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This story first appeared in the May 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Ever wonder why the F-word pops up on some FX shows but not others? Ask Rita Tuzon, executive vp and general counsel of Fox Networks Group, whose job includes sparring with such boundary-pushing TV creators as Ryan Murphy and Kurt Sutter.
“It’s not integral to [any] show to put 22 F-bombs in,” says Tuzon, half-joking. But Tuzon, 56, is THR‘s Raising the Bar honoree not for her ability to police language. She and the 150 Fox lawyers she oversees worldwide have been especially vigilant — and successful — in standing up for content owners against threats from digital upstarts. She played a key role in the litigation that shut down Aereo, which was broadcasting TV signals without permission, and in persuading Dish to alter its AutoHopper DVR that records entire network schedules; Fox’s litigation produced a deal that requires Dish to wait seven days after programs air.
The daughter of a California farmworker and married mother of two teens (husband Richard Stone is a THR Power Lawyer who represents Fox) graduated from Stanford and law school at UC Berkeley. She enjoyed early career success defending Fox in a trial against Tracey Ullman, who claimed a slice of profits from The Simpsons because the cartoon originated on The Tracey Ullman Show (Tuzon’s victory likely has saved Fox hundreds of millions of dollars). She joined the studio as a litigator in 1997, eventually handling deals in the burgeoning cable business (FX, National Geographic, Fox’s regional sports networks).
Despite her vigilant defense of Fox content, she says her goal is to facilitate rather than stifle new means of distribution: “We cannot be the land of ‘no.’ You need to embrace things, move forward and monetize them.”
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