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Bert Fields Useless: Hollywood Lawyer Was 93


Bertram “Bert” Fields, the larger-than-life leisure lawyer whose roster of star purchasers and studios spoke to a penchant for doling out authorized threats with a rhetorical flourish, together with a capability for successful profitable settlements, has died. He was 93.

Fields thrived on the notion that he by no means misplaced a trial, and even when the Perry Mason-like fame wasn’t precisely true, he was a relentless litigator who outlined a few of the business’s most heralded circumstances of the Eighties and ’90s, with purchasers that included Warren Beatty, Tom Cruise, the Beatles, Edward G. Robinson, Michael Jackson, Rupert Murdoch and, at one time or one other, nearly all the main studios.

Defining his method as akin to going into navy battle, Fields advised the New Yorker’s Ken Auletta in 2006, “If I have been a common, I might assault, and hold urgent the assault, to throw the opponent off steadiness, to alter the percentages and make a settlement your approach rather more favorable.”

When Jeffrey Katzenberg sued the Walt Disney Co. and the case went to trial in 1999, Fields pressed the corporate’s chairman-CEO Michael Eisner on his reference to his former lieutenant as “that little midget.” Eisner known as Fields’ line of questioning “ill-advised,” however the mogul’s prickly testimony appeared to tarnish Disney, and the studio quickly settled, reportedly for the hefty sum of $250 million.

Talking of the case to Selection in July 2012, Katzenberg stated: “There was the proverbial smoking gun. Bert managed to search out it after which know what to do with it. He was Perry Mason for actual.”

Harvey Weinstein, who tapped Fields to untangle his firm from Disney, advised the New York Occasions in 2005, “Within the leisure enterprise, strolling into litigation with out Bert Fields is like strolling into the Arctic with out a jacket.”

It seemed for a time that the zeal he introduced on behalf of purchasers can be used towards him. In the course of the federal authorities’s investigation of personal investigator Anthony Pellicano and the wiretapping scandal that transfixed Hollywood in the course of the mid-2000s, Fields was listed as a “topic” of the probe though not a goal. He insisted all through that, though he employed Pellicano on many events, he had no information of the wiretapping. He was not indicted.

In one in every of his extra well-known earlier circumstances, he represented writer-director Elaine Might when she was sued by Paramount over the delay in her delivering the 1976 characteristic “Mikey and Nicky.” The case demonstrated the lengths to which Fields would go to attempt to win director purchasers ultimate reduce, an effort he would repeat a number of years later for shopper Beatty as he challenged cuts to “Reds” for TV viewing.

He merged his personal agency with one other in 1982, producing what would turn out to be Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger. Fields was an in depth pal of Michael Ovitz’s because the latter constructed up CAA, and so they shared purchasers on referral.

For a time, it appeared as if Fields performed a task in nearly each thorny Hollywood authorized dispute within the public realm: Within the Eighties he represented the Beatles’ Apple Corps as they sought to cease the present “Beatlemania,” and the choice bolstered celebrities’ capacity to regulate their very own public picture. Within the Nineties, he represented Katzenberg in his swimsuit towards Disney, Michael Jackson towards baby molestation allegations and DreamWorks in a dispute over authorship of Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad.”

Nearly all of the authorized tussles have been settled earlier than trial and even earlier than a swimsuit was filed. He endured a uncommon defeat in courtroom when creator Clive Cussler misplaced a case towards Anschutz Leisure Group in a conflict over the screenplay to the film “Sahara.” However a part of the decision was overturned on attraction.

Fields loved his public profile, not shying away from the attention-getting pushback, significantly when a shopper was the topic of rumor and innuendo. After Dr. Drew Pinsky contemplated to Playboy why Tom Cruise can be drawn to Scientology, speculating that the actor might have been abused as a toddler, Fields in contrast the feedback to these made by Dr. Joseph Goebbels.

When Paramount sued the property of Mario Puzo, a shopper, in 2012, over the rights to do a sequel novel to “The Godfather,” Fields known as the studio’s actions “reprehensible.” As was usually the case, Fields had as soon as represented Paramount (in an attraction of the well-known Artwork Buchwald determination) and its CEO, Brad Gray (defending him in a swimsuit filed by Garry Shandling).

Fields’ type earlier than a choose was far completely different, courtly moderately than overly confrontational, and in contrast to many attorneys, he went for the quotable when speaking to the media moderately than the “no remark.”

“You must draw a distinction between what I’ll say to the press and what I might say in courtroom,” he advised the New Yorker. “Once I’m speaking to the press, I could also be rather more dramatic.”

Fields loved the perks of the enterprise however shunned a few of its rituals, like energy lunches. As an alternative, he would make the 35-minute trek from Century Metropolis to his Malibu dwelling for noon naps.

“I solely have energy as a result of I symbolize people who find themselves highly effective,” he advised the New York Occasions. “The day I not symbolize these folks, I’m going to finish up on the backside third of their name sheets.”

Amid the thirtieth anniversary of his agency in 2012, Fields at 83 was nonetheless trying to the longer term, chatting with Selection about how “synthothespians” will change the business — whether or not SAG-AFTRA likes it or not.

Discipline was the kid of a former ballet dancer and a watch surgeon who had a rocky marriage. For a quick interval, he was despatched to stay with different relations, even dwelling in a boarding home in Los Angeles throughout highschool. He graduated from UCLA after which Harvard Legislation Faculty. After a stint within the Air Pressure, the place he labored within the Decide Advocate’s workplace for 2 years, he landed again in Los Angeles to work as a litigator in a Beverly Hills legislation agency earlier than opening his personal agency.

He gained a shopper checklist that included Mike Todd, Peter Falk and Jack Webb and even earned a walk-on position on an episode of “Dragnet.”

Fields was the creator of 4 books, together with two lusty novels and one that attempted to indicate that Shakespeare was not the true creator of a few of his most well-known works.

He’s survived by his third spouse, artwork professional Barbara Guggenheim, whom he met within the late Eighties when he defended her in a swimsuit filed by Sylvester Stallone over an art work she had really useful he purchase. His first marriage, to Amy Markson, led to divorce; he married a vogue mannequin, Lydia Menovich, in 1960, and so they stayed married till her dying in 1986. They’d one son, James Fields, an funding banker.

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