Variety’s 2024 Legal Impact Report: Hollywood’s Top Attorneys

Variety’s Legal Impact Report 2024: Meet Hollywood’s Top Entertainment Attorneys
Variety’s Legal Impact Report 2024: Meet Hollywood’s Top Entertainment Attorneys

From tackling generative AI concerns to landing impressive deals for A-listers, these showbiz attorneys are well-equipped to make award-winning wins for their clients. Meet entertainment’s top dealmakers and litigators in Variety‘s 2024 Legal Impact Report.

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For editorial questions, please contact Sharareh Drury at sdrury@variety.com.

Chris Spicer, Marissa Román Griffith, Alissa Miller, Vanessa Roman

Chris Spicer, Marissa Román Griffith, Alissa Miller, Vanessa Roman
Chris Spicer, Marissa Román Griffith, Alissa Miller, Vanessa Roman


Spicer: Partner and Head of Media & Entertainment Practice
Griffith, Miller, Roman: Partners

Akin

The four Century City attorneys worked $2 billion in transactions in the past year. Spicer, Griffith, Miller and Roman repped Comerica Bank in various financings, including a Black Bear and Guy Ritchie movie. Other clients include East West Bank with a corporate credit facility for music royalty SR Funding; and also Media Rights Capital in its production and financing for films and TV series. The four also advise Dark Castle Entertainment for movies “Last Breath” and “Shell”; company principals include Joel Silver and Robert Zemeckis. Other clients include JPMorgan Chase Securities, financier Alpha Wave Global, Content Partners, Fifth Third Bank, MUFG Bank, Will Smith’s Westbrook and XYZ Films.

Better choices: While anxiety levels rise across Hollywood amid upheaval from the digital revolution, Spicer says that he’s optimistic that industry retrenchment will lead decision-makers to make better choices. He expects movies will increasingly be crafted and proportioned correctly for realistic economic returns. “As a result, that will streamline the financing and dealmaking for international content,” Spicer says.

Lisa Alter, Katie Baron

Lisa Alter, Katie Baron
Lisa Alter, Katie Baron


Alter: Partner
Baron: Partner

Alter, Kendrick & Baron

Alter and Baron work for Primary Wave Music Publishing, including deals acquiring music catalogs from Dennis DeYoung (Styx) in August and the Doors a year ago. The New York-based duo also advise Influence Media Partners, which purchased Logic’s 185-title music catalog in June; BMG Rights Management nabbing the Hollies’ catalog in June; and Irving Azoff-led Iconic Artists buying Rod Stewart’s catalog in February. Other clients include Sony Music Entertainment and Reservoir Media Management, and financiers Credit Suisse and KKR for music. Talent clients include Ray Davies, David Gilmour, Steve Miller and Paul Rodgers; and the estates of Ira Gershwin, Ben E. King and Johnny Mercer.

AI benefits: While artificial intelligence alarms many in the music industry, Alter sees benefits, too. Ethical AI can partner for holograms and audio-visual projects, generate financial models for music valuations and assist in royalty audits. “There are threats but the opportunities should not be minimized,” says Alter.

Carolyn Hunt

Carolyn Hunt
Carolyn Hunt


Partner

Barnes & Thornburg

Transactional attorney Hunt advises banker Natixis on production loans for European film and TV content as well as its Hollywood projects. Hunt reps Peachtree Media including Bleecker Street-distributed “The Fabulous Four” starring Susan Sarandon; and also City National Bank including financing Kevin Costner’s “Horizons: An American Saga” films. She also loops into deals involving Capstone Global Management, which finances entertainment content. Hunt’s other clients include East West Bank, sales agent Highland Films, Imax and Monarch Media.

Media ecosystem: She observes Atlanta’s ambition to expand from a production center by adding content development, creative expertise and financing. “They are developing a full entertainment ecosystem where the complete creative economy is there,” Hunt says.

Jason Karlov

Jason Karlov
Jason Karlov


Partner & Chair of Entertainment, Media and Sports Practice

Barnes & Thornburg

Karlov reps the NFL and its football teams, 18 NBA teams, nine NHL teams, six MLB teams, multiple MLS teams, college NCAA and All Elite Wrestling for event and music-related matters. This includes the Usher half-time show the Super Bowl. Other clients of the Century City-based attorney include Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Ice Nine (Grateful Dead catalog), Michael Bolton, T Bone Burnett, specialty label Ionic Records, MassMutual (for a sports sponsorship), record label/music publisher Opus Music and Rufus Wainwright.

Social media meltdown: Karlov laments the industry impasses at social media platforms over licensing music due to cumbersome process and pricing disconnects. “There is an incalculable amount of money, in my opinion, that everyone is leaving on the table that needs to be captured,” Karlov says.

Andrew B. Brettler

Andrew B. Brettler
Andrew B. Brettler


Partner

Berk Brettler

Best-known for work with controversial figures like Prince Andrew and Danny Masterson, Brettler also works with clients such as Sydney Sweeney and Lindsay Lohan. Outside entertainment, he’s representing a young woman who was abused by her volleyball coach beginning in seventh grade. A lawsuit is pending in L.A. Superior Court against the coach and LAUSD.

AI ahead: “Advancements in AI are going to impact all industries, including entertainment and the law,” says Brettler. “New privacy issues and First Amendment case law will be developed. AI is going to change everything about our world — and both the entertainment and legal industries will be at the tip of that spear.”

John V. Berlinski, Julia B. Cherlow, Ronald J. Nessim

John V. Berlinski, Julia B. Cherlow, Ronald J. Nessim
John V. Berlinski, Julia B. Cherlow, Ronald J. Nessim


Partners

Bird, Marella, Rhow, Lincenberg, Drooks & Nessim

Litigator Berlinski has handled some of the industry’s most significant disputes. He resolved a breach of contract suit on behalf of the Seelig Group, which invested billions of dollars in Twentieth Century Fox films, only to see Disney+ prioritize streaming over theatrical releases during the pandemic, and represents Brad Pitt in multi-jurisdictional lawsuits against Angelina Jolie regarding their French winery. Cherlow was similarly on the frontlines. Cherlow and Nessim’s reputation as authorities continues to grow as the co-author of the profit participation chapter in LexisNexis’ 2023-2024 Entertainment Law & Litigation.

Window dressing: “There’s been a lot that has been written on the day-and-date releases — or just dramatically reducing the theatrical window — and allowing films to go to the streaming platforms much earlier,” Berlinski says. “But what did that do to profit participants and investors?”

Kristina Royce, Marilyn Chinitz, Brett Ward

Kristina Royce, Marilyn Chinitz, Brett Ward
Kristina Royce, Marilyn Chinitz, Brett Ward


Partners

Blank Rome

The practitioners at Blank Rome pride themselves on defusing high-profile disputes without attracting headlines. Royce handled Arnold Schwarzenegger’s divorce from Maria Shriver and continues to help celebs part ways, mostly behind the veil of secrecy. Chinitz is similarly on the frontlines of celebrity divorces, having handled legalities for a long list of famous clients including Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas and Wendy Williams. Ward, based in New York City, is also known for repping celebrities such as Emily Ratajkowski as well as publicity-averse athletes and other high-net-worth individuals.

Gender issues: “One of the issues in our area is going to be sexual identification,” Ward says. “The right to marry, the rights of the LBGTQ+ community, all flowed from similar rights that permitted abortions throughout the country that have now been overruled. The same thing is happening with some of the legislation affecting gender identity, which is certainly going to affect relationships, marriages, childrearing and adoption.”

Leigh Brecheen

Leigh Brecheen
Leigh Brecheen


Co-Founder, Partner

Brecheen Feldman Breimer Silver Thompson

Brecheen reps everyone from A-list actors, writers and directors to television production companies and talent management. Her clients include John Oliver, Mel Gibson, Sharon Stone and Jenny McCarthy. She also counts production companies and producers such as Plan B Television, Serendipity Point Films and Conan O’Brien’s Conaco among her clients.

Reality check: “I love dealing with creative people and helping them translate ideas into reality. The act of translating an idea, or the written word to an audiovisual performance, still seems like a miracle. At the legal stage, it is abstract. To see it manifest itself in ‘reality’ still amazes me,” says Brecheen.

Benjamin Chew, Camille Vasquez

Benjamin Chew, Camille Vasquez
Benjamin Chew, Camille Vasquez


Chew: Partner, Co-Chair, Brand & Reputation Management
Vasquez: Partner, Co-Chair, Brand & Reputation Management

Brown Rudnick

After representing Johnny Depp in his defamation trial against Amber Heard in 2022, Chew and Vasquez continue to run a slew of high-profile cases such as Gloria Trevi’s complaint against former manager Sergio Andrade and A$AP Relli’s civil case against A$AP Rocky and his lawyer Joe Tacopina for defamation. Additionally, Vasquez defended “Yellowstone” actress Q’orianka Kilcher in a closely followed worker’s comp fraud matter, rehabilitating her reputation in the process, and was recently engaged by the government of Kazakhstan to assist it in democratizing media policies.

Character counts: “The law needs to catch up to what we’re seeing happening, especially in the brand and reputation management industry where people are concerned about their brand and how they’re portrayed,” Vasquez says. “We are really limited in what we can do and what we can recommend clients do in regard to deep fakes or AI generated images.”

Donald Woodard, Uwonda S. Carter

Donald Woodard, Uwonda S. Carter
Donald Woodard, Uwonda S. Carter


Founding Partners

Carter + Woodard

Carter and Woodard are the go-to attorneys for Atlanta’s booming entertainment biz. Woodard ironed out Summer Walker’s contract with Warner Chappell Music as well as touring deals, repped rapper NLE Choppa in negotiations with Sony Music Publishing and counts breakout college basketball players Angel Reese and Flau’jae Johnson among his clientele. Meanwhile, Carter played an integral role in Metro Boomin’s massively successful 2023, negotiating his contributions to the “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” soundtrack, securing a Coachella appearance and handling legal for the producer’s Grammy-nominated “Heroes and Villains” album. Other clients include Lil Yachty, Doja Cat producer Earl on the Beat and viral hitmaker Muni Long.

Open range: “Many artists talk about their [minimal] streaming royalties,” Carter says. “But success opens up other opportunities. I think we have to look at where talent is getting paid and where it is fair, which either allows or forces them to do other things.”

Jeff Cohen, Jonathan Gardner

Jeff Cohen, Jonathan Gardner
Jeff Cohen, Jonathan Gardner


Co-Founders and Partners

Cohen Gardner

Cohen reps Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh, who is currently in production on the new “Star Trek” project “Section 31” for Paramount, and Oscar-winner Ke Huy Quan, who just appeared in Season 2 of “Loki.” Quan’s next film, “With Love,” is currently in production. After Warner Bros. won an intense bidding war for Ryan Coogler’s next project, Gardner repped the “Black Panther” filmmaker in a deal wherein the copyright for his next project will revert back to him after 25 years. Gardner has also produced or executive produced more than 25 films including “Hereditary,” one of A24’s highest-grossing domestic releases to date.

Ad boost: Gardner sees ad-supported streaming as advantageous for his clients’ negotiations. Selling advertising alone “introduces a notion of transparency,” says Gardner. “If I sell my ad for $100, I need to tell people that 100 eyeballs are going to be on that ad. When you’re selling a lot of ads in connection with my client’s show, I think I’m going to start to realize a lot of people are watching that show.”

Robyn Polashuk, Michael Hill, Adrian Perry

Robyn Polashuk, Michael Hill, Adrian Perry
Robyn Polashuk, Michael Hill, Adrian Perry


Polashuk: Partner, Co-Chair of Media & Entertainment Industry Group
Hill: Special Counsel
Perry: Partner, Co-Chair of Media & Entertainment Industry Group, and Co-Chair Music Industry Group

Covington & Burling

Perry spearheaded negotiations for Tidal to acquire financial services provider HIFI and guided Futureverse and JEN AI in the development of a fully licensed model for text-to-music generation, including catalog licensing and collaborations with rights owners. Hill advised the NCAA on a new agreement for NCAA championships media rights and the NFL on its multi-year agreement with Google to exclusively distribute NFL Sunday Ticket. Polashuk advised the Walt Disney Co. on a landmark carriage deal — or “bundle” — with Charter Spectrum that included ESPN, Disney Channel and more. She also represented Fox Corp. in its pay TV distribution renewal.

Bundle up: “I’ve predicted the return of the bundle — that video networks and streaming apps, and potentially other digital services, would be packaged and offered for a single price, with less transactional friction and easier navigation and content discovery,” Polashuk says. “In assisting Disney in its renewal agreement with Charter in 2023, I felt part of that evolution. The parties came together to move the video industry forward in a material and collaborative way.”

