Media and entertainment: transactional in United States
The Century City-based entertainment, sports and media practice at Latham & Watkins LLP boast impressive experience in the sector with strong cross-border capabilities. In a recent work highlight, practice head Joseph A. Calabrese advised Hollywood Foreign Press Association on the negotiation of an agreement for the US broadcast rights to the Golden Globe Awards on traditional network television and various new media platforms. Alongside Robert D. Haymer he also acted for Skydance in connection with Tencent’s acquisition of a minority interest in the company. Nancy A. Bruington handles a range of financing transactions and assisted Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) with the refinancing of its existing revolving and term loan credit facility and execution of a new second lien term loan facility. The group also frequently advises Lions Gate Entertainment, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Netflix; Kenneth T. Deutsch in Los Angeles led advice to the latter on the structuring and negotiation of co-production and distribution arrangements for the upcoming motion pictures Klaus and Over the Moon, which were co-produced with parties in Spain and China respectively. Changes to the team include Christopher Brearton's departure to an in-house role at MGM, and Justin Hamill's arrival in the New York office from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
The 'sophisticated' practice at O'Melveny & Myers LLP 'adeptly services the overlap between pure media and entertainment, and corporate' and leverages 'a deep bench of industry knowledge' in 'navigating complex and unique issues in that space'. Matthew Erramouspe and Bruce Tobey jointly head the Century City-based team of 'smart, diligent and business-minded lawyers'; Erramouspe advised Alibaba Group in connection with its investment in media and entertainment start-up NewTV, and Tobey acted for Sony Music Entertainment in the negotiation of definitive agreements to indirectly acquire 49% of the 80% stake held by DHX Media in the iconic Peanuts brand, which includes such beloved characters as Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Snoopy and Woodstock. In other recent work, the team advised Starz Play in relation to its establishment of a strategic alliance with E-Vision, and assisted Paramount with its agreement with Hasbro to produce and distribute content based on Hasbro brands, as well as original stories. Other key names to note include Silvia Vannini, who led a team which acted for independent film production company Good Universe in its sale to Lionsgate Entertainment, and 'proactive and communicative' M&A partner Sean Monroe.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP's Los Angeles-based team is known for its financing expertise and frequent representation of investors and financiers of film, television and digital assets. The group is handling a range of financing transactions for East West Bank, including a $250m credit facility (co-led by East West Bank and JPMorgan Chase Bank) to Perfect Universe for the financing of a slate of Universal films; a $67m facility to Bona Film Group for its multi-tranche investment in a slate of films for 20th Century Fox; and a production loan for season 6 and 7 of the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Practice chair Christopher Spicer led a team which acted for Bank of America in its $300m credit facility provided to Miramax for the financing of its current and future productions, including the latest installment of the Halloween franchise. In other work highlights, P. John Burke advised Lantern Entertainment on its $289m acquisition of the assets of The Weinstein Company out of bankruptcy, and Vanessa Roman led the advice to XYZ Films regarding its partnership with Jaunt, a producer and distributor of immersive content. Other key names to note include Marissa Román Griffith and the recently promoted Alissa Miller.
The broadcasting, media and entertainment practice at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP handles a range of corporate and M&A transactions for its impressive client roster. In recent work highlights, the group acted for Time Warner in its $109bn sale to AT&T, and assisted The Walt Disney Company with its pending $85bn acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox and in connection with 21st Century Fox’s pending $15bn sale of its 39% stake in Sky to Comcast. The firm also advised Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates on the $178m sale by DHX Media of a 49% stake in its interest in Peanuts Holdings to Sony Music Entertainment (Japan). A team led by George Schoen acted for Warner Media in connection with its investment in WndrCo. Faiza Saeed heads the practice which also includes Ting Chen. All attorneys are based in New York.
A stand-out firm for talent-side representation, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC's entertainment practice attracts praise for its 'unwavering commitment to clients and its ease in dealing with creative issues'. The group is particularly known for its representation of film, television, theater and music talent and celebrities, and counts actors Robert De Niro and John Goodman among its client. Richard Heller recently acted for Aaron Sorkin to negotiate and structure a deal for his adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird for Broadway. Los Angeles-based Andrew Hurwitz advised Jennifer Lee in negotiations for her role as Creative Head of Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Victoria Cook successfully assisted comedians Desus Nice and The Kid Mero move the late night show Desus & Mero from Viceland to Showtime. Hayden Goldblatt, who has particular experience in the film sector, was recently promoted to the partnership. All lawyers mentioned are based in New York unless otherwise specified.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Kevin Masuda heads the Los Angeles-based transactional media and entertainment practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, which has capabilities in film finance, M&A transactions, and capital markets and private equity matters. The group has particular experience handling matters for innovative and start-up projects in the sector; it assisted WndrCo in the formation of and $1bn initial capital raise for NewTV and advised Ladder on its formation, licensing, commercial arrangements and capital raising transactions. Benyamin Ross and Ari Lanin acted for The Chernin Group in connection with its investment in and formation of Otter Media and Masuda led a team which acted for MGM Resorts International in its 50/50 joint venture with GVC Holdings PLC to create a leading US sports betting and interactive gaming platform. Ruth Fisher, who represented VidCon in its purchase by Viacom, is another key name to note.
