Entertainment

Experience that gets results for a high-profile industry's key players

JMBM's lawyers understand both the law and the business of the entertainment industry and offer an integrated approach to entertainment and media law. We have built a reputation as an industry leader by providing top-quality service to leading multinational entertainment and media companies, independent producers, artists and others who drive the creative process, and investors who help turn concepts into reality.

Our innovation and skill at advising our entertainment industry clients matches the high standards they expect, reflecting our lawyers’ years of personal industry experience. This is why our clients include:

  • Actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, authors, recording artists, composers and music producers Independent producers, production companies and debt and equity investors
  • Senior executives in publicly and privately held entertainment and media companies
  • Computer and video game developers and distributors
  • Advertising and public relations firms, talent agencies and personal and business managers
  • Technology innovators in the entertainment and media industries
  • North America's largest producer and presenter of touring Broadway shows

Whether the issue is a contract or licensing dispute, entertainment industry contract negotiations, wealth and tax planning services, or other client needs, JMBM has the capabilities and experience to get results for our clients.

We have a personal familiarity with how the industry, its artists, executives and investors operate from the inside out. Our team of lawyers includes a former EVP of Business and Legal Affairs for the motion picture group of one of the world’s largest studios (who grew up working in the film industry); one of California’s Top 10 entertainment intellectual property litigators as named by California’s largest legal news provider; a former General Counsel and EVP of Business Affairs to the leading provider of one of the oldest existing forms of entertainment (Broadway theatre), as well as one of the newest (an Emmy®-nominated Internet company); and a founding member of the UCLA Entertainment Law Symposium.

Financing and other transactions

JMBM attorneys represent lenders, borrowers and investors in the U.S. and in the major capital markets throughout the world, as well as other providers and users of capital in the entertainment industry.

We regularly draft and negotiate agreements relating to the acquisition, development, production, sale and distribution of motion pictures, television projects and other entertainment content. Members of our team have supervised numerous audits of studio records on behalf of film and television revenue participants. We also have experience negotiating and documenting loans for film and television projects.

Our lawyers represent the interests of actors, directors, producers and writers in all types of talent agreements. The firm’s clients include Academy Award®, Emmy® and Grammy® winners and nominees, as well as newcomers to the business.

In representing these clients, we understand that their true passion is for creating art, not tending to business details. We are mindful that one of our roles is balance a client’s immediate desire to produce a film, record an album, publish a book or sell a screenplay with the long-term benefits that such talent creates.

We take the time to understand the career goals and objectives of creative artists, and use our negotiating skills to ensure that their efforts are properly compensated and protected.

This includes ensuring that the IP embodied by our clients’ artistic expression is properly protected, and that this protection is enforced against infringement and other violations.

Production

Our lawyers have negotiated contracts for and resolved legal issues involved in the production of some of critically and financially successful motion pictures, television series, record albums and songs - including projects for which our clients received Academy Award® and Emmy® recognition and various international awards.

Often these production arrangements involve complex corporate matters, such as our representation of Academy Award®-winning producers and production companies in connection with licensing domestic distribution rights for proposed films to major distributors, in return for a substantial advance against the budget and a back-end participation, all while retaining foreign rights. Our lawyers have negotiated deals covering transactions from a “first dollar gross” actor in negotiating three different actor/producer agreements for pictures with combined world-world-wide box office grosses exceeding $1.2 billion to a “first dollar gross” director in negotiating a motion picture project that required accommodation of several gross and adjusted gross participants.

Just as frequently, our work on the production-side of the business involves resolving complex disputes over ownership and financing arrangements. In one instance, we represented the producers of an Academy Award®-winning major motion picture in a dispute with their former partner over the operations and profits of their production company. In another example, we successfully represented the producers of an Academy Award® winning major motion picture in a dispute over foreign royalty payments due to our clients.

Litigation

JMBM has a proven track record successfully handling important and high-profile entertainment litigation. Equally comfortable trying cases in the media spotlight and hammering out settlements in the industry's corridors of power, JMBM’s entertainment litigators are experienced in all manner of motion picture, television, music, and theater litigation. California's leading legal newspaper, The Daily Journal, has cited JMBM for “litigating some of the most complex copyright cases in the entertainment industry.” JMBM is currently representing the world's largest record company in the industry's largest royalties dispute, which concerns the way artist and producer royalties are calculated for digital downloads. Other notable matters handled by the firm over the years include successfully representing a major film studio in the widely-publicized litigation concerning the James Bond movie franchise, and representing iconic talk show host Johnny Carson in litigation with NBC concerning his Tonight Show contract. Other representative experience of our entertainment litigators includes:

Motion Pictures 

Represented multiple A-list actors in numerous breach of contract actions against producers concerning a variety of issues.

Represented studios, producers, and distributors in a wide variety of disputes regarding financing, accountings, distribution rights, film music, sequel rights, budget overruns, collective bargaining agreements, and many other issues, involving many well-known films.

Represented a legendary actor in widely-publicized and emotionally-charged litigation brought by a former co-star.

Represented a major talent agency through trial in a breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty action concerning film profits brought by a prominent novelist.

Television

Represented a broadcast network in a dispute with the producers of a daytime drama.

Represented talent agencies, personal managers, and talent in disputes over commissions involving multiple popular television series. 

Successfully obtained summary judgment for the defendants on a copyright claim concerning the concept and format of a talk show.

Represented numerous television actors and personalities in a variety of actions, including trademark and domain name disputes, unauthorized uses of their name and image, “theft of idea” cases, and many others.

Represented a major record company in copyright infringement litigation against the Ellen DeGeneres talk show alleging the unauthorized use of hundreds of copyrighted recordings.

Music

Represented the recording industry in a variety of complex anti-piracy litigation involving both digital and physical piracy as well as parallel imports (“gray market” goods) and the manufacture and distribution of copyright circumvention devices.

Represented all of the world’s largest record companies and music publishing companies in a variety of copyright litigation involving many popular recordings, such as U2’s Vertigo, 50 Cent’s In Da Club, Hoyt Axton’s Joy to the World, George Clinton’s Atomic Dog, Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy, and many others.

Represented both record labels and prominent recording artists and songwriters in a variety of disputes over royalties, ownership and distribution rights, trademarks and domain names, and many others.

Represented the world’s largest beverage company in actions arising from the use of a popular song in the company’s worldwide advertising campaign related to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Theater

Represented a prominent producer of Broadway shows in an action against a competitor concerning theaters in the United Kingdom, and in arbitration and federal court proceedings concerning the sale of theaters in Canada.

Personal services

We also represent entertainment industry artists and executives in confidential matters such as tax, trusts and estate planning, wealth management and personal staff/employment concerns. JMBM has special capabilities in entertainment-related personal services controversies over royalties, contracts and commissions.

In addition to representing leading entertainment industry talent, we often advise leading figures from the worlds of sports and the media. Every client can rely on our absolute personal commitment to confidentiality, and a majority of our work comes to us from personal recommendations and referrals by current clients.

Successes