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Legendary Entertainment Hires O’Melveny Partner as Top Lawyer

Feb. 27, 2020, 8:49 PM

After more than two decades at O’Melveny & Myers, longtime partner Matthew Erramouspe is leaving the high-powered law firm with Los Angeles roots to move in-house at Legendary Entertainment LLC.

The Burbank, Calif.-based motion picture, television, and media company, which was sold in 2016 for $3.5 billion in cash to Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co. Ltd., announced Feb. 26 its hire of Erramouspe for its newly developed executive vice president and chief legal officer role.

Legendary said Erramouspe will work closely with the heads of its business units and report to CEO Joshua Grode, a former co-chair of the transactions practice at Irell & Manella in Los Angeles. Grode joined Legendary as its top executive in late 2017, a few months after the company’s former general counsel, J. Martin Willhite, departed in the aftermath of the Dalian Wanda takeover.

“Matthew has been a trusted advisor and colleague for many years,” Grode said in a statement. “His knowledge and expertise across M&A, the film, streaming and TV industry, and the media landscape in general are a great complement to the team of best-in-class Legendary executives who continue to grow our business and contribute to our success.”

Erramouspe did not respond to a request for comment about his decision to leave O’Melveny, but said in a statement he felt “fortunate to be joining Legendary and its exceptional management team led by Josh.”

Erramouspe added he will continue to work with O’Melveny, which has long done work for Legendary, most recently on the company’s December agreement with former Home Box Office chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht to finance and produce scripted television shows.

“We wish Matthew continued success in his new role at our important client Legendary,” an O’Melveny spokesman said in a statement. “We appreciate Matthew’s leadership at O’Melveny and look forward to working closely with him in the years ahead.”

Other Appointments

At O’Melveny, Erramouspe and fellow partner Bruce Tobey served as co-chairs of its entertainment, sports, and media practice. Tobey, who will now solely lead that group, took it over with Erramouspe and former partner Stephen Scharf in 2014 after Latham & Watkins raided the firm for a six-lawyer entertainment transactions team led by partners Joseph Calabrese and Christopher Brearton.

Brearton left Latham and private practice behind in early 2018 when he became COO of Beverly Hills, Calif.-based film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Scharf died later that year at 68 following a long battle with pancreatic cancer. As for Erramouspe, he’ll reunite at Legendary with Elaine Zhang, a former O’Melveny counsel in Beijing who currently serves as the company’s China general counsel.

Erramouspe is also not the only lawyer within the Dalian Wanda media empire to recently get a new job.

AMC, a movie theater chain bought by Dalian Wanda in a $2.6 billion deal in 2012, announced last month its promotion of Daniel Ellis to senior vice president of development and international. Ellis most recently served as head of domestic development at AMC, which he joined in 2016 after its $1.1 billion acquisition of Columbus, Ga.-based Carmike Cinemas Inc., where he was general counsel.

Other lawyers making in-house moves in the entertainment space this year include:

  • Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. recently hired Greenberg Traurig, media, entertainment, and intellectual property litigation partner Elizabeth Valentina to serve as vice president of litigation and Davis Wright Tremaine employment counsel Christiane Roussell as vice president of employee relations. Both lawyers will be based in Culver City, Calif., a center for the film and television industry.
  • ViacomCBS Inc., which has been reshaping its legal and compliance group since its combination last year, announced Jan. 31 that George Cheeks will become president and CEO of CBS Entertainment Corp. Cheeks, a former entertainment lawyer who once held a variety of in-house roles at Viacom, most recently was vice chairman of Comcast Corp.-owned NBCUniversal Content Studios.
  • United Talent Agency Inc. announced Feb. 11 that associate general counsel Michael Sinclair will replace Andrew Thau as its in-house legal chief. Thau, who dually served as the Beverly Hills-based talent agency’s general counsel and COO, will remain in the latter role and serve on its board.
  • Def Jam Recordings, a music label owned by Universal Music Group Inc., announced Feb. 21 that CEO Paul Rosenberg will step down and be replaced on an interim basis by Jeffrey Harleston, general counsel and executive vice president of business and legal affairs at Santa Monica, Calif.-based UMG.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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