Power Lawyers 2018: Hollywood's Top 100 Attorneys

6:30 AM 4/4/2018

by THR staff

The lawyers on The Hollywood Reporter's 12th annual list have nothing to feel insecure about: Hollywood's top legal pros help rising stars like Issa Rae capitalize on their success, guide industry-shaping mergers and deal with high-profile disputes amid the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.

THR - John Meigs Jr. and Issa Rae - Photographed By Martha Galvan-H 2018
Photographed By Martha Galvan

Profiles written by Ashley Cullins, Mia Galuppo, Eriq Gardner, Jonathan Handel, Natalie Jarvey, Katie Kilkenny, Borys Kit, Pamela McClintock, Ryan Parker, Brian Porreca, Bryn Elise Sandberg, Tatiana Siegel, Rebecca Sun, Georg Szalai and Etan Vlessing.

  • Karl Austen


     Why he matters It was a year of firsts for many of Austen's clients, including two who'll have directorial debuts: Jonah Hill for Mid '90s and Simon Kinberg for X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Austen also led the charge on the final Game of Thrones renegotiations (he reps Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage, Maisie Williams and others) and scored Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard his first big raise (12 times the previous salary) as part of the castwide renegotiation.

     Please reboot Six Million Dollar Man

  • Kevin Baine


     Why he matters The D.C.-based First Amendment attorney led some of the most talked-about free speech battles of the year, including defending ABC in a $5.7 billion lawsuit over its series of "pink slime" TV news stories, which settled mid-trial. He also won dismissal for HBO in a coal baron's lawsuit over a Last Week Tonight segment and is defending Fox News in multiple defamation lawsuits.

  • Jill Basinger


     Why she matters When journalist Yashar Ali was hit with a $50 million defamation suit from Eric Bolling following his report on alleged sexual harassment by the ousted Fox News host, Basinger led his defense. She also guards the estate of late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and reps Keith Olbermann, Denise Richards and WME.

     Favorite excuse for running late "Traffic. It's easy. It's true."

  • Daniel Black


     Why he matters During the past year, Black has helped more than a dozen clients — 60 percent of whom are women and minorities — secure a combined $40 million in guaranteed compensation, among them Paramount's Dan Cohen, A&E's Elaine Frontain Bryant and Lifetime's Gena McCarthy. "It means so much to be able to tell clients, 'You can sit in the board room and know you have earned your place at the table," he says. When he's not talking salaries, Black has carved out a niche helping digital clients (Pokemon, Microsoft) navigate Hollywood.

     If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "New York or Paris."

  • Jake Bloom


     Why he matters Bloom negotiated a series of returns and reboots for A-listers, even amid his dustup with ex-client Johnny Depp. Jerry Bruckheimer's company signed a three-year overall deal with CBS, marking a return to the network where he launched CSI. The producer is also bringing his Bad Boys cop drama back to life via NBC’s TV series starring Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union. Meanwhile, client Lorenzo di Bonaventura is producing Transformers prequel Bumblebee, an adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Sematary and Freeform's Party of Five remake.

     Favorite excuse for running late "It's rare that I'm late. I always set my clock 10 minutes ahead."

  • Gordon Bobb


     Why he matters Tiffany Haddish's breakout turn in Girls Trip triggered a frenzy of deals for Bobb to handle, including New Line's The Kitchen, an MTV Movie Awards hosting gig and the Netflix animated series Tuca & Bertie. Bobb, who counts Ava DuVernay and Lena Waithe as clients, also negotiated Girls Trip director Malcolm D. Lee's first-look deal with Universal and follow-up feature comedy Night School.

     Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "There has to be truth before there can be reconciliation."

  • Skip Brittenham


     Why he matters Longtime client Harrison Ford is returning to yet another iconic role, starring in the next Indiana Jones movie. "Harrison and I have been together for decades, and he's still rocking," says Brittenham. The legendary dealmaker also advised client Skydance Media in a slate financing deal with Paramount. Other clients include Ridley Scott, Paramount chairman Jim Gianopulos and Warner Bros. Pictures chief Toby Emmerich.

     What's your go-to attire for a big negotiation? "Jeans, shirt and a sweater. It doesn’t matter how big the deal is, I always wear the same attire. Many of my jeans are custom-made."
  • Harold Brown


     Why he matters Brown helps close deals for the busiest man in Hollywood, Dwayne Johnson, including a Fast and Furious spinoff and a reported $20 million payday for action-thriller Red Notice. Superman (Henry Cavill) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) also ask Brown for legal advice on their superhero-sized deals, as do Gwyneth Paltrow, Jim Parsons and Stephen King.

     Please reboot "I would rather see some of our politicians rebooted (or just booted)."

  • John Burke


     Why he matters Burke is involved in one of the most talked-about deals of the moment: He's representing Lantern Capital in its bid to buy The Weinstein Co. amid the distributor's bankruptcy. He advised China Media Capital in a $100 million television financing joint venture with Imagine Entertainment. And he manages the team that represents Allegory Films and JPMorgan Chase.

  • Joseph Calabrese


     Why he matters Calabrese spearheaded a deal in January that saw China's Tencent Holdings take a minority stake in client Skydance Media, giving David Ellison's company access to China's coveted movie market. He also advised client EuropaCorp in inking a new distribution deal with STX and continues to rep the International Olympic Committee and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

     If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "Tuscany."

  • Lisa Callif


     Why she matters You can't make a documentary about Clive Davis without music, but for The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Callif not only secured song rights, she also negotiated talent releases for the icons interviewed in the film, including Bruce Springsteen and Aretha Franklin. And she secured rights to about 160 tracks for HBO's Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine docuseries The Defiant Ones and leveraged fair use for archival footage in CNN's The History of Comedy and The Nineties.

