Power Lawyers 2012
Meet Tom Cruise's protector, Ryan Seacrest's dealmaker and the woman keeping Lindsay Lohan out of jail as THR reveals the top 100 entertainment attorneys in America.
How the List is Chosen: To determine Hollywood's 100 most influential attorneys (in alphabetical order), THR canvassed the biggest deals and cases of the past year. Lawyers were broken down into four categories -- talent dealmakers, litigators, corporate dealmakers and "troubleshooters" (divorce or criminal matters) -- and evaluated against their peers based on cases won/nature of deals closed as well as their reputation within the entertainment legal community. In-house studio, network or talent agency lawyers are not eligible (it's too difficult to gauge influence within a corporate structure). Profiles written by Matthew Belloni, Alex Ben Block, Paul Bond, Tina Daunt, Stephen Galloway, Eriq Gardner, Lesley Goldberg, Shirley Halperin, Borys Kit, Pamela McClintock, Daniel Miller and Lacey Rose.
Loeb & Loeb
Corporate dealmaker: The veteran has become obsessed with how technology is changing music. So in addition to repping established stars such as Diana Ross and Glee music producer Adam Andrews, he focuses on tech companies like Rednote, which offers the first legal system to send snippets of music along with text. He's working with Haim Saban's Saban Capital, which he predicts will be "very active in the music space" beginning later this year. My first client: In 1972, Frankenheimer helped find a label for the Superfly soundtrack, which went on to top the charts.
Freedman & Taitelman
Litigation specialist: The ultra-aggressive litigator has developed a unique specialty: representing talent agencies and managers when clients don't pay commissions. This year, he sued Chris Pine on behalf of the actor's former agency SDB Partners, which settled. He also settled a manager's claim against Melissa Joan Hart and a $100 million case against reality star Bethenny Frankel over her former management company's share of the Skinnygirl franchise. He won a ruling that Men in Black 3 director Barry Sonnenfeld owes commissions to UTA and he brought a similar case for ICM against Jersey Shore star Pauly D. How I get leverage: "By unearthing the key document that tells my client's story and utilizing that as a case mantra. People lie, documents do not. Juries and judges know that."
NEW: Gary Gans
Litigation specialist: In April, Gans won a big victory for producers Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick over screenwriter brothers who claimed their ideas were used in the Tom Cruise hit The Last Samurai. (Gans proved the producers never saw the script.) Another victory that didn't generate as much press concerned the box-office bomb Tekken (less than $1 million worldwide). Newbridge Film Capital sued Gans' client cineFinance Insurance and Houston Casualty for $15.8 million when the film was delivered 13 months late. Gans, though, argued that the film did meet the deadline but the producer added enhancements that Newbridge agreed to. After a 10-day arbitration, cineFinance and Houston Casualty won costs and fees of $3.9 million. "It wasn't expected that we'd win," he boasts. Worst thing ever said to me: After a federal judge castigated Gans' opponent for his lack of ethics and professionalism, the lawyer "said he was just doing the same kinds of things I had done."
Litigation specialist: Profits disputes have become a specialty of Gatti's since winning Alan Ladd's case against Warner Bros. over revenue from 1980s hits such as Blade Runner and Police Academy. He's representing Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne in pre-litigation negotiations concerning The Matrix money; handling several matters for producer Jon Peters; and in summer 2011, he helped CBS settle with John Wayne's heirs over profits generated through the TV licensing of the 1971 film Big Jake. "There are always new ways to monetize film product," says Gatti. "The pie is getting bigger, even though the DVD market has become less valuable, so people are highly sensitive to the issue of profit participation." Worst thing ever said to me: "Well, the funniest attempt at an insult: 'You are shorter in person than on the phone.' "
Gendler & Kelly
Talent dealmaker: At the Emmys in September, Gendler will be rooting for Showtime's Homeland a little louder than most: He reps co-creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, part of a stellar roster of showrunners (Sons of Anarchy's Kurt Sutter, David E. Kelley), acting icons (Meryl Streep, Steve Martin) and filmmakers (Rob Marshall, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci). The father of two, who recently added actor Chris Pine as a client, cites loyalty as his guiding mantra. "The most satisfying part of the practice is being with people for the evolution of their careers, the ups and the downs." My first client: Gendler signed Kelley back when he was a staff writer on L.A. Law.
