allowing Content Partners to acquire a 50 percent interest in the TV series CSI from Goldman Sachs. Every one of the entities on both sides of the deal are Akin Gump clients, notes Burke, “so it shows what a small world it has become.”

     
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    Joseph Calabrese

    O’Melveny & Myers

    Cornell Law School

    Why he matters: As a business and legal adviser to Legendary Entertainment, Calabrese 
is involved with several important franchises: Batman and Superman, movies that Legendary co-produces with Warner Bros. Calabrese has advised Legendary
 CEO Thomas Tull on $1 billion in equity and debt transactions, and he’s particularly proud of his association with 42, the movie about baseball leg
end Jackie Robinson. Says Calabrese, “Thomas has a great passion for sports, so people thought 42 was a bit of a vanity project, and now it’s over $85 million at the domestic 
box office.”


    Big deal: Calabrese is representing the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in ongoing negotiations with Dick Clark Productions, so helping the parties turn out a decent Golden Globes telecast was a challenge in itself. “There’s no agreement beyond the actual awards show, so the preshow, the e-show — all that has to be agreed to on a yearly basis,” he says. “Getting everybody to cooperate is a task that falls to the lawyers.”

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    Robert Darwell

    Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton

    Georgetown University Law Center

    Why he matters: With a specialty in film financing, Darwell represented about 70 titles in 2012, including Zero Dark Thirty and The Master
for Annapurna, run by Oracle heiress Megan Ellison. “She’s able to self-finance, so she isn’t reliant on what other people think,” he notes. Darwell, who is known to spend part of his year in Argentina or France, also repped a financier of the upcoming Mark Wahlberg movie Lone Survivor. Highlighting one of the complexities of a $50 million indie film, there were so many producer and executive producer credits that the distributor insisted a half-dozen be cut. “Of course, our client wound up with their credits,” he says.

    Big deal: Darwell repped nuvoTV, an English-language network targeting Hispanics, in its extensive programming and marketing deal with Jennifer Lopez. “It’s like Oprah Winfrey with OWN,” he says. “She gets a fee, but the real potential for reward is in the equity.”

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    Josh Grode

    Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz

    Loyola Law School

    Why he matters: Grode represented Koch Media in the acquisition of the assets of THQ, which has produced video games around such properties as Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune and SpongeBob SquarePants. He also represented DFI in a financing venture with Participant Media and helped found Media Content Capital, then arranged for the firm to invest $25 million in QED, a foreign sales company. Grode helped raise $500 million for Miramax based on a more precise way of deter- mining the value of each film so that lenders were confident the 700-film library was worth
twice the loan amount.


    Big deal: When he wasn’t coaching his kids’ sports teams, Grode helped Colony Capital and a consortium of investors pay
$420 million to acquire then-bankrupt Lodgenet Interactive, which provides VOD to hotels. “You had old lenders, new lenders, old equity and new equity, you had the company, and you had us,” he recalls. “Alliances were formed and broken minute by minute in that deal.”

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    Michael Hobel

    Katten Muchin Rosenman

    NYU School of Law

    Why he matters: Beginning
his career with several music deals, Hobel now serves as a sort of outside general counsel to American Idol and The X Factor producer Fremantle as well as DreamWorks Animation, Anger Management distributor Debmar/ Mercury and AMC Networks.


    Big deal: Hobel represented producer Media Rights Capital in its groundbreaking $100 million Netflix deal for two seasons of House of Cards.

     
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    Mickey Mayerson

    Loeb & Loeb

    Loeb & Loeb

    Columbia Law School

    Why he matters: Mayerson calls himself the go-to lawyer for "capital looking to find safe investment structures in Hollywood." The co-chair of his firm's corporate, media and entertainment division, he oversees one of Hollywood's most active film-finance practices and counsels banks including City National, Bank of America and OneWest. During the past year, he has advised studios including Universal, Paramount and MGM on pay TV deals. Other clients include Endgame Releasing, which has a $150 million fund to market movies including Looper; real estate mogul Norton Herrick, who has done 10 transactions in movies including 2 Guns with Denzel Washington; and entertainment banker Michael Mendelsohn, who is relaunching his movie finance company Union Patriot Capital.

    Key deal: Mayerson is working with a foreign investor on a $700 million studio slate deal. "The enormous growth of wealth has spawned rich people and children of rich people from all over the world interested in movies and TV," he says. "We're seeing more deal flow today than any time since the 2008 crash."

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    Schuyler “Sky” Moore

    Stroock

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: He might ride a motorcycle to work, but it is his button-down knowledge of the tax code (which he shares in a semiregular column for The Hollywood Reporter) that has brought him such clients as Exclusive Media, Hyde Park and Hemisphere Capital Management. He advised Hemisphere on the creation of a $500 million film fund to back Sony's The Smurfs movie and its 2013 sequel. He is advising the partners who sold Summit Entertainment and is working on their behalf with Lionsgate to reach an agreement on the tax treatment.

