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London-based multinational television production and distribution company Fremantle announced the appointment of Matthew Wilson, a former Uber associate general counsel, as Fremantle’s general counsel. Wilson, who will report directly to Global CEO Jennifer Mullin, will lead the global legal teams and have a seat on the Executive Board and Investment Committee. His official start date is August 2. “Matthew’s legal business expertise and acumen will be invaluable as we continue to build and invest in our talent partnerships and global content across entertainment, scripted and documentaries,” Mullin said. Fremantle has produced some of the world’s most watched shows such as: Got Talent, My Brilliant Friend, Family Feud, The Young Pope, Idols, American Gods, The Price is Right, Neighbours and The X Factor. … Foley & Lardner entertainment lawyer Lawrence “Larry” Waks, known for representing George Clooney and partners in the $1 billion sale of Casamigos tequila to Diageo, has moved to Reed Smith as a partner in Austin and Dallas, TX. Waks has joined Reed Smith as a partner in the global media and entertainment industry group. In addition to his entertainment clients, Waks does intellectual property and M&A work in the food and beverage, distilled spirits, consumer products and media industries. Because of the nature of his practice, Waks said that in addition to Austin and Dallas, he expects to spend time in the Reed Smith’s offices in Century City, CA, New York and Miami. Jeff Layne, managing partner of the firm’s Austin office, wrote that Waks extends the firm’s entertainment and media practice to Austin. In addition to the Casamigos transaction, Waks represented: Davos Brands’ Aviation Gin in its sale to Diageo; handled the sale of Stubb’s barbecue sauce to McCormick & Co.; and the $44 million stock swap acquisition of a U.K./French anime company. Waks has also recently handled multiple acquisitions and sales of businesses in excess of $2 billion and negotiated details for Conor McGregor in connection with the ownership of Proper No. 12 Irish whiskey. Waks said he also recently represented rapper and record producer Travis Scott in a joint venture with Anheuser-Busch to produce their Cacti agave spiked seltzer. Other clients, he said, include Jagermeister. Waks has moved around some in Texas. He joined Foley & Lardner in 2019 in Austin and Dallas from Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker. He joined that firm in 2015 from Jackson Walker. … Paul Hastings has added former O’Melveny & Myers entertainment and media transactional attorney Sean Monroe to its Century City office, the latest in a series of moves since the firm launched the practice a little over two years ago that made it a force in Hollywood. “Our clients in the entertainment industry are originators and innovators — and they require legal advisors who likewise bring a spirit of creativity to their work, delivering sophisticated solutions to advance their clients’ growth,” Seth Zachary, chairman of Paul Hastings, said in a statement. Monroe is a corporate transactional attorney specializing in complex mergers and acquisitions work, fund formation and investments, portfolio company acquisitions and joint ventures, the firm said. Monroe had been at O’Melveny for a little over 16 years before making the move. It helped, Monroe said in an interview, to have some familiar faces at the firm already such as Bo Pearl, who left O’Melveny in June 2020 to join Paul Hastings. But he said the main contact recruiting him to join Paul Hastings was David Hernand, also an M&A attorney and chairman of the firm’s Century City office. Monroe said he has had conversations with his client base and feels confident that he will be able to continue to work with many of them after the move. … BakerHostetler hired Daniel Kirkpatrick and Davina S. Sashkin for its Business Practice Group’s Regulatory and Government Compliance team and Communications Industry team. Kirkpatrick, who was named a partner in Washington, DC, has experience primarily in communications law, focusing on content producers that include in TV and radio, and advising clients on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) compliance regulations. In addition, according to BakerHostetler’s announcement, Kirkpatrick has counseled TV stations on a variety of cable and satellite carriage matters. including the negotiation of retransmissions consent and other carriage agreements. The Texas-based Sashkin will serve as counsel at BakerHostetler. The firm describes her experience as including advocating on behalf of telecommunications and broadcast clients before the FCC for “policy and regulation changes and compliance, as well as a depth of experience representing clients in enforcement actions and in hearings before the FCC. She also routinely advises clients on spectrum auctions and commercial transactions among FCC-regulated businesses.” … Esports company FaZe Clan lured away the top lawyer from the virtual reality startup Dreamscape Immersive, backed by Steven Spielberg. FaZe Clan’s new chief legal officer is Tammy Brandt. Brandt’s arrival at Faze Clan followed the recent additions of a chief financial officer and executive vice president of content at the Los Angeles-based business, which is an organization of competitive and professional gamers and an entertainment e-commerce and lifestyle company. Brandt will oversee FaZe Clan’s business and legal affairs, mergers and acquisitions, and other corporate matters while working alongside CEO Lee Trink, other executives and the company’s board of directors. Founded in 2010, FaZe Clan operates in the male-dominated gaming industry, which made Brandt’s appointment all the more noteworthy. The company’s ex-president, Greg Selkoe, parted ways with FaZe Clan last year to start XSET, a gaming organization focused on inclusivity. At Dreamscape Immersive in Los Angeles, Brandt oversaw the legal department for nearly four years. In addition to Spielberg, that company’s investors have included AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., Nickelodeon, WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS. … Jorge Arciniega joined Loeb & Loeb as a partner in the advanced media and technology department. His practice focuses on complex trademark and copyright, as well as licensing, co-branding, sponsorship and endorsement agreements. He also counsels on advertising, marketing, promotion, right of publicity, Internet commerce, privacy and defamation matters. Previously, Arciniega was a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery. … In the Atlanta region, entertainment lawyer Peter Stathopoulos joined Taylor English Duma as a partner from Macey Wilensky & Hennings. He advises television, motion picture and digital entertainment companies on state tax matters, including litigation, and entertainment tax incentives. Stathopoulos helped draft part of the 2008 Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act that made Georgia a top state for film, TV and video game production using tax incentives. He’s an entertainment industry adviser for the Georgia Department of Revenue, chairs the government affairs committee for the Georgia Production Partnership and is on the Georgia Screen Entertainment Coalition’s steering committee.
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By Michelle Davis
Force majeure is lurking in the shadows of the Hollywood strikes, offering struggling studios a potential lifeline out of debt. But the best attorneys and the strongest contracts are proactive, rather than reactive. Thus, consider the following drafting tips to strengthen your force majeure language now, in the calm before the next storm.
By George Ernst
This year’s update from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for O-1B visa petitions has knock-on effects for the movie and TV industries. The update has clarified the correct standard of adjudication for an individual with both elements of an O-1B artist and O-1B motion-picture-and-television-industry (MPTV) classification, meaning situations where a foreign national will be working in the U.S. as an artist, but some of their work will be in MPTV.
By Thomas Kjellberg and Robert W. Clarida
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By Entertainment Law & Finance Staff
A look at moves among attorneys, law firms, companies and other players in entertainment law.