Entertaining Alums: Key Players, Key Challenges for the Industry
We asked key players in media and entertainment, what's the next big challenge for your industry?
- Executive vice president and general counsel, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., encompassing the Warner Bros. film and television studio, New Line filmed entertainment, DC Entertainment, and affiliated game and television companies located around the world.
- Key member of studio senior management team who supervises worldwide team of 160 in-house lawyers and outside counsel on various key legal matters, including high-profile litigation and major corporate transactions.
- Led successful legal strategy in major cases involving iconic WB franchises, including “Superman,” “The Hobbit,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Two and a Half Men.”
“In partnership with the best creative minds in the business, Warner Bros. has a long, storied history of creating best- in-class movies, television shows and interactive games, entertaining a worldwide audience with some of the very best franchises, brands and intellectual property.
"Our next big challenge—and opportunity—is how to continue that tradition in the digital era. Our businesses are increasingly looking to satisfy the rapidly changing demands of consumers to watch what they want to watch, when they want and how they want. As our businesses innovate and increasingly rely on consumer- driven data, our legal teams innovate with them, keeping up with changing practices and evolving laws, providing legal support on a number of different legal fronts, both internally and in commercial relations with others. In addition, the digital era poses new enforcement challenges, including the non-stop effort by profit-making enterprises to steal and exploit our best shows and movies. We address the threat by working closely with the tech community, intermediaries (such as payment processors and credit card companies), industry associations and law enforcement.
"Lastly, like all companies in the digital era, we also face threats to the security of our information. Fortunately, we have a strong team in each area, working closely with outside counsel, to ensure we are meeting all of these challenges.”
Los Gatos, California
- General counsel, Netflix
- Former general counsel, Webvan, an online Internet retailer
- Practiced law at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco and Arent Fox in Washington, D.C.
“We’re at the vanguard of Internet TV replacing linear TV. Internet TV is on-demand, personalized and available on all your screens. This is a huge change in the way people consume content. It’s a growing global phenomenon that has ripple effects through virtually all aspects of the media and entertainment landscape. The shift to internet TV is ushering in a golden age of television, with many new players developing high- quality compelling dramas, unique comedies and fascinating documentaries. With a change of this magnitude, our big challenge is to assure that the legal and regulatory environment continues to foster the innovation and resulting consumer benefits that the OTT [over-the-top content] services are providing. We need to be mindful of moving too quickly to regulate or otherwise extend legacy broadcast-based media regulation into this developing ecosystem.”
- Executive vice president and general counsel, Turner
- Held dual executive roles at Turner from 2003-12, serving as president of Turner International
- Named by National Law Journal among the 50 most influential women lawyers in America
“The next big challenge will be an acceleration of what the media and entertainment industry is facing today: advances in technology, the proliferation of video content and changing consumer habits. Quality content is essential, but it is no longer just an issue of providing content on-demand or via a mobile device. The challenge is quickly becoming one of reaching the consumer or helping the consumer reach the content. More video content is being consumed today than ever before, but the more traditional ways that consumers have discovered content, such as through network- branding or channel-surfing, are less prevalent today and are being replaced by discovery through search and social media. Given the pace of change in the industry and in technology, the biggest challenge will be to sustain the success of our existing businesses while also innovating with new businesses that could potentially disrupt or cannibalize the existing businesses.”
More Key Players
Sue Akens ’88
- Executive director, Ziffren Center for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law at UCLA School of Law as well as a “Professor from Practice” at the school.
- Executive vice president, Business Affairs, CBS Studios International, 2006-14; oversaw international business and legal affairs, set strategy for the division, and led a team based in the U.S. and Europe.
- Former executive vice president, Business Affairs, Paramount Pictures International Television.
Christopher Brearton ’98
- Partner in Latham & Watkins’ Entertainment, Sports and Media Practice and deputy office managing partner of the firm’s Century City office.
- Advises sports organizations, motion picture studios, financial institutions, investment funds and television networks on complex transactions, ranging from the creation of strategic alliances and complex commercial licensing arrangements, to project financing and industry- specific mergers and acquisitions.
- Work has been recognized by The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, and has been repeatedly named to their annual “Dealmakers,” “Power Lawyers” and “Game-Changing Entertainment Attorneys” editions.
- Recognized in SportsBusiness Journal’s inaugural list of “Power Players: Outside Counsel” and in its annual “Forty Under 40.” He was also named a “Sports MVP” by Law360 and noted as a leading lawyer by several other top publications and legal directories, including Euromoney, Chambers, Legal 500 and The Daily Journal, who named him as one of the Top 100 California Lawyers and Top 50 California Entertainment Lawyers.
Jeffrey Craigmile ’84
- Vice president and general counsel, The Walt Disney Co.
John Donaldson ’95
San Francisco Bay Area
- Vice president of corporate development and strategy, Pandora.
- Ran corporate development and strategy team for Microsoft Xbox.
- Served in legal, business development and corporate development roles for AOL Time Warner.
Jeffrey Evans ’97
- Vice president, Legal Affairs, NBC Entertainment.
- Represents both the NBC broadcast network and Universal Television studios.
Susan Fox ’91
- Vice president, Government Relations, The Walt Disney Co.
- Former senior legal adviser for FCC Chairman William Kennard.
Ted Humphrey ’94
- Television and film writer, producer and director, known for “The Good Wife” and executive producer of the upcoming series “Incorporated.”
- Nominated for the 2010 and 2011 Emmy Award for Best Drama Series for “The Good Wife,” which also received the 2011 Peabody Award for Excellence in Television.
- Nominated for three Golden Globe Awards for Best Drama Series (2010, 2013, 2014). Three-time Writer’s Guild of America nominee for Best Drama Series. Nominated in 2010 for the Writer’s Guild of America Award for Best Drama Script.
- Recipient of the 2011 Voices of Courage and Conscience Award from the Muslim Public Affairs Council for his work on “The Good Wife.”
- Began his career as a feature film writer before segueing into television with series such as “Now and Again,” “The Nine,” “Shark” and “The Unit.”
Jonathan Gardner ’96
Beverly Hills, California
- Partner, Cohen Gardner Law. Served as a business affairs executive at Universal and Fox before co-founding Cohen Gardner in 2002.
- One of the premier dealmakers in the motion picture business, frequently representing high- profile talent or producers involved in major festival bidding wars, headline negotiations with studios and the filmmakers behind award season contenders.
Janice Johnston ’99
- Multiple Emmy Award-winning director and senior coordinating producer of ABC News Magazines and Specials, where she has produced for “20/20” and “Good Morning America.”
- Recently honored with a Salute to Excellence Award by the National Association of Black Journalists.
Julie Lynn ’92
- Producer and founder of Mockingbird Pictures. Mockingbird films have premiered at many top festivals and been recognized with top nominations and awards.
- Story consultant for Pixar Animation Studios on films, including Pete Docter’s “Up.”
Stan McCoy ’98
- President and managing director of the region encompassing Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the Motion Picture Association.
- Prior to joining the MPA. served as assistant U.S. trade representative for intellectual property and innovation in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
Colin Rushing ’99
- Senior vice president and general counsel, SoundExchange Inc., a collective management organization representing recording artists and record labels.
- Before he joined SoundExchange, was an attorney at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, Washington, D.C., where he focused on intellectual property and media law.
Andrew Scheinman ’73
West Hollywood, California
- Partner, Castle Rock Entertainment.
- Producer and writer, known for producing “The Princess Bride,” “Stand by Me” and “A Few Good Men.”
- Executive producer of the NBC sitcom “Seinfeld.”