Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc., listens during an Economic Club of Washington discussion in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 13, 2018. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.
The conduct of National Enquirer parent American Media Inc.—apparent threats to publish lewd photos of Washington Post and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos—might be the biggest takeaway from the billionaire’s incendiary Thursday evening Medium post. But, as with any other present-day crisis, the roles of his lawyers also emerged in the mix.
Bezos was fulsome in his praise of security consultant, Gavin de Becker, whom he has tasked with investigating AMI's efforts to unearth details of his personal life. But further down in the post, some insights emerge on what his attorneys are doing on his behalf.
William Isaacson. Photo: Steven Laxton/The American Lawyer
Bezos says that he was moved to out AMI's actions after the company threatened to publish intimate photos of him with girlfriend Lauren Sanchez unless he made a false statement to the press that AMI's coverage of him was not politically motivated.
"I guess we (me, my lawyers, and Gavin de Becker) didn’t react to the generalized threat with enough fear," Bezos wrote, before introducing an email detailing the photos sent from AMI vice president and chief content officer Dylan Howard to attorney Martin Singer, whom he describes as litigation counsel for de Becker.
A little about Singer: the Hollywood lawyer has been in particular demand in the #MeToo era, representing purported perpetrators of sexual misconduct such as Bill Cosby (prior to the trial that led to the comedian's conviction) and director Brett Ratner. He's also done work on the other side, namely for Wendy Jaffe, the former Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. in-house counsel who accused her former general counsel of harassment and misconduct.
Revealed later in the missives is another familiar name from the #MeToo era. An email from AMI's counsel makes reference to an earlier letter sent on behalf of Bezos by lawyers at Boies Schiller Flexner.
The firm learned the hard way about the downside of being associated with celebrity clients when founding partner David Boies's work on behalf of Harvey Weinstein became part of the chronicling of Weinstein's downfall, bringing Boies under heavy criticism.
According to a lawyer at the firm, it's current Boies Schiller vice chairman William Isaacson—not Boies himself—who is representing Bezos and who wrote the Jan. 9 letter to AMI. The firm declined to comment further.
Washington, D.C.-based Isaacson assumed his current role at at the firm in December, as part of a wider reorganization in which Boies—who is continuing in the role of chairman and co-managing partner along with co-managing partner Jonathan Schiller—ceded administrative duties to a new four-member management committee.
A former American Lawyer litigator of the year, Isaacson is also no stranger to celebrity clients. His representation of now-deceased comedian Garry Shandling, famed for the Larry Sanders Show, bloomed into a nearly two decade friendship.
Bringing the relationship between the Bezos team full circle, both Isaacson and de Becker spoke at Shandling's 2016 memorial, referring unsparingly to another media titan: late Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey. As Shandling's former manager, Grey's alleged betrayal of his client drew Isaacson into the actor's orbit in 1998, leading to a $100 million lawsuit that was later settled for an undisclosed amount.
One can only wonder what the demand will be if Bezos takes his case against AMI to a courtroom as well.
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