When I quit practicing law to join The Hollywood Reporter in 2006, media coverage of entertainment legal issues could pretty much be broken down into two categories: wonky analysis in scholarly journals and the scandal-of-the-moment on TMZ. With rare exceptions, the trade and mainstream media jumped in only on the biggest cases.
Six years later, I'm happy to report the landscape is totally different. Outlets far and wide now analyze the nuances of copyright law, as evidenced by the SOPA piracy debate. And in coverage of recent Hollywood trials over Golden Globes TV rights and Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination claim against ABC, the attorneys for the talent and studios were front and center, addressing the media in a manner once reserved for their clients. THR's expansive legal coverage didn't cause this shift, of course. But I'm proud that our approach to the fascinating subject of entertainment law -- both in magazine features like the Michael Jackson litigation story on page 64 and on the legal blog, THR, Esq., that I share with my colleague Eriq Gardner -- has become an accessible middle ground for legal insiders and general readers.
The Power Lawyers issue has the same goal. Launched in 2007, the issue (and accompanying breakfast event) aims to both honor the power players behind the year's biggest deals and cases and to give readers a sense of what it's like to advocate for A-list stars and some of Hollywood's most storied institutions. This year's issue -- our biggest yet -- retains that mission, with a refined list of America's 100 most effective showbiz problem-solvers, and proves that law doesn't have to be dry, with features that reveal how it feels to be Bert Fields in the middle of the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes divorce, or the technique Marty Singer uses to write effectively nasty cease-and-desist letters. Congratulations to our honorees.
Alex Hoerner: For this issue, the L.A. native photographed two lawyer's looks: Daniel Petrocelli's and Marty Katz's. Hoerner, who shoots for The New York Times' T Magazine and Fast Company, found the two opposing counsels (in the trial over TV rights to the Golden Globes in early 2012) not unlike such subjects as Rachel McAdams, in that "they perform and know how to present themselves; I didn't have to give them much." Did he learn anything about the law? "It buys good art," he says. "Walking through Daniel's office, I passed original prints by Yousuf Karsh, Ansel Adams and Elliott Erwitt. It was inspiring."
Austin Hargrave: Oh, to be a fly on the wall when lawyers and their celebrity clients powwow. Hargrave was when he shot Lindsay Lohan with Shawn Holley, among others. "It was clear they had relationships outside work," says the English photog, who has shot Tony Blair and traveled to Iraq for Q and The Sunday Times magazines. "They were very relaxed, laughing, but at the end of the shoot, one would say, 'Oh, I need to talk to you about something.' " His favorite part? "Christian Bale telling [his lawyer] Carlos Goodman the best word to say for a perfect smile: It starts with an 's,' and it's not cheese!"
Matthew Heller: While researching "The New Rules of TV Indecency," Heller found himself chuckling over such accounts as "the Bubba the Love Sponge host describing his anatomy in detail, which struck me as particularly ludicrous." Born in the U.K., the California Lawyer and Orange Coast writer reports that 1.4 million indecency complaints might have been filed recently with the FCC, but "groups like Parents Television Council get their members to file hundreds if not thousands of times about a particular show." He adds, "Family Guy probably makes up a big portion of the 1.4 million."
Skip Brittenham: Long one of Hollywood's top deal attorneys for the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Eddie Murphy, Brittenham reveals himself in the Power Lawyers issue as a closet comic book nerd. THR gets a first look at his upcoming graphic novel Anomaly, the world's longest at 370 pages, and a futuristic morality tale co-written with artist Brian Haberlin. It is set to hit stores in October in hardcover and interactive tablet app formats. Why the sudden urge to write? "My wife challenged me to be creative," says Brittenham, married since 1992 to actress and political activist Heather Thomas.