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Brown Hires Lawyer to End Miramax Contract

Media: Former Talk magazine editor is seeking to pursue other offers including hosting a cable talk show.

April 18, 2002|ANN W. O'NEILL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tina Brown, editor of defunct Talk magazine, has hired powerful Los Angeles entertainment lawyer Bert Fields to extricate her from her Miramax employment contract so she can pursue other offers.

Brown's future has been the subject of speculation since the magazine, the brainchild of Brown and Miramax co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein, ceased publication in February after 2 1/2 years.

Known as "The Queen of Hype," the British-born Brown gained fame in the 1980s for revitalizing Vanity Fair before departing in 1992 to edit the New Yorker.

"She has multiple offers on the table," said a source close to Brown who asked not to be identified. The offers include hosting talk shows on cable television and writing a version of her "Tina Brown's Diary" column for other magazines.

Brown has 18 months left in the five-year contract she signed with Miramax Films, a unit of Walt Disney Co.

When Brown and Weinstein founded Talk, the idea was to create a slick synergy between culture and celebrity, filmmaking and book and magazine publishing.

They blamed declining advertising revenue in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks for the magazine's demise.

Until her contract is resolved, Brown continues to head the Talk Miramax Books unit.

Fields has made a name for himself by winning multimillion-dollar awards for his clients from film studios and by settling high-level employment contract disputes. He is best known for winning a $250-million severance package for Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was fired as studio chief at Disney. He also has represented former Miramax executives in contract disputes.

Brown and Fields confirmed Wednesday that the lawyer had been hired to assist her in talks with Miramax, but they declined to discuss specifics. Brown denied reports that talks with Weinstein have grown tense.

But a source close to Brown said her contract with Miramax prevents her from pursuing other offers.

Weinstein could not be reached for comment.

In a recent conversation, he described himself as Brown's "biggest defender," adding that he didn't think the magazine's demise "strained my relationship with her at all."

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