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Editorial

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Who Represents Who

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Highlights for Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, hailed as ‘one of the premier M&A firms in the field’, include advising Amblin Partners and Steven Spielberg on the formation of Amblin Partners by DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment and Entertainment One. Faiza Saeed led the matter and is also assisting DreamWorks Animation, alongside Eric Schiele and Ting Chen, with its sale to NBCUniversal, totaling $4.1bn. The practice also has a notable contentious element and in a recent appeal before the Ninth Circuit, Karin DeMasi, Evan Chesler and Benjamin Gruenstein secured affirmation of a dismissal on behalf of DreamWorks Animation in a consolidated securities class action suit relating to the alleged misrepresentation of the financial performance of the company’s animated film Turbo. DeMasi and Chesler are also representing Warner Bros Entertainment and New Line Cinema in a dispute with Miramax and the Weinstein brothers regarding the revenue shares from the second and third installments of The Hobbit franchise. Other clients include ABC, Barnes & Noble, Time Warner and Vivendi. All attorneys mentioned are based in New York.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP assists clients across the media, entertainment and technology arena, and is noted for its advice to film and gaming clients. Examples include Otter Media and Machine Zone, the latter of which Century City-based group co-head Ruth Fisher advised on a spokesperson agreement with Arnold Schwarzenegger for the modern warfare game, Mobile Strike. The group also draws on the firm’s global footprint and recently advising Universal Pictures on a multi-year film financing agreement with Chinese production company Perfect World Pictures - the first such collaboration between a non-state-owned Chinese entertainment company and a major US studio. The firm is also advising Universal on its partnership with Amblin Partners. Department co-heads Scott Edelman and Orin Snyder, based in Century City and New York respectively, are recommended for contentious matters. Edelman is representing Discovery Communications in a budget fraud case and Snyder is acting for Yik Yak and its founders following an alleged breach of a partnership agreement. Benyamin Ross in Los Angeles made partner in 2016. Since publication, Stephen Tsoneff has moved into an in-house position at Madison Wells Media.

Latham & Watkins LLPcontinually delivers at the absolute highest level’ with ‘a professional and efficient approach that is unmatched in the market’. Led by the ‘exceptionalJoseph Calabrese, the team advises on transactional and contentious issues for a high-profile client list, which includes the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, MGM Studios and The Walt Disney Company. Recent highlights include advising Legendary Entertainment on its $3.5bn acquisition by Dalian Wanda Group, and assisting Participant Media with the formation of Amblin Partners, a joint venture with DreamWorks Studios, Reliance Media and Entertainment One. ‘Brilliant litigatorMarvin Putnam recently defended Steel House following an alleged counterfeit click fraud scheme, and is also acting for Open Road Films against The Weinstein Company in an issue regarding the upcoming Playmobil movie. Clients single out Christopher Brearton as ‘someone who is truly passionate about the industry’ and ‘a pleasure to work with’. The ‘absolutely excellentKenneth Deutsch, the ‘incredibly helpfulNancy Bruington and independent film and television expert Robert Haymer are other noteworthy names. All attorneys are based in the Century City office.

