Casey Wasserman Talks Trump’s Impact on L.A.'s Olympic Bid

“This is like running for high school president,” Wasserman joked of spearheading the city's effort to host the 2024 Games.
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Matthew Belloni, Casey Wasserman

NBC won't be any help in Los Angeles' bid to land the 2024 Summer Olympics, Casey Wasserman explained to a group of showbiz's top attorneys at The Hollywood Reporter's 11th annual Power Lawyers event — but he likes the city's odds anyway.

Wasserman, the leader of the LA2024 effort and the CEO of L.A.-based sports agency Wasserman, told the crowd that the International Olympic Committee's rules prohibit NBC's involvement in the bidding process and also bar its voters from visiting the potential sites.

L.A. is facing off with Paris for the honor, and the IOC is set to vote on the host city Sept. 13. Wasserman said the U.S. has two major advantages: 88 percent of locals support the idea, which he credits to the success of the 1984 Summer Games in L.A., and the infrastructure is already in place. His team has compiled a “beautiful 300-page technical plan” as part of its pitch.

THR’s editorial director Matthew Belloni asked if President Donald Trump could hurt L.A.'s chances, to which Wasserman jokingly said he's sure he pays one of the lawyers in the room and could answer the question because he would be protected by attorney-client privilege.

The real answer, though, is that 88 of the IOC’s 94 members will vote, and while several of the members are Muslim, the Trump administration has been very supportive of the bid. (By contrast, he said, the Obama administration didn't have a great relationship with the IOC after Chicago wasn't chosen in a 2009 Games vote.)

In September, he said, voters will choose which city they like best or trust most. "This is like running for high school president," said Wasserman.

In the wide-ranging interview, Wasserman, the grandson of former MCA and Universal Studios CEO Lew Wasserman, said his decision to forgo the family business and pursue a career in sports was a combination of his grandfather’s no-nepotism policy and his encouragement that Wasserman pursue his own passion: He found a strong, albeit slightly odd, interest in the business behind sports at a young age.

Belloni then asked the attorneys in the room — all included on The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Power Lawyers list of the top showbiz attorneys — to give a show of hands as to whether they thought a writers' strike is imminent. The votes were split, but many abstained. Wasserman coyly avoided the question. "I gave my proxy to my father-in-law (Ken Ziffren) and he voted no."

During the pre-breakfast reception, THR informally polled a few of the attorneys and they were also split. "There cannot be a writers strike," said Schuyler Moore, a film finance attorney. "Given how dramatic and devastating the last one was I believe it will be talked about, but they won't do it."

Robert Darwell couldn't disagree more. "It's looking like a pretty strong possibility," he said. "I'm thinking more yes than no. Some folks are exploring the possibility of doing side letter agreements to keep certain productions going."

Litigator John Gatti said he is leaning toward no, and "if there is one it will be short lived. In the past strike, there were bigger and stronger issues at stake."

Also during the event, held at Spago and sponsored by City National Bank and Ermenegildo Zegna, THR honored WME-IMG chief legal officer Seth Krauss with its Raising the Bar Award.

While introducing the mega agency's co-CEO Patrick Whitesell, who gave the award to Krauss, Belloni explained that each year's honoree is someone who has made an impact on the industry.

Whitesell told the crowd of attorneys that Krauss plays an indispensable role at his company, is always forward thinking and helps him have fewer sleepless nights.

Krauss, who 22 years ago began his career in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, credited his success in navigating WME-IMG’s recent acquisition blitzkrieg to the senior attorneys who report to him. Then the attorney turned to a topic that's deeply personal to him: diversity. Krauss explained that his father, late Broadway producer Marvin Krauss, was often turned away from industry functions because he was Jewish. "It's important to me that we do better and we help others do better," he said.

Wrapping up the event, Belloni asked Wasserman if in five years there will still be the same number of studios in Hollywood. "Absolutely not," he answered, hinting at more consolidation to come. "AT&T-Time Warner is the first domino to fall, not the last."