The quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) forces behind every deal, dispute and decision in Hollywood are honored in The Hollywood Reporter’s fifth annual list.
In early 2007 when the idea first surfaced here to do a power list of the top Hollywood lawyers, I called up one of the town’s most respected talent attorneys to see what he thought. “Great idea,” he said. “But no one will talk to you.” After all, the inner circle of entertainment lawyers had always been an impenetrable cabal that -- unlike studio executives, agents and managers -- hated seeing their names in print. It took hundreds of phone calls (and, yes, some begging), but nearly everyone in that first Power Lawyers issue agreed to be interviewed, and most showed up (some from New York and Nashville) for our breakfast, now an annual tradition.
Five years later, with the franchise fully formed and a true resource for the top names in litigation, corporate and talent dealmaking, I called up that same attorney to spitball ideas for this issue. Perhaps, I wondered, we could get the three feuding lawyers on the Charlie Sheen case to pose for a photo together. “Great idea,” he said. “But they’ll never do it.” (See above.) Even amid an unresolved and often rancorous arbitration, they all said yes. Case closed.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Power Lawyers 2011 list is broken down into the following categories:
Talent Dealmakers: Gross points, rich backends and franchise hunting: These attorneys for A-list stars keep them in the stratosphere.
Litigation Specialists: These hired guns can go all the way to trial to right a wrong in an industry where the rules are not always black, white or even fair.
The Troubleshooters: Plenty of Los Angeles lawyers handle high-stakes criminal cases and rich divorces, but it takes a special skill to expertly navigate both the legal issues and the glare of a rapturous media.
Corporate Dealmakers: The men and women behind the big-ticket transactions that keep money flowing to Hollywood.
METHODOLOGY: For a fifth year, THR canvassed the showbiz landscape to determine the attorneys behind the year’s biggest deals and cases. Candidates are evaluated against their peers (litigators vs. litigators, dealmakers vs. dealmakers), and we added a category this year for “troubleshooters,” those handling criminal and divorce cases. Studio, network and music label lawyers were not considered, with the exception of Jonathan Anschell, the Raising the Bar honoree, an in-house executive who was chosen in consultation with several top attorneys on the Power Lawyers list.
Click here to see the Power Lawyers 2010 list.
Click below to view the lawyers in this year's list:
- Full List
- Raising the Bar Honoree
If you've been to a film premiere, you've no doubt bumped into Austen, whose tireless networking and killer work ethic have paid off with a client roster packed with fresh talent.
That includes Kristen Wiig, whose mega-grossing Bridesmaids, which she co-wrote and starred in, has turned the SNL regular into a hot film commodity; Jonah Hill, next seen in Moneyball, who booked two starring gigs (The Sitter and 21 Jump Street, both of which he'll executive produce as well as topline); and Joseph Gordon-Levitt of Premium Rush and The Dark Knight Rises.
On the TV front, client Whitney Cummings wrote two pilots this season, and -- amazingly for a TV newbie -- both were picked up to series (2 Broke Girls at CBS and Whitney, in which Cummings also stars, for NBC). Austen says, "I'm not sure that's ever been done."
As co-executor of the Michael Jackson estate, Branca controls a burgeoning empire that earned more than $275 million last year.
That's more than all other dead celebrities -- including Elvis Presley, J.R.R. Tolkien and John Lennon -- combined. "We've exceeded expectations on Michael," he says.
OFF-DUTY Branca says he wakes up each morning thinking about the UCLA Bruins.
You'd think with a year like she's had, Cook would be flying high. After all, she closed a first-look deal for producer Scott Rudin with Sony; a pact for Rudin and his Social Network scribe, Aaron Sorkin, to team on an HBO series; and a third for Rudin and fellow client Stephen Daldry to make Extremely Loud and Dangerously Close -- not to mention other huge projects such as helmer Tim Burton's Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie.
But the very reason these clients are drawn to her -- her exceptional empathy -- is what has been dragging her down. Cook, who agreed to spend a year working with a teenage girl from an inner-city school via THR's mentorship program, is reeling from the devastating news that her mentee has multiple sclerosis -- discovered just after she'd gotten into Berkeley and won a scholarship that Cook set up in her mother's name.
"You invest so much," she says. Compared to that, "I can't even remember what I did this year."
Emanuel, making his debut on the list, had his hands full this year with Glee showrunner Ryan Murphy, negotiating a $24 million overall deal with Twentieth Television that brings the hit musical to multiple platforms (including the Oxygen reality series The Glee Project and the Glee live tour).
"Ryan has great aspirations of this being formatted in every conceivable way possible," Emanuel says. "The renegotiation gave us an opportunity to redefine how television deals are structured."
Other clients include directors Lee Daniels and Robert Rodriguez and Transformers producer Don Murphy, whose sci-fi boxing drama Real Steel doesn't come out until October -- yet Emanuel is already talking to DreamWorks about a sequel.
OFF-DUTY Go, the ancient Chinese board game, which Emanuel plays on his iPad: "It is truly challenging and great for long plane flights."
She's often seen cruising around fancy premiere parties in sweat pants, but Felker is anything but laid-back. In addition to repping rising talents Jesse Eisenberg and Mila Kunis and Fast Five star Vin Diesel, she helped two-time Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner catapult to superstar status with the upcoming Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and the planned reboot of the Bourne franchise.
"It's such a joy after years of his toiling and working on his craft to finally have the recognition," Felker says of Renner, whom she has represented "since the days of [2002's] Dahmer."
HOT LUNCH SPOT Palomino, across the street from her Westwood office. "I always get the wild salmon when it is on the menu."
Fischer is especially proud of the deals he struck this year for Modern Family co-showrunner Steve Levitan, whose hit comedy will air on USA Network in a rich syndication pact.
"It is great to have a show that is not only critically acclaimed but also rewards your clients financially," Fischer notes. "It doesn't always go hand in hand." He's also shepherding Julia Louis-Dreyfus' return to television on HBO's Veep and superproducer Peter Chernin's film and TV deals with Fox that include hot television projects Terra Nova and Kiefer Sutherland's Touch and the August film Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Fischer also handled Ben Affleck's deals to direct and star in Warner Bros.' Argo and Matt Damon's pacts for Media Rights Capital's Elysium and Fox's We Bought a Zoo.
FAVORITE GETAWAY Fischer and his family returned from Peru in May and are taking off in August for Italy to hike in the Dolomites.
Representing Two and a Half Men star Jon Cryer put Fox on the inside of the Charlie Sheen maelstrom. "Jon handled the slings and arrows with dignity and class," Fox says.
"It must be hard to hold your tongue when your co-star and friend is taking shots at you." The die-hard Dodger fan (he bought a pink jersey for his young daughter this season) scored this year by representing the producers of Insidious, the microbudgeted horror pic that grossed $88 million worldwide.
He also helped filmmaker Sheldon Turner get a writing credit on X-Men: First Class.
To understand Gelblum's influence in the New York theater world, take a look at this year's Tony Awards: He represented the producers of all four best musical nominees (including winner The Book of Mormon) and three of the four best play contenders.
Gelblum also is handling client Julie Taymor's royalty dispute over her firing from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, a conflict that Gelblum calls his biggest challenge of late.
Gendler's big-ticket contracts this year included Alex Kurtzman's pacts to produce Cowboys & Aliens and the Star Trek sequel, Rob Marshall's deal to direct the $1 billion-grossing Pirates of the Caribbean four-quel and District 9 filmmaker Neill Blomkamp's rich arrangement to write and direct Elysium, with funding from Media Rights Capital.
Gilbert-Lurie's low-key style masks a high-powered client list: Sandra Bullock, Dick Wolf, Tina Fey and Hugh Laurie, to name just a few.
This year he closed rich deals for Bullock to star opposite George Clooney in Gravity and join Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, in which she co-stars with Tom Hanks. Client Claire Danes stars in the upcoming Showtime series Homeland.
Dealmaking has become much trickier, he says, because "there's more complexity, given all the new digital platforms." Gilbert-Lurie's idea of a perfect escape is to turn off his Blackberry, iPhone and iPad, all of which he carries with him. "One can always dream," he says.