Scott J. Sholder, Nancy E. Wolff

Scott J. Sholder, Nancy E. Wolff
Scott J. Sholder, Nancy E. Wolff


Sholder: Partner, Co-Chair Litigation Practice Group
Wolff: Partner, co-chair of Litigation Practice Group and co-chair of Art Law Group

Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard

Sholder and Wolff are thought leaders in the artificial intelligence space as it relates to entertainment. They’re also frequent speakers and writers on IP issues as they involve law, art, publishing and technology. The team at this firm also filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the Authors Guild and more than a dozen authors including John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, Jonathan Franzen, George Saunders, George R.R. Martin and Scott Turow against OpenAI (and later adding Microsoft), which accused defendants of infringing on their copyrights by copying their protected works to train the ChatGPT chatbot. The complaint also claims that OpenAI’s chatbots mimic the authors’ books, as well as outline and write sequels and summaries, potentially harming the market for authors’ work and copying the style of writing.

Impending AI Issues: “Essentially these programs are using existing material to create market competitors,” says Sholder. “It’s using copyrighted works to create other copyrighted works. It’s a delicate balance because there is a good case for AI as a tool for ideation, creating first drafts and things like that.”

Nicolas Jampol, Brad Miller, Jonathan Segal, Elizabeth Zee

Nicolas Jampol, Brad Miller, Jonathan Segal, Elizabeth Zee
Nicolas Jampol, Brad Miller, Jonathan Segal, Elizabeth Zee


Partners

Davis Wright Tremaine

Litigator Jampol got infringement claims dismissed for client Amazon over its recent “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” late last year and legal fees from the plaintiff. Jampol’s other clients also include Apple, Netflix, and Warner Bros. Discovery. Transactional attorney Miller oversees work of multiple legal firms for Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” and also advises the streaming giant on production protocols for “Jury Duty.” In the last year, litigator Segal pushed back an attempt to restrain Netflix distribution of doc “Orgasm Inc.” and defends Netflix in a related defamation suit. Transactional Zee oversees production legal affairs for Showtime-produced series; advises ITV Studios America on complex chains of title; and works ITV Studio’s partnerships with Tomorrow Studios and Bedrock Entertainment.

Copycats: Jampol is seeing more complaints of copyright infringement gaining traction in courts, even if shaky, and worries that the industry may react by “spending an inordinate amount of time and money to avoid even the slightest appearance that their work is similar to another.”

Ambika Kumar

Ambika Kumar
Ambika Kumar


Partner, Co-chair, Media Law Practice

Davis Wright Tremaine

The Seattle-based Kumar defends clients in free-speech digital litigation. She represents Microsoft opposing gag orders that prohibit informing consumers when their digital data is government-accessed. Other clients include TikTok including fighting a state ban in Montana and separately Facebook parent Meta opposing lawsuits alleging harmful effects from social media. In September, Kumar convinced a court to hold a first-of-its-kind California law that her client the NetChoice coalition felt overreached on children’s privacy. She frequently defends clients such as dating apps from claims involving third-party content.

Free speech: Kumar sees a budding trend of state laws covering free speech constructed to be slippery to oppose when initially enacted. “What this model does is make it difficult or impossible to challenge law before it is enforced,” Kumar says.

Nina L. Shaw, Lily G. Tillers

Nina L. Shaw, Lily G. Tillers
Nina L. Shaw, Lily G. Tillers


Partners

Del Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein, Lezcano, Bobb & Dang

Breakthrough stars Quinta Brunson and Ayo Edebiri, who made history this year with Emmy wins for “Abbott Elementary” and “The Bear,” respectively, feature among Shaw and Tillers’ roster of celebrity clients. The attorneys negotiated Brunson’s overall deal at Warner and Edebiri’s deal for “The Bear” as well as movie projects such as “Bottoms,” “Theater Camp,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and the upcoming A24 chiller “Opus.” They also facilitated newfound success for “American Idol” alum Fantasia Barrino, who landed a starring role in “The Color Purple” movie musical.

Talent is tops: “There are all sorts of daunting horrors of the media landscape right now, but there’s still a hunger for great content, new faces and exciting voices,” Tillers says. “I think Ayo and Quinta are examples of how brilliant minds and funny, talented women can break through the noise.” Shaw concurs. “There’s still room out there for singular talent.”

Tom Ara, David Markman

Tom Ara, David Markman
Tom Ara, David Markman


Ara: Partner and Global Co-Chair, Media, Sport and Entertainment Sector
Markman: Partner and Co-Chair Entertainment Transactions Practice

DLA Piper

Tom Ara

Ara and Markman have had a role in shaping the entertainment landscape through their work on significant transactions involving innovations in content creation and distribution, from social media platforms to virtual reality to streaming of live sports and events. Markman counseled Victoria’s Secret & Co. in connection with the production and distribution of “Victoria’s Secret: The Tour ’23” documentary, the reimagining of the signature Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Ara and a corporate team at DLA repped Annapurna Games (a division of Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures) in connection with its acquisition of successful video game development studio 24 Bit. The acquisition marks Annapurna’s first acquisition in the games space and increases its mobile gaming capabilities. Markman sees several trends influencing clients and the firm’s practice: Overall contraction of the business and fewer opportunities; continuing changes in content creation and distribution models and platforms; and COVID, inflation, interest rates and strikes and their collective impact on the business and the consumer.

Long view of biz: “We seem to be focusing more and more on macro issues within our everyday negotiations, as these and other systemic issues impact every step of the dealmaking process,” says Markman.

Lisa Callif, Chris Perez, Dale Nelson, Michael Donaldson

Lisa Callif, Chris Perez, Dale Nelson, Michael Donaldson
Lisa Callif, Chris Perez, Dale Nelson, Michael Donaldson


Partners

Donaldson Callif Perez

Clearance and copyright are the bread and butter for the attorneys at Donaldson Callif Perez. Callif specializes in advising documentary companies including the documentary division of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Artists Equity and Elara, the Safdie brothers’ production company. Perez facilitated hundreds of productions securing errors & omissions insurance. He served as counsel for Matthew Heineman regarding fair use issues in “American Symphony” and advised Zapruder Films on complicated rights clearance issues for “BlackBerry.” Nelson’s recent clearance counsel clients include filmmakers Sierra Pettengill and Jay Rosenblatt, and 2024 Sundance entries “Daughters,” “Love Machina” and “The Greatest Night in Pop.” Donaldson’s recent matters include representing filmmaker Peeter Rebane in negotiations with Roadside Attractions and writer J.S. Mayank in relation to the crime drama “Peculiar,” which was sold to CBS.

Proceed with caution: “On the nonfiction side, there is an emerging trend of people filing lawsuits,”
Callif says, “and it’s making us a little more risk-averse. Even if something’s legally sound, caution is now advised because the risk is often too high.”

Devin A. McRae, Bryan M. Sullivan

Devin A. McRae, Bryan M. Sullivan
Devin A. McRae, Bryan M. Sullivan


Partners

Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae

McRae reps Kurt McLeod, screenwriter of “Copshop,” against Mark Williams and Zero Gravity Management, McLeod’s former talent manager and producer of the film, in a clash over fiduciary duties, conflicts of interest and alleged deceit concerning the film. McRae also represents William Crabtree, a colorist on the comic book series “Invincible,” against Robert Kirkman (“The Walking Dead”) in a clash over copyright co-authorship and alleged fraud in the procurement of a certificate of authorship. Sullivan repped entertainment lawyer Kevin Morris in his testimony before the President Biden impeachment inquiry before Congress. Sullivan counts Hunter Biden as a client. He also repped Olivia Munn in an action to take down deepfake AI-generated nude images. Sullivan is also active in
state matters.

Ongoing issues: McRae sees many evolving developments that will impact his firm’s practice. “The continued evolution of copyright law, including relative to issues of protectability, authorship/ownership, contractual responses to the foregoing, the continued erosion of privacy rights as a consequence of the digitalization of everything, large numbers of continued business divorces and separations and the makers of art pushing back against the exploiters of art — all of this leads to more work.”

Patti Felker, Fred Toczek

Patti Felker, Fred Toczek
Patti Felker, Fred Toczek


Partners

Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson McGinnis Ryan

Toczek worked with client Anya Taylor-Joy on her deals for “Super Mario Bros.,” “Dune 2,” upcoming “Furiosa,” as well as endorsement deals with Dior and Tiffany. He also handled overall deals with Apple for clients Jon Bokenkamp (“The Last Frontier”) and Jonathan Tropper (“Your Friends and Neighbors”). Toczek repped the estate of Harold Ramis in a deal for “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.” Felker reps Brendan Fraser (Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon”), Greg Berlanti (first-look Netflix feature deal and a Warner Bros. TV extension deal), “All American” showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll (eight-figure renewal of Warner Bros. deal), departing Disney exec Gary Marsh (Mouse House producing deal), Kevin Williamson (overall TV deal with UTV) and a new Netflix deal for Steve Blackman. Additional clients include actors Vin Diesel, Jeremy Renner, Gabrielle Union, Billy Porter, Mila Kunis and Emmy Rossum.

Risks and rewards: “One of my most important mentors is my father-in-law, who encouraged me to take risks and not be afraid to fail,” says Toczek. “His wisdom deeply contributed to my resiliency and my ability to find joy in the constant creative process of an ever-changing business.”

Jennifer Stanley

Jennifer Stanley
Jennifer Stanley


Partner, and Co-Chair Technology Transactions; Industry Co-Lead, Video Games

Fenwick & West

Stanley counsels OpenAI on copyright issues and commercial contract support. She advised Integral Reality Labs in licensing NFT rights for “Assassin’s Creed” and also Netflix Games on IP, game development, publishing and mergers & acquisitions strategy. Other clients include Amazon, China’s Tencent and Riot Games. The San Francisco-based attorney feels that she works as a sort of “primary care provider” administering on IP, transactions and business matters.

Serious issue: She notes that AI moved from being a topic of chatter when it was on the horizon to now arriving as an immediate business concern. “There are lots of thorny copyright issues to navigate,” Stanley says. “But I feel confident that companies will find ways to use AI to be beneficial for all.

Marcie Cleary

Marcie Cleary
Marcie Cleary


Partner-Entertainment Group

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

Cleary worked podcasting long before it was cool. The New York-based transactional attorney repped ThreeFourTwo Prods. buying “The Dunker Spot” in April, and separately podcasters Kid Fury and Crissle extending their ad sales and distribution for pop culture “The Read” via Stitcher in May. Her talent clients include entertainment reporter Kelley Carter re-upping last year at ABC and ESPN; podcaster Jonathan Goldstein; podcasting Placement Theory/Robyn Semien; podcast journalist Brian Reed; actress Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”); Marcel Spears in June re-joining the cast of CBS series “The Neighborhood”; and Rae Wynn-Grant also in June for co-hosting NBC’s “The Wild Kingdom” revival.

New landscape: With podcasting retrenching, Cleary helps clients navigate the new landscape via “acquisition of subject-matter-specific podcasts, renegotiation of their existing deals and structuring deals with non-traditional buyers.”

Andrew Hurwitz

Andrew Hurwitz
Andrew Hurwitz


Partner, Co-Chair of the Entertainment Group

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

Hurwitz advised Marc Smith for his October deal to write and direct the next two “Frozen” films for Walt Disney Animation Studios, and also James Gunn (“Superman”) for executive producing the second season of “Peacemaker” for Max, going into production this year. Hurwitz repped the Agatha Christie estate for a series of Disney films, which capped years of negotiations. Other clients are Aaron Sorkin, J.C. Chandor, Mick Herron, Jennifer Lee, Tom McCarthy, Tony McNamara and J. T. Rogers.

Leveling up: Repping vidgamers, Hurwitz finds their content gaining more interest from Hollywood for film and TV after some adaptations based on comic books fizzled in the marketplace. “As the demand for rights has grown, the leverage is swinging in favor of the video game companies,” says Hurwitz.

Amy Nickin

Amy Nickin
Amy Nickin


Partner, Entertainment Group

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

Nickin repped Allison Williams for acting and producing sequel “M3GAN 2.0” with Universal/Blumhouse, reprising those chores from the original; and Erik Jendresen as screenwriter on the two “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning” films. Another client is Melissa Benoist, who stars in comedy series “The Girls on the Bus,” which premiered on streamer Max in March, and Benoist’s production company with an overall Warner Bros. Television deal. Nickin also handles writer-creator Ian Brennan, actors Dan Fogler and John Goodman.

Crisis point: Nickin feels artificial intelligence is at an inflection point. “Our natural and emotional intelligence is being challenged by AI and it is an existential crisis for humanity, without a doubt,” Nickin says. “Will we allow human emotions and experiences to be usurped by inorganically derived algorithms?”

Darrell D. Miller

Darrell D. Miller
Darrell D. Miller


Managing Partner, Founding Chair of Entertainment & Sports Law Dept.

Fox Rothschild

Two of Miller’s clients bask in Oscar’s glow: Da’Vine Joy Randolph won for supporting actress in “The Holdovers” and Angela Bassett received an honorary Academy Award in January. Miller repped Taylor Tomlinson launching CBS talker “@fter Midnight” in January and inked more Netflix comedy specials last year.

