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Ziffren Brittenham partner Cliff Gilbert-Lurie was honored by the Beverly Hills Bar Association as it 2018 Entertainment Lawyer of the Year at a May 3 ceremony attended by 350 people, including his colleagues, family and clients. Among the latter were Sandra Bullock, Dick Wolf and Drew Carey, who served as emcee.
Gilbert-Lurie’s partners Ken Ziffren, Skip Brittenham, Sam Fischer and Melanie Cook presented the award to their colleague, who thanked his clients, firm, agents, family and the other lawyers in the room.
The tone was light. “If you’re such a good entertainment lawyer,” joked Carey, “how come I’m up here working for free?”
“This is ridiculous,” said Bullock, referring to profit participation definitions that can run to dozens of pages. “Just make it simple.” She then speed-read a paragraph of boilerplate language as though at a poetry slam. Sharp ears could make out such telling phrases as “15 percent of the gross” and “35 percent home video royalty” — better than the often-customary 20 percent — but whether those terms reflected the actress’ most recent deal was not disclosed.
Bullock also ruefully recalled the time she bought Gilbert-Lurie a beautiful gift — an 18th century silver wine sediment sifter — only to discover, upon arriving at the lawyer’s house for a party, that a luxury car was parked in the driveway with a big red bow on it.
“Who the fuck gave him a Bentley?” she lamented. She soon discovered that the automotive benefactor was — spoiler alert — Wolf.
Wolf spoke next, recounting Gilbert-Lurie’s attention to detail and marveling at the rows of three-inch binders the lawyer had in his office — 20 in all — detailing Wolf’s deals going back to 1994.
That quarter-century of history prompted Carey to quip that Gilbert-Lurie had known the producer since he was “Dick Teen Wolf.”
A video tribute featured an array of clients, family and others and also highlighted some of Gilbert-Lurie’s hobbies: model trains, stamps, singing and a ukulele collection.
Said the honoree as the evening came to a close, “This turned out to be much more fun than I thought it would be.”
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