In the early 1990s, as Goodman came of age in showbiz law, the attorney -- new to this list -- had the good fortune of hooking up with a number of talented young filmmakers.
Now those directors, including Quentin Tarantino, Darren Aronofsky and Paul Greengrass, are among the hottest names in town, and Goodman is handling top-of-the-market deals like Tarantino's rich pact for Django Unchained and Aronofsky's for Noah's Ark.
Where is the next wave coming from? Says Goodman, "The indie film market is pretty challenged at the moment, and a lot of studios are looking at foreign filmmakers."
Client Mel Gibson certainly gets the most press (he's working on "a lot of projects behind closed doors," Hansen says), but the rest of his list is much less controversial.
Robert Downey Jr. has Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows coming for the holidays and is at work on next summer's The Avengers. Steve Kloves penned seven of the eight Harry Potter movies, including Deathly Hallows Part 2.
Hansen recently made Jon Stewart's deal to extend his stay on The Daily Show and helped Kevin Spacey's production company sell House of Cards to Netflix. Hansen was even hired by the Britney Spears Conservatorship to help with her tour. "I'm not even a music lawyer, but that has worked out well," he says.
OFF-DUTY Hansen is planning a fly-fishing trip to an Indian reservation in Bolivia with former partner Skip Brittenham.
Hergott is a bit more nostalgic than most Harry Potter fans about the final film, considering client David Heyman produced all eight movies and another client, David Yates, directed four of them.
"That's a big valedictory thing for me," Hergott says. His A-list movie stars include Brad Pitt (producer and star of Paramount's big-budget World War Z), Russell Crowe (who will play Superman's father in Warners' reboot) and Jake Gyllenhaal (star of the upcoming thriller End of Watch).
He did Adam Shankman's deal to direct the musical comedy Rock of Ages, and client Alan Ball is red hot with HBO's True Blood and other projects.
OFF-DUTY A contemporary art collector, Hergott hit the Venice Biennale this year and acquired a painting by German artist Kai Althoff.
At 77, Hirsch is still actively repping A-listers including Julia Roberts, Sean Penn and Jeff Bridges. It's a far cry from learning the ropes working on challenging productions like Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, which survived everything from treacherous Philippines weather to Martin Sheen having a breakdown. "That was like being breast-fed," Hirsch says of the learning process.
These days, Hollywood is tough for another reason. "First-dollar gross deals are a thing of the past, with studios going to cash-break pools," says the famously tough negotiator, warning that new digital platforms will only pay off for those with gross deals.
ESCAPE Hirsch is spending more time on the big island of Hawaii with Carol, his wife of 49 years. He says his golf game is better now than when he was 55.
Long one of the most well-connected lawyers in the TV business (client David Letterman name-checked him on camera during his blackmail crisis), the deep-voiced Jackoway scored this pilot season with client J.J. Abrams earning two new series pickups (CBS' Person of Interest and Fox's Alcatraz) and Sex and the City's Michael Patrick King returning with CBS' 2 Broke Girls. Jackoway was even brought in to help Mad Men network AMC close its contentious negotiations with Matt Weiner for seasons five and six.
Jacobson always manages to be at the center of the industry's most talked-about deals. He helped director David Fincher ink a blockbuster pact with Netflix for 26 episodes of the political drama House of Cards, leading some to predict that digital outlets might soon be a viable alternative to studio financing.
The avid contemporary art collector, who can be found most weekends trolling L.A. art galleries, also closed Ryan Seacrest's three-year, $60 million contract with Clear Channel, and he helped Katie Couric finalize a complex deal to launch an ABC daytime talk show that she will co-own.
OFF-DUTY "To counteract years of weight lifting and exercising, I have taken up yoga."
Handling Tyler Perry's deals is pretty much a full-time job. But in addition to renegotiating the multi-hyphenate's rich film pact with Lionsgate and prepping his third TBS series, Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse, Johnson also found time to shepherd Matthew Vaughn's pact to direct June release X-Men: First Class, George Nolfi's deal to direct March's The Adjustment Bureau and two film deals and a Fox pilot for helmer Antoine Fuqua.
Johnson also represented Forest Whitaker in connection with the actor's leading role on Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.
FAVORITE WEEKEND The Montage in Laguna Beach.
The Atlanta-based chair of his firm's entertainment practice this year helped the Grammy Awards and Tony Awards ink extensions of their TV deals with CBS, and he served as co-counsel on the refinancing of Michael Jackson's Sony/ATV deal. He also sold Evergreen Publishing for about $100 million.
GIVING BACK Katz has lately been working with the USO, which sends stars to entertain troops overseas by helping to set up an advisory council to work on television programming.
When Klein began representing SNL's Will Ferrell years ago, little did she know the comic actor's career would diversify into hit films (last summer's The Other Guys), indies (Everything Must Go), TV (an arc on The Office this season) as well as Ferrell and Adam McKay's active production company Gary Sanchez Productions and their online venture Funny or Die.
Other top clients include Vince Vaughn, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Rudd and Megan Fox.
BLACKBERRY OR IPHONE? "Blackberry, much to my teenage son's dismay."
"I've had a wild year," says Lichter, a doyenne of the indie scene and board member of the Telluride Film Festival.
"Wild" is relative: While it includes recent bicycle trips to Vietnam and Cambodia as well as journeys to Ghana and the Galapagos, she's referring to the work she's done for her busy clients -- including the Scandinavian producers who own The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo rights; director Marc Forster, whose zombie movie, World War Z, stars Brad Pitt; and Linda Woolverton, the only woman to have penned a $1 billion-plus grosser, Alice in Wonderland, who is now writing a sequel for Disney and a stage adaptation.
Lichter has one of the toughest negotiating styles in town but also one of the most engaging personalities -- plus a bit of help from an industry she says is "turning around. Movies are getting made; pretty much everyone I have is working."
When McKuin isn't chasing around his 14-month-old son, Maxson, the Harvard Law alum is handling one of the most diverse client rosters in town, from such actors as Twilight's Kristen Stewart to producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl, Chuck).
His firm's clients have been particularly collaborative lately: Stewart is starring in Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman, for which McKuin's partner Jeff Frankel sold the multimillion-dollar spec script. Schwartz is directing Paramount's Halloween comedy Fun Size, written by client Max Werner.
And client Alyson Hannigan is set to reprise her role in American Pie sequel American Reunion, which is being produced by another client, Craig Perry. McKuin is also a partner in Tinga, a year-old Mexican eatery on La Brea in L.A.
OFF-DUTY McKuin plays keyboard, drums, bass and guitar. "I played a bowling alley gig in May with my pickup band, Shovel Ready."
In making Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry's new deal with ABC, the network balked at raising the show's distribution fee. So Moonves, a list newcomer, made up for it in back-end profit participation.
"We ended up with elements that normally weren't in these contracts," says the avid poker player, who also took a crafty approach to Ray Romano's incentive-heavy deal for TNT's Men of a Certain Age.
He was instrumental in the dealmaking for CBS' The Talk, repping exec producer Jonathan Redmann and hosts Leah Remini and Julie Chen (yes, his sister-in-law). His TV-centric practice also included a rich new production/development deal for The Good Wife showrunners Robert and Michelle King.
OFF-DUTY Moonves is again heading to this year's World Series of Poker. He sees analogies between the game and the law: "You shouldn't ever be fully bluffing. You have to know you have a shot at winning."
"As the lawyer for the guys from South Park, I've been in a nice spot to evaluate the evolution of entertainment," says Morris, who started repping Trey Parker and Matt Stone before they created the long-running Comedy Central series.
"The franchise has worked wherever it's been taken -- cable, a digital studio, a movie, foreign, DVD …" In June, Morris found himself onstage at the Tonys being thanked by Parker and Stone for co-producing best musical winner The Book of Mormon with his clients.
HIS OBSESSION Since visiting Argentina four years ago, Morris has been back eight times, producing a movie there and lining up financing for a slate of films.
Like clients Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Kleinberg has rocked well into middle age. He represents J.K. Rowling in the U.S. and recently worked on the launch of Rowling's Harry Potter website Pottermore.
A chief focus these days is digital distribution, he says, and making sure clients get a piece of emerging revenue streams. His tenacity was rewarded in May when the Beverly Hills Bar Association named him entertainment lawyer of the year in one of the bigger BHBA events in recent memory. "It really blew me away," Kleinberg says.
