“There is a lot going on in Michael Jackson’s afterlife.”
So said KWIKA founding partner Howard Weitzman when interviewed by the Daily Journal in connection with his inclusion on the Journal‘s 2015 roster of “Top Entertainment Lawyers.” Howard has been fending off challenges to the pop superstar’s estate ever since Jackson’s untimely death in June of 2009.
“Being in the courtroom or a mediation room is the easy part,” continued Howard. “The hard part is trying to resolve matters without litigation. It energizes me. We reduced a sizeable debt and we now have a revenue stream in the hundreds of millions of dollars. No estate has ever done what we have done. We have been able to perpetuate a legacy as large now as when Michael was alive. It may sound hyperbolic, but I believe Michael defines the word icon. His music lives. His image lives.”
KWIKA founding partner Dale Kinsella, who probably never imagined himself in a legal battle where zombies are the star players, was also named a “Top Entertainment Lawyer.” Dale has represented Walking Dead original producer Frank Darabont since 2013, and just recently amended the complaint, saying cable channel AMC owes even more money than first thought.
Known for his expertise in getting studios and entertainment companies to play fair when it comes to profit participation, Dale also represents creators Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins, along with writers Miles Millar and Al Gough, in similar claims against Warner Bros. for the hit series Smallville.
“In the end, it is about diving into studios’ business practices, uncovering revenue streams and determining where they flow,” said Dale.
From Justin Bieber to Lindsay Lohan, KWIKA partner Shawn Holley talked about how much fun she has in entertainment law during her Daily Journal interview as a “Top Entertainment Lawyer” for 2015. “And I have more fun than most, representing celebrities behaving badly.”
“Yesterday, we finally got Justin Bieber off formal probation in the infamous egging case,” said Shawn. More than a year ago, Shawn had reached a plea deal on behalf of the pop star for alleged damages of $90,000 from throwing eggs at a neighbor’s house. “As frivolous as it sounds, it demonstrates what I have to deal with,” she continued. “If it had been a normal guy, the prosecution would go for a civil compromise: Pay for the damage, case dismissed.” But not if you’re Bieber.
“TP-ing a house is about the only thing less serious in criminal law,” Shawn went on to say. “But this was Justin. I had to meet the top brass in the DA’s office. They wanted to charge it as a felony so as not to be perceived as giving a celebrity special treatment. So instead they give him special treatment in the negative sense.”
Shawn arranged for Justin to perform community labor, painting walls and building a play structure at a homeless shelter and a gang youth center. Bieber also paid restitution and took an anger management course.
And the result? “He got a glowing review from his probation officer in court.”
Having defended Lindsay Lohan for several years, Shawn was able recently to end the young actress’s probation status for assorted crimes.
“She’s happy now, doing a play in London,” said Shawn.
“What makes this more important than it might seem is that nobody wants to insure an actress on probation, due to the risk she could go to jail and shut down a project. There can be huge reputational and image and brand damages. I try to protect them, which can be as important as handling a case well.”