Hollywood Top Dealmaker Larry Ulman Retires from Gibson Dunn

The man behind some of the town's largest financing transactions of the last decade is retiring from legal work to pursue his own entrepreneurial project.

Larry Ulman, the Hollywood dealmaking guru who helped usher in billions of dollars from Wall Street in major slate financing deals, has left Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, where he served as co-chair of the law firm's entertainment, media and technology practices. Officially, Ulman has "retired," but the 62-year-old attorney has no plans to take it easy. Instead, he's actively at work in being the principal behind his yet-to-be-announced entertainment company.

Ulman spent years as one of Hollywood's top corporate finance specialists and is famous around town for putting together whopping deals for clients such as Paramount, Fox, Sony, and Universal.

Among his successes was $500 million in financing for Universal by Relativity, Paramount's $250 million distribution and co-financing deal with Skydance Pictures, hundreds of millions of dollars for Sony and Paramount from Hemisphere Capital and some $500 million for Fox from Dune Entertainment. Ulman has set records in town for deal size, and his financing work has helped hundreds of films get off the ground. For example, the financing he helped arrange has gone to such hits as Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol and True Grit as well as the forthcoming World War Z.

The attorney was front and center during Wall Street's gold rush period about five years ago, when billions of dollars from big investment banks and hedge funds came rushing into production.

Ulman first made The Hollywood Reporter's Power Lawyers list in 2007 and has remained a fixture on it ever since. He said at the time: "What we do is so in vogue. Everyone wants to do this now."

Those big slate deals didn't all turn out well. Some of them, including Paramount's deals with its Melrose finance partners, have been subject to ongoing litigation over profit sharing. But even past the popping of the Wall Street financing bubble, Ulman has remained central to some of Hollywood's biggest transactions of late, including the recent Hemisphere and Skydance deals.

Ulman says he's been planning on retirement for about a year but says he would "lose sanity" if he just sat around. "My wife has encouraged me not to just play golf," he says.

So the well-connected Ulman says he's now in the midst of investor meetings and that he'll be the principal in a new entertainment company. He says details about this project will be announced soon.

In the meantime, Gibson Dunn's entertainment and media practice has been put in the hands of partners Scott Edelman, Orin Snyder and Ruth Fisher.

Email: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner

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