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Hollywood’s screenwriters felt shafted every time the actors and directors cashed in on the movies they — the writers — wrote. Enter: entertainment lawyer Alan Wertheimer, a partner at Century City, Calif.’s Armstrong Hirsch Jackoway Tyerman & Wertheimer. He played a smashing role this year as the writers’ legal ambassador to the studios. The effort began last summer, when Wertheimer was invited to a meeting of the “Thursday Night Group,” a handful of the top screenwriters who gathered monthly to discuss, among other issues, the studios’ efforts to negotiate screenplay rewriting deals and the writers’ ongoing interest in earning more money. The key question was put to Wertheimer: Could the writers possibly obtain a gross-profits deal from one studio or another? Wertheimer, connected, tight-lipped and receptive to the writers’ ideas, crafted an unprecedented pact. Zeroing in on Columbia Pictures, Wertheimer negotiated a deal in which 30 of the world’s top screenwriters each agreed to do a screenplay plus rewrites of other scripts in exchange for a larger slice of the gross profits pie. Both camps went home happy. But since the deal was struck in January, Wertheimer, maintaining his low-profile, refined persona, hasn’t gravitated toward the limelight despite headlines in The New York Times that described the new screenwriters’ pact as a “combination of symbol and substance.” Wertheimer simply says, “It’s not about me. It’s about The Deal.”

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