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For 30 years, Fran�ois Macerola has done legal work for the entertainment industry — in film, television and book publishing. Two years ago, he headed for the Montr�al-based Cirque du Soleil, which produces shows that combine circus arts and commedia dell’arte. The “Circus of the Sun” currently produces 11 permanent and touring shows worldwide and has contracts with approximately 800 artists from various countries at any given time.

Cirque du Soleil seems a natural fit for Macerola, who has spent his legal career in both private practice and in the public sector in Canada. He’s been Canada’s Government Film Commissioner and chairman of the board of the influential National Film Board of Canada. Just before joining Cirque du Soleil, he consulted on intellectual property, copyright and other issues for the Canadian government. Q: Let me get this question out of the way. As a child, did you dream of running away and joining the circus? A: [Laughs] No. Never. Q: How did you get your job at Cirque du Soleil? A: I was doing some legal work for Cirque du Soleil in my little office with a group of two or three lawyers. At one point I got a phone call from them saying, “How about joining the organization?” Q: What are your daily duties? A: I’m legal counsel but also responsible for business development. When I arrive in the morning, I could very well be involved in negotiations about the show we are creating based on the music of The Beatles. Later, it could be a discussion with Chinese artists who have a comment to make about their contractual relationship with Cirque du Soleil. The day might end up with a meeting with people interested in investing in some activities of the organization. Q: So you work with creative people. Do you consider yourself a creative person? A: Not at all. I’m not a frustrated writer, performer or singer. Nevertheless, I want to be a creative legal adviser. But when it comes to questions of whether we should cut that number or that act by a couple of minutes, that’s not my cup of tea; I bring something different to the table. Q: Have you changed anything in the legal department? A: I’ve grown the department some to save money on legal fees for outside counsel. Also, I’ve decided that the legal staff here should be working more in synergy. Before, they were all specialized; now they are still specialized, but the person who is our corporate lawyer can very well be involved in the negotiations of an artist’s contract. Q: Who’s on your staff? A: I have a team of 11 legal advisers working with me — nine in Montreal, one in Amsterdam and one in Singapore. Also, I have a team of financial and fiscal advisers in the development area. I am surrounded by women; I have only one man on my staff. Q: Why so many women? A: We chose the best candidates, and they are women. What can I say? Q: You travel all over the world for your job. Do you have a favorite country to visit? A: China. I like the people; they are very open, gentle and nice. I like the food. My second-favorite country would be Italy for sure, because otherwise, if somebody from my family reads this interview, they would not be very pleased. Q: Do you have a favorite show? A: I like La Nouba very, very, very much [a multimedia show at Walt Disney World; "la nouba," loosely translated, means "party"].

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