     Favorite excuse for running late "My kids."

  • Dale Cendali


     Why she matters Cendali won two major appellate rulings this year — on the same day. Fox News prevailed in a precedent-setting case that found media-monitoring service TVEyes isn't protected by fair use in its sharing of video clips, and another court found Nike's "Jumpman" logo doesn't infringe on the copyright of a photo of Michael Jordan in that iconic position. She's now defending Take-Two Interactive in a case involving whether it needed a license to show the tattoos of basketball players in NBA 2K16.

     If I couldn't live in New York, I'd move to … "London."

  • Marc Chamlin


     Why he matters Oprah Winfrey turns to Chamlin to handle her literary and lifestyle deals, including Winfrey's redeeming of a 24.5 percent interest, valued at $70 million, in OWN and Winfrey's health-food line with Kraft Heinz. He also negotiated Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines' deal with Meredith Corp. for their magazine, The Magnolia Journal, and represented Glenn Close in her deal for Broadway's Sunset Boulevard.

     I can't work with a client who … "doesn't have heart and empathy."

  • Stephen Clark


     Why he matters Filmmaker Rian Johnson and his producing partner, Ram Bergman, not only made the $1.3 billion-grossing Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but they also signed a rare and lucrative deal for the franchise's new trilogy that guarantees their creative involvement through all three films. Clark also signed Justin Marks, creator of Starz's Counterpart, to an overall deal with MRC and closed Tate Taylor's deal to direct a horror movie for Blumhouse.

     Please reboot Richie Brockelman, Private Eye

  • Lindsay Conner


     Why he matters Conner recently represented China's Perfect World Pictures in a $250 million loan facility with East West Bank and JPMorgan as part of its co-financing deal with Universal Pictures. He also has guided Michael Eisner's Tornante Co. on all five seasons of its deal with Netflix for BoJack Horseman and the sale of animated adult series Undone to Amazon. Other clients include AT&T/DirecTV, Tang Media Partners and Huayi Brothers.

     If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "New York, but only if I could be commissioner of baseball."

  • Melanie Cook


     Why she matters Fresh off global smash Black Panther, client Chadwick Boseman will star in Expatriate, an international thriller he co-wrote that will be produced by another Cook client, Mark Johnson. She also renegotiated Robin Wright's deal for the final season of House of Cards after Kevin Spacey was axed from the series. Cook's other clients include Naomie Harris, Tim Burton and director Stephen Daldry (The Crown).

     Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "Focus on doing really good work. Everything else will follow."

  • Christine Cuddy


     Why she matters George R.R. Martin's sixth Game of Thrones installment still hasn't hit the shelves, but, with Cuddy's help, his classic novella Nightflyer is set to air as a Syfy series. Cuddy also is helping another iconic author turn her famous franchise into a series: Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles was optioned to Paramount Television and Anonymous Content.

     Please reboot The Wire

  • Robert Darwell


     Why he matters What started as a single deal for Amazon Studios two years ago has turned into a significant chunk of Darwell's practice. He now handles several facets of the e-commerce giant's entertainment operation, including scripted TV and film distribution. "It's everything I love to do wrapped up with one great client," says Darwell, whose roster includes Focus Features and MGM.

     What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "The perception of how closely the candidate is aligned with Trump."

  • Warren Dern


     Why he matters Moviegoers seeking more lady comedians at the multiplex have Dern to thank for negotiating Amy Poehler's debut directing project, Wine Country, which stars Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph and Tina Fey. Meanwhile, client Paul Feig scored a first-look deal with Lionsgate TV after he exec produced Netflix's The Soup reboot, The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale; and client Jessica Alba is returning to TV in the Bad Boys spinoff.

     Favorite excuse for running late "I never run late."

  • Kenneth Deutsch


     Why he matters Deutsch is a go-to for studio execs and producers looking to launch media ventures. Companies he recently formed and capitalized include Global Road Entertainment (after repping Open Road Films in its sale to Tang Media Partners), the Russo brothers' AGBO and Doug Belgrad's 2.0 Entertainment. Deutsch also handled Netflix's deal to acquire Millarworld and MGM's distribution joint venture with Annapurna Pictures.

     I can't work with a client who … "always needs to see their lawyer in a suit and tie. There are some lines I just can't cross."

  • Scott Edelman


     Why he matters Edelman got Universal Music Group's millions back from Prince's estate after Warner Bros. Records claimed it already held the licensing rights UMG paid five figures for. He also obtained dismissal of all claims against Sony Music related to Kesha's legal battle with producer Dr. Luke and recently settled a dispute with LMNO Studios over reality series The Little Couple on behalf of Discovery Communications.

     Please reboot Gilligan's Island

  • David Eisman


     Why he matters UTA turns to Eisman to handle its acquisitions, including the recent purchase of Greater Talent Network, one of the world's top speakers bureaus. He also repped Marvel Studios co-founder David Maisel in his launch of a pro­duction company, Mythos Studios, and helped Jon Bon Jovi release a Hamptons-themed wine. Other clients include Saban Capital Group, Brillstein Entertainment Group and Quixote Studios.

     If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "Hawkins, Indiana."

  • Craig Emanuel


     Why he matters Emanuel, who recently left Loeb & Loeb for Paul Hastings, struck one of the biggest talent deals ever when longtime client Ryan Murphy jumped from 20th Century Fox to Netflix in a potential $300 million deal. "In your career, you get one, maybe two deals if you're lucky that change the face of what you've done," says Emanuel. He also set up two Murphy series at the streamer: the Sarah Paulson-fronted One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest adaptation Ratched and The Politician.

