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Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman and Jeffrey Katzenberg were among the Hollywood luminaries who paid tribute to Bert Fields, the power lawyer who died in August at age 93, at a memorial service held Sunday at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.
Fields’ client Cruise, who appeared via video, shared how he met the lawyer — whom he referred to as the most interesting man in the world — at a dinner in 1989 with his Rain Man co-star Dustin Hoffman, another Fields client.
At the time, Cruise said, he didn’t know who Fields was, but when he found out Fields was Hoffman’s lawyer, he knew he wanted to hire the attorney.
Hoffman also was on hand at the service, where he spoke about Fields’ attributes, including his sense of humor as well as his loyalty.
Katzenberg also spoke, relaying how they often ate at The Grill on the Alley, where Katzenberg always paid. That, however, bothered Fields, so on one occasion, the lawyer told the maitre d’ that Katzenberg’s birthday was in June (it’s really in December). So the restaurant gave him a celebration, with a cake, so that the maitre d’ would allow Fields to pay the bill.
Katzenberg said he hired Fields to represent him after he was fired by Disney in the early 1990s, a battle that ended with a multimillion-dollar payout for Katzenberg. Then, the lawyer willingly agreed to let Katzenberg pick up the dinner check. Katzenberg recalled Fields telling him, “When you’re a winner you go out to dinner.”
The service kicked off with a video montage showing photos of Fields throughout the years, along with a clip of Dragnet episode in which Fields played an attorney.
Like Cruise, Elaine May, another Fields client, also appeared via video, complete with an audience in her home because she doesn’t like speaking alone to a camera. She shared how Fields helped her during her legal fight with Paramount over 1976’s Mikey and Nicky.
As the legal battle ensued, at one point, May recalled, Fields told Paramount: “You wouldn’t do this to a man.”
Susan Estrich, another client, revealed that Fields always wore green underwear during trials, while Calvin Klein, also a client, made him 165 pairs.
Michael Ovitz shared a story about meeting Fields in the mid-1970s when he founded CAA. Ovitz had been told that he should get Fields on his side because, if he weren’t, he had the power to bring him down. So Ovitz wrote Fields a check for $5 so put him on retainer, so he couldn’t be sued by the attorney.
Fields’ widow, Barbara Guggenheim, shared that he often came home and cooked elaborate dinners despite having worked all day. Fields’ goddaughter, Ali Hoffman, also spoke during the service.
Also in attendance were Leslie Moonves, Jerry Bruckheimer and David Geffen, as well as several past and present attorneys at Fields’ firm, Greenberg Glusker.
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