Craig Emanuel leads the team at Loeb & Loeb LLP, which advises across all elements of the entertainment industry and has substantial experience in the Chinese market. Stephen Saltzman heads the firm’s Asia entertainment practice, which is advising Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment Company on the development of a Universal Studios theme park in Beijing, and is also assisting Huayi Brothers Media Corp with the financing of a $350m multimedia entertainment joint venture with film directors the Russo brothers. John Frankenheimer leads the firm’s music industry practice and New York-based Marc Chamlin heads the television practice; Chamlin is particularly experienced in reality television issues. Entertainment finance is another key area and group head Mickey Mayerson advised Warren Beatty on the financing and distribution of the film Rules Don’t Apply. In New York, Carol Kaplan and Stefan Schick are recommended for theater work; productions they have advised on include Wicked, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Groundhog Day. Attorneys named, unless otherwise specified, are based in Los Angeles.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s Century City-based department fields ‘exceptional’ transactional and litigation teams, which cover a wide range of issues for clients including Miramax, Warner Bros Entertainment and FremantleMedia. The highly regarded Daniel Petrocelli leads the department’s contentious expertise and recently acted for Fox Broadcasting Company in a trademark infringement dispute relating to the hit television show Empire. Other highlights for Petrocelli included representing Sirius XM in multiple copyright lawsuits relating to performance rights for pre-1972 sound recordings and acting for pop star Kesha in a contract dispute with producer Lukasz Gottwald. The transactional team is led by Matthew Erramouspe, Stephen Scharf and Bruce Tobey, and has notable cross-border expertise, particularly in China; Erramouspe recently advised Alibaba on a co-production and finance deal with Amblin Partners, and Scharf assisted IMAX with the creation of an IMAX China Film Fund. Other mandates included assisting The Void with the creation of a Ghostbusters-themed virtual reality (VR) experience at Madame Tussauds New York and advising Revolution Studios on its acquisition of Tango Film’s movie library, which includes World War Z and Hugo. Litigator Molly Lens is also recommended.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLPstands out as one of the best in the media finance space’, advising clients on the financing of film, television and music projects. The New York-based team, led by John Burke, primarily acts for lenders, with a client roster including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase Securities and City National Bank. Recent highlights include advising CIT Bank on the financing via credit facility of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, handling a multi-year co-financing agreement with Warner Bros Entertainment for RatPac-Dune Entertainment, and assisting East West Bank with the financing of multiple television and movie projects, including Orange is the New Black, War of the Planet of the Apes, and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Other key names include Marissa Román Griffith, Christopher Spicer and senior counsel Alissa Miller.

Clients single out Debevoise & Plimpton LLP for its ability to ‘always do a terrific job navigating complex and high-profile issues’ while ‘providing consistently top-quality solutions’. In a notable highlight, practice co-head Jonathan Levitsky advised Discovery Communications on its investment in Lionsgate, and Lionsgate’s subsequent $4.4bn acquisition of Starz. Other clients include Amazon.com and the NFL; co-head Michael Schaper is representing the latter in a class action brought by former players regarding payment for continued use of old game footage. The team also operates in the private equity space and recently assisted The Carlyle Group with its investment in production company NEP Group. Co-head Michael Diz is noted for his telecoms expertise, clients praise ‘impressive’ IP litigator David Bernstein and M&A specialist Richard Bohm is recommended. All attorneys are based in New York.

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC’s ‘outstanding’ team is ‘exceptional in the media arena’ providing ‘spot-on, responsive and well-considered advice’, which garners ‘a perfect performance score’ from clients. The practice is ‘brilliant across the board’, particularly in film, theater and television, with notable talent representation through Los Angeles-based Andrew Hurwitz. Example clients include Tom McCarthy, James Gunn and Frozen director Jennifer Lee; Hurwitz is advising Lee on a deal to create a Broadway version of the Disney musical. Further highlights for the department included acting for Hasbro and its film label Allspark Pictures in a collaboration with Paramount Pictures to create films based on Hasbro toys, and advising the Roald Dahl Estate on licensing deals with major studios, licensing the estate’s books for film and television purposes. The New York-based practice is co-led by Michael Williams and Richard Heller, and clients recommend the ‘highly collaborative’ Richard Hofstetter and Victoria Cook, who is ‘extraordinary’.

Los Angeles-based Irell & Manella LLP excels in both transactional and contentious matters, led by Joshua Grode and Steven Marenberg respectively. An impressive client roster includes The Walt Disney Company, Lionsgate, Miramax and Warner Bros Entertainment. Marenberg recently defended United Talent Agency in an antitrust and business tort lawsuit, securing a dismissal for the client, and Grode advised Dalian Wanda Group on its $3.5bn acquisition of Legendary Entertainment. Grode is also assisting the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with the issuance of $341m in ‘Oscar Bonds’ to finance a new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Litigator Robert Schwartz is highly praised by clients and successfully defended CBS in a copyright suit relating to pre-1972 sound recordings.