     What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "Gun control."

  • Matthew Erramouspe


     Why he matters Erramouspe led the team rep­resenting The Weinstein Co. in its recent efforts to sell the company outside of a bankruptcy. He also worked with boxing promoter Top Rank in negotiating a multiyear rights deal with ESPN and oversaw the team representing Elliott Management in its sale of a holding company whose slate of 30 films included Relativity Media titles The FighterLimitless and Dear John to Vine Alternative Investments.

     Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "Follow the Golden Rule — it's good for every era."

  • Bonnie Eskenazi


     Why she matters She represents Horror Inc., owner of the Friday the 13th movie franchise, which is locked in a nightmare of its own: a claim by screenwriter Victor Miller that he can terminate the screenplay copyright and recover rights for himself. She also continues to represent the Bob Marley estate and co-founded the Women in Film sexual harassment help line.

     I can't work with a client who … "wants to be his or her own lawyer."

  • James Feldman


     Why he matters Feldman helped client Chris Terrio realize a childhood dream in co-writing Star Wars: Episode IX with J.J. Abrams and lined up Barry Jenkins' post-Moonlight deal to adapt James Baldwin's If Beale Street Could Talk. He also saw client Dylan O'Brien return to the big screen in American Assassin and The Maze Runner: The Death Cure two years after his horrific on-set injury. Says Feldman, "My most gratifying moment of the year was seeing him come back from that."

  • Patti Felker


    Why she matters As Eric Stonestreet's rep, Felker played a key role in the latest Modern Family renegotiations, which saw the 10 stars of the ABC comedy ink rich new contracts. She also redid deals for the kid actors on both The Goldbergs and Black-ish. Felker also reps Gabrielle Union, Vin Diesel and Emmy Rossum — for whom she helped achieve pay parity with Shameless co-star William H. Macy.

    Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "You may think it's funny; it's probably not."

  • Sam Fischer


     Why he matters Fischer structured the partnership between Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content to create premium scripted drama series for an international audience — and then struck two series deals for Chernin/Endeavor with Apple, one for Steven Knight's See and another for Are You Sleeping? starring Octavia Spencer. He also reps Matt Damon and Simon Cowell.

     Please reboot Friends

  • David Fox


     Why he matters Fox reps prolific producers such as Dan Lin, who's returning to work on the sequel to $700 million smash It; James Wan, now in postproduction on Aquaman; and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones' banner, Automatik. Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie signed a first-look TV deal at Gaumont while shooting Mission: Impossible — Fallout.

     If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "a van down by the river."

  • Jeff Frankel


     Why he matters Client Milo Ventimiglia will fill his This Is Us hiatus by playing the lead in Fox film The Art of Racing in the Rain. Meanwhile, at Amazon, client Sam Esmail will executive produce and direct the first season of Homecoming, and Master of None co-creator Alan Yang has a new series starring Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen. Frankel also negotiated Chris Morgan's deal to write and produce the Fast and Furious spinoff starring Dwayne Johnson.

     Favorite excuse for running late "There is no excuse for running late."

  • Bryan Freedman


     Why he matters Freedman represents UTA in a host of matters, including its agent-poaching dispute with CAA and an antitrust case filed by a boutique agency, the dismissal of which was affirmed on appeal. He has clients on all sides of #MeToo, including former Paramount exec Megan Colligan, who's making claims of gender discrimination, and alleged perpetrators such as Kevin Spacey. He also handles disputes for Mariah Carey, Kenya Barris and Untitled Entertainment.

     If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "anywhere my wife would have me. She is my home."

  • Robert Freeman


     Why he matters Hulu called Freeman when it was time to strike digital carriage deals with every major TV network before launching its live TV service. "Without the content deals, they don't have a service," notes Freeman. He also worked closely with longtime client Discovery on its $14.6 billion acquisition of Scripps Networks and its joint venture with The Enthusiast Network.

     I can't work with a client who … "lies to me."

  • Matt Galsor


     Why he matters As the lawyer for the Tolkien estate, Galsor spearheaded the mega deal that will bring a Lord of the Rings series to Amazon. Meanwhile, client James Cameron is returning to The Terminator franchise as a producer, David Fincher will direct World War Z 2 and Tom Cruise is poised to star in Top Gun 2.

     What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "Trump."

  • Jonathan Gardner


     Why he matters Ryan Coogler's Black Panther is a worldwide smash, and Gardner has repped the writer-director since before his 2013 breakout Fruitvale Station. "Ryan was not an unknown voice when we went to do this movie," says Gardner, noting it was a priority for Coogler to keep creative control and financially participate if the movie succeeded. It did.

     Favorite excuse for running late "Daylight saving time."

  • John Gatti


     Why he matters Not many people would want to fight Chuck Norris, but Gatti is battling the Walker Texas Ranger actor in a profit-participation lawsuit on behalf of longtime client CBS. He's also representing AT&T/DirecTV in several matters, including a programming dispute involving Black Mirror. "There's nothing like being in front of a jury and presenting a case," he says, noting that many matters now wind up in arbitration. "I think that may be a dying art."

    • Please reboot "Chappelle's Show. If not that, then Taxi, but with Uber drivers."