Loeb & Loeb LLP's media and entertainment practice boasts experience which spans the motion picture, music, theater, reality television and emerging technology sectors. In recent work highlights, the team assisted Alcon Television Group with an agreement with Amazon to pick up the fourth season of The Expanse and advised Annapurna Pictures with the formation of its joint venture with MGM and a $350m senior secured revolving credit facility with JP Morgan Chase Bank. Los Angeles-based Scott Edel, who jointly heads the team alongside Roger Arar in New York, led the advice to Tencent Pictures regarding its agreements with Skydance Media, Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox in connection with the financing and distribution of The Terminator sequel. Key names to note include Ivy Kagan Biermaem in Los Angeles for employment work; New York-based Marc Chamlin, who counts Oprah Winfrey and actress Glenn Close among his clients; John Frankenheimer and Debra White, who are based in Los Angeles and New York respectively, for music industry transactions; and New York-based partners Carol Kaplan and Stefan Schick for theater work. Following several departures to Paul Hastings LLP, the team benefits from the arrivals of Paul Swanson in Los Angeles from Irell & Manella LLP, and three Chicago-based partners from Winston & Strawn LLP, including advertising experts Brian Heidelberger and Monique Bhargava, and data and privacy lawyer Robert Newman.
Lindsay Conner and Gary Gilbert, who specialize in the film, television and digital content and the music industry respectively, co-head the Los Angeles-based media and entertainment practice at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. Conner and Sophia Yen assisted Perfect World Pictures with a $250m ultimates-based loan facility with East West Bank and JP Morgan as a part of a $500m, 50-film co-finance agreement with Universal Pictures. The team also acted for Wells Fargo as a syndicate member of two significant credit facilities, including a $1bn credit facility to Legendary Pictures Funding. Charles Biederman, who is another key name for music industry matters, recently advised Alanis Morissette on a variety of contract negotiations, including for her new Broadway show Jagged Little Pill, a new book deal and touring agreements. Neil Sacker joined the practice from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
The multi-disciplinary entertainment and digital media group at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP boasts an impressive client roster which includes Amazon Studios, Paramount and The Walt Disney Company, among others. Robb Klein, Linda Michaelson and David Sands are key names to note for transactional work. In recent highlights, Klein advised Media Net Partners as the lead investor in a new film and television production and licensing company, Accelerated Global Content, and Michaelson acted for Lions Gate Entertainment in its acquisition of Good Universe Media. Robert Darwell frequently handles a range of matters in connection with motion picture and television production; he is instructed by Focus Features to assist with the production legal work relating to the Spike Lee movie, BlacKkKlansman. New York-based Daniel Schnapp drafted and negotiated an ASCAP multi-year license agreement with Facebook for the right to use ASCAP’s repertory of musical works in audio-visual content distributed on and through Facebook’s platform. Except where otherwise specified, all mentioned attorneys are based in Los Angeles.
The interdisciplinary media and entertainment team at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP counts DreamWorks Animation, VICE Media, 21st Century Fox and Endeavour among its clients. The group recently advised the latter on a joint venture with equity investor Sequoia Capital, Tencent and FountainVest Partners for the formation of a new China-based subsidiary; it also assisted Endeavor in connection with the merger of Learfield and IMG College, a subsidiary of Endeavor. In other work highlights, Robert Zochowski Jr. acted for Legendary Entertainment in its $1bn asset-backed term loan facility in connection with the refinancing of indebtedness, and a team represented Cumulus Media in its successful chapter 11 cases. Other key names to note include Robert Schumer and Ariel J. Deckelbaum. Justin Hamill joined Latham & Watkins LLP. All attorneys are based in New York.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has experience handling prominent transactions in the media and entertainment sector. The team boasts impressive corporate, M&A and financing expertise; it assisted AMC Entertainment with its $600m million issuance of senior unsecured convertible notes to Silver Lake, and advised Getty Images on the acquisition by the Getty family of all of the equity interests in Getty Images held by The Carlyle Group. Howard Chatzinoff, who heads the practice alongside Michael Lubowitz, acted for independent music publisher Carlin America in relation to its $245m sale to Round Hill Music. Other key practitioners include Michael Aiello, who advised Scripps Networks Interactive on its $14.6bn merger with Discovery Communications. All attorneys listed are based in New York.
