Posts Tagged ‘Landed’

The Eagles Have Landed: Lawyers Take Over Hollywood

(PRWEB) July 5, 2005

Variety chief editor Peter Bart always had the feeling that “the folks who had it best in this town were the lawyers. They make the big bucks, control the top talent and exude an aura of invincibility. Agents may defect and management companies may capsize, but the legal eagles quietly ply their trade and collect their bills.”

And boy, was he right.

Without a boss, a budget to hit, or box office to worry about, is there a single reason for entertainment lawyers to defect from their unbeatable ranks?

Yet, several prominent counselors are increasingly relinquishing established client bases to turn into Studio executives, independent producers or talent agents. And when they do, they come back stronger than ever, like former SONY prexy Alan J. Levine.

Others hit the heights of the Studio system, like Warner CEO Barry Meyer.

And look – Peter Guber, Tom Pollock and Arthur Krim were all lawyers before running a Studio, even Stacey Snider and Tom Rothman both have law degrees.

And here’s some more that are making the leap.

Loeb & Loeb partner John Dellaverson, responsible among other things for expanding the firm’s European outreach, is now the producer at Lions Gate, behind sleeper hits like “Diary of Mad Blackwoman”.

Another Loeb & Loeb’s expatriate, former Catch 23 co-founder and president – Jeremy Barber, recently signed in at United Talent Agency to serve as an agent in the motion picture department.

After fifteen years at Troop Steuber Pasich Reddick & Tobey, Bruce Tobey segued as EVP at Paramount Pictures in 2001, and is now responsible for corporate development, information systems and digital entertainment at the Studio.

What’s more, the “lawyer escape syndrome” is starting to affect overseas practitioners.

With multiple bar memberships in his roster and a unique blend of European and U.S. business experience, Giovanni Pedde was appointed Paramount TV’s head of European Operations in 1998 and handed over four major distribution territories as well as production support duties.

Olswang’s Charles Moore became Fox Searchlight’s head of legal affairs in 1997, and only recently did he bring back his corporate know-how to UK media firm Wiggin.

Cameron McCracken, deputy managing director of Pathe in London, was also one of Olswang’s most notable attorneys, before landing executive production assignments such as Danny Boyle’s “Millions”.

And the list will continue, as entertainment lawyers keep bouncing back and forth between legal powerhouses and key production, programming and distribution posts in the industry. And what’s more, they’ll do it with unprecedented flexibility in handling the commercial and creative angles of their corporate jobs.

The metamorphosis is a natural evolution of what has been an established trend in the recording industry.

“These lawyers have used their negotiating skills, mental acuity, networking skills, and business savvy to elevate them in what seems like a natural progression of ability,” – recently said a commentator – “Over the last few decades, many of the major labels have promoted or hired lawyers to head up major divisions of their companies.”

And in the film industry – “We’re seeing a great number of managers that have taken over, that either come from a legal background or a business background,” adds economic reporter Richard Natale.

While the big Hollywood deals continue to be handled by longtime power brokers like Skip Brittenham or Bert Fields, a new breed of practitioners gets ready to jump into the corporate world. Younger and more rampant, equipped with a mix of creative and legal backgrounds, they use law practice as a training before loaning themselves out to Studios, production companies and talent agencies. Always ready to come back to their nest with invaluable know-how and enormously enhanced ties with an industry of potential clients.


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