Today's industry power brokers are a younger breed who are leaving their mark on an ever more complex entertainment scene
FIRST a disclaimer: The following 20 lawyers, agents, studio executives and consultants represent just a sample of the many folks in Hollywood who do deals every day. However, the Business Journal list is more than an exercise in dart throwing -- it's an effort to identify a new generation of dealmaker. Those on our list can hardly be described as whippersnappers; most are in their 30s and 40s and already have made their mark. Our guess, though, is that their prominence will keep growing, whether it's cutting contracts for actors or developing strategic plans for multinationals. And since most of them make it a point of avoiding the spotlight (they leave that to their clients), we wanted to know more about them.
Firm: United Talent Agency
Personal: Engaged to be married this winter... Earned bachelor of art's degree in economics and political science from the UC, Berkeley in 1987... Plays golf, tennis and likes to travel... Raises money for the United Jewish Federation.
Accomplishments: Represents 25 movie directors... Landed deals for Nick Cassavetes ("Blow" and upcoming "John Q" with Denzel Washington), Christopher Nolan ("Memento" and upcoming "Insomnia," with Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank), Dean Parisot ("Galaxy Quest," developing "Scared Guys," a Robert De Niro vehicle)... Secured additional $45 million in two days from Spyglass Entertainment ("The Sixth Sense") for "Dragonfly" after Universal Pictures would only invest $25 million... Expected to be called upon to help negotiate a new contract for the Directors Guild of America next year.
Buzz: Spent four years as an investment banker with the Goldman Sachs Group and J.P. Morgan & Co. Inc. before moving from New York to L.A. in 1991... Began as an assistant to agents at UTA, taking a salary cut from $120,000 to $18,000...Now pulling in seven figures... Highly motivated... Works 12 to 16 hours per day... Never takes 'No' for an answer but knows when to back off... Banking experience makes him an expert in securing financial backing for movies... Made one of the firm's more rapid climbs to partner, taking only six years... Loves helping turn a little-known client into an A-list talent... "The industry never stops changing so you never get bored," said Aloni. "I get to put together a deal and move on to the next one."
JOSEPH K. BERCHTOLD
Firm: McKinsey & Co.
Personal: B.A. in economics from Pomona College... MBA from Harvard Business School... Married; one daughter... Born in Seattle, raised in Rolling Hills, currently lives in Manhattan Beach.
Accomplishments: Launched "digital initiative" at McKinsey 18 months ago... Since then, has spent more than $10 million researching consumer demand for various digital media... Result is what may be the richest database on consumers' media-consuming habits and their attitudes toward emerging technologies... Has the ear of top executives at Hollywood studios, production companies, tech firms and other media-related outfits... Developed data-swapping relationship with Liberty Digital... "We share studies we've done with Joe, and they share with us some research they've done. We help each other, challenge each other," says Liberty Digital CEO Lee Masters.
BUZZ: Becoming hot adviser as a result of Hollywood's determination to avoid being Napsterized... Dot-com meltdown has made media industry more receptive to Berchtold's emphasis on identifying paths to profitability... Stresses need for any new content-delivery system to be "easy for consumers to access, compelling for them to use and reasonably priced." If not, consumers will find illegal way of getting content... Helps media executives find answer to key question -- "Do we invest in an unprofitable emerging field to be ahead of the curve, or do we wait until it reaches profit-producing critical mass?" ... Prefers low profile, in keeping with McKinsey's buttoned-down culture emphasizing firm-wide accomplishments over individual consultants in the spotlight.
Firm: Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman Machtinger & Kinsella LLP
Personal: Marina del Rey resident was born in the Valley... A UCLA, undergraduate, she didn't know what she wanted to do with her life even after getting a full scholarship to Loyola Law School... Divorced, no children... Plays golf but "isn't too good at it"... Hangs out with many of her clients... Recently organized a 40- to 50-person women's networking group for those in the entertainment industry.
Accomplishments: Started as corporate securities attorney at now-dissolved Cooper Epstein & Hurewitz ... Began practicing entertainment law when she was hired as head of legal affairs at Live entertainment, now Artisan Entertainment... Representing "Titanic" director James Cameron on his latest film, "Ghosts of the Abyss"... On the actor side, does deals for Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty and Elaine May ... Represented actor Rip Tom in Ids role in "Men in Black 2" ... Represented estates of Harpo and Chico Marx in the latest film about the life of the Marx brothers... Worked on promotional deal with Magic Johnson and Cindy Crawford for 24-Hour Fitness...
BUZZ: Drawn to law because it was based on analysis, not memorization, which she says is not her forte... Considers herself a problem solver... Is available at all times to her clients... "I'm very responsible, but I'm not a workaholic," she says... "If you need me, I'll be available, but I'm not going to work on the weekend just because I need to work"... Rick Olshansky, head of television business affairs at Endeavor says: "She's easy to work with, fun to work with and makes herself available when there's issues to be discussed."
Finn: O'Melveny & Meyers LLP
Personal: Received undergraduate degree from University of Georgia... Returned to East for law school... Originally planned on going to New York to practice... J.D. University of Virginia... After graduating, returned to entertainment law and the West... Has taken up surfing in his spare time... Married, no children.
Accomplishments: Spent three years with KPMG as senior accountant and financial consultant... Worked in information, communications and entertainment practice group... Represented European Film producer in raising $200 million in German tax-advantaged equity. Resulted in four-year, 10 picture production/distribution deal with major U.S. distributor... Represented Liberty Digital in 50 percent acquisition of Game Show Network from Sony... Assisted major U.S. studio in raising $400 million in off-balance sheet financing.
BUZZ: Enjoys entertainment deals because it marries his legal and accounting backgrounds ... Says he most enjoys putting together financing for independent producers. "You have a guy with an idea and you help him build a company to make movies, that's some of the highest valued work to me"... Says he enjoys O'Melveny because of the day-to-day contact with lawyers doing creative financing in other industries... "If I were on my own, it would be much more difficult to do this type of work."
Firm: Bloom, Hergott, Diemer and Cook
Personal: Born in North Caldwell, N.J. ... Married with two daughters, 3 and 8... Received bachelor's degree in political science from Colgate University and JD from UC Berkeley... Twin brother Stewart also entertainment lawyer... Participated in competitive tennis and skiing in his younger years... Brookman credits athletic training in part for his and his brother's success... "Just like when we played doubles together, we're competitive and focused," he says... "Did I add charming?"
Accomplishments: With firm founder Jake Bloom, represented producer Mark Canton's firm in its deal with German entertainment giant Senator Entertainment AG to fund 20 to 30 films over a five-year period ... Declines to name some of the bigger clients he works with at Bloom, Hergott, but among those he has helped get started are ex-Raider Howie Long, actor Rick Yune ("The Fast and the Furious") and actress Leslie Stefanson ("The General's Daughter").
BUZZ: Works hard to develop relationships with a wide circle of agents, managers and lawyers... Two-thirds of his practice is devoted to representing actors, with the rest divided among writers, directors and producers... Made partner at Bloom, Hergott in less than 10 years... "Steven's unique for a young lawyer in that he sees dealmaking in terms of the bigger picture," said one production company executive. "He has an ability of making people happy and making relationships stronger."