Shift ahead: Miller expects legacy media to continue to shrink, digital media to grow, AI to barge into Hollywood and more labor friction. “Once again, we’re at a massive paradigm shift in our industry,” Miller says.

Marc H. Simon

Marc H. Simon
Marc H. Simon


Chair of the Entertainment & Sports Law Dept.

Fox Rothschild

Simon reps Oscar-winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who will be the first woman to direct a “Star Wars” film, announced last year. The New York-based Simon works both the indie and major-studio transactions. He advises Bloomberg Media adapting its IP to other media and crafted Joe Pesci’s pay-or-play deal for Peacock series “Bupkis,” which pays despite no second season. Other clients include the Obama Family Office/Higher Ground Prods., Oscar-winning producer of “Summer of Soul” Joseph Patel (pacting with Onyx Collective last year), Park Pictures (with two Sundance premiere documentaries) and Josh Sapan’s Sapan Studio.

Size doesn’t matter: Simon feels buyers seeking content for Hollywood adaptations are more open to short-form sources, on top of traditional full-length books. “Now when they say IP is king, size doesn’t necessary matter,” quips Simon.

Bryan J. Freedman

Bryan J. Freedman
Bryan J. Freedman


Founding Partner

Freedman Taitelman + Cooley

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Getting the news first, Freedman received calls within an hour of one another early last year to represent Tucker Carlson, who had been dropped by Fox News, and Don Lemon, who had been dropped by CNN. Hollywood’s go-to litigator represents talent agency UTA in its dispute with ex-employee Michael Kassan, ex-Disney chief Bob Cha- pek over his separation, Chris Cuomo from CNN and golfer Brooks Koepka signing with the LIV tour and departing the PGA. Freedman works with unscripted TV stars such as Bethenny Frankel to end alleged workplace abuses in what’s called “reality TV’s reckoning.”

Discretion: Century City-based Freedman finds some plaintiff attorneys too quick to lob bombs, such as going public when targets crave confidentiality. “I’m surprised at how many plaintiff lawyers shoot the hostage and then ask for a ransom later,” Freedman says.

Donald S. Passman, J. Eugene “Gene” Salomon Jr., Ethan Schiffres, Bianca J. Levin, Daniel S. Passman, Cheryl M. Snow

Donald S. Passman, J. Eugene “Gene” Salomon Jr., Ethan Schiffres, Bianca J. Levin, Daniel S. Passman, Cheryl M. Snow
Donald S. Passman, J. Eugene “Gene” Salomon Jr., Ethan Schiffres, Bianca J. Levin, Daniel S. Passman, Cheryl M. Snow


Passman: Partner, Music Group
Salomon Jr.: Managing Partner, Music Group
Schiffres: Partner, Music Group
Levin: Partner, Film and TV Group
Passman: Partner, Film and TV Group
Snow: Partner, Film and TV Group

Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman

The music-focused trio of Donald Passman, Salomon and Schiffres advised Cher selling music assets to Iconic Artists in August and Paul Simon for his catalog deal with BMG in June. The trio also advised the Pink world tour in 2023-24 and Green Day tour for 2024. Other clients include Taylor Swift, Adele, Ludwig Göransson, Elton John and Stevie Wonder. The film-TV trio of Levin, Daniel Passman (son of Donald) and Snow advised Jim Parsons for reprising his famous character in CBS Television’s “Young Sheldon” finale. The group also repped Dwayne Johnson starring in “The Smashing Machine” for A24 and the “Moana” live-action film at Disney. Other clients include Ridley Scott, Martin Lawrence , Busy Philipps and Jay Shetty.

Multimedia: Daniel Passman finds talent increasingly crossing over into podcasts, novels, live stage and other media. Their advisors “need to become Swiss army knives to support clients with their growing interests and pursuits in various lanes,” he says.

Sarah Cunningham, Michael Gendler, Kevin Kelly

Sarah Cunningham, Michael Gendler, Kevin Kelly
Sarah Cunningham, Michael Gendler, Kevin Kelly


Partners

Gendler, Kelly & Cunningham

This trio counts showbiz heavyweights among their client list, handling Shonda Rhimes’ expansion of the “Bridgerton” franchise into hit spinoff “Queen Charlotte,” book publishing and live interactive experiences. They’ve also closed deals for Meryl Streep and John Hoffman to return for Season 4 of “Only Murders in the Building,” and they’ve closed deals for Al Gough and Miles Millar to return for Season 2 of “Wednesday” and a possible “Uncle Fester” spinoff. They’ve done Neil Gaiman’s deals for “Good Omens” Season 3, “Sandman” Season 2 and “Dead Boy Detectives” Season 1, and for David E.Kelley with A24 and Apple for “Margo’s Got Money Troubles,” starring Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman as well as Harlan Coben’s “Fool Me Once” at Netflix.

Meaningful roles: “There are many reasons this is a great job,” says Gendler. “Primary among them is the opportunity to play a meaningful role in our clients’ careers. Writers, actors and directors choose careers of creative expression, even though success is not guaranteed, no matter how hard they work or how talented they are. That takes guts and commitment. Our clients are intellectually searching and thoughtful people.”

Scott Edelman, Orin Snyder

Scott Edelman, Orin Snyder
Scott Edelman, Orin Snyder


Edelman: Partner, Co-Chair of the Media, Entertainment and Technology Practice Group
Snyder: Partner, Co-Chair of the Global Trials Practice Group

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Edelman and Snyder routinely represent high-profile clients in the entertainment and technology sectors in anything from copyright and IP cases to defending public figures against potentially damaging claims and lawsuits. Edelman’s clients include Warner Music Group, NBCUniversal and Yahoo. They share some clients, such as AMC Networks and Netflix, and Snyder also represents Meta, Pinterest and numerous entertainment figures. Edelman currently represents Yahoo in a long-running copyright and trademark infringement suit filed by Evox Prods., and is representing three major television studios in confidential profit participation arbitrations. Snyder — who currently heads the team representing Pinterest against claims from a woman who says she secretly co-created Pinterest — recently got a lawsuit against Lady Gaga dismissed when a woman involved in kidnapping Lady Gaga’s dogs filed suit after Gaga refused to pay her a $500,000 reward for the safe return of her dogs.

Winning reputation: “Our powerhouse litigation team has an unrivaled track record litigating and winning high-stakes cases for our entertainment and media clients,” Snyder says. “Clients call on us to handle their most consequential and bet-the-company matters. We win, and we win big, whether at trial or before, and we win cases that change the industry and make a difference.”

Benyamin “Ben” Ross, Kevin Masuda

Benyamin “Ben” Ross, Kevin Masuda
Benyamin “Ben” Ross, Kevin Masuda


Ross: Partner, Co-Chair of Media, Entertainment and Technology Practice Group
Masuda: Partner, Co-Chair of Media, Entertainment and Technology Practice Group

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Masuda represents seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton and his agency Copper, the Michael Eisner-owned entertainment investment firm Tornante Co. and helped Rachel Maddow establish a production company with Film 45. Ross’s group advised Universal Pictures in an investment and distribution partnership with Amblin Entertainment and in the merger of Blumhouse Prods. and Atomic Monster. They both handled sports-related transactions, too: Masuda guided Hillspire’s investments in the Washington Commanders and the Minnesota Timberwolves, while Ross’s team represented Shaquille O’Neal’s production company, Jersey Legends, in forming a strategic partnership with Authentic Studios.

AI and the law: “AI is transforming content creation, democratizing the process and empowering individual creators, yet it introduces complex legal and ethical questions regarding use, authorship and attribution,” Ross says.

Lev Ginsburg, Grace Kallis

Lev Ginsburg, Grace Kallis
Lev Ginsburg, Grace Kallis


Partners

Ginsburg Daniels Kallis

Ginsburg and Kallis work with top-tier talent and rep them across many types of deals. For Timothée Chalamet, the duo did new brand and endorsement deals for him in 2023 with Cartier and Apple. The pair also repped helmer Colin Trevorrow on his deal for “Atlantis” (Skydance) in 2023. They also repped Trevorrow and his company, Metronome, to executive produce and direct “Halcyon” (Amazon TV Studios), from a script by Richard Smith. Ginsburg and Kallis also concluded an overall deal at FX for writer-executive producer Stefani Robinson (“Atlanta,” “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Chevalier”).

Consolidation ahead: Ginsburg and Kallis see IP changing hands as they move forward: “This won’t be a particularly novel response, but it does feel like more consolidation is coming,” say the duo. “We already see changes in terms of who we’re negotiating against as established IP migrates into new corporate ownership.”

Chad Christopher, Lucy Popkin

Chad Christopher, Lucy Popkin
Chad Christopher, Lucy Popkin


Partners

Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher

In February, Christopher closed a deal for Miles Teller to play Michael Jackson’s attorney John Branca in the upcoming Lionsgate and Universal biopic “Michael,” about the late singer. “That deal was exciting in the sense that it’s a really cool picture and Miles signed up to play an entertainment attorney. The most important role, of course,” says Christoper. He  also reps Destin Daniel Cretton, who was recently hired by Lionsgate to write and direct a live-action film adaptation of the manga classic “Naruto.” In the last year, Popkin cut big deals for clients including “Stranger Things” breakout Joseph Quinn, who signed on to star in Marvel feature “The Fantastic Four” and “House of the Dragon” star Milly Alcock, who Popkin helped land the coveted role of Supergirl in James Gunn and Peter Safran’s new DC Universe “Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow.”

Lean on me: “What makes our jobs really rewarding is that we get to be a conciliator, a dealmaker, but also a trusted advisor,” says Popkin. “When anxiety is heightened, which it certainly is now, we have more opportunities to fill that role of assuaging anxiety. People do look to us more and more as someone to lean on during this time when technology is evolving and people aren’t sure if AI is a boogeyman or not. There is a lot for us to be talking to our
clients about.”

Richard M. Genow

Richard M. Genow
Richard M. Genow


Partner

Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher

Last year, Genow cleared Drew Starkey from “Outer Banks” to shoot Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming film “Queer” starring Daniel Craig. “It was about the opportunity, not the money,” says Genow. “Everyone was at their best and for the right reasons to make this career opportunity happen. It’s why I love what I do.”

Challenging atmosphere: According to Genow, post-strike dealmaking has been “challenging.” “The strikes and rising interest rates hastened the inevitable market correction. We’re now at the bottom of the business cycle, but talent and good material still prevails and is more important than ever. Dealmaking in this environment is as complicated as it’s ever been.”

Carlos Goodman

Carlos Goodman
Carlos Goodman


Partner

Goodman Genow Schenkman Smelkinson & Christopher

Goodman crafted the cutting-edge deal for Darren Aronofsky’s 50-minute film “Postcard From Earth” to be the first movie to play at the Sphere, the enormous, immersive new space in Las Vegas. Goodman also reps Quentin Tarantino and is behind the deal made for the filmmaker’s 10th and ostensibly final feature, “The Movie Critic.” Most recently Goodman negotiated the deal for “Narcos” creator Chris Brancato to develop two shows
for MGM+.

Futurecast: “It will be interesting to see if there are more projects like that in the future, where a film director creates content for those kinds of spaces,” says Goodman of the Sphere deal.

Michael Schenkman

Michael Schenkman
Michael Schenkman


Partner

Goodman Genow Schenkman Smelkinson & Christopher

Schenkman has repped director Christopher Nolan and his wife, film producer Emma Thomas, for 25 years. “To help them achieve what they wanted to achieve creatively and to see them achieve was very gratifying,” he says. In February, Apple TV+ set a 10-episode drama adaptation of the novel “Neuromancer,” co-created by Schenkman’s client Graham Roland.

Deal breakers: Schenkman says that the strike significantly affected television overall deals. “The key aspect of the overall deal was exclusivity. Now, they are getting rid of those deals. They don’t want to pay for exclusivity anymore because they don’t want to pay these guarantees.”


Mitch Smelkinson

Mitch Smelkinson
Mitch Smelkinson


Partner

Goodman Genow Schenkman Smelkinson

Last fall, Smelkinson executed the deal for “Suits” creator Aaron Korsh to launch “Suits” spinoff, “Suits L.A.,” and to potentially build a “Suits” universe at NBCUniversal. The new iteration of the original series, which ran for nine seasons on USA Network, regained popularity last summer when the first eight seasons were added to Netflix. “There appears to be a global ravenous audience waiting for more ‘Suits’ to consume,” says Smelkinson.

Commerce over art: Smelkinson says that the strikes have created an atmosphere where “business affairs decisions are being made primarily on budgetary concerns at the expense of creative. You can feel the stress studio executives seem to be experiencing and the internal microscope they appear to be under.”

André Des Rochers

André Des Rochers
André Des Rochers


Partner

Granderson Des Rochers

Des Rochers’ passion for nurturing artists is notable. He negotiated Zendaya’s deal to star in and produce feature film “Challengers.” He’s equally proud of clients such as directors Reinaldo Marcus Green (“Bob Marley: One Love”), Blitz Bazawule (“The Color Purple”) and Rapman, who’s writing and directing Netflix’s “Supacell,” and especially the up-and-coming talent he represents.

