Power Lawyers 2014: Meet THR's Raising the Bar Honoree
Wayne Levin was on a family vacation in the Caribbean for Christmas in 2009 just as Lionsgate's talks to buy TV Guide Channel heated up. So Levin, the studio's seasickness-prone general counsel and chief strategic officer, managed the tough negotiation from a boat -- while taking periodic breaks to throw up.
That kind of devotion has led Levin, 51, to a remarkable 17-year run growing the once-tiny distributor via deals for Trimark Entertainment, then Artisan and a $400 million deal for Twilight producer Summit Entertainment in 2012. (Lionsgate stock went from $8 to $35 after the Summit pact, helping justify Levin’s $4.7 million in compensation for 2013; the stock is now at about $27.)
With a cool demeanor that earned him the nickname "The Closer," the former rugby player and criminal defense lawyer (and father of three boys) manages a group of 30 attorneys that fended off attacks by Carl Icahn, protected against unlicensed Hunger Games nail polish and helped Tyler Perry escape a Texas lawsuit by a woman who said she wrote Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Biggest challenge? "Managing the growth," says the Raising the Bar honoree, "without the growth being a roadblock."