When Lande began representing the mega-selling band Linkin Park in September, they had 9 million Facebook friends. Today that number has tripled to 27 million, third-highest among music acts, thanks in part to Lande's efforts in the digital space.
He also reps chart-toppers Alicia Keys and Shakira and this year helped auction film rights to Jersey Boys, which sold to producer Graham King.
One of the town's friendliest lawyers isn't afraid to get tough on behalf of director clients Pete Berg, who's making the $200 million Battleship for Universal, and Joe Kosinski, who is following Tron: Legacy with Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise.
Working closely with partners Barry Hirsch, Bob Wallerstein, Georg Hayum and Howard Fishman, list newbie Matlof handled Josh Lucas' deal to star in NBC's series adaptation of The Firm; shepherded Lauren Shuler Donner's producing deal for X-Men: First Class and the upcoming The Wolverine; and helped former MGM executive Mary Parent set up a dozen projects at Paramount as part of her first-look deal.
FAVORITE WEEKEND "Playing golf at Sandpiper" in Santa Barbara.
This list newcomer doesn't represent every blond actress in Hollywood, but it might seem that way with Cameron Diaz returning to R-rated comedy with Bad Teacher (a unique deal that saw Diaz take a low fee up front for a big chunk of backend), January Jones filming X-Men: First Class and Unknown during her Mad Men hiatus and Kate Hudson starring in May's Something Borrowed and the upcoming A Little Bit of Heaven.
"For your clients to make the same amount of money, you need to be more creative now," says the mother of three, who becomes "Mrs. Coach" on weekends in honor of her husband, Steve Morris, a well-known soccer coach on L.A.'s Westside.
Myman's actress clients had a great TV pilot season: Maria Bello booked NBC's Prime Suspect, Jaime King landed on the CW's Hart of Dixie, and Laura Prepon stars in NBC's Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, among others.
And on the feature side, client Damon Lindelof wrote and produced Cowboys & Aliens, co-wrote Ridley Scott's 2012 big-budget Prometheus and is working on the Star Trek sequel. Myman also is proud of the work he's done for Lost director Jack Bender, who will helm the Jack Ryan thriller Moscow for Paramount and is an exec producer and director on Fox's new series Alcatraz.
SECRET PAST A water polo star at UCLA, Myman is in the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Nelson's instincts as a competitive sailboat racer served him well in the protracted negotiation of Peter Jackson's deal to make two Hobbit films for Warner Bros./MGM.
He handled director Nicolas Winding Refn's pact to make festival breakout Drive, Rod Lurie in his deal to remake Straw Dogs, out in September, and he works with director Sean Durkin, whose Sundance favorite Martha Marcy May Marlene opens this fall.
As fate would have it, Drive and Straw Dogs open on the same day (Sept. 16). "I didn't actually know," Nelson recalls, "until one of the directors lovingly pointed it out.
You could unleash a swarm of bees on Newman and she wouldn't flinch. Literally. One of the toughest negotiators in the business found out last year when the organic vineyard/farm she owns with husband Gary Newman (chairman of 20th Century Fox TV) was invaded by thousands of yellow jackets.
How do you get rid of them? "You don't," she sighs. Some of her legal adversaries may feel the same about Newman, who spent more than a year hammering out Matt Weiner's deal to continue as showrunner of Mad Men, a negotiation so complicated, she says, "It felt like we were reinventing the wheel."
Equally challenging was her pact for longtime client John de Mol's Dutch company, Talpa, to produce NBC's hit The Voice.
GIVING BACK Newman has made mentoring a priority, taking on a teenage girl via THR's Women in Entertainment mentor program. "It helped me get through everything else this year," she says.
You could say Offer had a #winning year, landing client Ashton Kutcher the gig as Charlie Sheen's replacement on CBS' Two and a Half Men. Rather than Kutcher's agent or manager, it was Offer who first connected with CBS entertainment chief and longtime friend Nina Tassler this spring.
The Los Angeles-bred attorney has kept similarly busy with Angelina Jolie's directorial efforts, Ryan Gosling's evolving resume, Michael Bay's Transformers fortunes and Robert Pattinson's Twilight fame.
When he isn't on the golf course, Offer spends many of his nonworking hours with his parents and three children. "I have my hands full," he laughs.
Music fans might be surprised to learn that the same lawyer represents Paul Simon, Kanye West and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery.
"We're full service," says Passman, who also moonlights as an author of the indispensable treatise All You Need to Know About the Music Business, a new edition of which will be out in the fall.
Passman also is helping Glee star Matthew Morrison build his recording career.
OFF-DUTY Passman is a big poker player, often driving to Commerce Casino outside L.A. Has he ever faced off against Tobey Maguire? "I don't play games that big," he jokes.
Known for his blue-chip music clients, Phillips hit it big this year with Randy Jackson's new multiyear contract on American Idol as well as his MTV show, endorsements and music producing gigs from Hollywood to Russia.
Phillips guided Fran Drescher's return to television with Happily Divorced on TV Land and is in protracted negotiations with Sony Music (successor to CBS Records) to determine if longtime client Barbra Streisand will celebrate her 50th anniversary there or look for a new deal (see page 9).
Other music clients include Tracy Chapman, Steve Perry, the Eagles, Kenny Loggins and Neil Young.
Ramer, the longtime lawyer for Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood, carries himself in such a regal manner that many business affairs executives admit it's hard to say no to him.
That demeanor has helped him build one of Hollywood's top talent boutiques and allows Ramer to pack his annual USC entertainment law and business symposium with top speakers like Disney's Bob Iger and Sony's Michael Lynton.
Ramer is active in conservative politics (though he says Sarah Palin is "not my cup of tea"), and in November he became chairman of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
HIS OBSESSION Ramer became interested in Mexican art during trips to a family house in northern Baja. "It's the great colors," he says. "I've got three major pieces of Mexican art in my office, and 80 percent of the art in my home is Mexican."
Richman reps his share of actors, including Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons, for whom he recently negotiated a rich new three-year deal.
But he is known as one of Hollywood's top lawyers for TV showrunners. This year he inked a new three-year deal with NBC Universal for The Office's Paul Lieberstein as well as new pacts for 30 Rock exec producer Robert Carlock; Emily Spivey, showrunner of Christina Applegate's new NBC series Up All Night; Jenny Bicks, exec producer of Showtime's The Big C; and Scot Armstrong of NBC's upcoming BFF. Richman says, "I feel lucky I have such a diverse practice."
Lots of lawyers do charity work. But Rose's devotion to animal rights is on another level. In addition to repping multi-hyphenate Ben Stiller, directors Cameron Crowe and Joe Johnston and writer Steve Zallian, Rose founded and runs his own Los Angeles-based animal rescue organization "It's 24-7, nonstop," he says. "Last night we were at an emergency hospital from 8 to 10 because one of our cats had a problem."
This year, Rose stumbled across a hoarder who kept 95 abused felines in a trailer. When the City of Los Angeles wouldn't step in, he took matters into his own hands, accepting responsibility for finding homes for about 75 of them.
"I don't know who's crazier, the hoarder or the city for refusing to bust him even though they knew what kind of situation it was," he says. The man was eventually arrested and charged with 46 counts of animal cruelty.
"We've always worked well with creative types who are capable of wearing more than one hat on any given project," says the New York-based Schreck, who this year negotiated for longtime client Ed Helms to star in and executive produce Cedar Rapids (in addition to co-toplining The Hangover Part II).
Client Kevin James also is a producer and star of the recently released Zookeeper. Schreck reps Friday Night Lights and Parenthood showrunner Jason Katims and Rescue Me showrunner Peter Tolan, requiring him to travel to Los Angeles at least once a month.
Elegant and gracious, Shaw is more than just a dealmaker: She's also known for mentoring young men and women (she participated in THR's own Women in Entertainment mentor program) and being open to helping almost any newcomer to the business.
That's especially impressive when you consider how busy she's been putting together mega-million pacts for the likes of Jamie Foxx (in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained), executive producer Pam Veasey (whose Ringer premieres in September on the CW) and Dallas-based pastor T.D. Jakes (she's putting together a slate of movies for him and Screen Gems, with Heaven Is for Real and a remake of Sparkle next).