Tool time: “AI is like any tool: You can use a hammer to build a house, or you could use it to hurt somebody,” Des Rochers says. “People are rightfully fearful of it, but the genie is out of the bottle. We’re all going to have to deal with it, so why not make the most of it?”

Damien Granderson

Damien Granderson
Damien Granderson


Partner

Granderson Des Rochers

From L.A. Reid’s Mega label deal with Gamma, with which Reid is partnered with Usher, to label and endorsement deals, Granderson actively supports musical artists. He has clients like A$AP Rocky, Wizkid and J. Balvin, but says structuring Raye’s (“Escapsim”) deal with Human Re Sources — ensuring she retains control of her own IP — had an unexpected perk: achieving Cool Dad status with his tween daughters.

Prioritize artists: “Across the industry, as we look at downsizing, I don’t think there will be as many resources at major labels to support the artists’ development as there were in the past. [Now] lawyers have to really leverage their experience, their resources, their expertise, to add even more value and connect the dots for artists.”

Corey Martin, Elizabeth Moody, Josh Sandler, Anita Surendran

Corey Martin, Elizabeth Moody, Josh Sandler, Anita Surendran
Corey Martin, Elizabeth Moody, Josh Sandler, Anita Surendran


Partners

Granderson Des Rochers

These power players have individual areas of expertise and clients — Surendran and Sandler specialize in film and TV deals, Martin handles corporate transactions, Moody is a pioneer in digital media rights and representing talent has honed Sandler’s ability to explain complicated issues in clear terms — but when combined they’re an unstoppable force. Last year, GDR represented Quality Control in a $300-plus million deal with South Korean music giant Hybe spanning music, music publishing and management, which required a collective effort from all of the firms partners. Moody assessed Hybe’s technological synergies for QC, Martin and partner Damien Granderson oversaw the structure and execution of the deal. Martin says this type of deal encapsulates the DNA of the firm, which was originally established with the intention of fostering collaboration along its practitioners.

Fun and games: “It’s like a game of musical chairs,” Martin says. “In the film and television arena, the name of the game is going to be consolidation. Everyone’s taking a wait and see approach in terms of what’s going to happen with Paramount Global. Obviously, the Warner media properties have also signaled that they’re looking for a potential partner for transaction.”

Matt Galsor, Sky Moore, Sally James, Mark Muir

Matt Galsor, Sky Moore, Sally James, Mark Muir
Matt Galsor, Sky Moore, Sally James, Mark Muir


Partners

Greenberg Glusker

Galsor and Muir worked client Tom Cruise’s seismic shift to Warner Bros. in January, and Chris Hemsworth transactions, including his partnership with Artists Equity in December. Galsor and James also rep Joe and Anthony Russo for producing and directing films including sci-fi “The Electric State” and “Extraction 2”; and separately in February J. K. Rowling’s new “Harry Potter” TV series for Max. Other Galsor clients include Jim Cameron, Vin Diesel, David Fincher and Tom Hanks. Moore advises Salem Partners on acquiring independent film libraries, and also Wayfarer Studios on film co-financing including “It Ends With Us” at Sony Pictures. Warner Music Group is another Moore client. James closed deals for actress Alice Braga, including Apple TV+ series “Dark Matter.” James and Galsor advise videogame company Ubisoft Entertainment including for Netflix’s live-action adaptation of its “Assassin’s Creed.” Muir represents filmmaker Paul Schrader, and frequently teams with Galsor.

Downsizing: Galsor observes Hollywood and the media industry entering a belt-tightening cycle, which means less overall content and lids on budgets. “The marquee talent and content become even more valuable when there is less content overall,” Galsor says.

Aaron Moss

Aaron Moss
Aaron Moss


Partner

Greenberg Glusker

Moss won an appeals court decision in January for Barstool Sports dismissing a long-running defamation claim from an actor. The Century City-based litigator, who also advises on artificial intelligence, defends Warner Bros. Discovery in a trademark infringement action over TV’s “Ugliest House in America.” Last year, he repped Riot Games pushing back on a copycat of one of its mobile games. He also advises horror maven Blumhouse Prods. and videogamer Ironmace. Moss operates high-traffic blog Copyright Lately.

Opposite forces: Moss finds that AI today is a jump ball for copyright. “There’s a push-pull relationship between Hollywood on the one hand, and the courts and copyright office on the other hand, over what actually is protectable,” he says. “And, just as importantly, what is not protectable.”

Dan Black, Jay Cooper, Jess Rosen, Bobby Rosenbloum

Dan Black, Jay Cooper, Jess Rosen, Bobby Rosenbloum
Dan Black, Jay Cooper, Jess Rosen, Bobby Rosenbloum


Black: Vice Chairman, Global Entertainment & Media Practice
Cooper: Shareholder; Founder, Los Angeles Entertainment
Rosen: Co-Chairman Atlanta Entertainment & Media Practice
Rosenbloum: Chairman, Global Entertainment & Media Practice

Greenberg Traurig

Black repped Willie Nelson for his Paramount+ docuseries in December, and Lashan Browning for her reported $100 million-plus Paramount content partnership signed in May. Cooper advised Katy Perry selling her publishing catalog in September for reportedly $225 million, and Jerry Seinfeld for Netflix content in December. Rosen advised Reba McEntire in May for NBC’s “The Voice,” Kane Brown for a music asset sale to HarbourView Equity in November, Miranda Lambert creating her Big Loud Texas label in October and the Castellows record deal with Warner Bros. in May. Rosenbloum advises SourceAudio, Hooky AI, Songbird AI and Oyi in artificial intelligence licensing rights. Black and Cooper are in Century City; Rosen and Rosenbloum in Atlanta.

Look ahead: Rosenbloum sees positives in AI such as making labor-intensive music recording more efficient, and feels that the industry should be “forward-thinking, proactive and embracing new technologies, rather than reactive and insular.”

Mathew Rosengart

Mathew Rosengart
Mathew Rosengart


Shareholder, Media & Entertainment Litigation Practice

Greenberg Traurig

Rosengart repped Steven Spielberg, Laura Dern, Lena Dunham, rapper Trippie Redd, Keanu Reeves, Grammy nominee Steven Zhu and rock band Arcade Fire, as well as Facebook and Verizon in the past year. The Century City-based litigator continues advising Britney Spears, after freeing the pop star from her conservatorship in 2021. Rosengart won a trial verdict in April 2023 for client Sean Penn’s CORE nonprofit over a government complaint about labor practices. Services provider Benchmark Litigation named Rosengart its Entertainment Litigator of the Year in March; he was Variety’s Power of Law honoree in 2022.

Discreet outcome: A former federal prosecutor, Rosengart notes that “sometimes the most satisfying results for clients involve bloodless victories, where we can successfully resolve a case under the radar, without the time or burden of litigation.”

Kenny Meiselas, David Jacobs, Eric Sacks

Kenny Meiselas, David Jacobs, Eric Sacks
Kenny Meiselas, David Jacobs, Eric Sacks


Meiselas: Partner, Head of Music Dept.
Jacobs: Partner
Sacks: Partner, Head of the Corporate Dept.

Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks

Jacobs has represented country star Zach Bryan on every step of his ascent to the pinnacle of the music industry with a No. 1 album, sold-out stadium tour and a 2023 Grammy award. Meiselas also worked on career-defining deals for his superstar clients, negotiating Usher’s show-stopping Super Bowl halftime performance — his third client to snag the coveted slot — and Lady Gaga’s role in the “Joker” sequel. Focusing on corporate issues, Sacks repped Elliot Grainge as his 10K Projects label entered into a joint venture with Warner Music Group and assisted Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group acquire high-value catalogs of Cher, Dan Fogelberg and Graham Nash.

Market confidence: “We’ve seen a significant uptick in mergers and acquisitions over the last three to six months,” Sacks says. “Entertainment assets have always been attractive in the market and there’s an increasing confidence in the market, so I expect the trend to continue for quite a while.”

Lawrence Shire

Lawrence Shire
Lawrence Shire


Partner, Head of the New Media, Motion Picture, Television, Theatre and Sports Group

Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks

From negotiating a 10-part Apple TV+ series on the New England Patriots to ironing out Mark Thompson’s deal to become the new chair and CEO of CNN, Shire’s fingerprints are on some of the industry’s biggest deals. That’s in addition to repping LeBron James in his entertainment and endorsement work as well as the pursuits of his multimedia companies, SpringHill and Uninterrupted, and the LeBron James Family Foundation. Other high-profile clients include Robert De Niro and Spike Lee.

Creative stakes: “The more things change the more they stay the same,” Shire says, referring to developments in AI. “Copyright laws haven’t changed; they still apply in the same ways. The most important thing is still great content from brilliant, creative minds.”

John Meigs Jr.

John Meigs Jr.
John Meigs Jr.


Meigs Jr.: Partner

Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller, Gellman, Meigs & Fox

Meigs worked around last year’s strike shutdowns, closing non-film and TV deals for clients including Issa Rae (line of prosecco Viarae, in partnership with Gallo; endorsements for Tazo tea and Target-owned grocery delivery service Shipt), Kaley Cuoco (Oh Norman line of pet products) and Damson Idris (spokesmodel deal with Tommy Hilfiger).

Intelligent use of AI: “I feel like there’s a way to save on production costs with AI that are great for everybody,” he says. “But when you start replacing people with generative AI, that’s when we’re going into a dystopian future.”

Ken Richman

Ken Richman
Ken Richman


Managing Partner

Hansen Jacobson

Richman prides himself on the relentless positivity he brings to the job, cutting deals for a roster of clients that includes Elisabeth Moss (final season of “The Handmaid’s Tale”), showrunners Alec Berg (final season of HBO’s “Barry”) and Jeff Schaffer (final season of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and “Beef” series creator Lee Sung Jin (overall deal with Netflix). Other clients include actors Zach Braff, Will Forte, Tracy Morgan and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.

Living in interesting times: “The past year has been challenging because there hasn’t been a real equilibrium for quite some time,” he says. “But I’m quite optimistic about the future.”

Gretchen Rush

Gretchen Rush
Gretchen Rush


Partner

Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller, Gellman, Meigs & Fox

Rush got bit by the showbiz bug at Dartmouth College, where she teamed with classmates including husband-to-be Dan Rush (director of “Everything Must Go”) and David Benioff to put on a show called “Artists and Friends.” Today, she hammers out deals for some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Reese Witherspoon (and her production company Hello Sunshine), Jennifer Lawrence, Kerry Washington and writer-producers Craig Mazin (HBO’s “The Last of Us”) and Dartmouth pal Benioff and D.B. Weiss (Netflix’s “3 Body Problem”).

Interpreting strike rules for clients: “People thought you could get a waiver [from SAG-AFTRA] to promote something, which just wasn’t the case,” she says.

Steve Warren

Steve Warren
Steve Warren


Partner

Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller, Gellman, Meigs & Fox

Warren has worked with many of his clients since they were teens and helped guide them to massive success as adults, including such stars as Leonardo DiCaprio, Drew Barrymore, Dakota Fanning, Johnny Galecki and, more recently, “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown. He also reps Colin Farrell, Matt Bomer, Jonathan Bailey (“Bridgerton,” “Wicked”) and new signing Dominic Sessa, who made a splash in Alexander Payne’s  “The Holdovers.” Warren is also the co-creator (with partner Johnnie Ingram) of the Peabody Award-winning Max docuseries “We’re Here.”

Favorite part of the job: “It’s giving my clients the sense that they’re being so well protected that they can focus solely on the artistic part of what they do,” he says.

Jeffrey Hynick, Kimberly Jaime, Peter Sample

Jeffrey Hynick, Kimberly Jaime, Peter Sample
Jeffrey Hynick, Kimberly Jaime, Peter Sample


Partners

Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner Auerbach Hynick Jaime LeVine Sample & Klein

“We collaborate and it’s really been fun being a group and practicing law at the level we do together,” says Sample. Hynick has brokered deals for actors Jenna Ortega ( “Death of a Unicorn”), Nicole Kidman (“Babygirl”) and Hannah Waddingham (“Well Behaved Women”), director  Jonathan Entwistle (“Karate Kid” reboot) and writer-director Parker Finn (first look at Paramount; “Smile 2”). Jaime has been closing multiple deals for Pedro Pascal, including roles in Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator 2” and “The Fantastic Four,” and negotiating Greta Lee’s pact to be the co-lead of the new “Tron” franchise. Sample’s clients include writer-producers Mike Makowsky (HBO Films’ George Santos movie), Patrick Aison (Fox’s “Prey” sequel) and Marcus Gardley (scripting adaptation of YA novel “Children of Blood and Bone”).

Studio A.I. promises: “They keep saying that their intentions with these [body] scans, etc., are not nefarious, that they’ve been doing this all along and that they’re happy to limit it to one production,” says Jaime.