Talent dealmaker: Dick Wolf's longtime lawyer shepherded the superproducer's upcoming Chicago Fire and his reality series Stars Earn Stripes, both for NBC. And he's become a go-to negotiator for TV creators. Gilbert-Lurie handled Bruce Helford's pact to executive produce Charlie Sheen's FX sitcom Anger Management, he helped move John Walsh's America's Most Wanted from Fox to Lifetime, and client Claire Danes is earning Emmy buzz for her Showtime series Homeland (Gilbert-Lurie is about to start renegotiating her contract). He and partner Sam Fischer recently branched out to rep tech giant Microsoft. My first client: Wolf, whom he signed about 25 years ago. "Our first meeting was at Universal, where Dick watched me negotiate against Shel Mittleman and his team. Dick called me later and said he loved my 'iron hand in the velvet glove' approach, and we've been together ever since."
Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro
Litigation specialist: Don't let the West Virginia accent and ultrapolite demeanor fool you. Glaser is one of Hollywood's savviest operators, a relentless litigator with a no-nonsense attitude and an impeccable record of success. "I get leverage by doing exactly what I tell opposing counsel I will do," she says flatly. This year, she settled William Morris Endeavor's nasty battle with ousted agent John Ferriter and the high-stakes copyright infringement case against client Endemol for allegedly copying Japanese game shows to create the ABC hit Wipeout. The married mother of two boys also filed fired Current host Keith Olbermann's $70 million lawsuit against his former employer, a case certain to general legal fireworks if it makes it to trial. Worst thing ever said to me: "Unprintable," she says. "In the few instances when that has occurred, it has come from the mouths of really insecure men."
Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman
Talent dealmaker: There's been little time for Goodman to feel nostalgic about The Dark Knight Rises, which marks client Christian Bale's final Batman film, given that Bale will move quickly to the thriller Out of the Furnace and parts in Terrence Malick's next two films. The affable dealmaker also reps some of the most ambitious directors, including Quentin Tarantino, back this winter with Django Unchained; Darren Aronofsky, now shooting the biblical epic Noah for Paramount; and Paul Greengrass, who is wrapping Captain Phillips, a Somali pirate drama starring Tom Hanks that hits theaters in March. Hot new client: Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders. "It was the biggest film deal I've don
Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor
Corporate dealmaker: Grode is credited with engineering one of the year's biggest Hollywood deals, the $425 million purchase of Summit by Lionsgate. The transaction had been floated for four years, but "this time the parties were close enough that it actually got done," notes Grode. He helped Miramax do an unusual refinancing tied to the securitization of its film library, raising $500 million that paid off loans used to buy the assets from Disney. The avid watch collector and coach for his sons' sports teams says he has closed more than $300 million in digital deals in the past year, including $20 million for Hulu. Most satisfying career moment: "The day we closed the financing for Marvel [in 2005], which transformed them from a licensing company into a production studio. No one thought we could do it. No one understood it. But after six months of explaining, people slowly came to understand it."
Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison
Corporate dealmaker: Hamill took the lead on William Morris Endeavor's recent partnership with tech-centric private-equity firm Silver Lake, which acquired a 31 percent noncontrolling interest in the agency. "These are two of the most dynamic participants in their industries -- I think they are going to do great things," says Hamill, who, with partner Robert Schumer, has advised WME in more than a dozen of its investments. He also represents Warner Music Group and handled the $3.3 billion sale of the company to billionaire Len Blavatnik's Access Industries in May 2011. Most satisfying career moment: The WME/Silver Lake transaction is "a transformative deal."
Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman Newman Warren Richman Rush & Kaller
Talent dealmaker: Hansen and the firm he co-founded 25 years ago long have been at the center of Hollywood's biggest successes. This year, his longtime client Robert Downey Jr. reportedly will make more than $50 million from the $1.4 billion success of The Avengers, a testament to Hansen's loyalty to Downey when he was struggling (Hansen also reps Mel Gibson). When he's not fishing in Jackson Hole, Wyo., he has been instrumental in his firm's increasing role as a type of Hollywood boutique investment bank, guiding some of the town's most intricate deals from conception to completion. My legal philosophy: "You just have to believe in someone's talent. You have to be willing to hang with them and understand the process and be supportive and not judgmental."
