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United Talent Deepens Skadden Ties With General Counsel Hire

May 25, 2022, 7:07 PM

United Talent Agency Inc., whose clients have ranged from Bad Bunny and Gloria Gaynor to Lil’ Wayne and Al Franken, has appointed former Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom associate Stefanie Liquori as general counsel.

Liquori comes to UTA, one of the four big talent agencies, after nearly two years in the dual role of chief executive officer and general counsel for DSG Entertainment Services Inc. She previously spent 13 years at DSG predecessor Deluxe Entertainment and four at Skadden, a longtime legal adviser to UTA.

“I’ve admired UTA’s history of evolution and reinvention on behalf of its clients as the entertainment landscape has shifted,” Liquori, who will also join the company as a partner, said in a statement.

Liquori will start May 31 and report to UTA’s COO Andrew Thau. He relinquished the general counsel role in 2020 when former associate general counsel Michael Sinclair was promoted to legal chief. Sinclair is now leaving the company.

Thau, who has worked at UTA since 2007, declined to discuss the legal leadership change from Sinclair to Liquori. Sinclair didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Thau and Sinclair were once embroiled in a dispute between UTA and talent industry rival the Creative Artists Agency Inc., which in court papers once accused both lawyers of helping poach high-value agents from CAA in 2015. CAA and UTA ultimately resolved their differences in a 2019 settlement.

Skadden Connection

Liquori’s move to UTA keeps alive a Skadden connection that goes back decades.

The firm counseled the agency in December on its $125 million acquisition of MediaLink, a media advisory and consulting firm led by tax lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Michael Kassan. Michelman & Robinson advised Kassan.

That same month, Skadden took the lead for UTA on its formation of a $230 million special purpose acquisition company, UTA Acquisition Corp., which is looking to purchase a new company in the digital media, content creation, and gaming space.

The SPAC, listed on the Nasdaq exchange, has tapped UTA associate general counsel Philip Voss, another former Skadden associate, to be its board secretary.

Voss didn’t respond to a request for comment about the SPAC’s in-house legal group, nor did Clinton Foy, an attorney and venture capitalist who joined UTA last year as a general partner. Foy is co-CEO for the SPAC, whose board includes longtime entertainment industry lawyer Nancy Tellem.

Securities filings show that UTA’s creation of its SPAC last year generated at least $300,000 in legal fees and expenses for the agency’s lawyers from Skadden and Cayman Islands-based Maples and Calder. Cravath, Swaine & Moore counseled underwriters in connection with the offering.

Skadden also represented UTA in 2019 on its investment in Klutch Sports Group, a sports agency founded by basketball star LeBron James and his agent, Rich Paul, who now serves as UTA’s head of sports. UTA’s partnership with Klutch has led the agency to increase its representation of athletes.

This past March, CAA looked to another former Skadden associate, Hilary Krane, to become its new chief legal officer. Krane joined CAA after stepping down in February as the top lawyer at Nike Inc. Jeffrey Freedman, CAA’s former legal chief, is now head of legal for the Los Angeles-based company’s agency business.

DSG Entertainment

DSG, Liquori’s employer prior to her joining UTA, was formerly known as Deluxe Entertainment. The media company filed for bankruptcy in 2019 ahead of a change in control from former billionaire owner Ronald Perelman’s holding company to a consortium of private equity investors.

At Deluxe Entertainment, Liquori’s roles included serving as general counsel and chief administrative officer for the Burbank, Calif.-based company. She spearheaded strategic and commercial transactions and advised on capital raising, compliance, employment, intellectual property, and litigation matters.

Liquori joined Deluxe Entertainment and Panavision Inc., a movie camera rental company once owned by Perelman, in 2007 after leaving her job as a corporate finance associate at Skadden in New York.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com