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Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Media and entertainment
  2. Leading lawyers
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Who Represents Who

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At Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Scott Edelman and New York-based Orin Snyder are the key names for litigation, while Ruth Fisher leads the transactional team. On the transactional side, the practice handles M&A, film financings and joint ventures; Fisher led advice to Sony Pictures Television Networks in its $150m acquisition of Japanese anime distributor Funimation Productions, Benyamin Ross and Kevin Masuda (who joined the firm from Munger, Tolles & Olson in 2017) were involved in Azoff MSG Entertainment’s merger of its talent management business with The Ohana Group and The Creed Company, and the team acted for YuppTV regarding an investment from Emerald Media. Highlights for the litigation team included acting for Machine Zone in a fraud and breach of contract dispute, Snyder defending AMC Networks in two profit participation cases relating to The Walking Dead, and advising Lady Gaga on her involvement in the defamation dispute brought by Dr Luke against Kesha. Other key practitioners include Theodore Boutrous Jr, who is voluntarily acting for media outlets and individuals who are being sued by President Trump after bringing allegations of sexual assault; sports expert Richard Birns in New York, and Ari Lanin, who handles private equity transactions. Attorneys mentioned, unless otherwise specified, are based in Los Angeles.

Joseph Calabrese heads the Century City-based department at Latham & Watkins LLP, which leverages its global footprint in handling cross-border media and entertainment deals; recent examples include advising Netflix on its acquisition of comic book publisher Millarworld and acting for EuropaCorp in multiple credit facilities, distribution agreements and picture financings. The group also acted for Anonymous Content in the sale of a minority stake to Emerson Collective, assisted Starz Entertainment with its merger with Lionsgate Entertainment, and handled AMC Networks’ acquisition of a minority stake in Funny or Die. The practice also has litigation expertise through the ‘highly regardedMarvin Putnam, who is representing MSG Forum in a challenge to the City of Inglewood’s plans to construct a new arena for the Los Angeles Clippers, acting for International Creative Management in an internal investigation following sexual assault claims made by a former Fox News contributor, and defending Beyoncé in copyright litigation relating to the music video for Formation. Clients praise financing specialist Nancy Bruington, transactional lawyer Christopher Brearton and the ‘brilliantRobert Haymer.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP fields well-regarded transactional and litigation teams from its Century City office, which handle an array of matters including M&A deals, joint ventures, financing transactions, distribution and licensing agreements, and bet-the-company litigation. Clients include FremantleMedia and Lionsgate Entertainment; Bruce Tobey led advice to the latter in the sale of its stake in Epix to MGM. Silvia Vannini also assisted Warner Bros Entertainment with its acquisition of Machinima, Stephen Scharf handled Imagine Entertainment’s formation of a co-financing venture with TVB Venture Investment, and Matthew Erramouspe acted for Top Rank in the negotiation of a multi-year contract with ESPN. Daniel Petrocelli leads the group’s litigation work; he is defending AT&T and Time Warner in an antitrust suit seeking to block the clients’ merger, is acting for Sirius XM Radio in copyright litigation pertaining to performance rights for pre-1972 sound recordings, and is representing the Walt Disney Company in a copyright dispute relating to Zootopia. Molly Lens is ‘exceptional’, litigator Drew Breuder made partner in 2017 and sports specialists Charles Baker and Irwin Raij joined the firm in 2017 from DLA Piper LLP (US) and Foley & Lardner LLP respectively.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is ‘the clear leader for entertainment financings’, acting for lenders, investors and financiers, including CIT Bank, Bank of America, City National Bank and Finch Finance. John Burke leads the group from Los Angeles and recently advised MUFG Union Bank on multiple television and film financings, including a $146m loan for Pacific Rim: Uprising, a $50m loan for season three of Narcos and a $55m loan facility for The Spy Who Dumped Me. Burke also assisted Comerica Bank with the financing of Dear White People, Max Steel and Chaos Walking and advised SunTrust Bank with the financing of Lost in Space and Detroit. Christopher Spicer is singled out as ‘the rising star of the media finance field’; he advised JPMorgan Chase on a $35m loan facility provided to Black Bear Pictures for the movie Suburbicon, and acted for East West Bank regarding a $67m facility to Bona Film Group, a production loan for season six of Orange is the New Black, and a $10m print and advertising loan relating to Collide. Non-lender clients include RatPac Dune Entertainment, Image Nation and Endgame Entertainment. Marissa Román Griffith and Alissa Miller are also recommended.

