News Round-Up: Hbo Chief Counsel Joins SmithDehn in Teaching Media Law Course; Oscar Nod and Ratings Coup for SmithDehn Clients; SmithDehn Lawyers on Google Film Panelback to list
The burgeoning television and film production industry in Northern Ireland soon will get a further boost, as international media and entertainment lawyers, led by SmithDehn LLP and joined by top attorneys at HBO, arrive in February 2014 to teach law students and graduates and train recruits for a possible new office of SmithDehn in Derry. In that connection, the Law School at the University of Ulster is now accepting applications from students and graduates throughout Northern Ireland, Ireland, and Great Britain for an innovative, industry-collaborative, media law course that will be taught by some of the best professionals in the field.
The teaching team will include two of the leading in-house lawyers at HBO, namely, Viviane Eisenberg, Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel for Programming and Marketing, and Peter Rienecker, Vice President for Legal Affairs. Leading the team will be New York-based Russell Smith, co-founder of SmithDehn, which is now seeking to establish a second foothold in Europe through a Derry-based operation. Also teaching the UU module in the city will be Laura Farina, now a member of SmithDehn, but until recently Vice President for Legal Affairs at Discovery, in charge of all claims and litigation for Discovery's dozens of television networks worldwide. Other "Visiting Professors" tentatively planning to assist are legendary media insurance expert Chad Milton, as well as SmithDehn attorneys Frank Dehn, Michael Delehanty, Andrew Baker, Michael Cleaver, and Abhinav Chandan.
Overseeing and helping to design the course is Dr. Eugene McNamee, Head of the Law School. Says Dr. McNamee: "Partners from SmithDehn already have made multiple trips to the campus, and they've interacted with dozens of law students here. The American lawyers told me they were very impressed with the energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm of the potential recruits available. I understand that SmithDehn can hardly wait to educate, train, and hire participants in the module." Derry/Londonderry Chamber of Commerce President Philip Gilliland reacted to the news as follows: "This breakthrough for Derry is further proof of how our city is fast becoming an exciting, go-to place for globally-literate, world-class, tech-savvy talent to live, teach, work, study, and expand or start a business."
The principal goal of the course is to create student employability to service the growing media and entertainment sector. The teaching will be problem-based and practical, with an aim to create a "work-ready" group of graduates for legal services in the film, television, and sports industries. The attorneys at SmithDehn, who are spearheading the course, already have been retained by hundreds of film and television studios, production companies, and broadcast networks. Their client list stretches from HBO to Ali G/Borat; from Sony Pictures to Graham Norton; to Paramount Pictures, ITV and Channel 4, to mention just a few out of many.
The target applicants for the course are law students and graduates (not necessarily professionally qualified) seeking to enhance their employability or upgrade their skills in relation to media law practice. Potential employers might include specialist media law firms such as SmithDehn, law firms seeking to develop an expertise in this area, and media/entertainment companies looking to bolster their in-house legal team.
The course module will run on the Magee (Derry/Londonderry) campus over one semester on six alternate Saturdays, starting February 8th, 2014; with class-times from 10am to 5pm (two 3 hour sessions with 1 hour lunch break). Interest in this module is expected to be high, and places will be restricted to 25. Applications for a place should come in the form of a CV with a one-page covering letter explaining interest and motivation. Applications will be accepted by email email@example.com, with the message subject line, "Media Law Module." Thedeadline for applications is January 10th 2014.
RATINGS COUPS AND OSCAR NODS FOR SMITHDEHN TV AND FILM CLIENTS:
In other news, "Gold Rush," the RawTV/Discovery hit television series legally shepherded by production counsel Mike Cleaver of SmithDehn, is currently (a) the most popular show on cable television among all demographics, and (b) the most popular show among men, across all TV platforms.
We are also happy to report that one of the television series we've been working on for All3Media America, "The People's Couch," this week was picked up by Bravo/NBC for a full season, after a trial run of three episodes in October. The People's Couch "turns the cameras on households in America as they laugh, cry, talk, gasp and scream at their TVs. Whether it's a group of sorority sisters doing their nails or grandparents watching with their technology-obsessed grandchildren, each group will bring their hilarious, unique commentary about TV's hottest moments to the small screen." According to Lara Spotts, Vice President of Development at Bravo: "The People's Couch is a funny, unfiltered comment on America's current TV viewing habits."
Last but not least, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just announcedthat "Dirty Wars," the hard-hitting feature documentary film on which SmithDehn co-founder Frank Dehn has been production counsel, has moved into the list of top 15 contenders for an Oscar for 2013.
SMITHDEHN ATTORNEYS TO LEAD GOOGLE+ FILM LAW PANEL:
In other news, SmithDehn attorneys Russell Smith and Abhinav Chandan will join Lathrop & Gage partner Lincoln Bandlow on the law panel for the Unofficial Google+ Film Festival this Saturday December 14. These three legal professionals will talk about many of the legal issues involving content and filming. With "war stories" from movies such as Borat, Muscle Shoals, Big Boys Gone Bananas, and Searching For Sugar Man, the panelists will explode the myths about what contributor agreements should look like, what constitutes fair use in film, and various "do's" and "don'ts" when shooting and editing a film.