Karl Austen

Karl Austen
Karl Austen


Managing Partner

Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner Auerbach Hynick Jaime LeVine Sample & Klein

Austen got up to speed quickly after the strikes were resolved in the fall, closing deals for clients such as Oscar-nominated Jeffrey Wright (Spike Lee’s “High and Low,” co-starring Denzel Washington), Seth MacFarlane (Paramount’s “Naked Gun” reboot), Dave Bautista and his production company Dogbone Entertainment (“Afterburn,” co-starring Samuel L. Jackson) and Jude Law (Netflix series “Black Rabbit,” co-starring Jason Bateman).

It rolls downhill: “The rank and file are having a much harder time making deals right now because there are fewer deals, and the above the line is being squeezed because of consolidation and cash consciousness and all these other things,” Austen says.

Jeff Bernstein

Jeff Bernstein
Jeff Bernstein


Partner

Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner Auerbach Hynick Jaime LeVine Sample & Klein

Bernstein’s roster boasts a pair of 2024 Oscar nominees for actress, Carey Mulligan (“Maestro”) and Margot Robbie (“Barbie”), along with past Oscar-winners Hilary Swank and Judi Dench. In recent months, he closed a first-look deal for Robbie’s production shingle LuckyChap at Warner Bros. and re-upped her as the brand ambassador of Chanel, and set Dench’s publishing pact for “Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent.” Other clients include John Leguizamo, Tessa Thompson and Kit Harington.

Downside of production boom: “There was so much content pre-strike,” Bernstein says. “Candidly, I think that’s one of the reasons the strike went on as long as it did.”

Deborah Klein

Deborah Klein
Deborah Klein


Partner

Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner Auerbach Hynick Jaime LeVine Sample & Klein

Klein is happy to be cutting deals for a number of clients she’s handled for the past 20 to 30 years, including Jim Carrey (Paramount’s “Sonic 3”), Samuel L. Jackson (Peacock’s “Fight Night”), Will Ferrell (Amazon’s “Cordially Invited”), Paul Rudd (A24’s “Death of a Unicorn”), Vince Vaughn (Apple TV+’s “Bad Monkey”) and Toni Collette (Catherine Hardwicke’s “A French Pursuit”).

Content is still king: “The financial pressures of publicly traded companies have led them to increasing licensing of their content to Netflix,” Klein says.  “As the sales have been mostly older library shows, it is too early to know the true effects on the more recent productions.”

Jamie Mandelbaum

Jamie Mandelbaum
Jamie Mandelbaum


Managing Partner

Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner Auerbach Hynick Jaime LeVine Sample & Klein

Production levels may be contracting, but Mandelbaum isn’t worried about his high-level clientele wanting for work. He’s closed deals for actors Nick Offerman (A24’s “Civil War”), Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern in “Superman Legacy”) and Danai Gurira (“The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live”), showrunners Bruce Miller (Hulu’s “The Testaments”), Michael Patrick King (Season 3 of Max’s “And Just Like That”) and Jon Robin Baitz (ABC’s “Dr. Odyssey”) and director-executive producer Susanne Bier (Netflix’s “The Perfect Couple”).

Strike trauma: “I don’t think I was ever scared for the business generally or scared for the business of my company, but it was psychologically very unsettling,” Mandelbaum says.

Alison Stein

Alison Stein
Alison Stein


Partner, Co-Chair of Content, Media, and Entertainment Practice

Jenner & Block

As a co-chair of her firm’s AI Task Force, Stein provides guidance and insight to high-profile clients on myriad issues implicated by generative AI, including copyright and other IP questions, privacy, ethics, governance and other evolving issues around AI systems. In 2023, she continued to serve as a key counselor to Meta and the Oversight Board with respect to strategic initiatives. Of particular interest was a variety of new immersive-technology issues. She is advising Meta on legal issues and strategies surrounding Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses, and next generation products to follow. Stein also serves as a co-chair of the Post-Dobbs Task Force, advising clients on strategies and tactics in light of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Keep your eyes open: “This past year, I have seen firsthand through my legal advising how the wearable, hands-free AR glasses have not only been embraced by the general public beyond what one could have imagined, but will likely have tremendous pro-social uses. This technology has the potential to assist people around the world who are blind or have low vision, or those who are deaf or hard of hearing and can benefit from caption technology. I predict a lot of exciting developments in 2024.

Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson
Matthew Johnson


Partner

Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole

Johnson closed the deal for Sam Mendes to direct four separate Beatles movies, one from each band member’s point of view, which Sony Pictures Entertainment will finance and distribute theatrically in 2027. He also negotiated Tyler Perry’s partnership with Netflix to write, direct and produce feature films under a multiyear, first-look deal. The pact spans eight pictures over four years.

Navigating impact: “The industry is bracing for further consolidation, and we are navigating the impact, challenges and opportunities AI presents. However, there are more opportunities than ever to make groundbreaking deals for the right creative talent coupled with the right IP.”

Tara Kole

Tara Kole
Tara Kole


Partner

Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole

Kole has been busy advising big-name clients including Angelina Jolie,who last fall signed on to star in Pablo Larraín’s Maria Callas biopic“Maria.” She also negotiated for Zac Efron to appear in A24’s sports biopic “The Iron Claw” and the Peter Farrelly comedy “Ricky Stanicky.”This winter she cut two high-profile deals for client Matthew Macfadyen to star in the upcoming Netflix series “Death by Lightning” and “May December” breakout Charles Melton to star in Todd Solondz’s “Love Child.” Most recently, Kole worked on Neve Campbell’s deal to return to the “Scream” franchise after the actress sat out of “Scream 6” over a salary dispute.

The big picture: “We built JSSK predicated on the thesis that our clients wanted broader representation across their entertainment and other businesses, as well as their philanthropic and political engagement. We’ve worked with clients in ways that have run the spectrum from supporting their existing work with philanthropic organizations, to crafting federal and state legislation and lobbying at those levels to create important legislative change in areas like women’s health, privacy and AI. It has been an incredibly rewarding part of our business.”

P.J. Shapiro

P.J. Shapiro
P.J. Shapiro


Partner

Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole

Shapiro client roster includes Oscar-winner Emma Stone. Shapiro worked to negotiate “a number of projects” that will reunite Stone and Lanthimos including Searchlight’s upcoming “Kinds of Kindness.” Recently Shapiro negotiated Selena Gomez’s “Only Murders in the Building” Season 4 contract as well her spinoff cooking show “Selena + Restaurant.”

Growth through diversity: “In the face of a challenging economic climate and on the heels of a strike, as a firm, we grew and weathered it by having a really diverse and broad portfolio of clients,” Shapiro says.

Greg Slewett

Greg Slewett
Greg Slewett


Partner

Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole

Earlier this year, Slewett made a deal for his client Michael B. Jordan to reunite with Ryan Coogler for an “original genre film” still shrouded in secrecy. Slewett also negotiated the deals for Glen Powell’s box office hit “Anyone but You” and the actor’s upcoming actioner “Twisters.” “It definitely feels as though the strikes inspired studios to try to cut deals, reduce spending, reconsider relationships, and produce less content,” says Slewett.

Strategic thinking: “It’s important that clients understand that the ‘arms race’ for content that we enjoyed over the last few years is over [for now], and it will take more strategic, creative thinking to create competitive markets for projects.”

Shawn Holley, Michael Kump, Jonathan Steinsapir

Shawn Holley, Michael Kump, Jonathan Steinsapir
Shawn Holley, Michael Kump, Jonathan Steinsapir


Partners

Kinsella Holley Iser Kump Steinsapir

Holley, Kump and Steinsapir represent internationally prominent figures in many of today’s most notable cases. Kump is a longtime counsel to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, representing them in various public and confidential matters, including a high-profile defamation suit filed by Markle’s estranged half-sister. He also reps the Kardashian and Jenner family members in various public and confidential matters. Holley practices in the areas of both civil and criminal litigation. She was a member of the O.J. Simpson criminal defense team in 1994-95. She is also a producer on Hulu’s “Reasonable Doubt,” which is loosely based on her legal career. Steinsapir manages various legal issues for the estate of Michael Jackson, including repping the estate in a case contending that HBO’s airing and promotion of the documentary “Leaving Neverland” violates the terms of an agreement made with Jackson in connection with the pay cabler’s right to air footage from Jackson’s concert tour.

Learning process: In addition to the intellectual stimulation of the work and constantly learning about new and developing areas of law, Kump is fascinated by the people he meets in his practice: “I’ve been able to work with and talk with directors and producers and actors and actresses, and other people I wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to meet, and it’s just so interesting.”

Peter Paterno, Laurie Soriano

Peter Paterno, Laurie Soriano
Peter Paterno, Laurie Soriano


Partners

King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano

Paterno did multiple big-name catalog deals in 2023, including the sale of Dr. Dre’s catalog and the acquisition by his client Litmus Music of the Katy Perry catalog. He handled the tour deal for Blink-182 with Live Nation and for Tyler the Creator with AEG. He has ongoing work with clients that include Dr. Dre, Sia, Van Morrison, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Alice in Chains, Twenty One Pilots and many others. Soriano had multiple clients work on the “Barbie” soundtrack album, including George Drakoulias (music supervisor), Ava Max (artist), Dominic Fike (artist) and Ricky Reed (producer). Her clients were also out in force at Coachella, with Frank Ocean headlining, and Fike and Calvin Harris performing. Soriano handled the release of Fike’s album “Sunburn” on Columbia Records. Her client Kim Petras released two albums and headed out on a worldwide tour, and clients Max and NF each released a new album and toured extensively.

Content vs. quality: “There’s too much product and not enough mindshare,” says Paterno. “Developing mass appeal artists is a lot more difficult — there are too many more competing alternatives than in the past, e.g., videogames, social media and more, and more people tend to consume music in algorithm-
driven silos.”

Jonathan Davis, Ed Lee, Seth Traxler

Jonathan Davis, Ed Lee, Seth Traxler
Jonathan Davis, Ed Lee, Seth Traxler


Partners

Kirkland & Ellis

As part of a firm known for its mergers and acquisitions pacts, these three worked on big deals of the last year: Lee and Davis led the $20-plus billion deal that transformed the wrestling world as World Entertainment agreed to create a new company with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which was owned by Endeavor Group Holdings. This was one of Kirkland’s largest deals of the year. Traxler worked with Universal Music Group in its investment in Chord Music Partners and partnership with Dundee Partners for catalog acquisitions; the Carlyle Group in the sale of Jagex, a developer and publisher of video games, to CVC Capital Partners and Haveli Investments; and Cosm, developer of immersive venues for sports and entertainment events, on multi-year partnerships with Cirque du Soleil, UFC and Warner Bros. Discovery’s TNT Sports.

The speed of tech: “It really seems like the quickening pace of technological development is going to require a lot of vision, resilience, agility and creativity, and perhaps wisdom,” says Traxler.

Dina LaPolt, Tom Dean, Mariah Comer, Kristin Wenning

Dina LaPolt, Tom Dean, Mariah Comer, Kristin Wenning
Dina LaPolt, Tom Dean, Mariah Comer, Kristin Wenning


LaPolt: Founder
Dean, Comer, Wenning: Partners

LaPolt Law

Music industry matters dominated the workflow of LaPolt Law in 2024. Comer negotiated sponsorship deals for Cardi B with Beats by Dre and Knorr. Dean repped Offset on the release of his highly anticipated sophomore album, “Set It Off,” which debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200. In a highly publicized case, LaPolt helped 21 Savage obtain his green card after a four-year campaign and negotiate a headlining European tour. Her advocacy for creators also continued in 2023 as she and Wenning submitted comment papers to the U.S. Copyright Office on behalf the Songwriters of North America and other groups advocating to protect the rights of creators as the Copyright Office grapples with urgent issues arising from the use of artificial intelligence in the music industry by advocating and lobbying for the No AI Fraud Act.

Protection: “Artists need a federal right of publicity,” LaPolt says. “With the rise of deepfakes and artificial intelligence using celebrity voices and likenesses, now more than ever, we, as an industry, need to take steps to protect the names, images and likenesses of our artists.”

Justin Hamill, Kendall Johnson, Rick Offsay

Justin Hamill, Kendall Johnson, Rick Offsay
Justin Hamill, Kendall Johnson, Rick Offsay


Hamill: Partner, Global Co-Chair of Mergers & Acquisitions Practice
Johnson: Partner
Offsay: Partner, Global Co-Chair of Entertainment, Sports & Media Practice

Latham & Watkins

Offsay structures transactions to maximize opportunities for clients across all areas of the entertainment industry. He recently represented Media Res in a growth equity investment by Jeff Zucker’s RedBird IMI, closed Carlyle’s $800 million financing deal with Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s Park Country, and advised the Houston Rockets and Astros in acquiring AT&T SportsNew Southwest, which re-launched as as Space City Home Network. Johnson guided Blumhouse in acquiring Atomic Monster, represented MGM in subscriber migration and content licensing arrangements with Lionsgate+ in Europe, Latin America and the UK, and aided RedBird Capital in forming EverPass Media, a joint effort with the NFL. In overseeing the firm’s mergers & acquisitions practice, Hamill focuses on transformational deals in entertainment and sports, including 2023’s $21 billion UFC and WWE merger
on behalf of Endeavor Group Holdings, which Offsay worked on as well.