NEW: Charles Harder
Wolf Rifkin Shapiro Schulman & Rabkin
Litigation specialist: Harder often reps celebrities when their names and likenesses are being used to sell products they haven't agreed to endorse. He recently sued on behalf of George Clooney and Julia Roberts against a home entertainment system company and brought a claim for Sandra Bullock against a watchmaker. "A lot of folks I represent don't do ads, period, or do ads if there's a lot of money involved and they have control over what the ad looks like," says Harder. He sued a furniture company for Clint Eastwood that was selling two lines called "Clint" and "Eastwood." And in addition to co-writing the recent Entertainment Litigation treatise, Harder defended Cecchi Gori Pictures against a suit brought by former exec Gianni Nunnari. "A judge awarded us $18 million and dismissed all his claims," he boasts. "That's the irony: He brought a lawsuit first for $3.5 million, and we counterclaimed and the judge gave us basically everything we asked for." Worst thing ever said to me: "During a deposition about six years ago, my opposing counsel leapt to his feet, cocked his fist back and said he was going to hit me. I remained composed and told him to sit down and stop shouting. Four months later, an arbitrator ruled entirely against his client. It was very satisfying to beat the pants off that particular attorney."
Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman
Talent dealmaker: Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Jake Gyllenhaal: Hergott has handled perhaps more leading-men actor deals than anyone in town. The avid art collector brokered Crowe's pacts for the forthcoming Les Miserables, Noah and Winter's Tale while also hammering out Shane Black's deal to write and direct Iron Man 3 and shepherding producer Kathleen Kennedy's move into the co-chair slot at Lucasfilm. On the TV side, Hergott represents True Blood showrunner Alan Ball, who will leave the show after season five. "That's another big valedictory thing," says Hergott. "It has been a huge thing in Alan's creative and professional life for years." My first client: "When I started doing this, [then-boss] Tom Pollock was so generous with me -- throwing clients at me and expecting me to sink or swim."
Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof & Fishman
Talent dealmaker: After 50-plus years in practice (his first client was Raquel Welch), Hirsch still got excited about finding a U.S. distributor for producer Thomas Langmann's little film The Artist. "We had a black-and-white silent movie that we all knew was great, but we had to make sure the buyer knew that," he notes of the eventual best picture Oscar winner. "We chose Harvey [Weinstein] because we knew he would put it across to the Academy and get it noticed." The fierce negotiator and licensed therapist (he married client Julia Roberts to Danny Moder in 2004) says the two careers complement each other. "I understand human behavior through my studies in psychology," he says, helping secure innovative deals for such clients as Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer and Sofia Coppola. Worst thing ever said to me: "You mean, aside from 'F-- you'?"
Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert
Troubleshooter: Holley spent years working as a Los Angeles County public defender and served on the O.J. Simpson criminal defense team with Johnnie Cochran, so she was uniquely prepared for the media circus surrounding client Lindsay Lohan. This year, she successfully got Lohan's felony charge relating to the alleged theft of a necklace from an L.A. jewelry store reduced to a misdemeanor, and Lohan is back working on the Lifetime movie Liz & Dick while on probation. Holley also has repped Mike Tyson and the Kardashian sisters in various cases. How does she get leverage? "Using charm, humor and friendliness to mask the vicious, snarling tactician hiding just beneath the surface." My dream client: "Snooki."
Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
Corporate dealmaker: The Sundance insider represents indie actor-director Josh Radnor, whose dramedy Liberal Arts went to IFC. Hurwitz put together the deal for Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner's first feature, You Were Here, for producer client Gilbert Films. "What I enjoy doing is finding ways to help put the pieces together," he says. Hurwitz also handled Homeland executive producer Michael Cuesta's overall deal at CBS. My legal philosophy: "Base knowledge on fact and analysis rather than on what 'everyone knows.' "
Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein
Talent dealmaker: Jackoway switched from Wall Street to Hollywood in 1979 but didn't leave his cold-blooded negotiation style behind. The avid fisherman, who orchestrated client David Letterman's 1993 move from NBC to CBS, this year closed the host's two-year contract extension that will allow him to surpass Johnny Carson as TV's longest-tenured late-night host. With partner Karl Austen, he also helped move client Seth MacFarlane from TV to movies with Ted, negotiated for Sex and the City's Michael Patrick King to launch 2 Broke Girls on CBS and secured a fall NBC pickup for J.J. Abrams' upcoming Revolution. Most satisfying career moment: The Aug. 30, 1993, debut of Late Show With David Letterman. "I wrote the first three words of that premiere, delivered by the actor formerly known as Larry 'Bud' Melman: 'THIS IS CBS!' "