Q: This is a whirlwind ride. You go from law
school to the ACLU to the White House to the
U.N. Your dreams come true. Then all of a
sudden, boom, Carter loses badly. What was it
like the day after the election?
A: It was a “What am I going to do now?” feeling
for sure. It was confusing but I was happy to be
back in New York and I needed to figure out what
I wanted. I wanted to have something to do with
film because I was an addict.
Q: Did you go looking for a law firm?
A: I went looking for a job in law firms and they
were like, “What?” I had absolutely no experience
other than this.
Q: Other than everything.
A: But I was too senior and too junior. I was
not a business person, and there’s such a
dichotomy between government and idealism
and business, right? I had no knowledge
about how to write contracts or anything like
that. I was not very useful in that sense. [But]
somebody kindly taught me about contract law:
Just write it so people understand it and look at
forms, but make sure that you understand the
English. So I started.
Q: Did you have an office?
A: I got an office from a guy named John
Scanlon, who was in publicity for people in
the film business, primarily. Richard Plepler,
who’s the head of HBO now, was in there, too.
They were all in publicity and they wanted me
because they thought I could bring in clients
because of my contacts, so they gave me free
office space in New York.
Q: Nice deal.
A: It was very pleasant and I made some good
contacts there. Then I started producing movies
and representing people, and it just went on
and on. And in 1990, I was invited into a law
firm. I got invited into a number of law firms
from 1990 to 2010.
What I ended up specializing in, in the
entertainment business, was finance. Along with
somebody from Merrill Lynch, I structured the
first securitized receivables in the film business
in the middle of the ’90s. I ended up being a
producer on some. The first film I did, I was
really a producer on it. I was standing on the set
with the executive producer, writing the checks
and watching everything carefully. I walked in
everybody’s shoes. I ended up representing the
Q: What movie was that?
A: In a Shallow Grave. It came out in ’ 88.
Skouras Films distributed it. It was on
I also represented American Masters on
PBS and got executive producer credits on the
Preston Sturges [documentary] … And there was
a Frank Capra [documentary] that I was involved
with. … I also represented Peter Jennings when I
was at a law firm.
Q: You still love film after being in the industry
A: Oh God, yes. It’s like a joke. Moving images, if
they’re any good, I just get transported.