Creativity counts: “This year we are seeing an increased emphasis on being creative and extracting more value from each deal, which has become increasingly important in light of the increased cost of capital,” Offsay says.

Marvin Putnam

Marvin Putnam
Marvin Putnam


Partner and Global Chair of Entertainment, Sports & Media Industry Group

Latham & Watkins

Litigator Putnam scored a win in a breach-of-implied-contract dispute involving client Endeavor’s $10 billion IPO. First Access Entertainment hired Putnam as trial counsel in a wrongful death lawsuit arising from rapper Lil Peep’s death; the matter was settled and the case was dismissed. When not representing clients like Netflix, Putnam does pro bono work for PEN America supporting its efforts to combat book banning.

Yin and yang: “The entertainment industry is ever-changing, and today’s contractions of some sectors is the yin to the yang of expansions in others like AI, virtual reality, gaming and the like,” Putnam says.

Michael E. Weinsten

Michael E. Weinsten
Michael E. Weinsten


Partner

Lavely & Singer

Weinsten reps YouTube influencer Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast) seeking to terminate a licensing deal with a ghost kitchen. The Century City-based attorney also defends Charlamagne Tha God over sexual assault and defamation charges, Lizzo in lawsuits filed by employee dancers since summer and Paris Hilton in various litigations. Other clients include model Camila Alves, FX house Digital Domain, Jonah Hill, Jeff Kwatinetz and label Prospect Park, Scarlett Johansson, the Kardashians and Jason Sudeikis-Olivia Wilde defending claims by their ex-nanny.

Online etiquette: In brand deals gone bad, Weinsten finds consumer marketers increasingly exercising morals clauses to separate from influencers who get controversial in social media. “In this politically charged environment that we live in, celebrities have to be more careful online in their communications because of potential backlash, Weinsten says.

James Feldman, Linda Lichter, Melissa Rogal, Jonathan Shikora

James Feldman, Linda Lichter, Melissa Rogal, Jonathan Shikora
James Feldman, Linda Lichter, Melissa Rogal, Jonathan Shikora


Feldman: Managing Partner
Lichter, Rogal, Shikora: Partners

Lichter Grossman Nichols Feldman Rogal Shikora & Clark

Lichter continues to rep A-level talent in a wide range of feature and television deals, including Chloé Zhao, who will direct “Hamnet” for Amblin Pictures, and Lesli Linka Glatter, director and executive producer on Netflix thriller “Zero Day.” Feldman handled two bidding wars for Steven Soderbergh at Sundance, selling his feature “Presence” to Neon, and the spy thriller “Black Bag,” starring Cate Blanchett and Michael Fassbender, to Focus Features. Rogal and Shikora were recently added to the firm name. Rogal reps Viola Davis (along with Feldman), who is now shooting the action film “G20” for Amazon, and then will star in “Amanda Waller” for HBO. Rogal also reps Lara Olsen, showrunner for Fox’s “Baywatch” reboot, and Shikora handled negotiations for Katie Robbins on her upcoming shows: “Orphan” at ABC studios for Hulu and “Sunny” at A24 for Apple; and Mike O’Malley in his creator, showrunner deal for “Extended Family,” starring John Cryer.

Riding the waves: “Fat years alternate with lean years, and technology is unstoppable, but great content will always find an audience,” says Feldman. “Our job is to help our clients surf the new waves as they come.”

John M. Gatti

John M. Gatti
John M. Gatti


Partner

Loeb & Loeb

Gatti represented Amazon, Miramax and Walmart getting long-running infringement claims finally dismissed in December involving the iconic “Pulp Fiction” poster photo; the two retailers sold licensed movie merchandise. The Century City-based litigator repped Miramax in other matters, Blumhouse Prods., DirecTV and That’s Amore Movie and principal Nick Vallelonga in an arbitration. In some transactional work, Gatti worked for three book authors on publication contracts, including ex-FBI profiler Jana Monroe for serial killer nonfiction tome “Hearts of Darkness.”

Jeopardy: Gatti cautions that Hollywood creative talent secretly using AI, which isn’t eligible to hold copyrights, jeopardizes legal protections. “Today, you run the risk of not having that material copyrighted,” says Gotti, noting that any imperfections with copyrights would be an unpleasant surprise to buyers of such works.

Arash Khalili, Marc Chamlin

Arash Khalili, Marc Chamlin
Arash Khalili, Marc Chamlin


Khalili: Co-Chair
Chamlin: Chair, Television

Loeb & Loeb

Century City-based Khalili became co-chair of the entire firm in November, but remains hands-on with clients. Khalili’s practice spans Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures to influencer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Last year, Khalili worked the separate sales of the Philpott Meeks Hollywood business management firm and Vin Di Bona Prods. Khalili also handles sports stars Chet Holmgren, J.J. Reddick and Dwyane Wade; and music’s Lionel Richie, Carrie Underwood and Morgan Wallen. New York-based Chamlin advises Oprah Winfrey including her March multiplatform TV special on weight loss; and leading non-scripted producers Bungalow Media, Harpo Prods., Lucky 8 TV, Sharp Entertainment and Truly Original. Other Chamlin clients include Glenn Close, Andy Cohen, Food Network star Ree Drummond, Hearst’s King Features and Gillian Hormel’s funder Partners in Kind.

Platform leader: Chamlin marvels that Netflix has remained the ac­knowledged industry benchmark for so many years. Netflix benefits from its “singular focus on a business of streaming content” without being sidetracked by other media businesses like its rivals, Chamlin says.

Debbie White

Debbie White
Debbie White


Vice Chair, Music Industry/Entertainment

Loeb & Loeb

In K-pop, White reps heavyweight South Korean entertainment conglomerate Hybe with its bands BTS, TXT and NewJeans. Other clients include Melanie Martinez for her current Live Nation arena tour and Christina Aguilera for her Venetian Resort residency. In the past year, White advised STX Entertainment and pianist Stephan Moccio on music catalog sales. The New York-based attorney worked for advertising agency Arts & Science Partners on music for its Beyoncé Super Bowl commercial. Other clients include various executive employment contracts, indie pop band Cannons, Duran Duran, Hello Sunshine, LeAnn Rimes and the Who.

Going legit: White finds AI a double-edge sword: beat back its villains while cultivating ways for the legitimate music business to benefit. “If we don’t, the industry will be left behind,” White says.

Eric Bergner, Gary Gilbert, Eric Custer, Beau Stapleton

Eric Bergner, Gary Gilbert, Eric Custer, Beau Stapleton
Eric Bergner, Gary Gilbert, Eric Custer, Beau Stapleton


Bergner: Partner, Leader of Digital and Technology Transactions
Gilbert: Senior Partner
Custer: Partner
Stapleton: Partner

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

The foursome is led by New York-based Bergner, who works content deals and digital media. Meanwhile, based in Century City, Gilbert specializes in music; Custer handles intellectual property including music catalog sales; and Stapleton works music, film, television and digital. Media clients include streamer FAST Studios, Roku Channel, TelevisaUnivision, Women’s Sports Network and producer Jeff Zimbalist and All Rise Films for their Apple TV+ series “Super League: The War for Football.” Another client is Samsung for its content carriage deals for connected hardware devices such as smart TVs. Music clients include Jackson Browne, Death Cab for Cutie, Neil Young and Brian Wilson.

Commercial interest:  “Who would’ve thought you would be streaming internet content on your TV where ads are being customized to the end user?” Bergner says.

Chris Chatham

Chris Chatham
Chris Chatham


Partner

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

Working both transactions and litigation, Chatham has a diverse practice advising on partnerships, joint ventures, talent holding deals and licensing agreements. He won’t name clients but news clips indicate he repped Dr. Phil McGraw, big-wave surfer-athlete Laird Hamilton, Gabriel Macht (“Suits”) and influencer Logan Paul. The Century City-based attorney increasingly advises talent clients for venture capital and gigs with consumer brands outside entertainment.

Audience engagement: Chatham finds that talent engages a broader range of services such as producing and mar keting to support its digital-media work. In contrast, legacy TV channels do all the hiring, putting talent in narrow silos. “Our clients now have direct engagement with the audience, unlike before,” says Chatham.

Sophia Yen

Sophia Yen
Sophia Yen


Partner

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

Yen advised exhibitor AMC Entertainment in mapping out its diversification into theatrical distributing with the hit Taylor Swift concert film. Yen also worked distribution of the Beyoncé concert movie. She serves as de facto outside counsel for Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat ventures and chef David Chang’s Majordomo Media. The Century City-based attorney is active in Asian American industry organizations and Sundance Institute’s Catalyst program educating film-project investors.

Economics 101: “As the industry becomes more mindful of the bottom line, demand is shrinking and thus the supply side will need to adjust,” Yen observes of Hollywood cost-cutting. Those not reacting “will find themselves without a place in the industry.”

Jeff Frankel, Joel McKuin

Jeff Frankel, Joel McKuin
Jeff Frankel, Joel McKuin


Partners

McKuin Frankel Whitehead

Frankel has negotiated deals for showrunners Ryan Condal (HBO’s “House of the Dragon”), Joanna Calo (FX’s “The Bear”), Lee Eisenberg (Amazon Prime’s “Jury Duty” and Apple TV+’s “Lessons in Chemistry”), Brad Ingelsby (HBO’s “Mare of Easttown” and the upcoming HBO series “Task” starring Mark Ruffalo), Soo Hugh (Apple TV+’s “Pachinko”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid” and the upcoming Netflix series “Sirens”). Other clients include Oscar-nominated writer David Hemingson (“The Holdovers”). McKuin counts Oscar nominee Lily Gladstone as a longtime client and has been working with her on new television and feature development projects. Apple recently picked up her film “Fancy Dance.” He also works with Kristen Stewart, who’s been a client since she was 11. She’s about to go into production on “Chronology of Water,” a film she adapted from the novel that she’ll direct and produce.

Guiding clients to success: “The most fulfilling part of what we do is meeting lesser-known talent with distinct voices and helping them navigate the business to success,” write Frankel and McKuin in a joint statement. “Most of our clients have been with us since they were unknowns and it’s so exciting for us to see them bring their creative dreams to fruition.”

Christine Lepera

Christine Lepera
Christine Lepera


Partner

Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp

Music litigators like to say, “Have a hit, gonna get a writ,” and the truth of the adage is borne out by Lepera’s busy practice, which in recent months has seen her winning a dismissal with prejudice of a copyright infringement case against Dua Lipa and Warner Music Group for the song “Levitating” and favorably resolving music producer Dr. Luke’s nine-year legal battle with singer Kesha.

Stopping musical overreach: “You have to be careful not to allow the plaintiff to attempt to monopolize things that are just essentially a music alphabet such as chords, scales and things of that nature,” Lepera says.

Adam Levin

Adam Levin
Adam Levin


Partner

Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp

Levin is an entertainment labor litigator who works on behalf of major studios and media conglomerates, often defending their right employ who they please on First Amendment grounds. In recent months, he’s handled discrimination cases against CNN, Warner Bros. and ViacomCBS brought by a news producer fired for plagiarism, a makeup artist fired for bringing unlawful drugs onto company premises and a camera operator who claimed he was fired for being white, respectively.

It’s in the Constitution: “There is a tension between the civil rights laws and the First Amendment at times when it comes to creative workplaces and, ultimately, the First Amendment must prevail,” says Levin.

Seth Pierce

Seth Pierce
Seth Pierce


Partner

Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp

Pierce litigates complex and often politically sensitive labor issues for clients including Disney, Electronic Arts, Fox Corp. and NBCUniversal. In recent months, he resolved several proposed class actions, including multiple wage and hour violation suits against companies including WB Studios Enterprises and Showtime Development.

The misguided plaintiff: “Most people just move on with their lives and get the next gig, but there’s always that less than 1% who just can’t accept that there is a logical and natural reason why someone was hired over them,” Pierce says.

David Fox

David Fox
David Fox


Named Partner

Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light

Fox repped James Wan in the complicated merger between Wan’s production company, Atomic Monster, and Jason Blum’s Blumhouse. Longtime client David Koepp, who wrote the script for the Steven Soderbergh-directed “Presence,” which debuted at Sundance, will again team with Soderbergh on “Black Bag,” the hot project acquired by Focus Features. Other clients include Leigh Whannell (“Wolf Man”), Jon Cryer (“Extended Family”), actor-rapper Ice-T, actor-musician Common, Rolling Stone Mick Jagger and  Dan Lin (“Godzilla x Kong”).

A looming conversation: “The current streaming ecosystem rewards good results at the expense of great results. In buying out backends, you’re compensating everybody at the expense of the few breakout hits. It’s something that will probably have to be addressed,” says Fox.

