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Mergers and acquisitions and corporate partner Katy Spillers of Los Angeles’ Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger has joined Locke Lord in Los Angeles. The new Locke Lord partner’s clients are in the entertainment, technology and new media, and branded consumer goods sectors. She advises CEOs and founders of emerging growth and middle-market companies on corporate and transactional issues, including M&A, divestitures, financings, joint ventures, branding and licensing. Her clients include digital media company Barstool Sports, including on its exclusive sports betting and gaming partnership with Penn National Gaming, now PENN Entertainment. She also represents fashion model Karlie Kloss, and the SKIMS shapewear line founded by Kim Kardashian, and has represented the Good American fashion company founded by Emma Grede and Khloe Kardashian. Locke Lord’s network of 20 offices, including some international locations, is a “huge” benefit for her clients, Spillers said. Bob Baradaran, managing partner of Los Angeles-based Greenberg Glusker, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Spillers’ departure. … Am Law 200 firm Moore & Van Allen has added entertainment finance lawyer Brett E. Moskowitz from Mayer. Moskowitz will work remotely in Atlanta. The law firm doesn’t have an Atlanta office for now but has a major presence in the Southeast, with its headquarters in Charlotte, NC. Moskowitz has more than a decade of experience advising financial institutions, financiers and borrowers in complex media transactions, according to the firm. Tripp Monroe, co-head of the firm’s financial services practice group, said in an email that Moskowitz’s arrival is part of the expansion of the firm’s financial services offerings. Moskowitz’s clients include banks involved in syndicated financings for the entertainment industry. He also has worked with other financial institutions and investors in entertainment finance matters that include music catalog, record label and music fund finance as well as TV, motion picture and sports finance, according to a news release. Besides Charlotte, Moore & Van Allen, with its more than 400 lawyers, has an office in Charleston, SC. … Genova Burns announced that William J. Heller has joined the firm as of counsel. Heller was formerly the senior vice president and general counsel of the New York Football Giants. While general counsel for the Giants, Heller supervised all legal affairs, overseeing matters pertaining to the Giants and its affiliates, including assisting in MetLife Stadium legal affairs, the announcement noted. His tenure with the Giants, one of the NFL’s original franchises, covered a spectrum of sports law that included licensing, sponsorships, marketing arrangements, labor and employment and privacy issues. Genova Burns has offices in New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York … The Chicago Bears parted ways with longtime general counsel Cliff Stein, a move that comes as the team reaches a critical stage in negotiations on a new $5 billion stadium project in Arlington Heights, IL, that would replace Soldier Field. Stein’s exit also comes as new front-office leadership makes its mark on the organization. The team in January 2022 hired the Kansas City Chiefs’ executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles as general manager, and in January 2023 it named Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren as president. Stein joined the Bears in 2002 and had been general counsel since at least 2013. “I negotiated over 2 billion dollars in contracts, was part of signing several Hall of Fame players, and served as one the organization’s first Senior Vice Presidents,” he wrote on LinkedIn. Before joining the Bears, Stein was an NFL agent, served as a contract adviser with the National Football League Players Association and was a partner in the law firm Colton & Stein in Voorhees, NJ. … Sony Pictures Entertainment’s general counsel Leah Weil, will leave her post later this year, the company confirmed to Law.com. Weil joined the Culver City, CA-based entertainment giant in 1996 after working as an associate at the now-shuttered Los Angeles entertainment law firm Hill, Wynne, Troop & Meisinger, where she worked with partners like Robert Wynne, who went on to become president of Sony Pictures from 1997 to 1999, and Louis Meisinger, who left in 1998 to become general counsel at Walt Disney. Weil quickly ascended the ranks at Sony Pictures to become senior executive vice president and general counsel in 2001. From the beginning, she worked on landmark deals, including its 1999 purchase of Marvel’s IP rights to Superman for a mere $7 million. Five years later, she helped orchestrate the company’s $2.9 billion purchase of MGM. More recently, she was involved in Sony Pictures’ 2017 acquisition of anime distributor Crunchyroll and its 2022 purchases of visual effects studio Pixomondo and Industrial Media, a production company whose portfolio includes American Idol, 90 Day Fiancé and So You Think You Can Dance. In an email to employees that Sony shared with Law.com, Weil said: “[A]fter thinking about my job and my life, I realized that after almost 28 years of an SPE career that has required a 24/7 commitment, what I wanted more is the stress free ability to focus on some personal priorities, to reconnect with friends, spend quality time with family and to embark on adventures with my husband — all things I have wanted to do but neglected because of the time requirements of the job.” As Sony Pictures’ top lawyer, Weil has overseen Sony’s ethics and compliance, labor relations, global policy and government affairs divisions as well as its philanthropic and community outreach work. Weil said she will stay on for a few more months to help with the transition and will stay connected to the company as an adviser. … A $14.2 million golden parachute awaits Activision Blizzard chief legal officer Grant Dixton when he steps aside at the end of March in the wake of the video game maker’s $69 billion sale to Microsoft. Dixton’s compensation last year totaled $5.5 million, according to Activision Blizzard’s latest proxy statement, which also lays out details of his severance package in the event of his departure “following a change of control of the company involving Microsoft.” His employment contract already was set to expire on June 30. The Verge reported that Dixton was among five other senior Activision Blizzard officers who are set for March departures. Dixton joined the maker of the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft game franchises in June 2021. In addition to helping Activision negotiate and close the Microsoft deal, Dixton managed the legal fallout from allegations that the company had failed to confront years of sexual assaults and mistreatment of female employees. Last month, Activision agreed to pay $54 million to the California Civil Rights Department to settle claims that it discriminated against women by paying them less than men and denying them promotion opportunities. In 2022, it entered into a consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under which it agreed to pay $18 million to settle the agency’s claim that it fostered a “frat boy culture” where female employees were subjected to “constant sexual harassment.”
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By Stan Soocher
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By Avalon Zoppo
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Notable recent court filings in entertainment law.