As ‘one of the key firms in this space for both transactions and litigation’, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP provides advice to ‘an unbelievably high-profile client roster’ that includes the likes of the Walt Disney Company, Barnes & Noble and Cable One. Presiding partner Faiza Saeed is the ‘go-to corporate partner in the group’; her recent work includes advising Amblin Partners on a minority investment by Universal Filmed Entertainment and assisting Time Warner with its pending $109bn sale to AT&T. Clients also praise the ‘exceptionally talentedTing Chen. Key names in the disputes practice include Karin DeMasi and Evan Chesler, who recently represented DreamWorks Animation in litigation related to an SEC investigation – the investigation itself was handled by Benjamin Gruenstein. DeMasi is also the main contact for HBO, advising the client on issues surrounding its programs and content. All attorneys mentioned are based in New York. Eric Schiele joined Kirkland & Ellis LLP in 2018.

Clients ‘have had nothing but positive experiences’ with Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC’s ‘extremely knowledgeable and highly professional’ New York-based practice, which has ‘a great combination of team characters’, including ‘top talentMichael Williams and the ‘brilliantRichard Heller, who jointly lead the department. The ‘wise, smart, patient and hardworkingAndrew Hurwitz is the key name for talent work in the Los Angeles office, Victoria Cook is ‘one of the pre-eminent representatives of filmmakers, particularly in the documentary world’, and Richard Hofstetterknows the ins and outs of the television business from every possible perspective’. Highlights included defending Hasbro in a copyright infringement dispute, assisting Praxis Films and Laura Poitras with the clearance and distribution of her new documentary Risk, and negotiating deals for Aaron Sorkin relating to Molly’s Game, his Broadway adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird and his adaptation of A Few Good Men for television. Robert De Niro, the Roald Dahl Literary Estate, Time, Take-Two Interactive Software and James Gunn are also clients.

At Jenner & Block LLP, the ‘smart, practical, down-to-earth and responsive’ litigation-focused group is highly regarded in the IP arena, handling copyright infringement and trademark disputes for a client base spanning film, TV and music. New York-based practice head Andrew Bart is ‘a key name in the music industry’; he recently acted for EMI and EMI Music Publishing in a copyright infringement case against Mp3tunes in which it distributed EMI’s copyrighted works without permission, and defended Roc Nation in a copyright lawsuit brought by the estate of Prince over the rights to stream the artist’s music catalogue on streaming service, Tidal. Other work for the team included successfully representing the estate of Elaine Steinbeck in a dispute relating to the rights to John Steinbeck’s literary works, and assisting 21st Century Fox’s virtual reality division, FoxNext, with its acquisition of mobile game creator Aftershock. Other notable names include Kenneth Doroshow and copyright specialist Steven Englund (both based in Washington DC), New York-based Susan Kohlmann and the ‘highly regardedRichard Stone in Los Angeles.

Loeb & Loeb LLP’s practice is highly regarded for its entertainment finance and production advice; Los Angeles-based department head Scott Edel advised Alcon Entertainment on the production financing and distribution of Blade Runner 2049 and assisted Black Label Media with the distribution and financing of multiple films, including La La Land, Rebel in the Rye and 12 Strong. In New York, Marc Chamlin is the go-to name for television work - his clients include Oprah Winfrey and multiple reality television production companies; and Carol Kaplan and Stefan Schick are key names for theater work. Other noteworthy practitioners include Ivy Kagan Bierman in Los Angeles, who is a specialist in entertainment-related labor law; New York-based department deputy chair Roger Arar, Los Angeles-based John Frankenheimer, who heads the music group; and Debra White, who acts for recording artists, songwriters, producers and record companies. Recent mandates include White advising Tencent Music Entertainment Group on its licensing agreement with Universal Music Group, Arar assisting AMC Networks with multiple television series’ including The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Walking Dead and season three of Humans; and Frankenheimer acting for Warner Music Group on the acquisition and financing of multiple music publishing catalogues. In March 2018, Stephen Saltzman, Susan Zuckerman Williams, Craig Emanuel, Mickey Mayerson and Erik Hyman joined Paul Hastings LLP’s new Century City office.

At Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, Lindsay Conner is the key name for film and television work, while Charles Biederman and Gary Gilbert jointly lead the music practice, and John Gatti focuses on entertainment litigation. In a recent highlight, Conner and Sophia Yen acted for Sony Pictures Entertainment on the first-ever slate co-financing deal in the virtual reality space; Conner also advised the Tornante Company on a fifth season pickup agreement with Netflix relating to BoJack Horseman and assisted IMAX with film distribution regulations in over 70 countries. Other highlights for the department included representing Johnny Depp in a professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claim against his former business managers; acting for Warner Bros Records in a dispute with Avenged Sevenfold relating to the band’s attempt to end its contract with the label, and representing Twentieth Century Fox in litigation against Bay City and Grupo Televisa for the non-payment of licensing fees owed for the broadcast of King of the Hill and The Simpsons. All attorneys mentioned are based in Los Angeles.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP’s practice has ‘a detailed and up-to-date understanding of the market through a team of incredibly responsive and helpful individuals’ who ‘are all excellent across the board’. On the transactional side, Robb Klein, Linda Michaelson and David Sands are key names to note, while Martin Katz handles litigation work. Recent highlights include advising Vice Media on the negotiation of multiple development and production agreements, acting for Oculus VR and Oculus Story Studios regarding agreements relating to the production and distribution of virtual reality content, and advising on development, financing, production and distribution for various productions for Amazon Studios, including Logan Lucky and Wonder Wheel. ‘Brilliant practitioner’ Daniel Schnapp is ‘detailed oriented, careful and pragmatic’ and joined the New York office from Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP; his recent work includes advising Bandsintown on an alliance with Universal Music Group, and assisting the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) with a multi-year license agreement with Google. Named attorneys, unless otherwise specified, are based in Century City.

A ‘top-notch name in the music space’, the New York-based team at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP recently represented Pandora Media in a trial in which the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) set favorable sound recording royalty rates for the client, a decision which is being appealed by others in the music industry; and acted for Sirius XM in a music royalty rate setting proceeding before the CRB; Bruce Rich and Todd Larson led on both matters. Clients also praise Howard Chatzinoff, who is a key name for transactional work; the ‘excellentBenjamin Marks; Michael Aiello, who is advising Scripps Networks Interactive on its $15bn merger with Discovery Communications; and Yehudah Buchweitz, who is defending Showtime Networks in several putative class actions brought by customers who had paid to watch the ‘Fight of the Century’ but were unable to do so due to alleged insufficient bandwidth and server systems. Simon & Schuster, Alibaba Group and Univision are also clients.

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IP specialist Finnegan detail how their collaborative approach makes for a unique culture which is designed to allow them to work with clients in a way which is cognizant of the challenges facing all companies today.

Arent Fox LLP handles work across the television, film, music and gaming sectors, with notable expertise acting for non-fiction television clients; examples include Animal Planet, the Oprah Winfrey Network and the Science Channel. The team also regularly works for Discovery Communications; recent highlights include advising on its trademark and copyright portfolio, assisting with the IP aspects of its investment in Group Nine Media, and handling its acquisition of Eurosport. The practice is also highly regarded for its IP expertise; ‘consummate professional’ Michael Grow and Elizabeth Cohen advised Warner Bros Entertainment on trademark issues surrounding Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz and Gossip Girl. The group acted for the Saul Zaentz Company regarding the trademark portfolio of JRR Tolkien’s works, including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit; and Paul Fakler assisted HBO with various IP and copyright matters, including registering copyright claims for Game of Thrones. Anthony Lupo leads the Washington DC-based department and advertising and fashion specialist Matthew Mills made partner in 2017.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLPalways provides the absolute best quality of work’, with ‘deep sector knowledge, competitive dynamics and an exceptional understanding of key industry trends’ making it ‘unreservedly recommended’. Highlights included corporate specialist Jonathan Levitsky advising Discovery Communications on its $15bn acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive, acting for Tribune Media Company in its $6.6bn sale to Sinclair Broadcasting Group, and Jeremy Feigelson successfully representing Viacom in a privacy lawsuit that alleged the client had disclosed the online viewing activity of children violating the Video Privacy Protection Act, as well as acting for Take-Two Interactive Software in a right of publicity claim relating to characters in Grand Theft Auto V who allegedly look similar to real individuals. The team also advised Guggenheim Securities and JP Morgan Securities as financial advisers to the Walt Disney Company regarding its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, and handled Time’s sale to Meredith. Other key practitioners include telecoms expert Michael Diz, cyber specialist James Pastore and litigator Michael Schaper. All attorneys are based in New York.

Dentons’ ‘outstanding’ practice is led by the ‘exceptionalNatalie Spears in Chicago and advises on a variety of media and communications matters. Recent highlights include representing Condé Nast in a putative class action alleging the client sent unsolicited junk mail and promotional phone calls to plaintiffs and sold the resulting information, assisting MGM Studios with the production guidelines and privacy issues surrounding two television programs, and advising Poker Central on all elements of the development, production and launch of a new subscription digital and mobile content network. Other clients include Tribune Publishing, St Louis Rams, Rodale and CRTV. The department is recognized for defending Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) and Video Rental Privacy Act (VRPA) class actions, and handling reality television matters. Clients also praise the ‘incredible’ David Blood in Los Angeles, who focuses on transactional work. James Klenk retired.

