L.A. Confidential

For the right price, private judges quietly resolve the industry's thorniest disputes

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In a town that hates airing dirty laundry in public, some of the most powerful players are the private judges who quietly dispose of cases before they surface in court. The best mediators can charge as much as $15,000 a day for their time, but it's money well spent if disputes are resolved without a lengthy (and costly) court battle.

Perhaps the most sought-after mediator for Hollywood disputes is Daniel Weinstein (JAMS, $12,000/day), a former judge and district attorney whose smooth demeanor and industry knowledge has helped cajole such strong personalities as Mariah Carey and the members of Guns 'N' Roses to the bargaining table.

After 20 years on the Los Angeles Superior Court, Robert Altman (ADR Services, $575/hour) has become an expert on licensing, contract, employment and copyright disputes. Richard Chernick (JAMS, $7,000/day) once repped talent agencies, which now helps him specialize in cases involving profit participation, vertical integration and intellectual property.

Another royalty expert, former judge and USC Law professor Eli Chernow (ADR Services, $550/hour) offers keen understanding of studio accounting issues. Denise Madigan (ADR Services, $4500/day) has been mediating since 1980 and her background as an IP lawyer in Washington gives her a leg up in rights disputes. Enrique Romero (ADR Services, $575/hour) is known for his no-nonsense attitude, which can help in a case involving celebrities. And Diane Wayne (JAMS, $6,000/day) uses her contacts from 22 years as a judge to cajole settlements. Just don't ask them to talk about their cases.