  • Michael Gendler


    Why he matters Gendler arguably kicked off the trend of big-name showrunners jumping to Netflix for big paychecks. Client Shonda Rhimes left ABC for a reported $100 million, a number that's said to be significantly lower than the real figure. Elsewhere, he put together the deal for David Chase's Sopranos movie prequel, united clients Meryl Streep and David E. Kelley for Big Little Lies' second season and reunited client Chris Pine with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins for TNT's One Day She'll Darken.

    If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "the Bay Area."

  • Rick Genow


    • Why he matters To say Genow's work for Meghan Markle has changed since her engagement to Prince Harry is a royal understatement — but, for star clients like Anthony Anderson, it's business as usual. He negotiated the actor's new contract for Black-ish and his deal to executive produce its spinoff Grown-ish, inked Debra Messing's return to her iconic role on Will and Grace and is helping newcomer Henry Golding leverage his Crazy Rich Asians breakout moment — he's already signed on to two more projects before his first-ever film opens in August.

    • What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "Veracity."

  • Cliff Gilbert-Lurie


    Why he matters Gilbert-Lurie reps Dick Wolf in his ever-expanding television empire and recently inked the prolific producer's deal to make F.B.I. for CBS. He also repped showrunner Bruce Helford and actress Sara Gilbert in their deals for ABC's blockbuster Roseanne revival and Sandra Bullock in her Netflix deal for the feature Bird Box. His clients also include Tina Fey, Claire Danes and Imagine Entertainment.

    Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "Hyphenate your last name."

  • Lev Ginsburg


    Why he matters Ginsburg crafts multifaceted deals for multihyphenates like Donald Glover, who took on the role of Lando Calrissian in Star Wars stand-alone Solo while also entering a massive overall deal with FX. Meanwhile, Patton Oswalt shot his comedy special Annihilation, nabbed the co-lead in A.P. Bio and edited his late wife's book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark. Colin Trevorrow will direct, co-write and executive produce Jurassic World 3. Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet is another of Ginsburg's clients.

    Favorite excuse for running late "I just send a text to the person in which I both give them a heads-up and also try to make them feel bad about at least one of their own shortcomings."

  • Patty Glaser


    Why she matters Just how nervy is the legendary litigator? She joined — and has stayed on — Harvey Weinstein's legal team in his wrongful termination suit against The Weinstein Co. Fox Sports executive Jamie Horowitz also hired her after he was fired following harassment claims. "Everyone deserves a lawyer, including people accused of bad conduct," says Glaser. "More than ever before, people's professional lives are being destroyed based on allegations, not proof in a court of law."

    Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "Don't harass women and be circumspect. Women and men need to take ownership of their actions."

  • Tamerlin Godley


    Why she matters Godley ran the Warner Bros. internal investigation into highly publicized allegations of misconduct on the set of Bachelor in Paradise, so it's no surprise that the #MeToo reckoning brought other entertainment clients to her door with similar work. She also secured dismissal for Time Warner in a suit over The Real and reps Turner Broadcasting, Sony Pictures and MGM.

    Please reboot "I really loved Bewitched when I was a kid. That might be kind of fun."

  • Carlos Goodman


    Why he matters Goodman secured final cut and a share of first-dollar gross for client Quentin Tarantino in his next film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Clients Jason Blum (Get Out) and Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name) were major players in the 2018 Oscar race, while Christian Bale could be in contention next year for his portrayal of Dick Cheney in Backseat.

    What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "A chance to have a referendum on Trump."

  • Tom Hansen


    Why he matters With Hansen's help, Robert Downey Jr. is transitioning from a superhero to physician. The Iron Man actor, who has completed his contractual obligations with Marvel, will soon star as the title character in The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle. And Al Pacino's upcoming film The Irishman marks the first time the actor has worked with Martin Scorsese.

  • Alan Hergott


    Why he matters Client Brad Pitt is set to star with Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, while power couple Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, and producer Frank Marshall could own the summer box office thanks to Solo: A Star Wars Story and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

  • Jim Jackoway


    Why he matters Jackoway has helped several clients revive shows: Will & Grace's Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, Arrested Development's Mitchell Hurwitz, Roseanne's Tom Werner and Murphy Brown's Diane English. He also reps Seth MacFarlane and J.J. Abrams, whose overall deals (with 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. TV, respectively) are said to be up next year.

    Favorite excuse for running late "It's always traffic."

  • Craig Jacobson


    Why he matters Since signing Trevor Noah, Jacobson extended the Daily Show host's deal through 2022 and struck a key pact between Noah and Comedy Central parent Viacom for first-look rights to any content (film, TV or shortform) that he creates. Jacobson, who has long worked with Lorne Michaels and Ryan Seacrest, also this year started repping Mattel, which has Barbie and Hot Wheels films in the works.

    If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "New York."

  • Matthew Johnson


    Why he matters Johnson made one of the biggest deals of 2017 when he negotiated Tyler Perry's pact with Viacom, which includes a guarantee of 90 episodes of drama and comedy per year plus a first-look and film component. He also just closed Andy Muschietti's deal to direct the It sequel and structured Will Packer's partnership with Discovery and Universal. Johnson also reps Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

    Please reboot The Wire

  • Neville Johnson


    Why he matters Johnson loves tackling long-shot cases and being pugnacious as hell. Often, that means confronting Hollywood studios over accounting practices, as he's doing on behalf of Sylvester Stallone and the creators of the iconic TV drama Columbo. Sometimes it means trading blows with the National Enquirer, as he's doing for Richard Simmons over a false sex-change story.

    What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "Russian meddling."

