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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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Alexei Cowett, a dealmaker with a long list of sports and celebrity clientele, left Venable after close to a decade to join McDermott Will & Emery as a partner in Washington, DC. Cowett had been at Venable since 2015 and has advised on more than $60 billion in closed transactions across various media, the McDermott firm said. He’s represented clients such as actor Ryan Reynolds and his creative marketing agency, Maximum Effort Marketing, in its sale to performance television platform MNTN; represented Halle Berry in transactional matters; advised Panasonic in deals, including the sale of a streaming service to Comcast; and represented James Wan and Atomic Monster in their merger with Blumhouse Productions, among other deals. In an interview, Cowett said he was attracted to McDermott because the firm has committed to growth in his key practices, including transactions and the media/sports/entertainment field. Cowett noted that the intersection of financial markets opening up, which will help the early-stage company aspect of his practice, and the increased money and changing landscape in sports, media and entertainment should make for a busy tenure at McDermott Will & Emery. He said that 10 or so years ago, it would have been odd for a strong transactional Big Law firm to want to get involved in a sports transaction. That clearly isn’t the case anymore. Sports team sales are relatively rare, but how they are operating now might lure more firms into the fray because of the legal work that could kick off from them. “To buy an ownership stake, there may be limited resources there,” Cowett said of sports franchises changing hands at increasingly higher costs. “So we will see some clubs deal with private equity or partners. It is the democratization of sports. And that will require conversations with the leagues as they continue to grow and look for more ways to engage with their fans.” Cowett said it is increasingly difficult to separate media from sports and the combination of the two brings more business opportunities and challenges. He isn’t alone in that thinking. Harris Siskind, global head of McDermott’s transactions practice group, said in a statement that his “experience advising on first-to-market and disruptive technologies provide immense value to growth companies and entertainment clients navigating the inherent risks that arise in pursuit of new business ventures.” A spokesperson for Venable could not immediately comment on Cowett’s move. … Laura Franco, a veteran legal chief previously the top lawyer at the online dating Bumble, has taken the legal reins at two public companies controlled by New York’s Dolan family: Madison Square Garden Entertainment and Sphere Entertainment. Franco will serve as chief legal officer overseeing all corporate, commercial, transactional, litigation and regulatory matters at both companies and will report to executive chair and CEO Jim Dolan. MSG Entertainment holdings include Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the Chicago Theatre. The Dolan family last April spun off Sphere into a separate public company with ownership of regional sports TV networks and grand plans to build live entertainment venues, the first of which opened in Las Vegas in September. At MSG Entertainment, Franco replaces Jamal Haughton, who left in October to take the general counsel seat at Stamford, CT-based Charter Communications, the nation’s No. 2 cable operator. Franco had joined Bumble in November 2020 after 25 years in the television industry. She was hired by media conglomerate Viacom in 1995 and became general counsel at ViacomCBS (now called Paramount Global) after overseeing Viacom’s merger with the network in 2019. Franco’s new roles make her a key player in the high-profile Dolan family’s business empire. In addition to controlling MSG Entertainment and Sphere, the family owns the National Basketball Association’s New York Knicks and the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers, both of which play their home games at MSG. The family’s Sphere Entertainment aims to shake up the live entertainment industry by building futuristic, sphere-shaped venues in major markets. The Las Vegas Sphere, which cost $2.3 billion, opened in the fall of 2023 with a performance by U2. A second Sphere, costing $975 million, is planned for London.

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