Meet the lawyers representing the William Morris-Endeavor merger

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Meet the lawyers representing the William Morris-Endeavor merger

Tue Apr 21, 2009 @ 01:35AM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Jacobson_craig Yes, we know the deal isn't done. And the whole thing could still explode. But the buzz surrounding merger negotiations between talent agency goliaths William Morris and Endeavor suggests this thing could actually happen.

Naturally, we got to wondering which attorneys are representing both sides in the megadeal. After a little digging around (the lawyers themselves aren't talking, of course), we've learned that WMA is being repped by lead lawyers Craig Jacobson (left) and Tom Hansen, along with a team from LA's Munger Tolles & Olson. Endeavor is being repped by New York-based Robert Schumer and a team from his Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison firm.

There are probably others in the mix as well, but these are the names we've been able to confirm.

Jacobson and Hansen should be as familiar to Hollywood as Ari Emanuel and Jim Wiatt. The duo, both name partners at Beverly Hills boutique Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman Newman Warren & Richman, are on the shortlist of A-list talent lawyers. These days, however, their practice has evolved far beyond just representing actors and directors in studio deals. Hansen_tom

Like their peers--guys like Ken Ziffren and Skip Brittenham and Bruce Ramer--Hansen and Jacobson increasingly act in more of an investment banker capacity, shepherding especially tricky industry deals from start to finish. Jacobson played a key role in the recent acquisition of Ben Silverman's TV powerhouse Reveille by Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine Group, and Hansen (right) helped extricate superagent Ed Limato from ICM and pave his way to WMA a couple years back. The Munger firm is said to be dealing with more of the traditional "lawyerly" stuff involved in papering a merger while Jacobson and Hansen are handling the big-picture issues of what the combined entity is going to look and act like, who will be in control and, importanly, which agents will be let go in the process.

Schumer_Robert Schumer is much less of a known entity in Hollywood but he's handled plenty of industry megadeals in a long career as a media lawyer. He was involved in both the merger of Telemundo with NBC and the acquisition of Warner Communications by Time Inc. (For those unfamiliar with him, there are a ton more credits in his law firm bio here.) Given the Titanic-sized personalities of the players in this deal and the complexities involved in merging a 111-year-old behemoth with a hotshot 14-year-old upstart, it makes sense to bring in a traditional corporate pro like Schumer.

We imagine these guys will have some great war stories once these negotiations end--which looks like it could be any day now.  

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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