  • Karen Johnson-McKewan


    Why she matters After 30 years of practicing law in San Francisco, Johnson-McKewan has built a strong roster of tech clients including Oracle and Nvidia. But her work brought her to Hollywood when Netflix tapped her to represent it in a potentially landmark lawsuit brought by Fox over the poaching of two execs. She notes, "There’s definitely a sense that we are, in some ways, outsiders coming in and confronting practices that haven't been challenged in a long time."

    Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "Don't become Mike Pence: Continue to mentor and sponsor women in your organization."

  • Martin Katz


    Why he matters Katz is representing Entertainment One in a contract dispute with The Weinstein Co. over Canadian distribution rights for Paddington 2. He recently settled a breach of contract and fraud dispute for Curiously Bright Entertainment on the eve of a trial against Muse Productions and Chris Hanley over its investment in the heavily litigated mystery feature London Fields.

    Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "Be a mensch socially and professionally."

  • Howard King


    Why he matters Some of King's battles generate headlines — like repping Kanye West against insurers over a canceled tour or confronting Ryan Seacrest for alleged sexual misconduct on behalf of a stylist. Other matters stay under the radar — like the settlement he scored for Avenged Sevenfold in a case that tested whether labels could recover lost profits from defecting musicians.

    Favorite excuse for running late "My personal trainer forced me to do additional sit-ups and squats. Always good for a laugh when they see me."

  • Dale Kinsella


    Why he matters He represents The Walking Dead developer Frank Darabont and CAA in a big-ticket profit participation dispute against AMC that could change the way entertainment companies license content to themselves. He also represents Bones executive producer Barry Josephson in a profits suit against 20th Century Fox.

    Please reboot L.A. Law

  • Kelly Klaus


    Why he matters Klaus has become a favorite litigator for MPAA members, including Disney, which he's representing in a copyright lawsuit against Redbox. He's also involved in some of the industry's most significant First Amendment cases: Klaus recently won an appeal on behalf of FX, defeating a lawsuit actress Olivia de Havilland brought over her depiction in Ryan Murphy's Feud: Bette and Joan.

    What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "Undoubtedly something we can't imagine now."

  • Ken Kleinberg


    Why he matters J.K. Rowling is expanding her Harry Potter empire with Kleinberg's help. She's penning the next four screenplays in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, while the Wizarding World theme park attractions are expanding. Meanwhile, client Glen Keane just took home an Oscar for best animated short for Kobe Bryant's Dear Basketball.

    Favorite excuse for running late "Insufferable traffic."

  • Michael Kump


    Why he matters The Kardashian clan turns to Kump to safeguard its growing TV empire, brands and cosmetic ventures. He's also representing MRC in a copyright infringement lawsuit over a song used in Baby Driver and is representing The Management Group in its heated legal battle with ex-client Johnny Depp.

    I can't work with a client who … "does not follow my advice."

  • Christine Lepera


    Why she matters In the first case of its kind in the post-Weinstein era, Lepera is representing writer-director Paul Haggis in a lawsuit against a woman he says faked sexual-assault claims in an attempt to extort him. She's also repping producer Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald in his legal war with Kesha. In more traditional music matters, she argued before the 9th Circuit on behalf of Jay-Z and Timbaland after successfully winning dismissal of a copyright lawsuit over "Big Pimpin' " and won an infringement suit for Drake on summary judgment.

    Please reboot The Sopranos

  • Jared Levine


    Why he matters After the massive success of Get Out, Levine helped launch a variety of projects for client Jordan Peele, including a Twilight Zone reboot for CBS All Access and his directorial follow-up with Universal. Comedians like Zach Galifianakis, Jeff Garlin and Aziz Ansari turn to the suit to hammer out their deals, like an HBO late-night docuseries for client and Daily Show alum Wyatt Cenac.

  • Linda Lichter


    Why she matters Lichter this year made seven-figure deals for Terry Rossio to pen Godzilla vs. Kong and Linda Woolverton (Lion King) to write a movie for Skydance. Meanwhile, Niki Caro signed on to direct Disney's live-action Mulan.

    I can't work with a client who … "doesn't have a sense of humor."

  • Steven Marenberg


    Why he matters Marenberg's work on behalf of major talent agencies entered #MeToo territory with his representation of WME in the high-profile sexual-harassment lawsuit that actor Terry Crews filed against the company and agent Adam Venit. He also won dismissal for UTA of an antitrust lawsuit from Lenhoff Enterprises that sought to upend the industry's practice of "packaging" deals. In non-agency business, he’s repping Warner Bros. in a home video royalties lawsuit and Universal and Legendary in a class action over the marketing of Warcraft.

    If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "Chicago. I went to law school and clerked there. It's still my favorite city."

  • Mickey Mayerson


    Why he matters Mayerson last year stepped down from firm management to refocus his career on actual lawyering. (And this year he jumped firms.) He represented Annapurna Pictures in the formation of its distribution joint venture with MGM, helped Silicon Valley exec Greg Clark launch Fibonacci Films and represented new independent distributor Aviron Pictures in a P&A loan facility and several of its first acquisitions.

    I can't work with a client who … "wants to pay his bills in cryptocurrency."

  • Joel McKuin


    Why he matters Client and TV mastermind Noah Hawley is moving to the big screen with Pale Blue Dot as well as writing and producing the upcoming Dr. Doom. McKuin also negotiated Kristen Stewart's deal to star in the Charlie's Angels reboot and her new brand pact with Chanel, Stranger Things breakout Gaten Matarazzo got a massive raise for another installment of the Netflix hit, and clients Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage successfully launched The Runaways on Hulu and scored a second season that starts production in April. 

    Favorite excuse for running late "I was helping Jeff Frankel count his money."

  • John Meigs Jr.


