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Entertainment and Sports Law

Players on the Move

A look at moves among attorneys, law firms, companies and other players in entertainment law.

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Jeffrey L. Allen has been appointed Vice President of Legal Affairs at Warner Music Group in Nashville. He previously served as Senior Attorney at the Bradley law firm in Nashville where he focused on intellectual property and entertainment litigation, as well as a variety of entertainment transactional matters such as domestic and foreign licensing agreements, distribution agreements, independent film production, joint-venture record label and publishing company agreements, master recording agreements, personal management agreements and in the television and sports industries. Ex-Heineken lawyer J. Carlos Kuri has replaced Heather VanDyke as general counsel at SXSW LLC, the company that stages the annual media conference and music festival, months after VanDyke announced she plans to leave the company to try to start a family. A job description for the general counsel role that VanDyke posted on LinkedIn in August, when she announced her imminent departure after nearly seven years with SXSW, said the company’s top lawyer would report to CEO Roland Swenson and manage a “lean legal department” whose responsibilities include drafting and revising contracts, conducting legal risk assessments and managing outside legal services. VanDyke said she planned to continue at SXSW on a part-time basis through the March 2022 festival. Kuri was senior vice president and general counsel at Heineken USA for nearly two years. Prior to joining the brewing company, he spent 11 years at Red Bull, where he held various legal roles. His last position at the company was senior vice president and general counsel. Jamal Haughton is joining Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. as executive vice president and general counsel. Haughton comes from Samsung Electronics America, where he served as senior vice president and general counsel since 2016. MSG Entertainment operates Madison Square Garden, as well as other entertainment venues, brands and networks, and is building MSG Sphere, a $1.8 billion Las Vegas venue in partnership with casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. In addition to leading the legal department, Haughton will direct the company’s corporate and business legal affairs. Haughton will report to MSG Entertainment executive chairman and CEO Jim Dolan. He replaces MSG Entertainment executive vice president and general counsel Scott Packman, who departed the company in November month. Prior to his time at Samsung, Haughton spent 10 years at Cablevision Systems Corp. Madison Square Garden Sports Corp., the company that spun off MSG Entertainment in 2020, was itself a spin-off of Cablevision’s entertainment assets. Entertainment dealmaker Lindsay Conner has joined O’Melveny & Myers in its Century City office. Conner was previously the leader of the entertainment group at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. Conner said he was drawn to O’Melveny’s high-quality entertainment practice and deep expertise in cross-border deals. “Globalization is one of the two most important trends affecting the entertainment industry,” Conner said. “I recognized that years ago, and I made a special effort to develop expertise in China and elsewhere to meet that need.” Prior to joining O’Melveney, Conner’s cross-border work included representing the owners of the YouTube channel Cocomelon in the nine-figure sale of their company Treasure Studio to United Kingdom-based Moonbug Entertainment, and representing KC Global Media Entertainment in its agreement to acquire four pan-Asian television networks owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment. He also advised Huayi Brothers Media Corp. in one of the first major Chinese investments in Hollywood films to successfully close. The deal was comprised of an 18-film, three-year co-finance and distribution agreement with STX and a loan facility with East West Bank. That led to an introduction to Perfect World Pictures, which Conner subsequently represented in a $500 million, 50-film, five-year deal with Universal Pictures. The deal remains the largest-ever Chinese investment in a Hollywood film slate. Conner, who expects to bring the majority of his clients with him to O’Melveny, has also represented AT&T, Showtime Entertainment, East West Bank, New Republic Pictures, Solstice Studios, Temasek and Content Partners.

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