Jakes illustrates the blend of old and new she believes is critical to the business. "We're all searching for a way into both the traditional media and new media," she says, adding, "It's so important to have a perspective beyond work. That's why mentoring matters. It's really the small things you do that count."
Given the number of his actor clients in superhero films, you might expect Sloane to walk around his Beverly Hills office in tights and a cape.
This year he helped Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy join the next Dark Knight film and negotiated for Amy Adams to play Lois Lane in Man of Steel (he also handled Hugh Jackman's deal for the latest Wolverine).
"Even more gratifying for me is that as a firm we are front and center in this arena," says the father of two, "with my partners having made deals for Henry Cavill as Superman, Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, Armie Hammer as Lone Ranger and Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern, as well as Zack Snyder's directing deal for Man of Steel."
Actors dream of starring in one potential movie franchise. With Stone's help, Daniel Craig now has three, with this year's Cowboys & Aliens and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo joining the James Bond series. "There were a lot of negotiations to get that done," Stone says.
"No one wants to put a franchise in jeopardy by not having a main actor available, so everyone had to have a level of comfort with his schedule."
The New Jersey native, who practices with well-known partners Neil Meyer and Rick Genow, has for the past three years been commuting to L.A. from Montecito, where his family lives. "It was a lifestyle choice and it's worked out well," he says.
OFF-DUTY Stone plays on an ice hockey league team started by manager John Ufland.
Stiffelman put together Lady Gaga's Monster Ball Tour, which was, well, a monster and included an HBO special. And he helped move Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails from musician to film composer with The Social Network, which won him an Oscar for original score (with Atticus Ross).
But what has Stiffelman really excited is working with the Metropoulos family, which bought Pabst Brewing. He designed a deal for celebrity endorsements, starting with Snoop Dogg for Colt 45 Blast, for a limited upfront payment but a share in the profits so clients "become a spokesman rather than just getting a check," he says.
When Warren isn't kayaking seven miles a day past orcas near his getaway in the San Juan Islands, he's putting together whale-sized deals for such superstar clients as Leonardo Di Caprio and Tobey Maguire (The Great Gatsby), Drew Barrymore (she'll produce and direct both Heist Society and How to Be Single) and Charlize Theron (Snow White and the Huntsman).
"I feel I'm part of motion picture history with them," he says. With an unrivaled list of actors and writers (add scribes Stephen Gaghan and Akiva Goldsman), he's just as passionate about such up-and-comers as Jessica Chastain (he signed her to seven movies this year alone) and Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games).
Warren says his philosophy is to become integral to his clients' lives, often having them over for dinner parties, where he plays the piano while they sing. When that includes three Glee castmembers crooning Beatles tunes, maybe he should be paying them.
When he isn't representing movie and TV creators J.J. Abrams (Super 8), Gary Ross (Hunger Games) and Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead) or such actors as Sigourney Weaver and Teri Hatcher, you'll find Wertheimer playing softball (in leagues in Los Angeles and New York) or getting his hands dirty on his collection of antique autos.
The most recent addition is a 1928 Ford Model A, which requires a complete restoration. Having grown up in L.A. and worked in a gas station, he's steeped in the city's two dominant cultures: cars and movies.
He helped get a lot of his clients' movies made this year, including Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom for Focus Features and Jason Reitman's Young Adult for Mandate Pictures and Paramount.
Wolf handles his share of A-list talent -- Judd Apatow and Steve Carell included -- but he's fast becoming one of the town's go-to film finance lawyers as well.
He worked on the $350 million co-financing deal between David Ellison's Skydance Prods. and Paramount and helped Thomas Tull's Legendary Pictures secure a new line of credit. "The movie co-financing market is completely different from what it was five years ago," he notes.
"Rather than being herded into blind slates, investors are able to select individual pictures. Also, the financial terms are much more equitable for investors and producers than in the slate deal era."
On the talent side, he's proud of the deal he negotiated for Comedy Central's Daniel Tosh to be an equal partner in a new online venture.
FAVORITE GETAWAY Wolf and his family escape to Maine when they can.
Introduced in 1978 by late agent Leonard Hanzer, Ziffren and Brittenham, then at separate law firms, went on to create the blueprint for the Hollywood 5 percent talent law firm.
In the process, they redefined dealmaking in the 1980s, a trend that continues at Ziffren Brittenham, long considered the town's pre-eminent firm. "Skip always makes fun of what I was wearing," the buttoned-down Ziffren says of that first lunch at an Italian restaurant with his future partner.
Agrees Brittenham, married to actress Heather Thomas: "He's very conservative and I'm not. If we were the same, I don't think the partnership would have been as successful."
WHERE ART THOU? Jake, buddy. Really? Five years running, you're the only Power Lawyer to refuse to speak to me for your profile. I get it: You've built a reputation as the industry's anti-authoritarian iconoclast, a man whom Jerry Bruckheimer once said in these pages "looks more like a bohemian poet than a Hollywood lawyer."
You don't really need recognition from THR or anyone. You represent Johnny Depp, flying high with the $1 billion gross of the latest Pirates. Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura is a client. Imagine Entertainment. Even Sylvester Stallone made a $100 million-grossing movie last year (The Expendables).
But man, five years of unreturned phone calls is downright depressing. My therapist says I shouldn't take it personally, but I do. This year, I even promised your assistant I wouldn't ask any awkward questions about clients Charlie Sheen or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Still nothing. She even giggled at me a little.
Yes, I realize that calling you out in the middle of a list to say you ignore it is not exactly a stinging punishment. But for me, it's therapy. I hope you understand.
"Surreal" doesn't begin to describe the $100 million legal battle between fired Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen, showrunner Chuck Lorre and studio Warner Bros. For a few months, as the self-described warlock declared war on his former bosses, it felt like litigation over TV's No. 1 sitcom would play out exclusively through the media.
The demands of the case have fallen hard on the seasoned Hollywood attorneys handling it, all of whom have known one another for years. "To me, there's no real difference, except for the publicity," says Spiegel, a former federal prosecutor who wrote the infamous letters countering Sheen's tirades.
"I'm approaching it like I approach every trial: Tell the truth." Lorre attorney Weitzman is used to odd cases, having represented Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. "It's been interesting to read what's been written about this case, which, at times, is its own sitcom," he says.
"Fiction becomes fact, outrageous behavior is glorified, and in some circles, losing is 'winning.' " As the case heads to private arbitration to determine whether Sheen breached his Men contract or Lorre and Warners conspired to improperly boot him from the show, Singer has become Sheen's de facto publicist.
"There are so many crazy things my office gets," he says. "People wanting to sue over ridiculous claims or wanting to make business dealings with Charlie. People say, 'I met him 20 years ago, and he wanted to put me on his show.' "
THE LEGEND: For 20 years, Hollywood's most iconic lawyer has adhered to a unique daily routine. Around 6 a.m., driver Jim Posterino picks Fields up at his beachfront Malibu home to make the 30-minute trek to Century City in his Bentley.
After a full morning of work, Posterino drives Fields back to Malibu so he can eat lunch on his ocean-view deck before returning to the office to finish the day. If it seems like a lot of travel, Fields doesn't waste the time. "I sit in the back with a yellow legal pad, drafting documents and making phone calls," he says.
At 82, Fields is as active as ever, handling the Weinstein Co.'s disputes and deals for A-listers Tom Cruise, James Cameron and Warren Beatty. A rare full-service consigliere, he manages lawsuits as well as contract negotiations. "I'm the last man standing who does both."
Edelman has become a reliable gun in network and studio holsters. NBC deployed him during the Conan O'Brien Tonight Show fiasco, and this year CBS asked him to defend the multimillion-dollar profit participation suit brought by fired NCIS showrunner Don Bellisario over NCIS: Los Angeles.
FX has him fighting a stolen-idea suit brought by biker Chuck Zito over Sons of Anarchy, and he's defending Warner Bros. in a profits case brought by the creators of Smallville.
The father of three daughters (wife Susan was once a lawyer at his firm), Edelman has been awash in Hollywood disputes since winning several big-ticket cases a few years ago, including the infamous battle over Elie Samaha's Franchise Pictures.