    Why he matters Meigs has been at Issa Rae's side since her Awkward Black Girl webseries and has done every one of the Insecure creator-star's deals since, including: four more projects for development under her HBO overall pact; her first beauty endorsement (CoverGirl); and that Lupita Nyong'o-Rihanna-Ava DuVernay movie for Netflix that began as a viral Tumblr post. Meigs also is in on the ground floor with Black Panther breakout Winston Duke, having agreed to do his deal for the record-toppling Marvel movie while the Yale Drama grad was still just testing for the role.

    What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "Inclusion vs. exclusion."

  • Darrell Miller


    Why he matters Miller helped crown Angela Bassett royalty in Black Panther (and, this summer, CIA director in Mission: Impossible 6). He also facilitated Courtney B. Vance's return to FX as star and executive producer of crime drama Heist 88 and inked the Emmy winner's acting deals for comedy pilot Compliance and drama feature Ben Is Back.

    Please reboot "My favorite as a kid, The Flintstones, with Donald Trump as Joe Rockhead."

  • Schuyler Moore


    Why he matters Moore straightened out muddled rights agreements this year for Martin Scorsese's latest mob feature, The Irishman. Representing Mexican financier Fabrica de Cine, Moore helped sell the $100 million feature to Netflix after international rights had been bought by STX. He also aided in the establishment of a $30 million fund for local language productions for Globalgate, a cross-border entertainment alliance led by Lionsgate.

    I can't work with a client who … "is obnoxious."

  • Bob Myman


    Why he matters Myman orchestrated Damon Lindelof's big overall deal with Warner Bros. Television and helped set up the showrunner's next HBO drama, Watchmen. He also put Maria Bello in NCIS and struck a deal for her to produce TriStar's The Woman King, which she wrote, and got Steph Curry's wife, Ayesha, a CoverGirl deal and an overall development pact with ABC and Endemol Shine. Jokes Myman, "All I want to do is go shoot baskets with her husband."

    Please reboot The West Wing

  • Peter Nelson


    Why he matters Oscar winner Allison Janney gave her longtime lawyer a shout-out during her 2016 Walk of Fame ceremony. "Peter Nelson, you do so much for me, and I appreciate all those dotted t's and extra zeros," she said. Nelson, who also reps Edgar Wright, David Duchovny and Tea Leoni, called it "the highest compliment." He recently closed the deal for Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh to write and produce the film Mortal Engines.

    If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "Montecito."

  • Jeanne Newman


    Why she matters Newman helped clients Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino launch breakout hit The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and repped them in their overall deal with Amazon Studios. She also renegotiated Tracee Ellis Ross' deal for Black-ish amid reports that she was paid significantly less than co-star Anthony Anderson and negotiated Drew Goddard's script sale and directing deal for Bad Times at the El Royale.

    I can't work with a client who … "isn't polite to the people who work with me."

  • Amy Nickin


    Why she matters Nickin had to navigate a notoriously slim Blumhouse budget for Allison Williams' first movie — but it was for Get Out, and box-office bonuses made for a good deal. She also helped resurrect John Goodman's Roseanne character; put Fatima Asghar and Sam Bailey's comedy Brown Girls at HBO following a bidding war; and brokered Facebook Watch's first-ever scripted deal on behalf of client Simon Fuller to adapt hit Norwegian drama Skam. Says Nickin, "This is likely to be the deal of my lifetime."

    Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "Trust your instincts, know your worth, use your voice."

  • Robert Offer


    Why he matters Offer negotiated plush contracts for clients returning to iconic roles: Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman 2), Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming 2) and Angelina Jolie (Maleficent 2). He also reps Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson and Ryan Gosling, who's next in theaters in Damien Chazelle's Neil Armstrong biopic, First Man.

    If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "Mars"

  • Anthony Oncidi


    Why he matters Much of Oncidi's work for client CAA is happening behind closed doors in arbitration, including its high-stakes agent poaching fight with UTA and multiple disputes involving former sports agents. He also represents Endemol, several studios, a major network and the production companies of numerous A-list stars in disputes with employees, including sexual-harassment matters.

    Favorite excuse for running late "Peacocks crossing. We've got a feral colony sauntering around Laurel Canyon."

  • Daniel Petrocelli


    Why he matters Petrocelli is in the midst of a lengthy trial that could define the entertainment landscape for decades to come: He's taking on the U.S. Department of Justice, which is attempting to block the $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner. Meanwhile, a California appeals court will soon hear arguments in an exec-poaching dispute between client 21st Century Fox and Netflix.

  • Marvin Putnam


    Why he matters Putnam is a go-to for studios and networks that need to conduct an internal investigation — like ICM Partners, which hired him to look into claims by Tamara Holder that agents

    discouraged her from filing a sexual-assault complaint against Fox News. He's also defending ex Weinstein Co. board member Tim Sarnoff in a class-action brought by women against Harvey Weinstein.

    Please reboot "Brian De Palma's The Fury"

  • Bruce Ramer


    Why he matters In addition to setting up features with Warner Bros., Annapurna and Universal, Ramer helped close the deal for mega-producer Michael De Luca to return as producer of the 90th Oscars telecast. Ramer also counts seasoned A-list directors Steven Spielberg, David O. Russell and Clint Eastwood as clients.

    Advice for clients in the #MeToo era "Do what you should have always done: Behave respectfully and appropriately at all times and places."

