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NAME AND TITLE: John A. Schulman, general counsel and executive vice president AGE: 55 THE BUSINESS: Founded in 1923 as a motion picture studio, Warner Bros. is now a multimedia entertainment division among the 10 divisions within AOL Time Warner Inc. Warner Bros. comprises a dozen companies ranging from Warner Bros. Pictures — which released 26 movies last year — to DC Comics. Warner Bros. Television fields 13 prime-time series; Telepictures Productions (Warner Bros.’ reality-based production company) has one prime-time series and seven first-run syndicated series; Warner Bros. Animation has 11 series. Based where it was founded in Burbank, Calif., Warner Bros. employs some 7,000 persons worldwide. While AOL Time Warner considers breakouts of its divisions’ revenues proprietary, Warner Bros. is commonly referred to in the industry press as a $7.5 billion operation. In 2001, its studio company’s box office receipts for North America were $1.2 billion; for overseas, $1.3 billion. THE LEGAL DEPARTMENT: Warner Bros. has 126 lawyers in-house, with a roughly equal number of support staff. Schulman reports directly to Warner Bros. CEO Barry M. Meyer; reporting directly to Schulman is Sheldon W. Presser, a senior vice president and deputy general counsel. The department is organized with a corporate section in three parts: Five lawyers specialize in intellectual property, and a dozen other lawyers are divided between litigation and employment law. The rest are assigned among the 12 companies that are under the Warner Bros. aegis, most notably film and television units but also entities less visible in the United States, such as the company that runs Warner Bros.’ theaters worldwide. Each has its own general counsel and staff, working directly with their client businessmen but also with what Schulman calls “a dotted-line relationship back to me.” THE JOB: Schulman says he couldn’t focus on any one or two areas if he wanted to. He misses what he calls “owning” a topic, which means, “I can’t do anything for a long time. I don’t get to learn everything about some issue, doing research and all that, anymore.” Rather it is a matter of the squeaky wheel getting his attention. “Sometimes I feel like a doctor’s office, with someone different every five minutes yelling, ‘Help me, help me.’ Usually I end up helping guys who know better than I do what to do. It’s just a matter of talking to them, and asking the right questions.” Part of what attracted Schulman to his current job was the travel, and that has increased as Warner Bros.’ product lines extend around the globe. Perhaps the best example of the value of the brand name abroad comes from Spain. When an unaffiliated theme park operations company, Six Flags, opened a 625-acre amusement park in Madrid, it negotiated with Warner Bros.’ lawyers to use the name Warner Bros. Movie World for the park. Over the past two years since Time Warner was acquired by AOL, Schulman says he has found himself frequently shuttling to the AOL Time Warner headquarters in New York. But he estimates the bulk of his time is still spent at his offices in the old Burbank studio. Notwithstanding his place in the corporate hierarchy, Schulman does still occasionally appear before judges. When he chooses to go hands-on, he says, it has more to do with emotions — specifically “feeling passionately” about something — than one might expect. Recently he went before an arbitrator in “a case that irked me,” he says, declining to identify it. LITIGATION SPOTLIGHT: Warner Bros. under Schulman’s leadership has been Hollywood’s standard bearer in a number of courtroom fights in recent years that, had he lost, would have damaged all the studios. One example was Estate of Garrison v. Warner Bros., a net-profits class action over the Oliver Stone film “JFK” that accused the studios of an antitrust conspiracy in screenwriter deals. A federal judge gutted the suit in 1998, and it was later dismissed. Similarly, the entire industry had an intense interest in a marathon case over copycat liability, Byers v. Warner Bros., which alleged that Stone’s 1994 film “Natural Born Killers” inspired a young couple’s crime spree that left one man dead and a woman paralyzed. Schulman, in his public statements, framed it as a First Amendment case over the freedom of artists to create. Last year, after a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, the suit was thrown out by a Louisiana state judge. The studio has recently been in litigation in Florida over the leeway that studios have when retelling real life stories. Jodi Tyne sued Warner Bros. over its film “The Perfect Storm” and the portrayal of her late husband, fishing captain Billy Tyne. (A federal judge dismissed the suit May 9.) IP: Schulman says with a little impatience that he would like to see changes in the law that would protect intellectual property from piracy, “especially in foreign areas, especially on the Internet.” But laws and litigation have their limits, he continues. “We also need practices that don’t celebrate rip-off technology.” In practice, the studio has used a carrot-and-stick approach with China, once the world’s largest producer and exporter of pirated compact discs, software and videos. At a conference two years ago, Schulman’s chief deputy applauded China’s growing respect for trademark laws. And last month, Warner Bros. International Theatres announced the opening of a nine-screen multiplex cinema in Shanghai, a joint venture of Warner Bros., Shanghai Paradise Co. Ltd. and Broadband Investment Ltd. of Hong Kong. PRIMARY OUTSIDE COUNSEL: Schulman is discreet when it comes to finances, insisting it would be “misleading” if he quantified how much of the studio’s legal work goes to outside lawyers. The implication is that one would be misled into thinking too much work goes outside. “Our lawyers are as good as there are,” he says, and big-firm lawyers are hired only for “exceptional work at both ends of the stream.” By this he means the arcane, as when he needs an expert in German tax shelters, or emergencies, like a big suit that requires a 24-hour response to an injunction. His short list includes three Los Angeles firms: O’Melveny & Myers; Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp; and Munger, Tolles & Olson; plus Weissman, Wolff, Bergman, Coleman, Silverman & Holmes of Beverly Hills, Calif. Schulman resists stereotyping them — noting, for example, that he uses O’Melveny for some transactional work as well as for litigation. “Who’s at which firm is more important to me than which firm,” he says. For example, he admits a fondness for Robert Schwartz at O’Melveny for big-stakes trial work involving intellectual property. Other favorites include Michael Bergman at Weissman Wolff, Russell J. Frackman at Mitchell Silberberg for music matters, William L. Cole (also at Mitchell Silberberg) for labor disputes, and Robert G. Badal (Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe), whose background is in intellectual property, antitrust and trade regulation. ROUTE TO THE TOP: Schulman earned an undergraduate degree in English from Yale University (1968) and taught for a year before going on to a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. (1972). He joined the entertainment law firm of Kaplan, Livingston, Goodwin, Berkowitz & Selvin, which was an outside counsel for Warner Bros., and he worked on the rights for “The Exorcist” (1973) and “Superman” (1978). In 1981, he was part of a group that spun off to form Weissman, Wolff, Bergman, Coleman & Schulman. Three years later he accepted an offer to become general counsel at Warner Bros. FAMILY: He and his wife, Toni, have two daughters, Jessie, 16, and Abby, 11. LAST BOOK READ: “Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural,” by Ronald C. White Jr.

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