Wed Apr 21, 2010 @ 04:48PM PST
By Matthew Belloni
You couldn't help but pine for Hollywood's good old days at last night's entertainment lawyer of the year dinner. The annual Beverly Hills Bar Assn. event honored dealmaker Eric Weissmann, whose showbiz career spans five decades. And he's got the stories to prove it.
In accepting the award, Weissmann (right, with last year's honoree
, Universal's Maren Christensen), reflected on one of his more challenging early-career assignments at MCA. "One of my first negotiations at MCA, I had to negotiate who would pay for Rita Hayworth's underwear in a movie where her underwear was not seen," he told the Beverly Hills Hotel audience. "I said to myself, 'Is that what I went to law school for?' And then I said, 'Actually, yes!'"
Weissmann later joined the Kaplan Livingston firm, which seems to have spawned just about every A-list lawyer in the business, then became head of worldwide business affairs for Warner Bros., a job that allowed him to witness brilliant creative decisionmaking in action. "I remember when I was at Warner Bros. and the movie 'Jaws' was proposed," he said. "When we were discussing it, one of the executives said, 'Ah, a fish, who gives a shit?' And that was the end of 'Jaws' at Warner Bros."
Weissmann rejoined Kaplan Livingston before leaving with some colleagues to form what is now the Weissmann Wolff firm, one of the bigger entertainment boutiques and one of the only to handle both litigation and talent deals. Many of his partners, past and present, were in the room last night, as well as client Paul Mazursky and, for the first time in our lawyer-of-the-year dinner experience, a three-piece all-attorney rock band (kudos to BHBA members Neville Johnson, David Helfant and Susan Rabin).
Let's see the Real Estate Lawyer of the Year dinner match that.