Hollywood Docket: Litigator John Gatti Joins Manatt; Del Shaw Adds Counsel
A roundup of entertainment law news including a Comcast-TWC investor lawsuit, Fox News' courtroom victory over a live suicide, and the latest in the UK phone-hacking prosecution.
News and notes from the world of entertainment law:
Litigator John Gatti has joined Manatt Phelps & Phillips as a partner and co-chair of the firm's entertainment litigation practice group. Gatti, who is a regular figure on The Hollywood Reporter's Power Lawyers list, joins Manatt from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, where he was chair of the firm's entertainment litigation group.
"John is a terrific addition to Manatt," said Matt Kanny, chair of the firm's national litigation division, in a statement to THR. "He is a superb litigator and proven leader. Substantively, his focus on entertainment and, in particular, motion pictures and television, complements Manatt's industry-leading work in this area. John joins an extraordinary team, and I know he and entertainment litigation practice co-chair Robert Jacobs will accomplish great things for clients."
"I'm energized by the opportunities this move presents," said Gatti in a statement. "Manatt combines one of the strongest litigation practices in the country with a top-flight entertainment practice. The firm has a reputation for deep industry expertise and excellent client service. I look forward to working with Robert to lead the practice and working with my new colleagues across the country."
Elsewhere, Todd Weinstein has joined the Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano talent boutique as counsel. Weinstein joins from Eyeworks USA, where he was executive vp business affairs and general counsel. Eyeworks, a top reality TV producer (Extreme Makeover), recently was sold to Warner Bros. Television.
At the Del Shaw firm, Weinstein will be tasked with building out an unscripted TV business, along with new media and ancillary media. The firm represents Vin di Bona Productions (America's Funniest Home Videos).
"It's a dream opportunity for me," Weinstein tells THR. "This firm's reputation is fantastic, and it allows me to operate in a specific way, with total integrity." Associate Ethan Cohan also is joining the firm.
- If Comcast had proposed twice as much as $45.2 billion to acquire Time Warner Cable, there would still probably be an investor class action lawsuit. Nevertheless, here's the winner of first to court. TWC investor Breffni Barrett is suing to stop the deal, saying the sales process was "woefully deficient" and "unfair and self-serving" and that while Comcast was offering more money than Charter, the two dealing parties are underestimating the regulatory process. "Given Comcast's dominance in the cable industry, Time Warner's merger with Comcast raises antitrust issues that another potential acquirer, like Charter for example, may not have faced," says the complaint.
- Fox News has escaped a lawsuit brought by the widow of JoDon Romero, an Arizona man whose suicide was carried live on the air in September 2012. Romero was a carjacking suspect whose police chase culminated in his pressing a handgun to his head as Fox News' Shepard Smith shouted, "Get off, get off, get off, get off, get off, get off, get off!" The cable news network didn't get off quick enough. The complaint said that the man's three children had suffered extreme emotional distress after seeing the video. An Arizona judge determined that the aired suicide was protected by the First Amendment.
- The criminal trial against Rebekah Brooks and others for a conspiracy to commit phone hacking continues to slog along in the U.K. Earlier this month, the prosecution rested its case after 13 weeks of testimony from former News Corp. employees, detectives and celebrities such as Jude Law and Sienna Miller. Here's an excellent summary. On Wednesday, the defense begins. Up first is Brooks.