The firm's track record "has given the studios and networks confidence that we know how to defend these cases," he notes.
OFF-DUTY The tennis nut recently won a men's doubles tournament at the Los Angeles Tennis Club. "To top it off, I took my family to Wimbledon this year, which has always been a dream."
Her latest battle places Eskenazi in the center of the fight over royalties from digital recordings, downloads, ringtones and more as she represents the family of the late Bob Marley in a closely watched case against Universal Music Group.
"They're playing hardball," says Eskenazi, who is preparing for a December trial. "It isn't a huge amount of money, but on a future basis it is critical." A year ago, Eskenazi was celebrating a big settlement with Warner Bros. on behalf of the estate of Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien over the mega-grossing films, but even that drags on with a new dispute over whether the studio can license slot machines and online gambling.
She also successfully repped special effects company Hydraulx in an arbitration against Sony over alleged copying of visual effects.
GIVING BACK A musical theater fan, Eskenazi does pro bono work for an organization that helps expose new artists to kids in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, and she represents the Festival of the American Musical.
Now in his 41st year working at the same firm, the copyright litigator recently repped record labels in suits against user-generated content site Vimeo and music streaming site BlueBeat, and he submitted a key brief backing Viacom in its appeal of the $1 billion YouTube case.
"It's important at this stage of my career to work on cutting-edge matters," he says of being picky about what he takes on.
WEEKEND ESCAPE "I go to baseball games as much as I can," says the Brooklyn native, who fondly recalls the day he bumped into Joe DiMaggio at a restaurant. "I'll try to make it a Yankees game, Dodgers if I have to."
Freedman has lately found himself on the front lines of wars over what can be said on the Internet. He represents notorious Web personality Perez Hilton and litigious blogger Nikki Finke's employer Penske Media Corp., and he litigated a first-of-its-kind Twitter defamation case against Courtney Love on behalf of a fashion designer.
Eventually, Love settled for $430,000, a big win for Freedman's client. Ever since, his phone has been ringing off the hook from hundreds of folks believing they, too, have been defamed on Twitter. He compares social media to the Wild West. "One day, we'll look back in disbelief and say, 'I can't believe they could actually say that.' "
Gatti is one of the few Hollywood litigators who represent talent in profits claims against studios while also consulting for some of those same companies.
This year, he settled the long-running case involving producer Alan Ladd Jr. (also Gatti's father-in-law), whose $3.2 million judgment against Warner Bros. over profits on Blade Runner and other movies was upheld by a California appeals court.
The avid San Francisco Giants fan also represents National Lampoon in a dispute with Warners over the Vacation movies, and he helped Jon Peters negotiate an executive producer credit on the next Superman movie.
Meanwhile, he is defending CBS in claims made by the John Wayne estate over use of the actor's likeness, and he defended Fox and Sony in stolen-idea cases.
HIS OBSESSION One of his two daughters plays soccer at UC Davis. "We've spent a lot of time on the soccer field," he says.
With her faint West Virginia accent and authoritative demeanor, Glaser long has been one of Hollywood's smoothest courtroom lawyers. But recently she's been equally adept settling matters out of the public eye.
Keith Olbermann hired her to navigate his thorny transition from MSNBC to Current TV after reading about how Glaser had handled Conan O'Brien's exit from NBC.
"His politics and mine are diametrically opposed," she says of Olbermann. But they share the same ambition and a love of the Yankees. "He's a smart guy, very engaging, and we handled the situation appropriately."
A married mother of two boys, Glaser is repping WME in what is expected to be a heated arbitration with former agent John Ferriter.
She's also been hired by reality powerhouse Endemol for a potentially precedent-setting case involving alleged copyright infringement on ABC's Wipeout.
LAST GREAT BOOK I READ Jane Leavy's biography of Mickey Mantle.
The former federal prosecutor jolted Hollywood last summer by winning a $51 million judgment in favor of actor Don Johnson, who sued Mark Cuban and Rysher Entertainment for 50 percent of profits from the TV series Nash Bridges (it's on appeal).
He also repped IMG Worldwide in trade-secret litigation after one of its employees left and went to work for CAA. Holscher, father to four kids under 9 (with a fifth on the way), was able to show that the employee copied and took computer files with him that IMG considered confidential.
The one-time Wall Street lawyer went Hollywood in the mid-'70s after representing George Harrison in a famous song theft case.
He's now the rare dealmaker who also tackles litigation, like his recent cases representing Courtney Love in her Twitter defamation lawsuit and Dick Clark Productions and 19 Entertainment against charges they stole the idea behind So You Think You Can Dance.
He's also repping a consortium of investors who claim they were misled by Paramount. "When the clients were looking for a lawyer to represent them [in the Paramount case], I was the only litigator who had actually done these deals and was in a position to analyze them."
Johnson is particularly nostalgic for Old Hollywood -- contracts from that era are ripe for litigation.
After winning a settlement for Quincy M.E. actor Jack Klugman from Universal over net profits from the show, the aggressive litigator in May filed suit for Mannix star Mike Connors against CBS and Paramount, and he helped the estate of Charles Bronson sue Warner Bros. and MGM for unjust enrichment and fraud regarding two '70s movies.
He also settled a heated stolen-idea case against A&E over the reality show Steven Seagal: Lawman.
AFTER HOURS Johnson plans to release his third album soon under the nom de plume Trevor McShane, singing and playing rhythm guitar.
It's a safe bet that Katz probably won't be invited to next year's Golden Globe Awards.
The hyper-savvy litigator is repping Dick Clark Productions in the high-profile suit filed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association over long-term rights to the lucrative telecast.
A trial is set for September, with the future of the Globes on the line. He also continues to rep Disney in the appeal of last summer's $320 million jury award to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire producer Celador as well as mogul Haim Saban in his dispute with a tax lawyer (which was resolved in June).
OFF-DUTY Katz swims four days a week and whenever he can, he gets away to his favorite resort on Bora Bora.
In the recent telefilm Who Is Clark Rockefeller, Sony TV and A&E Networks included a photo of Rockefeller and his daughter similar to one taken by Boston photographer Donald Harney.
Harney sued and Keller repped the producers, winning a closely watched case in May when a judge ruled the photos were not similar enough to establish copyright infringement.
The New York-based litigator, whose media practice includes doing some work for THR, says his career highlight was repping the NFL in a case over whether a manufacturer infringed the copyright on the Vince Lombardi trophy by making replicas.
Keller won the case in February. The NFL invited him and his 14-year old son, Reed, to attend the Super Bowl. That revealed a career benefit. "I can talk to my son about what I do for a living and he doesn't get bored," Keller jokes.
"Every piece of litigation feels like bare-knuckle fighting," says King, who this year repped Dr. Dre in a nasty dispute with his former label Death Row and Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff in his fight against Axl Rose.
Those cases settled, but King is headed to trial on claims that Fox News violated his journalist client's copyrighted interview with Michael Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe. "I'm fighting this one on principle," he says.
The affable litigator is defending Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal in a case brought by an Army soldier who claims his life story was stolen to make the film, which Kinsella calls a "direct assault on the ability of filmmakers to draw upon real-life events as inspiration for characters in fictional works."
He settled actress Mariska Hargitay's lawsuit with WME over Law & Order: SVU commissions. And he just took Warner Bros. Television topper Peter Roth's deposition in a major profits case he brought on behalf of the creators of Smallville, who claim the studio owes them millions in profits.
OFF-DUTY Kinsella is a little worried about his upcoming vacation to a Bolivian jungle to fly-fish with buddies Tom Hansen and Skip Brittenham because the country has been overrun with swarms of dangerous sand fleas and bees. "It'll be an interesting trip," he says.
It sounds like a plot from the show: Levin is representing ABC and Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry in a lawsuit brought by fired actress Nicolette Sheridan over an alleged slap on the set.
The case, which includes claims of wrongful termination, battery and unlawful retaliation, is headed to trial in mid-October. Levin, a Seattle native with three children, came to prominence in Hollywood by successfully defending Warner Bros. in a well-known case alleging that dirty language in the Friends writers room amounted to harassment in the workplace.