Jenner & Block LLP’s ‘unparalleled combination of technical skill and commercial pragmatism’ makes it ‘one of the best for litigation’, particularly copyright infringement, trademark and contract disputes. Recent highlights include New York-based practice co-head Andrew Bart acting for Jay Z in a copyright infringement issue relating to the use of a sampled composition in the song Big Pimpin’ and representing Kanye West in a proposed class action relating to the album The Life of Pablo and the alleged misrepresentation of its exclusive streaming rights on streaming service Tidal. Los Angeles-based department co-head Richard Stone is defending Fox Broadcasting Company in multiple copyright infringement cases regarding the television show Empire, one of which relates to the character Cookie Lyon, which the plaintiff claims is based on a story told in her autobiography. Other clients include 21st Century Fox, Electronic Arts and FanDuel. Anthony Basich joined from Hogan Lovells US LLP and clients single out ‘real star’ David Singer; both are based in Los Angeles. Special counsel David Sussman joined the New York office in 2017.

The ‘excellent’ Lindsay Conner and music expert Gary Gilbert lead the entertainment and media practice at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, which ‘stands out as one of the best among the overwhelming abundance of firms in Los Angeles’, and is ‘responsive, proactive and knowledgeable’, with ‘a bright and creative approach’. Conner also leads the firm’s film, television and digital content team, and recently advised Sony Pictures Entertainment on a slate co-financing deal in the VR space, the first deal of its kind. ‘Zealous advocate and confidence-building ally’ Robert Jacobs is recommended for contentious issues and is representing Warner Bros Records in a lawsuit against Avenged Sevenfold following the band’s attempt to end its contract with the label. Lee Phillips is another key name for music-related mandates and Charles Biederman is ‘bright, diplomatic and forward thinking’. All attorneys mentioned are based in Los Angeles.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP’s New York-based team covers a wide range of matters, including IP issues, M&A and litigation. Corporate department head Robert Schumer, Ariel Deckelbaum and practice deputy chair Justin Hamill are key names; Hamill recently advised WME IMG Holdings on its acquisition of Ultimate Fighting Championship and also acted for Vice Media in its joint venture with A+E Networks to launch Viceland, a new 24-hour cable channel. Other clients include DreamWorks Animation and Imagine Entertainment; Deckelbaum is advising the latter on an investment into the company by The Raine Group. Robert Zochowski is recommended for media financing mandates and practice head Charles Googe focuses on talent deals.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP advises clients across the film, television, gaming, digital and technology sectors at a national and international level. Amazon Studios is a key client for the team and Robert Darwell regularly advises on the client’s film and television productions; examples include Café Society and Manchester by the Sea. Other clients include Supermassive Games, which Robb Klein advised on its hit game, Until Dawn; Oculus VR, for which Shaun Clark is handling several agreements related to VR content production; and Tang Media Partners, which Clark and Linda Michaelson are advising on its acquisition of IM Global. Martin Katz and James Curry are recommended for contentious issues; Katz defended Global Eagle Entertainment in several high-profile music copyright cases. All named attorneys are based in Century City.

Sidley Austin LLP’s newly opened Century City office bolsters the firm’s Los Angeles-based practice, which excels in M&A transactions, litigation, IP, private equity issues, and film and television financing. Century City-based Matthew Thompson leads the department; he recently advised Entertainment One on its involvement in the formation of Amblin Partners and is also assisting Mark Burnett, Roma Downey and Hearst with the disposal of their interest in United Artists Media Group to MGM Studios. Film finance expert Richard Petretti and Russell Weiss, both based in Century City, joined from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Morrison & Foerster LLP respectively; Weiss is handling an option and acquisition of rights agreement with Lionsgate on behalf of Take-Two Interactive Software that would allow Lionsgate to produce films based on the client’s Borderlands video game franchise. Los Angeles-based litigator Bradley Ellis and IP specialist Stephen Fronk in San Francisco are recommended.

