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Entertainment and Sports Law Litigation

Players On the Move

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

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The CW Television Network has named veteran entertainment attorney Tom Martin its head of business affairs and general counsel. Martin joins the Burbank, CA-based network with more than two decades of experience in the entertainment industry. He replaces Ann Miyagi, who the company said is stepping down. Martin most recently was head of business affairs for MasterClass, which provides online classes taught by prominent instructors from around the world. There, he negotiated deals with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Bob Iger, Aaron Sorkin, Steph Curry and Serena Williams. Before that, he created the business model and deal structure at Quibi, a short-lived American short-form streaming platform that generated content for viewing on mobile devices. From 2017 to 2019, Martin served as senior vice president of business affairs at Fox, where he was the lead negotiator for all of the company’s unscripted programming and worked on deals for The Masked Singer and I Can See Your Voice. Before that, Martin spent over 15 years at Comcast and NBCUniversal, leading business affairs for cable networks such as E!, USA Syfy and Esquire. CW programming, which skews toward a younger audience, is carried on more than 200 affiliate stations in the United States. Irving, Texas-based Nexstar, the largest owner of U.S. TV stations and the largest owner of CW affiliates, bought 75% of The CW in October. Following the retirement of outside counsel Jon Barrett, the North Carolina-based collegiate sports Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced it is seeking to hire its first general counsel. Barrett, who was a partner at Chicago-based Mayer Brown and led its Charlotte office until his retirement last year, has been a key player in collegiate sports in recent years. He was outside counsel for the Big Ten Conference before it hired its first general counsel in 2020, which led him to migrate to the ACC. The ACC has retained Chicago-based executive search firm DHR Global to help the conference fill the new role. Once the GC is on board, all the Power 5 leagues will have legal chiefs on staff for the first time, according to Sportico, a sports business website that said the NCAA, the governing body for collegiate sports, has seen its authority diminished in recent years due to legal setbacks, which has forced the major conferences to take on greater legal responsibilities. “Now is the time to hire a full-time executive staff member to provide comprehensive oversight of legal affairs and risk management for the conference,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips told Sportico. The ACC has 15 schools as members, including the storied basketball powerhouses Duke and North Carolina. The conference is based in Greensboro but is relocating to Charlotte in August 2023. Sports conferences that have hired their own general counsel typically still use outside counsel extensively, especially for litigation. In the fiscal year that ended in June 2021 — the latest reported period available — the $4.5 million in legal fees the ACC paid included $1.6 million to Fox Rothschild, which represented it in litigation in which the conference was a co-defendant with the NCAA. OpenAP — a targeted-TV-advertising firm owned by media giants NBCUniversal, Discovery, Fox and ViacomCBS — has hired Andy Dale as its first general counsel and chief privacy officer. Dale is joining the company after serving nearly three years as general counsel and chief privacy officer of Alyce, a business-to-business gifting platform. He previously was general counsel and vice president of global data privacy at SessionM, a mobile advertising and loyalty startup. Founded in 2017 and headquartered in New York, OpenAP develops technology that helps businesses precision-target ads and measure their reach across traditional and streaming platforms. In an email, OpenAP’s Chief Marketing Officer Brittany Slattery said the general counsel/chief privacy officer is a new position at OpenAP that “signals the increasing role consumer privacy will play in TV advertising as viewership continues to shift toward streaming properties.” The company’s owners are refining what they call the OpenAP data hub, a clean room for the television industry where advertisers and networks can measure audiences and share targeted ad campaign data while keeping customers’ private information hidden. The data hub debuted at the Cannes film festival in June 2022. Pryor Cashman announced that Briana Hill, Simon Pulman and Amy Stein Simonds have joined as partners in the law firm’s media and entertainment group. Hill and Pulman will be co-heads of the practice group. All three were formerly partners at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard.  Hill is based in Pryor Cashman’s Los Angeles office, and Pulman and Simonds are based in New York. Pryor Cashman stated in a press release that as “[o]ne of the top company-side entertainment attorneys in Los Angeles, Briana serves as outside business and legal affairs counsel for leading studios, networks, production companies, publishers, and creators and has supported the creation of numerous premium streaming series and motion pictures. Pulman, the law firm said, “As outside business affairs counsel for studios, networks, production companies, and rightsholders, … helps clients negotiate complex development, production, financing, and licensing deals and is an industry leader in franchise building and complex “transmedia” deals. Stein “focuses on transactions for films, television, podcasts, and digital media, including rights acquisition and licensing, development, production loans and equity financing, production, and sales and distribution agreements. Her clients include studios, networks, financiers, production companies, executives, producers, actors, writers, department heads, and directors.”

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