This year, he successfully defended endorsement agent Todd Shemarya in another harassment case. "That was a two-week trial where I got a verdict in less than 30 minutes," he boasts.
OFF-DUTY Yoga Hop in Santa Monica, where Levin practices power yoga set to hip-hop.
The top intellectual property expert is repping Universal Music Group in a high-profile copyright infringement case against Veoh Networks.
In May, he argued in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the user-generated content on Veoh's site is not immune from liability under safe-harbor laws, an issue being monitored by social media websites around the world.
He is also lead counsel for UMG in a long-running dispute with Bing Crosby's heirs, and he continues to represent the owners of Alvin and the Chipmunks in a massive dispute with 20th Century Fox over the second Chipmunks movie, The Squeakquel.
And he's the litigator for Activision in a complex case against rival Electronic Arts over, among other things, profits from video game franchise Call of Duty.
OFF-DUTY Marenberg is a soccer fan who blows off steam by skiing in winter and playing tennis in summer.
Miller has a track record as enviable as his sports car collection, which includes a racing Porsche GT3 and a Ferrari 360 Spider.
(He sold his Lamborghini because, he says, "It's not nearly as good a car as the other two. And how many toys can you have?") This year, he's handled disputes for music figures including Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose, Motley Crue and the estate of Tupac Shakur, not to mention regular clients Rod Stewart, Steven Tyler, Elton John and Bob Dylan.
Miller's upcoming trial between Rose and Activision over former GnR member Slash's involvement in video game Guitar Hero III should lead to courtroom fireworks.
"I like the plaintiff cases better than the defense cases because there's more upside," Miller says. "Your client usually is the one that's been harmed, and I like getting up in front of a jury and explaining why we're entitled to a lot of money."
Warner Bros. lately has been keeping Petrocelli on speed dial, with thorny matters like the long-running battle with the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and a recent case brought by two writers who say their idea was stolen and used for The Last Samurai.
The impeccably dressed litigator also handled the appeal of Alan Ladd Jr.'s profit participation lawsuit, which set the stage for a settlement.
And he's advising the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in its suit against Dick Clark Productions over the future of the Golden Globes.
GIVING BACK Active in kids' charities, Petrocelli is on the board of the Alliance for Children's Rights.
Six years after the movie was made, an arbitration is finally set to take place in September over the final cut of Margaret, the Kenneth Lonergan film starring Mark Ruffalo and Matt Damon.
Plonsker has stuck with the case through lawsuits and countersuits on behalf of producer Gary Gilbert. The talent-side litigator also is repping Hawaii Five-0 producers against CBS an Damages producers Todd and Glenn Kessler in a WGA arbitration against Fox.
MOST MEMORABLE CASE Repping John Ritter's family in their suit against the hospital where he died (the case settled).
With Hollywood under siege from pirates, the studios and record labels often find themselves filing joint lawsuits -- and when they do, they often call Pomerantz.
He represented all four major labels against peer-to-peer service Limewire and in May secured an injunction and a hefty $105 million settlement.
He also filed a six-studio lawsuit against RealNetworks' DVD ripping product and represented studio clients against Redbox and Blockbuster. What's next? "We've recently had discussions about what cloud services can [legally] do," he says.
Putnam's practice includes a little celebrity glitz (defending AEG in a wrongful death action filed by Michael Jackson's mother and children), some reality TV (American Idol producer FremantleMedia is a client), plus the occasional trip to Las Vegas to see clients Siegfried & Roy.
Putnam represents Spyglass in a suit filed by its lender and also reps the Kaplan Stahler talent agency in litigation to recover allegedly diverted commissions. All this, and Putnam counseled MGM on its five-year deal with Sony and Univision on its joint venture with Grupo Televisa.
Hollywood loves the First Amendment -- and so does Sager. She's perhaps the preeminent Los Angeles-based media law specialist, dating to her work securing cameras in the courtroom during the criminal O.J. Simpson trial.
Clients include CBS, E!, A&E and Electronic Arts, not to mention the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Phil, Tyler Perry and a host of others.
ODDEST MOMENT After arguing in court for media access to the Winona Ryder shoplifting trial, a major magazine published a photo misidentifying Sager as Ryder's mother. She couldn't exactly sue -- the mag was her firm's client.
Silberfeld is the soft-spoken man behind one of the largest jury verdicts in Hollywood history, a $320 million win on behalf of U.K. production company Celador International against the Walt Disney Co. over profits from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
As lead trial counsel, last summer he proved that Disney and its subsidiaries used "shell game" accounting and "sweetheart" deals to cheat Celador (the case is on appeal).
Perhaps surprisingly, it was the first entertainment trial for the German-born attorney with four children and four grandchildren.
"I've had a very eclectic, mixed-bag sort of career," he says, noting that he's tried cases involving everything from financial fraud to toxic substances.
FAVORITE WEEKEND Silberfeld and his wife escape to their home on Big Bear Lake. "We go hiking, bike riding and take the boat out, drop the anchor in the middle of the lake and sit there drinking wine," he says.
The New York litigator has represented such Fortune 500 companies as NBCUniversal, Cablevision and Warner Music Group.
But his list of individual clients is not too shabby either, with recording artists Bob Dylan, Jennifer Lopez, the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen joining Jerry Seinfeld, LeBron James, Anderson Cooper and Nancy Grace.
His case load might have changed since the days when he was Manhattan's chief federal narcotics prosecutor, but to Snyder, the work is not so different. Hollywood clients, he says, want "a warrior who thinks outside the box."
CAREER HIGHLIGHT In one of his first entertainment cases, he won a trial establishing that the late Rent creator Jonathan Larson was the play's sole author.
Long one of Hollywood's go-to talent-side litigators, Stein is tough enough to challenge Harvey Weinstein on behalf of client Michael Moore, who claims he's owed millions in profits from Fahrenheit 911.
He's also knee-deep in client Tokyo Broadcasting System's potentially precedent-setting lawsuit against ABC claiming that the hit obstacle-course competition Wipeout was stolen from several Japanese shows.
"Reality formats, if they are sufficiently developed, are protectable," Stein says. That theory will be tested in a key summary judgment hearing this summer.
OFF-DUTY A volleyball player, the intense family man also plays tennis with his grown son once a week.
Title is still glowing from what she calls the highlight of her legal career: representing NBCUniversal and Pilgrim Films, producer of SyFy's Ghost Hunters, in a recent copyright case brought by a parapsychologist who claimed he had an implied contract to make the show based on pitching a similar idea.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals initially sided with Title's clients, affirming the trial court's ruling that such claims are preempted by federal law, which will benefit studios in future stolen-idea cases. Although the Ninth Circuit then ordered en banc review and, in a split decision, reversed the trial court, Title calls the experience "remarkably fun."
She adds, "to argue at the appellate level en banc, that's one of the things that you go to law school to have the opportunity to do."
The mother of four has represented Universal for years, seeing the company through several high-profile wins, including a recent case brought by a graphic novel writer against the NBC hit Heroes.
FAVORITE LUNCH SPOT West L.A. Italian eatery Sotto, where Title's 27-year-old son is an owner and co-chef.
WHY I SUE STUDIOS: Because they give me no choice. I stand up for the rights of the very artists on whose talent their fortunes are built. At a time when studios must vigilantly prosecute piracy of their own intellectual property, there needs to be greater compunction about trampling on creators' rights.
Unfortunately, some corporations have succeeded by waging an economic war of attrition: The cost of protracted litigation against a deep-pocketed studio, coupled with its ability to blacklist an opponent, very effectively deters talent from pursuing legal claims. Many law partners charge $700 to $800 an hour (some top names get $1,000 an hour). Few attorneys are willing to handle Hollywood cases on a success-driven basis because of the expense and risks involved.
Many attorneys also have clear client conflicts or just fear tangling with the studios. That is understandable, as some studios personalize any challenge to their bread and butter. This is not a criticism of those who work at studios, many of whom are wonderful people with deep respect for artists and a sense of fairness; if they controlled the core legal decisions, I would be able to spend a lot more time with my kids.
I enjoy making money like everyone else, but I also take on cases where I believe an injustice has occurred and something must be done about it. At the end of very long days (or years), that is what refuels me, and it's the only edge I've got.