Arent Fox LLP’s Washington DC-based department stands out for its IP expertise, with practice head Anthony Lupo a ‘go-to attorney’ in the field. In a recent highlight, Lupo represented key client Discovery Communications in a trademark dispute with tire manufacturer Continental relating to one of its tire products named Eurosport, which is also the name of one of Discovery Communications’ television channels; Lupo is also advising Diane Von Furstenberg on IP issues regarding a new television show. Michael Grow is recognized for his trademark expertise and is handling trademark issues for Warner Bros Entertainment surrounding multiple film and television productions, including Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz. Music copyright expert Paul Fakler in New York counts Music Choice and Sirius XM Radio among his clients; he is representing the latter before the Copyright Royalty Board in the webcasting IV royalty rate proceedings.

Dentons’ department, led by Natalie Spears and David Blood, is recognized for its contentious and regulatory strength representing clients in Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) and Video Rental Privacy Act (VRPA) class actions and First Amendment issues. Recent highlights include defending Dow Jones & Company in a national class action alleging violations of the VPPA, defending Condé Nast in a VRPA putative class action, and representing the Chicago Tribune Company in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit regarding the private emails and text messages of the Mayor of Chicago. Other standout work includes James Klenk and St Louis-based Roger Heidenreich representing the St Louis Rams (now the Los Angeles Rams) in multiple class actions relating to the franchise’s relocation. Attorneys named, unless otherwise stated, are based in Chicago.

At Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, transactional specialist Michael Hobel heads the Century City-based department, which is recognized for its strength advising clients in the entertainment content, animation and merchandising sectors, as well as in financing transactions, corporate issues and litigation. Hobel is advising Media Rights Capital on multiple film and television development and production transactions, including deals with Netflix regarding House of Cards and Ozark, and is also assisting Home Box Office (HBO) with issues relating to its original programming, including Game of Thrones. On the contentious side, David Halberstadter successfully defended Summit Entertainment in a First Amendment suit relating to the film The Hurt Locker brought by an Iraq War veteran who claimed the film was based on his life. Other noteworthy names include animation specialist Susan Grode, Zia Modabber, who has notable expertise in music issues, and litigator Joel Weiner.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s copyright, trademark, internet and advertising group advises media and entertainment clients across a wide range of IP issues; recent highlights include representing Fox News Network in a copyright infringement lawsuit against TVEyes and acting for Take-Two Interactive Software in a lawsuit in which Take-Two allegedly infringed a tattoo artist’s copyrights by accurately depicting the tattoos of NBA players in the NBA 2K16 video game. Dale Cendali led the matters and is recognized also for her Broadway expertise; Cendali is representing Anastasia Musical in a plagiarism suit. Other clients include Facebook, FremantleMedia and Droga5. Johanna Schmitt and Claudia Ray are also recommended. Joshua Simmons made partner in 2016. All attorneys mentioned are based in New York.

Proskauer Rose LLP advises clients across transactional and contentious issues, with particular expertise negotiating and structuring distribution deals. Recent transactional highlights include Robert Freeman advising Discovery Communications on its minority investment in Group Nine Media and Joseph Leccese assisting Omnigon Communications with the sale of a majority stake to Infron Sports & Media, a transaction which leveraged the firm’s sports strength. On the contentious side, the team regularly advises on copyright infringement, particularly in the music space through Sandra Crawshaw-Sparks, chair of the firm’s entertainment, copyright and media practice. Highlights for Crawshaw-Sparks included successfully defending Lady Gaga in a copyright infringement case relating to her single Judas, and representing Madonna and WB Music in copyright infringement litigation surrounding the song Vogue, which plaintiffs allege contains unauthorized samples. Other clients include The Broadway League, Hulu and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. All named attorneys are based in New York.