  • Ken Richman


    Why he matters Richman handled Samantha Bee's deal with Turner, where she'll continue to host TBS' Full Frontal through at least 2020 thanks to a recent two-season renewal. Client Elisabeth Moss took home her first Emmy, for Handmaid's Tale, and she'll join Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish in New Line's mob drama The Kitchen. He also reps HBO showrunners: Veep's David Mandel, Silicon Valley's Alec Berg and Girls alum Jenni Konner.

    What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "Competence and decency."

  • Marissa Roman Griffith


    Why she matters The highly anticipated Ready Player One and critical darling Paddington 2 are among the films released thanks, in part, to Roman Griffith's work for RatPac-Dune Entertainment on its $300 million Bank of America credit facility to co-finance 75 Warner Bros. movies. The finance guru also steered TV/film producer MRC as it made TV series like Counterpart and The One Percent.

    Please reboot My So-Called Life

  • Nancy Rose


    Why she matters When Lin-Manuel Miranda rallied 20-plus Latin artists for the Hurricane Maria aid song "Almost Like Praying," Rose and her team worked with their reps and convinced platforms like iTunes to waive distribution fees. And when he mashed up tracks from Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen to create "Found/Tonight" for March for Our Lives, Rose secured the necessary releases. "Lin will drop the idea in our lap, and our job is to make it happen," she says. She also repped Beau Willimon in Hulu's straight-to-series deal for his space drama The First, which — in a rare instance — he will own via his banner Westward Productions.

    Favorite excuse for running late "Blame Uber."

  • Faiza Saeed


    Why she matters As consolidation grips U.S. media, Saeed has advised Disney on its pending $52.4 billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox and Time Warner as it fields an $85.4 billion takeover by AT&T — which is facing a Department of Justice challenge — and its investment in Hulu.

    Please reboot Miami Vice

  • Stephen Saltzman


    Why he matters Having moved firms alongside his colleagues from Loeb & Loeb, Saltzman continues to focus on cross-Pacific deals. He represented Chinese state-owned Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment Co. in developing a new Universal Theme Park and Resort that's set to open in 2020 and also advised Talent International Film Co. in its efforts to develop a Chinese version of The Voice

    If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "The Seychelles, and I would telecommute from there."

  • Michael Schenkman


    Why he matters Schenkman is the go-to deals guy for Christopher Nolan and his producing (and life) partner Emma Thomas as well as Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, showrunners of HBO's Westworld. He also helped close a complex deal with Disney and Universal to co-finance and co-distribute Glass, M. Night Shyamalan's new movie that serves as a unique sequel to two movies released by different studios.

    Favorite excuse for running late "Being at an L.A. Kings game that goes into overtime."

  • Ira Schreck


    Why he matters Schreck negotiated client Kevin Hart's deal for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which has grossed nearly $950 million, prompting Hart to return for another installment. He also helped Parenthood creator Jason Katims return to TV with NBC's Rise and continues to rep Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin James and Ed Helms.

    What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "The issues are likely to change between now and then, but the goal will stay the same: flipping seats."

  • Robert "Bobby" Schwartz


    Why he matters For much of the past year, Schwartz has been doing what he can to help clients avoid litigation. "It's been one fire drill after another," says Schwartz, whose roster includes Snapchat, CBS and WME. Next up, he's awaiting a decision by a federal judge on whether a lawsuit against client Vivendi over profit participation from the 1984 film Spinal Tap will be dismissed.

    Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "Behave."

  • P.J. Shapiro


    Why he matters Emma Stone inked a lucrative deal to be the new face of Louis Vuitton and will star in the Netflix limited series Maniac opposite Jonah Hill. Meanwhile, Daniel Kaluuya saw both critical and box-office success thanks to roles in Get Out and Black Panther; Elizabeth Banks will direct the Charlie's Angels reboot; and Dakota Johnson will star in Suspiria and Bad Times at the El Royale.

    If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "Punta Mita, Mexico."

  • Nina Shaw


    Why she matters Oscar-winning client Lupita Nyong'o appeared in back-to-back blockbusters, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Black Panther, while Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay recently announced she's helming the DC Comics adaptation The New Gods. Some of Shaw's most important work in the past year was done as a co-founder of the Time's Up initiative.

     What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "Fix gerrymandering; we get to pick our politicians instead of them picking their voters, and the elections are about the issues."

  • Lawrence Shire


    Why he matters Shire has been helping legends take on new projects, including David Letterman's $15 million deal to return to television with a Netflix talk show, Elton John's three-year, 300-city farewell tour and Bruce Springsteen's one-man Broadway show. He also had the enormous task of helping Facebook strike dozens of licensing deals to bring programming to its new video tab.

    Please reboot Late Show With David Letterman or Caddyshack

  • Marty Singer


    Why he matters He reps celebrities entangled in scandals, including acting for Brett Ratner in a defamation suit against a woman alleging sexual assault. He also threatened to sue FX on behalf of J. Paul Getty's granddaughter in connection with Trust. In tamer fare, he repped David Frankel in a dispute with The Weinstein Co., but TWC's bankruptcy could make the $2 million settlement difficult to collect.

    Favorite excuse for running late "I had an emergency at work. It's usually true."

  • Jason Sloane


    Why he matters Sloane's clients routinely save the world — onscreen, at least. Many are stars in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Chris Pratt and Sebastian Stan, who both appear in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. He also reps Tom Hardy, who stars in the upcoming Venom, based on the Spider-Man villain.

    If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "Hanalei, Kauai."

  • Orin Snyder


    Why he matters He's defending AMC against suits by Frank Darabont, CAA, Robert Kirkman and other The Walking Dead profit participants in one of the biggest Hollywood accounting disputes in recent memory. He's also defending Jerry Seinfeld in a copyright case and advising Lady Gaga in connection with a Kesha-related defamation matter.