Toberoff is representing the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster against Warner Bros.
From seventh grade English teacher to top trial lawyer might not be a typical career progression, but it has served White well.
"It's fun educating the judge and jury," he jokes. This year, the father of five merged his namesake Los Angeles-based firm with national outfit Kelley Drye, becoming chair of its entertainment and media practice.
And he won a key victory for Steven Spielberg and Paramount in a case alleging similarities between 2007's Disturbia and the short story that inspired Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window.
Wickers is the First Amendment specialist on call 24/7 to tell TV networks like Comedy Central and HBO what they can and can't broadcast.
That means it's his job to OK all the raunchy jokes and celebrity skewering on South Park, which this year includes defending a copyright lawsuit filed by the creators of the absurd Internet video "What What in the Butt," which was parodied on the show.
He's also repping the trade association that works to afford video games the same free-speech rights as movies and music. The U.S. Supreme Court's recent rejection of a California law will certainly help his cause.
Handling disputes for studio clients MGM, Fox, CBS, DreamWorks Animation and others requires the New York-based Zavin to zip back and forth to Los Angeles.
There have been longer jaunts too, such as trips at U.S. government request to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Greece and South Africa to meet with government and industry groups regarding protection of intellectual property.
But his preferred trip is to his house on the North Fork of Long Island, where he goes fishing on his small boat.
FAVORITE LUNCH SPOT Depends on whether he's in New York (Japanese restaurant Seo) or L.A. (Hamasaku).
Plenty of Los Angeles lawyers handle high-stakes criminal cases and rich divorces, but it takes a special skill to expertly navigate both the legal issues and the glare of a rapturous media.
Holley, a former public defender who worked with the late Johnnie Cochran on the O.J. Simpson team, has steadfastly defended actress Lindsay Lohan in various criminal matters amid perhaps unprecedented media attention. It's a unique expertise she honed by repping the likes of Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton and the Kardashians as they found themselves in all kinds of dicey situations.
"People associate me with getting people out of trouble," says the mother of three daughters (her husband is singer Dorian Holley, a vocal coach on American Idol). Berk, who has her hands full defending Mel Gibson, disputes the notion that the law makes exceptions for celebrities.
"I spend lots of my time reminding prosecutors and judges that my clients deserve to be treated the same as any other defendant, not worse," says the North Carolina native.
Wasser, an A-list family-law specialist (her father is divorce guru Dennis Wasser), has ended marriages quietly and professionally for Britney Spears, Ryan Reynolds and Christina Aguilera.
The once-married lawyer is in the middle of perhaps her biggest divorce ever: Maria Shriver from Arnold Schwarzenegger. The perks of representing A-list clients are many, she says, but she mostly eats meals at her desk: "Few people in town want to go out to lunch and be seen with a divorce lawyer," she says.
Black is the rare Hollywood dealmaker who straddles Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. This year he shepherded toy giant Pokemon's launch of its online gaming platform and two new video games.
And he helped the Broadcast Film Critics Association create its second awards show -- the Critics' Choice Television Awards.
Black's work covered not only the broadcast of the show, which aired on ReelzChannel in June, but also the digital presentation, including live streaming. Black's other clients include AEG Live and XDC, among others.
OFF-DUTY Black can often be found behind home plate at Dodgers games (look for him on TV and text him -- he loves that) or with his family in a rustic cabin just outside of Glacier National Park in Montana.
One of the leading lawyers specializing in independent movie finance, Burke was involved in such major deals as this year's Goldman Sachs and Assured Guaranty's agreement to provide a credit facility critical to the reorganization of the Weinstein Co. and pacts for Comerica Bank and Union Bank to finance movies through Summit Entertainment and Relativity Media, respectively.
But Burke -- whose all-business corporate style masks a part-time surfer and a collector of guitars he admits he can barely play -- is equally known for the annual bocce ball party he throws at Cannes, which this year drew 300 attendees. "It's turned into an important event there," he says, "frankly because a lot of the larger parties have been canceled thanks to the economic crisis."
Calabrese this year represented production/financing outfit Legendary Pictures in its massive leveraged recapitalization. But the deal didn't come without Calabrese sacrificing part of his vacation to retreat to "a bedroom or bathroom so I could be on a conference call during all hours of the night," he recalls.
He also represents Open Road, the newly formed venture between exhibitors AMC and Regal, which will distribute roughly 10 films a year. And he repped the International Olympic Committee in its $4.38 billion deal to place the next four Olympics with NBC.
OFF-DUTY Calabrese drives an Aston Martin Vantage convertible and also has a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 (think James Bond) in his stable.
Clark makes this list for the first time for perhaps the year's most eye-popping deal: He helped reality star Bethenny Frankel and Skinnygirl Cocktails sell the Skinnygirl Margaritas line to Fortune Brands for roughly $120 million.
The pact still has Hollywood buzzing about nontraditional opportunities for talent. Clark structured the deal so that Frankel receives a big check and will retain control of the Skinnygirl brand outside of the beverage space -- paving the way for growth in other sectors, including cooking, nutritional products and apparel.
"I have a very sophisticated, intelligent client who is willing to work very hard to accomplish her goals," says Clark, who also represents Hugh Hefner.
OFF-DUTY The diehard soccer fan has attended the World Cup in 1994, 2006 and 2010 and is already making plans for Brazil in 2014.
After putting the final touches on Disney's sale of its Miramax unit, Darwell then engineered the $70 million sale of The Real World producer Bunim/Murray Productions to his French client Bainjay.
Darwell then focused his attention on Sundance, where client Liddell Entertainment was especially active, selling the Tobey Maguire drama The Details to the Weinstein Co. for $7 million and picking up the horror pic Silent House for about $3 million.
"We've seen a nice pickup on the motion picture side," says Darwell, optimistic that the indie film business has finally improved.
OFF-DUTY The globetrotting Darwell so enjoyed working from Paris last summer that he's headed to Rome for a month after September's Toronto International Film Festival.
What's the difference between a film in the can and a movie in the multiplex? Marketing, of course. And often, Derwin-Weiss' involvement.
She counsels studio clients on a range of cutting-edge issues, including contests, sweepstakes, social media advertising, smartphone app development and user-generated content.
The issues can be treacherous: Overstepping the bounds on a privacy issue, for instance, can lead to some negative PR. As Derwin-Weiss puts it, "Your brand is at stake."
Newly relocated from her previous home in the L.A. office of Chicago-based Wildman Harrold, the former studio exec (she was in-house at Paramount for seven years) continues to represent Summit, Imax, Participant Media, Paramount, CBS Films and others.
WEEKEND ESCAPE "What is that? I have two small children."
One of the fiercest advocates for documentary filmmakers and an expert on fair use law, Donaldson knows as well as anyone how much of a copyrighted work can be used without paying a license (although the answer, as he'll tell you, is that no one knows for sure).
He handled this year's best documentary Oscar winner Inside Job as well as eight docs at Sundance. And he published the American Bar Association's legal guide for independent filmmakers.
He's now helping British directors Richard Finney and Anthony Baxter make a documentary about Donald Trump's efforts to build a golf complex in Scotland that many believe is negatively impacting the locals. "I'm helping them through the insurance process and dealing with claims," he says.
"It's the old David vs. Goliath situation. I'm always up for that, if David is right and speaking the truth."
OFF-DUTY The ultrafit Donaldson has recently taken up "globe walking." Huh? "They're balls made of polyurethane, and once you get used to them, you can walk on them. I found a circus supply store and ordered one and taught myself."
As part of one of the year's biggest transactions, Fisher repped Vivendi in the $5.8 billion sale of its 20 percent interest in NBCUniversal to General Electric, which paved the way for Comcast's January acquisition of NBCU. "It was one of those transformative deals," she says.
Fisher also represented online video game developer and publisher Riot Games in the majority stake acquisition of the company by Tencent Holdings Limited.
Though Fisher works in a buttoned-down segment of Hollywood law, she's always up for an adventure. This summer she traveled with her family to the Arctic Circle for six days on a National Geographic cruise.
"I have two teenage boys -- we like to do stuff that takes us outside of L.A.," she says. "I think the Arctic Circle does that."