Key names in Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP’s ‘extremely talented team’ include corporate partner Robert Schumer, M&A specialist Ariel Deckelbaum, Justin Hamill, who is ‘incredibly well versed in the field and extremely dedicated to the client and its needs’; finance expert Robert Zochowski, who is ‘highly knowledgeable and unbelievably responsive’; and ‘savvy litigatorsJonathan Kanter and Jay Cohen in Washington DC. The group acts for a diverse client roster, including Vice Media and Manitoba Telecom Services; the team advised the latter on its acquisition by BCE. Other highlights included assisting 21st Century Fox with multiple internal investigations relating to sexual harassment claims brought against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and political commentator Bill O’Reilly, representing Altice USA in a carriage discrimination complaint brought by the Game Show Network, and advising Endeavor on the formation of a China-based subsidiary. Attorneys listed are based in New York, unless otherwise specified.

As ‘the go-to name for First Amendment advice and defamation work’, Williams & Connolly LLP counts top media companies and high-profile individuals as noteworthy clients; examples include Bloomberg, President Bill Clinton, Senator Elizabeth Warren and American Broadcasting Company. Kevin Baine and Thomas Hentoff jointly lead the Washington DC-based department. Baine’s recent highlights include defending 21st Century Fox in a defamation suit brought by a former police detective who claims he was misquoted in a news report relating to the murder of a Democratic National Committee staffer, and defending HBO and John Oliver in a defamation matter brought by Murray Energy and its CEO regarding alleged false and malicious statements made by Oliver on Last Week Tonight. Hentoff acted for Discovery Communications in a matter alleging copyright infringement, idea theft and breach of contract relating to an idea for a television program. Robert Barnett is the key contact for authors; he recently advised President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on their memoir contracts.

Highlights for the ‘excellent’ practice at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP included advising Millarworld on its sale to Netflix, assisting Madison Square Garden with its separate acquisitions of majority stakes in Counter Logic Gaming and Tao Group, and negotiating various endorsement agreements for John Varvatos Enterprises, including an agreement with Warner Music for a new line of Green Day apparel and a merchandising and marketing deal with Bravado relating to Guns N’ Roses merchandise. Matthew Syrkin leads the department; he recently worked with Charles Samuelson to advise AMC Networks on brand license and programming license agreements regarding several proposed investments and joint ventures, and acted for Dave and Eggsy in comic book artist and writer agreements. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MPG Concepts, Soundtrack Your Brand Sweden, Bumble Trading and CBS are also clients. Kenneth Lefkowitz is also recommended; he focuses on M&A deals, hostile takeovers, joint ventures and private equity transactions. All attorneys are based in New York.

Following Joshua Grode’s move to Legendary Entertainment, media litigation specialist Steven Marenberg is now the name to note in Irell & Manella LLP’s Los Angeles-based department. Marenberg’s recent work includes defending United Talent Agency in an antitrust and business tort lawsuit brought by another talent agency relating to the client’s ‘packaging deals’, which allegedly violate the Sherman Act; and defending Universal Pictures in a class action alleging that its marketing of Warcraft violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.The firm also acted for Take-Two Interactive Software in a putative class action alleging the client violated the Biometric Information Privacy Act with its NBA 2K video game series; represented Snapchat and its co-founders in a right of publicity suit brought by two individuals who claim their photographs were used to promote the app without their consent, and defended Studiocanal and Vivendi against actor Harry Shearer, who brought a contingent compensation claim against the studios relating to his royalties for This Is Spinal Tap. The Walt Disney Company, Lionsgate, HBO, Marvel Studios and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are also clients. Since publication, litigator Robert Schwartz has moved to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP is recognized for its transactional expertise, with substantial experience in entertainment content, animation, merchandising, litigation and private equity work. Michael Hobel leads the Los Angeles-based department, which also counts litigators David Halberstadter and Joel Weiner, animation and merchandising specialist Susan Grode, and Zia Modabber, who focuses on music litigation, as key names. In a recent highlight, Modabber represented the estate of Michael Jackson in claims brought by his former record producer Quincy Jones alleging that the estate allowed others to produce remixes of Jackson’s music, which violated his producer agreements. Other mandates for the team included Halberstadter representing Starz Entertainment, Anchor Bay Entertainment and CBS Television Studios in two copyright infringement disputes relating to the television series Power; Hobel advising HBO on Game of Thrones-related transactions as well as licensing and production arrangements for The Leftovers, Outcast and Sharp Objects; and assisting Media Rights Capital with the development and production of films and television programs, including Counterpart, House of Cards and Ozark. The team’s client roster also includes AMC Networks, Hulu, Lance Armstrong, Stevie Wonder and Paramount Pictures.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP has ‘a passion for the industry, which means its advice is always on point and given in a timely manner’. The New York-based team is noted for its IP expertise, assisting clients with copyright and trademark issues; recent examples include representing 21st Century Fox in a copyright appeal against TVEyes claiming the defendant’s searchable database of television programming infringes its copyrights; managing J.K. Rowling’s trademark portfolio in the US; and defending Damien Hirst in copyright, trade dress and unfair competition claims brought by a Canadian artist relating to Hirst’s pill-inspired jewelry line. Other clients include Facebook, Droga5, Take-Two Interactive Software and FremantleMedia North America. Dale Cendali, whose ‘reputation and expertise are unparalleled’, is ‘the go-to person for IP assistance’ and is highly regarded for theater work; she is acting for the producers and playwright of the Broadway musical production of Anastasia in a copyright infringement lawsuit. Claudia Ray, Johanna Schmitt and Joshua Simmons are also recommended. Shanti Sadtler Conway and Mary Mazzello were promoted to the partnership in 2017, and Eric Schiele joined in 2018 from Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP.