Aaron D. Rosenberg

Aaron D. Rosenberg
Aaron D. Rosenberg


Partner

Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light

From clearances on chart-topping albums to negotiating deals for high-profile film roles, Rosenberg’s
reach extends to music, film, television and social media. He handled legal for Tate McRae’s hit “Think Later,” hammered out Jennifer Lopez’s record deal with BMG, negotiated Ariana Grande’s contract for the highly anticipated upcoming “Wicked” feature from Universal, orchestrated a new publishing deal for singer-songwriter The-Dream and oversaw all songwriting deals for the Grammy-nominated
Justin Tranter.

Art plus tech: “Our artist clients are very sensitive to [AI],” Rosenberg says, “and want to figure out a way for art and technology to co-exist in a way that grows the pie for everybody.” He also identifies the lack of remuneration of artists and songwriters as another issue. “Since all music begins and ends with the song, we cannot afford to disincentivize the creators of those songs.”

Ellie Heisler, Carron Joan Mitchell, Christina Chang, Farrah Usmani

Ellie Heisler, Carron Joan Mitchell, Christina Chang, Farrah Usmani
Ellie Heisler, Carron Joan Mitchell, Christina Chang, Farrah Usmani


Partners

Nixon Peabody

Nixon Peabody’s women-led entertainment team is pioneering new paths forward in the legal profession. Heisler, who assembled and heads the team, points out that inasmuch as all four are first-generation American, “everyone has to be hyper-entrepreneurial, because none of us come from families where we could just get a job in entertainment. All of us are self-made.” Their roster includes 80-plus creators reaching more than 950 million followers across social media, and artists with more than 200 million Spotify listeners each month. In 2023, the team advised some 100 clients, with an aggregate value exceeding $550 million, in strategic negotiations. And the year wrapped with a huge addition to their client portfolio: representation of the top 24 finalists of Season 7 of “American Idol.”

Strike-year postmortem: “It’s no secret that the industry is still recovering from and adapting to the effects of the double strikes,” Heisler notes. “The strikes forced a reset and rethinking across the entertainment landscape, including on the content production and distribution sides. As an unintended consequence, we’re also seeing an increased desire from our clients to further diversify their revenue streams, whether that’s building a product brand, investment opportunities, or looking at social media platform revenue in a new way.”

Dan Petrocelli, Molly Lens, Leah Godesky, Drew Breuder

Dan Petrocelli, Molly Lens, Leah Godesky, Drew Breuder
Dan Petrocelli, Molly Lens, Leah Godesky, Drew Breuder


Petrocelli: Partner, Trial Practice Chair, Firm Vice Chair
Lens: Partner, Entertainment, Sports & Media Group Co-Chair
Godesky: Partner
Breuder: Partner

O’Melveny & Myers

Petrocelli worked with Lens for Disney’s Marvel to resolve lawsuits last summer over copyright termination claims involving comic books. Petrocelli and Godesky repped singer-songwriter Kesha defending a defamation lawsuit settled in June after pre-trial appellate wins; they also worked in resolving for NBCUniversal in September the profit participation dispute involving TV series “Columbo.” After a six-year slog of litigation, Petrocelli and Breuder got a screenplay infringement claim dismissed for client Disney involving its movie “Zootopia.” Petrocelli reps Disney in its lawsuit against the state of Florida filed early last year over a theme park special district being dissolved. Lens defends Paramount in copyright infringement claims over “Top Gun: Maverick.” Other clients of the litigation four, who are based in Century City, include TV producer FremantleMedia, Irving Azoff-led Global Music Rights and rapper Travis Scott.

New wave: Lens notes that the California legislature is considering to again allow sexual assault claims to be filed after filing windows have expired. “If this passes, I think that we’re going to see another wave of sexual assault claims dating back decades,” Lens observes.

Matthew Syrkin

Matthew Syrkin
Matthew Syrkin


Co-Chair MediaTech Group

O’Melveny & Myers

New York-based Syrkin worked distribution and device deals and strategy for SkyShowtime, the Comcast/Paramount Global video streamer completing its European rollout. Syrkin advised Liberty Media in its $300-plus million acquisition in January of sports ticketing/hospitality QuintEvents; Liberty controls Formula 1 racing media rights. For MSG Entertainment, he led negotiations for the underlying tech and prototyping for its Las Vegas Sphere arena opened in September. Syrkin also advised Stanford for its September agreement moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference for sports.

Personal touch: Syrkin finds that digital convergence generates granular consumer data, which enables media personalization. “If you have artificial intelligence onboard, you can deliver on immersive customization for the consumer that will drive effective monetization,” Syrkin says. This spans ecommerce, sports betting, fitness, ticketing and advertising.

Silvia Vannini

Silvia Vannini
Silvia Vannini


Partner

O’Melveny & Myers

Vannini advised MSG Networks for its 50-50 regional TV sports joint venture Gotham Advanced Media and Entertainment formed in January. She also worked for producer-distributor Fifth Season selling a 25% stake to Japan’s Toho Intl. in December, reportedly for $225 million. Other Vannini clients are Anonymous Content, Legendary Entertainment and Paramount Global. The Century City-based transactional attorney advises media and entertainment companies and investors, and speaks four European languages.

Live surge: Looking ahead, Vannini expects that 2024 “will likely see a resurgence in live entertainment, particularly in sports and music events post-pandemic, presenting investment potential in production services and infrastructure. The filmed entertainment space will continue to face challenges from last year’s strikes and declining production expenditures, necessitating adaptation and potential consolidation.”

Ken Deutsch, Susan Zuckerman Williams

Ken Deutsch, Susan Zuckerman Williams
Ken Deutsch, Susan Zuckerman Williams


Partners

Paul Hastings

Williams’ clients include Vine Alternative Investments and Comerica Bank. She also repped Fox in its acquisition of MarVista, as well as Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook in its sale of a stake to Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs’ Candle Media. Deutsch advised Macro Media in its $90 million equity raise led by Blackrock Alternatives and Stampede Entertainment in forming and capitalizing Hidden Pigeon Co. with RedBird Capital Partners and children’s book author Mo Willems. Additionally, he advised New Republic Pictures in a multipicture financing deal with Paramount to provide co-financing for a theatrical slate, including “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Mission: Impossible —Dead Reckoning.” He also works on matters for filmmaker-producer-actor Jon Favreau and his companies.

Trend watching: “My practice historically has moved with market trends and currently we are still seeing significant M&A activity as well as renewed interest in studio co-financing transactions,” says Williams. “The biggest change since the pandemic is no longer being tethered to the office and being able to work effectively from any location, which has increased my trips to my local Starbucks.” 

Tamerlin Godley, Steven Marenberg

Tamerlin Godley, Steven Marenberg
Tamerlin Godley, Steven Marenberg


Godley: Partner, Entertainment & Media Litigation Practice
Marenberg: Chair, Entertainment & Media Litigation Practice

Paul Hastings

These two litigators work with top talent and entertainment companies in a variety of areas. Godley reps NBCUniversal, Bravo and Andy Cohen in their ongoing arbitration with a former cast member of “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” She also reps Mobland gaming in its federal court copyright action and contract claims arbitration, among many other clients. Marenberg reps the Walt Disney Co. and 20th Century Fox in a federal lawsuit arising out of the filming of the TV series “American Horror Story” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiff sued for wrongful death, alleging that inadequate health and safety protocols on the set led to the death of a crew member from COVID-19 supposedly contracted while working.

Taking it private: “One trend that has been going on for years is a shift from litigating a lot of entertainment disputes in court to private arbitration,” says Marenberg. “I would say now that six to seven out of 10 disputes that I have are arbitrated as opposed to litigated in court. But now we’re dealing with projects that were started at a time when the standard contracts all had arbitration clauses.”

Jodi Peikoff

Jodi Peikoff
Jodi Peikoff


Named Partner

Peikoff Mahan

“What I’m most proud of is that this year, two clients who I’ve worked with since their very first job, America Ferrera (“Barbie”) and Ebon Moss-Bachrach (“The Bear”), have really broken through,” Peikoff says. She is currently in the middle of finalizing a number of major deals that were paused due to the strike. However, Tilda Swinton, Sally Hawkins and Mark Rylance are among the clients Peikoff singles out for the quality of their work and the generosity of their spirits.

Taking interest: “We get involved with actors very early. When we’re excited by somebody’s talent, we’re happy to make the same investment that agents make, where they do a ton of work before anything’s booked to commission,” says Peikoff.

Rob Freeman

Rob Freeman
Rob Freeman


Partner

Proskauer Rose

Freeman has made a name for himself negotiating big deals at the intersection of sports, media and tech. In the first quarter of 2024, he repped Warner Bros Discovery in connection with its streaming service joint venture with ESPN, Disney and Fox, and Minute Media in a deal to make it the exclusive licensee operator of the Sports Illustrated brand, producing the print and the digital magazines and other properties going forward.

Kiss traditional TV goodbye: “Content creators and programmers big and small need to continue to experiment and consider the launch of new products, services and platforms, because for sure that part of the business is not coming back,” Freeman says.

James Sammataro

James Sammataro
James Sammataro


Partner

Pryor Cashman

Sammataro is representing 93 defendants (including Justin Bieber and Pitbull) in a copyright infringement action claiming that 1,800 songs using the basic beat of the Latin American music genre reggaeton (including “Despacito,” “Bailando” and “Dame tu Cosita”) infringe on the plaintiff’s drum pattern. In recent months, the Miami-based litigator also scored a win for the Ultimate Rap League, defeating a $70 million partnership claim, and extricated artists including Chris Brown from copyright infringement suits.

The curse of overly tolerant judges: “Frankly, I think you’re seeing so many of these copyright cases because they’re just not getting the quick dismissal that they deserve,” he says.

Elsa Ramo, Michelle Chang

Elsa Ramo, Michelle Chang
Elsa Ramo, Michelle Chang


Ramo: Founder, Managing Partner
Chang: Managing Partner

Ramo Law

Ramo and Chang demonstrate the power and perspective a women-led law firm has to offer. Ramo handles business and legal affairs for legacy clients like Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Documentaries, but was equally thrilled to broker a first-look deal for Lion Forge Studios at Nickelodeon. Ramo helped clients weather last year’s strikes and is preparing them for the possibility of an IATSE strike this summer. Chang represents several clients, including Hasan Minhaj’s 186K Films, and provides legal services to film, episodic and nonfiction productions, among them FX’s “Welcome to Wrexham” and Campfire/Netflix’s “Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food.” Each time a satisfied client refers someone else to them, Ramo says, it indicates a positive shift in the industry’s attitudes toward women in leadership positions.

Know your audience: “I think the economics, size and scale of content creation is getting populated among many, rather than centralized amongst few. That’s exciting for someone like me who represents content creators,” Ramo says. “If you can figure out your audience of 100,000 and monetize that in a fiscally responsible way, that’s better off than trying to appease Disney for work for hire at scale.”

Stacy Marcus

Stacy Marcus
Stacy Marcus


Partner

Reed Smith

Marcus works with luxury brands and ad agencies,  including Ryan Reynold’s Maximum Effort Marketing,  and negotiated the largest media and pro sports sponsorship deal of 2023. As the first woman and youngest chief negotiator of the ad industry’s Joint Policy Committee, she helped negotiate the historic $3 billion commercial contract with SAG-AFTRA.

Sea change: Marcus compares restructuring the commercial contract “to getting a cargo ship to turn in the right direction. We now have it pointing in the right direction — we meaning SAG-AFTRA and the JPC — and hope the contract will be able to be more nimble, adaptive and reflective of the current media and production ecosystem.”

Bennett Bigman, Stanton “Larry” Stein, Ashley Yeargan

Bennett Bigman, Stanton “Larry” Stein, Ashley Yeargan
Bennett Bigman, Stanton “Larry” Stein, Ashley Yeargan


Bigman: Partner
Stein: Partner and Head of Media and Entertainment Group
Yeargan: Partner

Russ August & Kabat

Bigman repped producers of the “Halloween” motion picture franchise in settlement of an arbitration concerning contractual and profit participation issues. He also repped the creator and format owner of “Survivor” in connection with accounting and contractual issues. Stein reps Drake and his companies in a variety of matters that range from IP protection and enforcement to advice on clearance issues, to more personal disputes. He is also defending Drake in connection with more than 1,000 lawsuits filed against him regarding his appearance at Travis Scott’s 2021 Astroworld concert. Yeargan continues to rep Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila in a variety of trademark and copyright matters and animation producer Kevin Kolde and his Project 51 Prods. in connection with the Netflix animated series “Castlevania.” She also advises Tokyo Broadcasting System Television in connection with trademark and other matters regarding “American Ninja Warrior.”

Mediations and mobile clients: “We’re doing a lot of early mediations, as both the cost and timeframe of litigation continues to increase,” says Stein. “Our practice is very similar to pre-pandemic times, with the exception that both our clients and lawyers are more mobile and have become adept at working from anywhere.”