    Big deal: Moore advises Russian financier-producer Alexander Rodnyansky on backing such movies as Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Machete Kills, part of his international practice. "The Chinese are here just to take our ideas and figure out how to do it on their own," says Moore. "The Russians are here to become part of Hollywood."

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    Stephen Saltzman

    Loeb & Loeb

    Columbia Law School

    Why he matters: Since his first trip to China in 2005, Saltzman has expanded his international practice rapidly to keep up with developments in Asia. Scharf represented Huayi Brothers when they cast Tim Robbins and Adrien Brody in Feng Xiaogang's Back to 1942 and Celestial Pictures (Hong Kong) and parent company Astro Overseas in a joint TV venture with Lionsgate and Saban Capital. He also handles deals for CJ Entertainment (Korea), Bavaria Media (Germany) and Kaminski-Stiehm on co-financing movies and Black Bear Pictures (Teddy Schwarzman's company) in a deal with New Regency to co-finance movies, among others.

    Big deal: He represented Beijing Galloping Horse Co., a diversified Chinese producer, distributor and exhibitor, in its acquisition of the assets of Digital Domain Productions, a U.S. effects and post production company. "I represent talent, filmmakers and companies," says Saltzman. "That gives me a more well-rounded perspective because I know what they are looking for on the other side of the table."

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    Stephen Scharf

    O’Melveny & Myers

    Stanford Law School

    Why he matters: Scharf helped Peter Schlessel, Graham King and Tim Headington create FilmDistrict, which distributed films including Looper, the latest Evil Dead and Olympus Has Fallen ($132 million worldwide).

    Big deal: Increasingly, his work is international. He helped client StudioCanal set up a large multi-picture pact with Anton Capital Entertainment and Legendary Entertainment to create Legendary East, which has raised about $441 million. His clients are spread throughout China, South Korea, India, Indonesia and elsewhere. "A lot of my work is with Western companies who want to do business in Asia," says Scharf, "and a lot of Asian companies who want to expand outside their geographic area."

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    Matthew Thompson

    Stroock

    UC Hastings College of the Law

    Why he matters: Thompson has put together more than $1 billion of deals over the past year for Relativity Media and others -- including a joint venture between Sony and Constantine to launch The Mortal Instruments, a sister franchise to Resident Evil; as well as Leftfield Pictures' acquisition of reality TV maker Sirens Media (The Real Housewives of New Jersey). He also has done additional work on the Mark Burnett/Hearst Entertainment joint venture One Three Media, which is behind the smash hit miniseries The Bible.

    Big deal: In May, Thompson handled the reported $300 million recapitalization of Relativity. "There were so many moving parts," he says. "We were the hub of the wheel, working with existing investors, new investors, lenders, the production financiers and print-and-advertising financiers. My team was sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the Relativity [execs], and there were multiple times when we would work three or four days, all night through. But we got the entire thing done in a little less than eight weeks."

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    Stephen Tsoneff

    Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

    Columbia Law School

    Why he matters: Tsoneff has helped craft major financing deals for Paramount, Universal and Fox Searchlight. He recently represented Fox in its co-financing pact with DreamWorks for Lincoln and also handled Fox's video distribution and financing deal with Relativity.

    Big deal: Tsoneff helped put together a reported $400 million slate deal for Fox, which partnered with financier Chip Seelig to back Avatar 2 and other films. The team raced to close the deal before year's end (signature papers were handed over Dec. 31, 2012, just in time for Tsoneff to make his New Year's Eve dinner). "It was the first significant slate deal in a number of years," he says, "and it was challenging for everyone to figure out what these deals would look like in 2013 as opposed to before the downturn. They got to see how the previous deals worked out."

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    Susan Zuckerman Williams

    Loeb & Loeb

    USC School of Law

    Why she matters: A leading film-finance attorney, Williams has worked closely for a quarter century with Loeb's Mickey Mayerson, specializing in acquisitions, distribution and movie finance. The Toronto native has helped Netflix navigate the complex world of original programming on several deals and also Bank of America and Union Bank in financing Tom Ortenberg's Open Road Films.

    Key case: Williams was instrumental in putting together the financing for Netflix's new series Hemlock Grove. She notes, "As the company expands its original content initiative, you are trying to fit independent-financing models into a new situation."

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    Ken Ziffren

    Ziffren Brittenham

    UCLA School of Law

    Why he matters: Presiding over perhaps the most profitable law firm in Hollywood, Ziffren reserves his personal attention for the most challenging deals. The part-time UCLA law professor (and wine expert) is representing Intel in its negotiations with programmers to create a content-delivery system.

    Big deal: Ziffren repped Peanuts owner the Charles M. Schulz estate and Iconix in a complex negotiation that will bring a 3D Charlie Brown to the big screen in 2015 via Fox. Says Ziffren, "Given the iconic and personal nature of the Peanuts characters, we were able to secure extraordinary protection of creative rights for the owners."

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