At Pryor Cashman LLP, James Janowitz leads the New York-based entertainment group, which is recognized for its contentious expertise, particularly in copyright and trademark issues for music industry clients. Brad Rose, chair of the firm’s IP practice, and Tom Ferber successfully represented Beyoncé in a copyright infringement case relating to the trailer for her album Lemonade, and also defended Kanye West in a trademark infringement matter arising from the film Loisaidas, successfully obtaining a dismissal. Other clients include EMI Music Publishing, the cast of Hamilton and TMZ. Key names include David Rose, litigation practice head Donald Zakarin and Frank Scibilia; Scibilia successfully defended the Barenaked Ladies in a royalties lawsuit regarding the band’s theme song to the television show The Big Bang Theory.

Reed Smith LLP’s entertainment and media group was established in 2015 and advises corporate clients and talent across several sectors, including television, film, publishing and online content. Stephen Sessa and London-based Gregor Pryor jointly lead the group, which gives clients ‘seamless teamwork and bespoke attention’ and includes the highly praised Michael Sherman, who ‘leaves no stone unturned and provides a great service that is always superior’. Highlights for Sherman included advising CIT Finance on providing credit facilities to Village Roadshow Pictures, Legendary Pictures and The Weinstein Company, and assisting Treehouse Pictures with the recovery of the international distribution rights to Sand Castle from 17 territorial distributors. Chair of the television practice Leif Reinstein is advising Wildside on the financing of The Young Pope, and is also assisting David Lynch with the financing and production deals for the new Twin Peaks television series. Other clients include Miramax, Blumhouse Productions and Oriental DreamWorks. Attorneys named, unless otherwise mentioned, are based in Century City.

David Eisman leads Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s Los Angeles-based entertainment group, which is focused on transactional matters and regularly receives work from film, television and talent agency clients. Eisman recently advised United Talent Agency on its acquisition of The Agency Group and also advised the client on an investment by Jeff Ubben, founder of ValueAct Capital. Other clients include Omnia Media and Relativity Media; the group assisted the latter with the sale of its television division. The practice also utilizes the firm’s global footprint, regularly advising on cross-border mandates; examples include advising RatPac Entertainment on the development of a China-focused content fund and handling a joint venture with Yahoo! Japan for BuzzFeed.

The ‘extremely responsive, cutting-edge and highly experienced’ New York-based team at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLPalways puts the client first, tailoring guidance specifically to the situation’s needs’ and ‘providing a unique and valuable perspective’. Bruce Rich, whose ‘acumen and industry knowledge is second to none’, and Howard Chatzinoff lead the group, which is noted for its strength in music copyright law. Recent highlights include representing Sirius XM in a music royalty rate-setting proceeding before the CRB, and acting for Pandora Media before the CRB, obtaining favorable sound recording royalty rates for the client. Outside the music space, Rich is representing multiple publishers in a copyright infringement action against Georgia State University. Other clients include Facebook, Alibaba and AMC Entertainment. Clients praise Benjamin Marks, who is ‘practical and really knows his stuff’.

The ‘superb’ team of ‘top-notch litigators’ at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington DC ‘responds instantly with efficient and effective advice’ and includes ‘negotiators that are at the top of their game and are tough but always pleasant’. The department ‘shines in First Amendment and libel disputes’, regularly representing newspapers, magazines, publishers, journalists and authors. Recent highlights include acting for ABC and three of its journalists in a defamation and libel case arising from several World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer news reports and representing multiple Washington Post journalists who were subpoenaed to identify confidential sources. The ‘sophisticated’ Thomas Hentoff and ‘stellar thinker’ Kevin Baine lead the group, and Robert Barnett is noted for his work advising authors, journalists and political figures on book deals; his high-profile client list includes President George W Bush, James Patterson and multiple members of Congress. Clients single out ‘one-in-a-generation trial lawyer’ Dane Butswinkas.

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