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Lawyer Tapped as Vice Chairman of Brillstein-Grey Holding Company

Executives: Jonathan Liebman joining Samax, which operates production and management companies.

July 23, 1998|SALLIE HOFMEISTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Entertainment lawyer Jonathan Liebman has been named vice chairman of Samax Inc., the holding company owned by Brad Grey that operates the Brillstein-Grey production and management companies.

Samax operates Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, the television partnership with Universal Studios that produces "Just Shoot Me" and "NewsRadio" for NBC, and Brillstein-Grey Enterprises, which manages the careers of Nicolas Cage, Brad Pitt, Dennis Miller, Adam Sandler and others.

Liebman, 39, was also named vice president of the television production company.

Liebman, who has relocated to Los Angeles with his family, has been a partner for the last 13 years at Parcher, Hayes & Liebman, a New York law firm whose clients include Paul Simon, Mariah Carey, Sony Pictures, Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones.

"Jonathan will be helpful in jumping into a couple of new businesses," said Grey, who would not elaborate on the company's plans but indicated an interest in the music industry and cable. "We are looking at the music business from the talent management as well as recording side. It requires the lowest investment for the greatest return."

Although Brillstein-Grey Entertainment has developed one of the few prime-time network hits of the last several years in "Just Shoot Me" and scored a success with its recent movie "The Wedding Singer," Grey said producers like himself need to hedge their bets by pursuing alternative distribution.

Liebman could also help advise Grey in his upcoming trial against former client Garry Shandling, who sued the firm for conflict of interest in managing talent while producing television shows such as Shandling's "The Larry Sanders Show."

Grey previously relied heavily on Lloyd Braun for legal counsel. Braun, a former entertainment lawyer, was president of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment before leaving for a top television job at Walt Disney Co.

Brillstein-Grey Entertainment has been working through some difficult partnership arrangements, recently dissolving a production alliance with ABC because of its ownership by Disney. The company was also caught in the middle of a complicated deal under which its new partner, Universal Studios, sold its television studio and newly acquired cable channels to Barry Diller's USA Networks in February.

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