    I can't work with a client who … "doesn't communicate."

  • Christopher Spicer


    Why he matters Spicer is a conduit between independent movie production companies and financial institutions, including cross-Pacific deals. Recently, he worked with Bank of America on a loan facility for AI Film features I, Tonya and American Animals and with East West Bank on its deal to co-lead the financing of China's Perfect World Pictures' slate with Universal Pictures.

    Please reboot Quantum Leap

  • Stanton "Larry" Stein


    Why he matters Fred Savage turned to Stein to defend him against harassment claims from a wardrobe stylist who worked on The Grinder. Stein also recently helped Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot and The Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg resolve contract disputes without launching litigation, and continues to represent Drake on various matters. The veteran litigator moved his group to a boutique firm this year, shortly after their previous firm, Liner, was acquired by DLA Piper.

    What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "Whether Trump should be impeached."

  • Matthew Thompson


    Why he matters Thompson recently advised Entertainment One as it acquired the 49 percent stake in The Mark Gordon Co. it did not already own for $209 million and negotiated a multiyear deal for Gordon as chief content officer. He also repped Shamrock Capital Advisors as it purchased a TV library for eight figures.

    Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "Speak openly and honestly about the issues. Allow everyone's voice to be heard."

  • Fred Toczek


    Why he matters Big Little Lies' success gave Toczek leverage in negotiating Shailene Woodley's return for season two, and the attorney lined up Freddie Highmore's starring gig in ABC's The Good Doctor while he was still taking lives on the final season of Bates Motel. Toczek's work with young talent bodes well for client Nick Robinson, now starring in the gay YA drama Love, Simon.

    If I couldn't live in L.A., I'd move to … "Israel."

  • Steve Warren


    Why he matters Warren made a rich deal for Leonardo DiCaprio to reunite with Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and guided Millie Bobby Brown through negotiations for season three of Stranger Things while also putting her in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Other clients include Drew Barrymore and Jessica Chastain.

    What will be the most important issue for the midterm elections? "Bringing compassionate and thoughtful people back into government."

  • David Weber


    ? Why he matters Weber helped Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson take the long-in-the-works adaptation of A Million Little Pieces out of Warner Bros. and make it as an indie while negotiating David Ayer's deal for a sequel to his Netflix feature, Bright. Star client Ryan Reynolds signed on to Legendary's Pokemon movie, Detective Pikachu, and launched Maximum Effort, a new production company that signed a first-look deal at Fox.

  • Howard Weitzman


    Why he matters Weitzman went to trial on behalf of Michael Jackson's estate twice in the past year, first against the IRS over the King of Pop's post­humous name and likeness rights and then against Quincy Jones over royalties. He also won dismissal of two lawsuits involving decades-old molestation allegations. Other clients include Justin Bieber, Atom Factory CEO Troy Carter and Chuck Lorre.

    I can't work with a client who … "lies."

  • Alan Wertheimer


    Why he matters Leverage is a beautiful thing. Patty Jenkins had plenty when negotiating her deal to direct Wonder Woman 2, considering its predecessor earned $821.8 million globally. The same goes for J.J. Abrams, who agreed to take over directing Star Wars: Episode IX when Colin Trevorrow departed the project. Both deals closed in September.

    Please reboot "The first three I would remake are The Memory of a Killer, Intacto and The Shootist."

  • Bryan Wolf


    Why he matters Wolf represented Michael Ellenberg's Media Res in the bidding war, eventually won by Apple, over its Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon morning show drama and was behind the extension of Anonymous Content's first-look deal with Paramount TV. Perhaps none of his clients have kept him as busy as Bryan Fuller, though, who has made high-profile exits from Starz's American Gods, CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery and Apple's Amazing Stories.

     Please reboot "Mash for the Iraq/Afghanistan era." 

  • Kevin Yorn


    Why he matters Zoe Saldana will go blue again in James Cameron's upcoming Avatar sequels thanks to Yorn, who works with a roster of established and rising stars including Scarlett Johansson, set to lead Marvel's stand-alone Black Widow movie, and Ansel Elgort, who nabbed the lead in movie adaptation The Goldfinch.

    I can't work with a client who … "doesn't return calls or emails."

  • Jonathan Zavin


    Why he matters When studios and producers are accused of stealing someone else's idea, they call Zavin. Recently, he defended Fox Searchlight and director Guillermo del Toro in a suit involving best picture winner The Shape of Water and represented MGM, Warner Bros. and Showtime in a case concerning the Barbershop franchise.

    Advice to clients in the #MeToo era "Don't behave badly."

  • Ken Ziffren


    Why he matters The don of entertainment law continues to represent the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He maintains his political footprint as L.A.'s Film Czar, a gig he's held since 2014, and continues to represent Charles Rivkin, CEO of the MPAA, and producer Graham King, who is next in theaters at Christmas with Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

     Favorite excuse for running late "I’m never late. Never."

  • Susan Zuckerman Williams


    Why she matters Lawyers don't often point to an "almost" deal as a professional highlight — but Zuckerman Williams says representing Maria Contreras-Sweet in her bid to buy The Weinstein Co. was unforgettable. "I never thought I'd find myself sitting in the New York Attorney General's office," she says. "Ultimately, we weren't successful, but it has been a fascinating journey." She also represented Vine Alternative Investments in its acquisition of a controlling stake in Village Roadshow Entertainment and SunTrust Bank in a five-year $100 million credit facility to Toronto-based Kew Media Group.

     What will be the most important issue for the midterm election? "Increasing voter turnout."

    This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.