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A Columbia Law School graduate and former partner at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, Los Angeles-based Russell Smith has over 30 years of experience in counseling and representing corporate and individual clients in the US and the UK, especially in the film and television industry.
Russell has performed transactional, compliance,
and other problem-solving work for nearly all of the major US and UK broadcast networks and US motion picture
studios, and countless television/film production companies. Russell also has
handled trials and/or appeals in dozens of federal and state courts
across the US, including cases in New York, California, Georgia, Illinois, Texas,
Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Russell has been outside counsel for such companies as A24, CBS, Netflix, Amazon Studios, Paramount Pictures, HBO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, STARZ, the BBC, 21st Century Fox Film Corporation, NBC Universal, Showtime, Participant Media, STX Entertainment, Sky Television (UK), Lightbox, Media Rights Capital, ITV, All3Media, BuzzFeed News, John Wiley & Sons, Reed Elsevier, Miramax Films, MTV Networks, Universal Records, Simon & Schuster, Channel Four Television (UK), American Broadcasting Companies, Def Jam Records, Penguin Books, Warner Books, Matthew Marks Gallery, Spin Magazine, and the Estates of Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol, and John Cheever. He has been the legal architect for pathbreaking, legally difficult projects such as DA ALI G SHOW, BORAT, BRUNO, WHO IS AMERICA?, BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM and others, and he has represented hundreds of production companies in the US and the UK. He is currently counsel for the producers and directors of the Netflix series, TIGER KING, as well as four spin-off series in production.
In addition to practicing media law in both the US and the UK, Russell is CEO of Convergent Media and Head of Production for Divergent Pictures, helping to oversee international film and television development, financing, production and sales. Some of the many Convergent projects include the double-Golden-Globe nominated feature film THE MAURITANIAN (formerly GUANTÁNAMO DIARY, starring Jody Foster, Tahar Rahim, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Shailene Woodley) and the acclaimed, "New York Times Critics Pick" BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB ADIÓS (directed by Lucy Walker), which was released worldwide in 2017. Divergent Pictures is currently producing GETTING FREE, BACK CHANNEL TO CUBA, AMERICAN SPRING, and several other projects.
Russell also has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Ulster Law School in Northern Ireland, where he has helped teach an innovative course in the business and law of film and television, together with executives of SmithDehn clients 21st Century Fox, HBO and Channel 4.