James Adams, Ira Schreck

James Adams, Ira Schreck
James Adams, Ira Schreck


Partners

Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham

Adams represents “House of the Dragon” lead Emma D’Arcy; additional clients include “Poker Face” star  Natasha Lyonne, John Krasinski (produced, wrote and stars in “If” for Paramount), Joy Bryant (stars in the “Spiderwick Chronicles” reboot), Annaleigh Ashford (returning to Broadway in “Sweeney Todd”), Kathryn Hahn and Kevin Hart. Schreck’s clients including Sarah Jessica Parker, setting up Parker’s lucrative deal for HBO hit “And Just Like That,” Ang Lee and Kyra Sedgwick, showrunner Jason Katims, Tony Goldwyn, Marcia Gay Harden, Kevin James and writer Tony Kushner.

Opportunity cycle: “Consolidation and retrenchment in the industry is leading to fewer and fewer opportunities for our clients,” says Schreck. “This trend is likely to continue for a few years, until we get to the inevitable upswing in the cycle.”

Robert A. Darwell, Meg E.G. Wilson

Robert A. Darwell, Meg E.G. Wilson
Robert A. Darwell, Meg E.G. Wilson


Darwell: Senior partner
Wilson: Special counsel

Sheppard Mullin

Darwell and Wilson first worked together as newly minted associates at Paul Hastings for a few years in the late 1980s. Over the ensuing decades, they’d bump into each other occasionally in public, but they didn’t reteam professionally until she joined Sheppard Mullin in June 2021 after leading marketing and development at RealD 3D for several years. Since then, they’ve brokered a string of film and TV deals for Amazon Studios, including a pact with YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson (aka “MrBeast”) announced in March for a reality competition series titled “Beast Games” that will award the winner a $5 million prize. In recent months, they’ve also advised Meta on the acquisition of high-level celebrity talent (including Tom Brady, Snoop Dogg and Paris Hilton) for its “AI Agents” project and negotiated Reese Witherspoon’s promotional services deal following the sale of her Draper James apparel company.

Thinking globally: “One of our attorneys is from Nigeria and focused a lot on Nollywood and the entertainment industry in Western Africa,” says Darwell. “It coincides with Amazon, Netflix and other companies looking to find talent there and grow their audience throughout Africa.”

Linda Giunta Michaelson

Linda Giunta Michaelson
Linda Giunta Michaelson


Partner

Sheppard Mullin

As an attorney working on the M&A side of show business, Michaelson was not affected by the strikes, but she still had to deal with less-than-ideal market conditions, like recent spikes in interest and inflation. Still, she managed to close some impressive pacts, repping Lionsgate in its $375 million acquisition of EntertainmentOne from Hasbro, and AXN Investment and its subsidiary Affirm Entertainment in their joint venture with Great American Media Group in the faith-based streaming platform Pure Flix.

Coming trends in AI M&A: “I think you will see a lot of media deals where content is being licensed for [model] training or information purposes,” Michaelson says.

Alexis Robinson

Alexis Robinson
Alexis Robinson


Partner

Sheppard Mullin

The first woman to lead Sheppard Mullin’s entertainment, technology, media and advertising practice, Robinson has closed numerous deals in recent months for companies ranging from Peloton to Domain Capital Group (various music catalog acquisitions). Other clients include the ASCAP, News Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment and Spotify.

The rise of automated beat makers: “They have all of these new AI platforms where you can generate your own music,” says Robinson, who is also leader of her firm’s music industry team. “It’s an interesting avenue that you can monetize, especially you’re targeting the TikTok generation.”

Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson
Matt Thompson


Partner and Co-leader of Entertainment, Sports and Media Group

Sidley Austin

Along with assisting Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia in merging the XFL and USFL into the new UFL football league, Thompson helped launch Johnson’s men’s care line, Papatui, and negotiated his deal with TKO Group to regain ownership of “The Rock” trademark from the WWE. Thompson also represented a consortium in making a nine-figure bid for eOne film and television assets, and formed a joint venture making 10K Projects a stand-along label within Warner Music Group.

Beyond the law: “We like to think of ourselves as partners more than hired legal guns. As such, it is incumbent on us to understand our clients’ business objectives in the short, medium and long term, and help find holistic solutions to help our clients’ meet those objectives,” Thompson says.

Evie Whiting, Emily Zipperstein

Evie Whiting, Emily Zipperstein
Evie Whiting, Emily Zipperstein


Partners

Sidley Austin

Having recently been named partner, Whiting more than earned her reputation as a trusted advisor by providing clients like A24 Films, Imagine Entertainment and Spyglass Media Group with the individual support and legal expertise tailored to their needs. Whiting’s ability to navigate complex compliance issues, financing and interparty arrangements was honed as part of a Sidley team with high-profile clients such as the Gersh Agency, Artist’s Equity and HarbourView Equity. Zipperstein likewise inspires confidence of her clients, representing Audeze in acquiring Sony Interactive Entertainment, assisting Alex Cooper and Matt Kaplan form media venture Trending and co-leading a firm’s team representing Eldridge Industries in acquiring (along with Dick Clark Prods.) all of the Golden Globes’ assets, rights and properties from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. (Variety parent company Penske Media is the owner of Dick Clark Prods.)

Branding opportunities: “We’re seeing robust interest from celebrities in building brands and investing in consumer product businesses that are often very personal to them and which allow them to develop deeper and more authentic relationships with their fans and the general public,” Zipperstein says. “With several celebrity and influencer-led brands positioned for significant transactions this year, these ventures and investments are having an undeniable impact on the consumer products industry overall.”

Jonathan Youngwood

Jonathan Youngwood
Jonathan Youngwood


Partner, Global Co-Chair of Litigation Practice

Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett

Youngwood counseled Paramount Global through multiple lawsuits brought by CBS and Viacom shareholders in light of the companies’ $30 billion stock-for-stock merger. Favorable settlements were reached as the litigations headed to trial. Trial was also headed off, and a highly favorable settlement achieved, for Sirius XM, in a big-ticket Delaware M&A lawsuit filed by Pandora shareholders in the wake of Sirius’s $3.5 billion acquisition of the streaming music provider. When shareholders challenged provisions of online dating app Bumble’s certificate of incorporation, the Simpson Thacher team, led by Youngwood, won a motion for summary judgment in Delaware Chancery Court.

Keeping up: “Working with media and entertainment clients is exciting because the sector is ever-changing, revealing new opportunities and presenting new challenges and risks. It’s deeply gratifying to help clients address their most critical issues in such a dynamic industry — it’s always keeping you on your toes because no two client issues or cases are ever the same.”

David Eisman, Glen Mastroberte

David Eisman, Glen Mastroberte
David Eisman, Glen Mastroberte


Partners

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

This duo worked with OVO Sound, a record label owned by hip-hop star Drake, in the sale of a majority stake in the label’s catalog and artist roster to Sony Music, in connection with a new partnership between the two labels. They repped UTA and its sports agency Klutch Sports Group in the acquisition of REP 1 Baseball, a full-service sports agency, and the formation of UTA division Klutch Baseball. They also repped Foundation Media, a music distribution and label services company, in the sale of a major
stake to Sony Music Entertainment.

Navigating the scene: “Indie music labels will continue to proliferate and continue to capture market share — especially those that offer artists personal attention, mentorship and creative marketing and distribution capabilities — which in turn result in increased demand for sophisticated counsel to navigate structuring of new labels, capital raises, exits and deals with artists and investors,” says Eisman.

Jim Gilio, Harris Hartman, Shelby Weiser

Jim Gilio, Harris Hartman, Shelby Weiser
Jim Gilio, Harris Hartman, Shelby Weiser


Partners

Sloane Offer Weber & Dern

Firm veterans Gilio, Hartman and Weiser collaborate on various clients, including actors such as “Palme Royale” co-star Kaia Gerber (Gilio & Hartman), Daniel Ings of “The Gentlemen” (Gilio & Weiser) and “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem” lead Swell Ariel Or (Hartman & Weiser). Each also has an impressive roster they work with separately. For Weiser, it’s Lily James, Paul Giamatti, Chloe Grace Moretz, Haley Lu Richardson, Gal Gadot and Nicholas Hoult. For Gilio, it’s Angourie Rice, Jennifer Coolidge, Isla Fisher and Naomi Scott. Hartman’s clients include Jack Quaid, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Margaret Qualley, Hunter Schafer, Jennifer Garner, Jenna Fischer and David Harbour.  But, says Gilio, “we all work very closely together, even on the clients we don’t co-rep, just trying to figure out the best way to represent them.”

Production bubble boost: “I know the conventional wisdom is that there’s a been a contraction,” says Hartman. “But I feel the runaway frenzy of recent times is continuing unabated.”

Warren Dern

Warren Dern
Warren Dern


Partner

Sloane Offer Weber & Dern

Dern had several deals put on ice by the strikes in 2023, uncertain if they’d ever be revived, but, overall, things worked out well for his clients, such as director Paul Feig, whose delayed sequel “A Simple Favor 2” began shooting in Italy this spring. The three-decade veteran’s roster also includes actors Jack Black, Jason Segal, Renee Rapp, Rebel Wilson, Isla Fisher and Cara Delevingne, and directors Zack Snyder, Todd Phillips and Spike Jonze.

Post-strike deal momentum: “It’s like a train that got stopped, and now it’s moving again,” he says. “And I think people are happy to be on the train.”

Robert Offer

Robert Offer
Robert Offer


Partner

Sloane Offer Weber & Dern

Offer’s client roster features 2024 Oscar nominees Ryan Gosling and Paul Giamatti and other big names including Brie Larson, Tom Holland, Adam Driver, Robert Pattinson, Keri Russell and Benedict Cumberbatch. But his most significant recent matter was repping longtime client Will Arnett on his end of the $100 million multi-year deal between SiriusXM and SmartLess Media, the company the actor formed with Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes to produce their “SmartLess” podcast.

Strikes rebound: “It was bad as I’ve ever seen it,” says the three-decade-plus legal eagle. “But there’s still big demand for content and I’m confident that we’ll come back.”

Jason Sloane

Jason Sloane
Jason Sloane


Partner

Sloane Offer Weber & Dern

Since December, Sloane has been dealing with a post-strike deal flow he compares to a long line of planes waiting for takeoff on the tarmac, as he’s worked on behalf of clients such as actors Anne Hathaway, Mark Wahlberg, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Will Smith, Amy Adams, Keira Knightley, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender and Taron Egerton, talk show host James Corden and his Fulwell 73 banner and director James Mangold.

Looming possibility of more strikes: “I think maybe people are trying to be blissfully ignorant to it,” Sloane says. “It’s hard for them to fathom that it could be happening again.”

David Weber

David Weber
David Weber


Partner

Sloane Offer Weber & Dern

Weber’s clients have a tendency to do well at the Oscars. This year, Cillian Murphy won actor honors for “Oppenheimer,” while Emily Blunt scored a supporting actress nomination for the film. He also reps past actor Oscar-winners (Joaquin Phoenix and Rami Malk) and Academy Award nominees Austin Butler, Barry Keoghan and Andrew Garfield, along with Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Alison Brie, Rob McElhenney and Lily James.

Bonuses award by platforms for streaming success: “They’re not uniform, they’re still imperfect,” Weber says. More significantly, “there’s no transparency in the actual data.”

Daniel Rozansky, Greg Akselrud, Kelly Siobhan Laffey, Celina Kirchner

Daniel Rozansky, Greg Akselrud, Kelly Siobhan Laffey, Celina Kirchner
Daniel Rozansky, Greg Akselrud, Kelly Siobhan Laffey, Celina Kirchner


Rozansky: Partner
Akselrud: Partner, Chair of Internet, Digital Media & Entertainment Practice
Laffey: Partner
Kirchner: Senior Counsel

Stubbs Alderton & Markiles

According to Rozansky, he, Akselrud, Laffey and Kirchner appreciate the ability to work closely together and share their mutual expertise to give clients the most personal and expert service. In 2023, Akselrud was involved in financing or acquisition transactions for more than a dozen digital media companies and sports retailers, and represented the late Leonard Cohen’s estate in its catalog sale to Hipgnosis. Laffey, alongside Akselrud, counseled in a range of matters for concerns as varied as an elite coffee brand and several hot production companies. Rozansky achieved a favorable settlement in a right of publicity and copyright action he brought on behalf of prominent Southern California insurance broker Adriana Gallardo, a case with strong AI implications going forward. Kirchner represents a growing digital media production company in contract disputes and advises on contract negotiation and strategy. She and Rozansky have successfully represented top producers of unscripted television series on issues unique to that entertainment space. Most recently they settled, for a nominal amount, an arbitration by two former show participants seeking a multimillion-dollar award.

Protection: Rozansky predicts “the growth of AI is going to create an onslaught of legal issues, from how to protect original content created by it, to how to protect original content used to train it. This is going to be a complex challenge for entertainment and IP lawyers alike, particularly until there is a well-developed body of law on this subject.”

Marc Toberoff

Marc Toberoff