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Michael Mellis, the top lawyer at Major League Baseball (MLB) for the past four and a half years has slid over to the New York Yankees. In his new role, Mellis serves as executive vice president and chief counsel for the Yankees, though it was not immediately clear whether this is a new position and what his duties will be. Mellis was with MLB for more than 20 years, joining as deputy GC for new media in 1998 and becoming senior vice president and GC at MLB Advanced Media two years later. In that position, he oversaw a suit against MLB that claimed the league colluded to limit the selling of “out-of-market” live broadcast packages only through the leagues, allegedly leading to diminished sports entertainment choices and inflated prices, according to a 2013 Corporate Counsel report. The suit brought by a putative nationwide class of consumer-fans settled in 2016. … Claudia Teran has been named executive vice president and corporate general counsel of Fox Corp. Teran has spent most of her career in-house at Fox, including at Fox Cable Networks in a variety of roles, including associate general counsel. In 2011, Teran became executive vice president and deputy general counsel at Fox Networks Group and in 2014 became general counsel at Fox Sports. While at Fox Sports, Teran played a role in rights acquisitions for the National Football League, Major League Baseball and World Wrestling Entertainment. Teran replaces Rita Tuzon, a leader and fixture within the Fox Corp.’s legal department for more than two decades. Tuzon’s departure comes in the wake of the $71 billion merger of 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Co. in March 2019, after which Fox Corp. spun off and became a stand-alone company. … Six entertainment and media lawyers from the Century City-based Leopold, Petrich & Smith are joining Ballard Spahr where they will be based in the latter firm’s Los Angeles office. The attorneys are Louis P. Petrich, Vincent Cox, Donald R. Gordon, Robert S. Gutierrez, Elizabeth L. Schilken and Loralee Sundra. Ballard Spahr has been cited by U.S. News & World Report — Best Lawyers as the 2019 national “Law Firm of the Year” in both copyright law and media law. … Veteran entertainment litigator Paul V. LiCalsi has moved from Robins Kaplan LLP, where he was a partner, to join Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt LLC as a partner in New York. LiCalsi has represented, among others, Cardi B., Taylor Swift, Elton John, Billy Joel and long-time client the Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. … Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp has hired Eleanor Lackman as a partner in its entertainment & IP litigation practice group. She joins from Cowan, DeBaets, Abraham & Sheppard. … Latham & Watkins, Jones Day and Forsters are advising as U.S. streaming giant Netflix sets up its first U.K. production hub. The deal between Netflix and the UK’s Pinewood Studios will see the California company launch a new production base at Pinewood-owned Shepperton Studios, as it bids to expand its repertoire of films and TV series. Pinewood has turned to U.S. duo Latham & Watkins and Jones Day, according to people involved in the deal. Latham’s team is being led by real estate partner Neil Ferguson, corporate partner Brett Cassidy and capital markets partner Fritz Ernemann. Jones Day has fielded a team including counsel Kristy Rogerson, who focuses on real estate development transactions. London-based Forster is advising Netflix with a team led by real estate partner Glenn Dunn, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. Founded in 1931, Shepperton Studios comprises 14 stages and a 10-acre studio plot. It has hosted a number of recent productions, including Downton Abbey and Pokemon: Detective Pikachu. … Jennifer Kelly, co-chair and founder of Fenwick & West’s games industry group, has left the firm to join her husband Ryan Tyz’s San-Francisco-based litigation boutique, Tyz Law Group. Kelly practiced for 19 years at Fenwick, where she also served as chair of the firm’s intellectual property and commercial litigation group. “It became clear to me, over the years, that the practice that I have built was better suited a smaller platform,” Kelly said. “A lot of what I do is to provide strategic counseling to my clients, and it is really just me giving advice to a client, not a team of people.” In addition, she has defended and worked on copyright cases for high-profile clients, including King.com Ltd, Peak Games, Glu Mobile Inc., Gram Games, Sega Games Co. Ltd, Electronic Arts Inc. and Capcom Co. Ltd. Kelly is the third partner to join Tyz Law Group, a five-attorney firm, which also has two associates. Kelly, Tyz, partner Erin Jones and associate Aaron Myers all previously worked at Fenwick. … Eisner, the newly bicoastal law firm known for its focus on the entertainment industry, has added four lawyers in New York, including all three lawyers from the boutique firm of Tavel & Shulman. Evan Krauss, formerly a name partner at Gray Krauss Sandler Des Rochers, is joining Eisner as a partner along with Andy Tavel and Dan Shulman. Jordan Gutglass, who worked at Tavel & Shulman, joined as an associate. Les Corwin, Eisner’s managing partner in New York, said he’s known Tavel for decades, going back to their time together at Greenberg Traurig, where Shulman had been an associate. Both Tavel and Kerry Smith, who joined Los Angeles-based Eisner last month from Greenspoon Marder, had mentioned Krauss, whose clients come from the film, music and new media industries, as another addition to the firm, Corwin said. Tavel and Shulman focus on the music industry, counseling a mix of up-and-comers and developed talents, including the rapper G-Eazy and producer Boi-1da. Tavel said that most of his top clients pay on a percentage-of-income basis, rather than hourly. That may change down the road, he said, noting the ability to cross-sell his services to Eisner’s clients and for lawyers in other practice areas at Eisner to now offer their own services, perhaps on an hourly basis, to Tavel & Shulman’s old clients.
By Stan Soocher
Non-payment of monies is an all-too-common complaint in the entertainment industry, with frustrated plaintiffs in many cases seeking default judgments against defendants who fail to respond to lawsuits seeking payment. Two new Central District of California federal court decisions illustrate — after the judges sort through the factors for determining whether to grant a default judgment — how consideration of the amount of money at issue resulted in different outcomes on whether to enter a default judgment.
By Stan Soocher
We sadly note the November passing of long-time Entertainment Law & Finance editorial board member Jay Rosenthal.
By Raychel Lean
A New Yorker who settled a copyright lawsuit against several news outlets over a photo he took of star quarterback Tom Brady and Boston Celtics manager Danny Ainge has struck again. This time he’s suing a radio station owner in Florida federal courts in a case that could test the boundaries of an emerging area of copyright law, raising major questions about how media companies incorporate social media posts into online stories.
By Maxwell Briskman Stanfield
In the entertainment industry, it can take years for actors, musicians and others to reach a point where their efforts begin bringing in a notable return. If and when these types of clients begin to make a consistently significant income, one method that deserves consideration for protecting the hard-earned pay is to organize a loan-out corporation.