Arent Fox LLP
Arent Fox LLP boasts experience handling matters spanning the television, motion pictures and gaming sectors. Washington DC-based Anthony Lupo heads the practice and advised Discovery in relation to its $14.6bn acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive. The team excels in intellectual property advice and acts for The Saul Zaentz Company in the management of its extensive trade mark portfolio, including all marks derived from JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Paul Fakler joined Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in New York.
The New York-based media and entertainment practice at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is jointly led by Jonathan Levitsky, Michael Gillespie and Michael Diz, and handles a range of corporate transactions. In recent work, Levitsky advised Discovery Communications on its $14.6bn acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive, and assisted The Carlyle Group with its agreement to purchase Crestview Partners’ remaining shareholding in NEP. The group has also been active for financial advisers in significant transactions. Greater Media, Meredith Corporation and Tribune Media are all clients.
Attracting praise for its 'unflinching commitment to addressing client needs', Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP’s media, technology and commercial transactions practice has experience handling matters throughout the television, film, gaming, music and social media sectors. Matthew Syrkin, who 'goes out of his way to support his clients', chairs the media, technology and commercial transactions group. Other recommended lawyers include deputy head of the firm Kenneth Lefkowitz, and 'dedicated' associate Dena Smith, who brings 'great value' to transactions. In recent work highlights, the group advised John Varvatos Enterprises in connection with a multifaceted creative collaboration and sponsorship arrangement with singer Nick Jonas; assisted Bumble in launching the professional networking platform Bumble Bizz; and acted for Madison Square Garden Company in its acquisition of live entertainment technology and production company Obscura Digital.
Katten's Los Angeles-based practice has particular experience in the entertainment content space, and also handles a range of financing and merchandising transactions. Michael Hobel is advising HBO on a range of matters, including in relation to HBO's hit Game of Thrones series, licensing and production arrangements, and entertainment finance transactions. Other work highlights include acting for Media North America in connection with the revival of its successful television series American Idol, and advising Debmar-Mercury on the distribution of television series, such as BoJack Horseman and Schitt’s Creek. The group also acts for Paramount Pictures, Starz Media and Hulu, and assisted the latter in contractual negotiations, including those with Legendary for the series The Looming Tower. Susan Grode is another key name to note.
Proskauer Rose LLP fields an interdisciplinary team including corporate, private equity, intellectual property and sector experts in media and entertainment industry matters. Key names to note include Robert Freeman and Jeffrey Neuburger, who jointly head the TMT group; head of entertainment and copyright Sandra Crawshaw-Sparks; and corporate transactions partner Lauren Boglivi. Freeman and Boglivi lead advice to Discovery on several transactions, including recently on a strategic alliance with PGA Tour for global multi-platform live media rights outside of the US for all PGA Tour events; with its $120m sale of 90% of the ownership of its Discovery Education business to Francisco Partners; and with a $10m series A financing transaction for Here Be Dragons, a virtual reality production studio. The practice also acted for the founders of music streaming service Saavn in an agreement to combine Saavn’s services with over-the-top platform JioMusic. Hulu, Altice USA and Sony Music Entertainment are all clients. All attorneys are based in New York.
Reed Smith LLP
The media and entertainment practice at Reed Smith LLP fields a team of multidisciplinary lawyers and covers a range of transactions. In recent work highlights, the team has assisted financial institutions with film financing transactions, and has acted for clients, including authors and owners of literary rights, in negotiations for publishing agreements and film adaptations. Names to note include music industry specialist and practice head, Stephen Sessa; Michael Sherman, particularly for corporate and financing transactions; and James Sully. The team saw some changes with the arrival of counsel Moshe Kupietzky from Sidley Austin LLP and Leif Reinstein's departure to Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP. All lawyers are based in Century City.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
The New York-based media and entertainment practice group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP frequently handles high-profile transactions in the sector. Recent work highlights include acting for Twenty-First Century Fox in its $71.3bn acquisition by the Walt Disney Company and in an unsolicited $65bn acquisition proposal by Comcast Corporation; the team is also assisting the client with the US law aspects of its $20bn acquisition of the remaining stake in Sky plc that it does not already own, and subsequent disposition of its interest in Sky to Comcast for $15bn. It also advised Cineworld on its $5.9bn acquisition of Regal Entertainment Group. Practice head Howard Ellin acted for Telegram Group Inc. (British Virgin Islands) in connection with its $1.7bn ICO.