What does it take to thrive for decades as an A-list music-corporate attorney? "The ability to evolve and do different things from year to year," says Frankenheimer.
This year, he represented Warner Music Group in connection with its pending sale to Len Blavatnik's Access Industries, and on the other side of the table he represented TuneWiki, a popular music/lyric-based application, in obtaining recording industry licenses.
Frankenheimer, married to set decorator Leslie McCarthy Frankenheimer, also represents a number of individual artists including Diana Ross and Vince Gill, though the prospect for breaking new artists is not what it once was. "As painful as [current times have] sometimes been, I'm optimistic," he says.
Grode played a starring role in two of the year's most-discussed Hollywood deals: He repped Filmyard Holdings, the investment group that includes construction mogul Ron Tutor and Colony Capital, in its acquisition of Miramax from Disney (as well as its $400 million acquisition debt financing with Barclays and Jefferies & Co.).
He also repped Twilight studio Summit in its $750 million debt refinancing, which closed in March and allowed the company to retire its existing debt and disburse big payouts to investors.
It was full circle for Grode, who put together the original financing for the company in 2007. "Given where the markets are right now, we realized there was an opportunity to execute a terrific refinancing," says the UCLA alum, who attends his alma mater's men's basketball games and is "trying" to be a fan of the mediocre football team.
OFF-DUTY Grode coaches his three kids' sports teams. "Pretty much every athletic endeavor out there -- I'm a football coach, basketball coach and maybe baseball."
Hurwitz, a film festival circuit mainstay for nearly his entire career, spent another year on the road, including repping two big Sundance sales, Homework (retitled The Art of Getting By) and The Bengali Detective, both to Fox Searchlight.
He put together How I Met Your Mother star and director Josh Radnor's forthcoming dramedy Liberal Arts and reps Tom McCarthy, another thesp-turned-director, who helmed this year's Searchlight comedy Win Win.
BLACKBERRY OR IPHONE? "BlackBerry for business, iPad for leisure."
Mayerson made such a good impression representing Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity Media in a $100 million-a-year deal to supply movies to Netflix that after the contracts were signed, Netflix promptly hired him for another (secret) licensing deal, now being negotiated.
"I'd say that a third of my business has come to me that way," he explains. This year, Mayerson also helped producer River Road score U.S. distribution for Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life.
WEEKEND ESCAPE Mayerson has a vacation home on Lake Arrowhead, where he drives his boat but doesn't water ski. "I'm really good at dropping anchor, having a beer and cranking the tunes."
WHY DEALS FALL APART:
► Too few lawyers. Hollywood clients way too often view themselves as the dealmakers and the lawyers as merely an afterthought. They think they have closed a deal based on an ambiguous chain of e-mails full of mutual love and affection but sparse on details. Then all hell breaks loose trying to convert that love and affection into a contract.
► Too many lawyers. The law of legal physics is T= L squared. That is, the Time it takes to do anything equals the number of Lawyers squared. Please note that it is a logarithmic equation; the time increases exponentially as the number of lawyers increases. At some point, everyone just gives up and goes home.
► Lame deal memos. Often, clients proceed based on half-baked memos that deal with only some of the issues on the theory that a vague reference to a "long form to follow" (which never does) will somehow cure the deficiencies. The inevitable disputes that follow can collapse deals.
► Too much acrimony. Negotiations sometimes turn into "he said, she said" yelling matches over who is "changing the deal." When emotions take over, logic (and deals) go out the window.
► A cautionary tale: A new client came to me with a signed "commitment letter" from a bank, only to learn that the only "commitment" was the client's commitment to pay the bank's legal fees. The bank's lawyers then over-negotiated the loan into oblivion, leaving my client with a bill from the bank's lawyers for $400,000, but no loan. Ouch.
Schuyler Moore is an entertainment finance attorney who often puts together big-ticket Hollywood deals.
When technology companies wish to acquire licensing rights to launch music services, it's a reasonable bet that Rosenbloum, appearing for the first time on the list, will be at the negotiating table.
He estimates that he represents 75 percent of the companies in the digital music space, including Microsoft, AT&T Mobility, Digital Media Association, Rdio, Slacker and Omnifone.
"Name a device, I have it in my briefcase," he says. "When I go through airport security and have to open it, they think I work for RadioShack." Rosenbloum is also working on a number of the rights issues associated with cloud storage locker services.
As one of the industry's top international deal lawyers, Saltzman recently flew around the world in eight days, stopping for business in Berlin and China.
He's shepherding China's $100 million Christian Bale epic Heroes of Nanking, repping director Zhang Yimou and New Pictures Film Co. and helping sell the movie in foreign markets.
"I've always had a knack and expertise for cross-cultural deals," he says. "I'm effective at getting each side to understand and hopefully appreciate the other's perspective."
WEEKEND ESCAPE The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel. "Not only because of the beautiful setting but because I was married there 20 years ago this August."
Scharf, part of his firm's top-notch showbiz finance group, this year helped Peter Schlessel and Graham King create the distribution company FilmDistrict, which roared out of the gate with the hits Insidious and Soul Surfer.
"In an era when companies are talking about contrasting, closing and not getting enough financing, we helped found a startup that right out of the box is successful," he boasts.
Scharf also helped Peter Chernin found Chernin Asia, and he assisted MGM, while emerging from bankruptcy, to secure production rights to The Hobbit.
OFF-DUTY Scharf and his wife own a vineyard in Sonoma County where they produce Cabernet and Zinfandel under the label Dark Horse. But he doesn't love the name. "I should have a wine-naming contest."
One of New York's most prominent media M&A lawyers, Schumer was center stage this year in the $3.3 billion sale of Warner Music Group, and he repped Al Gore's Current TV in signing former MSNBC star Keith Olbermann to a five-year contract.
"He's one of the most savvy dealmakers out there," says WME CFO Jason Lublin, who worked with Schumer during the WMA-Endeavor merger. Beginning in 1989 when he represented Warner Communications in its megamerger with Time Inc., Schumer has worked on NBC's $2.7 billion purchase of Telemundo in 2002 and CBS Corp.'s $2.5 billion buyout of King World Productions.
"I would not do a major transaction without him," says Time Warner Cable CFO Rob Marcus. "He is an outstanding business and strategic adviser."
As one of the town's top corporate finance specialists, Ulman helps studios scour the globe searching for money to make movies.
"It's interesting and frustrating at the same time; we are chasing lots of transactions," he says. Ulman represented Paramount in its $250 million distribution and co-financing deal with Skydance Pictures, the production company of David Ellison, son of billionaire tech mogul Larry Ellison.
The partnership is off to a good start -- Skydance's first investment was the Coen brothers' True Grit, which grossed $250 million worldwide.
Ulman also repped Fox in a multiyear extension of its slate financing with Dune Entertainment and Universal in the amendments to its multi-year slate financing deal with Relativity Media.
WEEKEND ESCAPE With four children out of the house, Ulman and wife Jane have taken up horseback riding in Moorpark and Simi Valley.
When the mild-mannered Anschell decided in law school in Canada that he might be interested in cutthroat Hollywood, he headed south and began climbing the ladder at two West Los Angeles law firms.
Despite the competition in a town littered with flashy showbiz attorneys, when the top lawyer at client CBS retired in 2004, it was Anschell, then just 36, who got the call to replace her.
Today, the father of two -- wife Abigail is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, which helps when he's handling matters for CBS News -- has become one of Hollywood's most respected and well-liked legal executives, an easy choice for The Hollywood Reporter's Raising the Bar award, given to a studio or network legal exec who has distinguished himself.
Anschell, honored July 13 at THR's Power Lawyers breakfast, oversees 50 lawyers as CBS' top risk assessor, directing litigation, resolving talent fights and devising anti-piracy strategy.
CBS has been busy with cases filed by former NCIS showrunner Don Bellisario over profits from NCIS: Los Angeles and a claim by the cast of Happy Days over branded slot machines. But Anschell has been mostly spared the war over Charlie Sheen's exit from CBS' Two and a Half Men.
The actor, suing Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre for $100 million, chose not to go after CBS despite calling Les Moonves a "scoundrel." Why? "I would run out of lunch invitations very quickly if I started commenting on other people's litigation," Aschell jokes.