Proskauer Rose LLP’s experience in content distribution deals was evident in its recent work; the team advised Altice on the renewal of its distribution agreements with Disney and EPSN Media Networks and acted for Major League Soccer on a distribution deal with Facebook to stream regular season games on Facebook Live. Other transactional work for the department included advising Hulu on the launch of its live subscription television service, assisting Discovery Communications with a joint venture agreement with The Enthusiast Network, and handling the acquisitions of NBC- and Fox Network-affiliated television stations for Bain Capital Credit. Robert Freeman is the key name for transactions, while Sandra Crawshaw-Sparks focuses on music litigation; she represented Lady Gaga in a copyright infringement case brought by a French sculptor who claims the Born This Way album cover infringes several of her works, and acted for Madonna in a copyright lawsuit relating to Vogue, which plaintiffs allege uses unauthorized samples. Other noteworthy practitioners include litigator Alexander Kaplan and senior counsel Paresh Trivedi. All attorneys are based in New York.

Pryor Cashman LLP is ‘a standout name for clients in the music industry’ and assists with transactions, copyright litigation and trademark disputes. Recent highlights include advising the National Music Publishers’ Association on a statement to the CRB relating to the proposed 2018-2022 rates to be paid by interactive streaming and limited download services; acting for Bruno Mars and Atlantic Records in a copyright infringement suit relating to Grenade, which plaintiffs allege copies theme and lyrics from another song; and obtaining a dismissal for Ricky Martin in a copyright and trademark infringement dispute. Outside the music arena, the group also acted for Speedee Distribution in a breach of contract dispute against The Weinstein Company, and advised the producers of the film I Can Only Imagine on various issues. Litigator James Janowitz heads the department from New York, which also includes Donald Zakarin, digital media specialist Frank Scibilia, Tom Ferber and Brad Rose. Michael Novicoff joined the firm’s Los Angeles office from legacy firm Liner LLP.

Stephen Sessa and Gregor Pryor jointly lead Reed Smith LLP’s group, which also includes James Sully, who joined from London-based Sheridans in 2016, Leif Reinstein and Michael Sherman. The department handles matters across the music, television and film industries, including film and television financings, production and distribution matters, publishing issues and work relating to advertising and marketing. Sully’s recent work includes advising recording artists on recording, publishing, merchandising, touring, sponsorships and endorsement agreements, while Reinstein acted for a motion picture company on the financing of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a new Western anthology by the Coen brothers made for Netflix. Highlights for Sherman included advising a production company on the financing of the Benji remake and assisting a lender with a senior credit facility for the financing of Johnny Depp film LAbyrinth. Named attorneys are based in Century City, except Pryor, who is based in London.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is recognized for its transactional expertise in the media and entertainment space; recent mandates include advising 21st Century Fox on its $15bn acquisition of the remaining stake of Sky, assisting Hulu with its sale of a 10% stake to Time Warner, and handling Wenner Media’s sale of Us Weekly to American Media. Google is also a key client for the group; the team recently advised it on multiple M&A matters, including its separate acquisitions of mobile app developer Fabric, AI company Dialogflow (formerly API.AI) and video software platform provider Anvato. Los Angeles-based David Eisman leads the practice, which also fields Howard Ellin and banking specialist Stephanie Teicher, both based in New York; Teicher assisted Morgan Stanley Senior Funding with a $500m credit facility to Shutterfly and a $1.1bn credit facility to Snap.

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