Bonnie E. Eskenazi

Partner

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310.785.6857
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310.201.2357

Profile

Bonnie Eskenazi is one of the foremost entertainment litigators in Los Angeles.

Recently recognized by Variety as one of its "Women of Impact" within the Entertainment Industry, and by The Recorder as California's Entertainment Lawyer of the Year, Ms. Eskenazi represents plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of litigation matters, including entertainment, copyright, defamation and general business disputes.

Ms. Eskenazi is also listed on The Hollywood Reporter’s list of "Power Lawyers." She is named by the Los Angeles Daily Journal as one of "California’s Top 75 Women Litigators," by the Los Angeles Business Journal as "The Best of the Bar," by Los Angeles Magazine as a "Super Lawyer" and by Chambers & Partners as one of America’s leading media and entertainment lawyers. Ms. Eskenazi also carries the highest peer-review rating, "AV," by Martindale-Hubbell.

Ms. Eskenazi is a trial lawyer and civil litigator, and also handles certain entertainment transactional work.  She also lecturers at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools.

Entertainment Experience

Ms. Eskenazi is one of only a handful of women trial lawyers in Los Angeles whose practice focuses on entertainment industry disputes. She has handled disputes involving royalty disputes, defamation, first amendment, breach of contract, tort, fraud, copyright infringement, trademark, trade secret and talent agency/personal management claims to name a few.

Representative Entertainment Litigation Matters:

  • Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien v. New Line Cinema: Successfully represented the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien in a profit participation action against New Line Cinema; the Estate was seeking a damage award of at least $150 million and had also requested that the Court declare New Line’s rights terminated. The matter settled
  • Marvel Entertainment: Currently represents Marvel Entertainment in various profit participation matters as well as other general litigation
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg v. The Walt Disney Co.: Member of the team that successfully represented Jeffrey Katzenberg in his action to obtain profit participation against the Walt Disney Company
  • Jesse James Hollywood v. Universal Studios/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment: Successfully defeated accused murderer Hollywood’s request for a preliminary injunction seeking to prevent the distribution of the 2007 feature film “Alpha Dog.” Ms. Eskenazi has been invited to speak about this case at an upcoming CEB seminar on "Hot Legal Issues in Current Entertainment Litigation"
  • Bagdasarian Productions v. Universal Studios: Successfully obtained the return of the "Alvin & The Chipmunks" characters to the original owners from a major motion picture studio
  • Copyright Termination Cases: Has successfully defended Classic Media and Harvey Entertainment against various statutory termination claims by the heirs of certain authors attempting to recapture copyrights in several different fictional characters
  • Berry Gordy v. Sidney Kimmel Entertainment: Currently defending independent motion picture production company against a claim of defamation in connection with the film, "Talk to Me"
  • Grandway Holdings v. Sony Entertainment: Represented private investors in SET India (a television network that operates in India and Singapore) against Sony Entertainment, their joint venture partner
  • Kounellis v. Chrismas: Successfully obtained the return of artwork and fees owed to world renowned artist Jannis Kounellis in a dispute with Los Angeles art gallery
  • Hans Zimmer: Has handled numerous matters for the composer concerning general business, copyright and other issues relating to the music and film industries
  • Clark v. Walt Disney Co.: Successfully defended the creators of “Baby Einstein” against breach of contract claims asserted by Disney
  • Daily Variety (Marvel Entertainment v. Sony Pictures Entertainment): Successfully represented various press organizations asserting their First Amendment right to attend and report on the legal dispute over the "Spiderman" character
  • David Stanley v. Scott Stone: Successfully represented a partner in Stone Stanley Entertainment, a television production company which produced such shows as “The Mole,” “The Man Show,” and “Shop Til You Drop,” in an action to recover damages and for dissolution
  • Feiner v. Pacific Title Co.: Successfully represented former CEO in an employment dispute against one of the oldest post-production companies in Hollywood; in addition to allegations of breach of contract and wrongful termination, plaintiff also sought recovery for the company’s destruction of his computer files
  • DIC Entertainment v. Speed Racer Enterprises: Successfully represented the children's animation company in an action concerning its intellectual property rights in the "Speed Racer" property
  • The Harvey Entertainment Co. v. Franklin-Waterman, et al: Won a month-long jury trial in downtown Los Angeles on behalf of an entertainment company which owns a large stable of cartoon characters
  • Imagine Entertainment v. Mike Myers: Quickly and successfully resolved a claim by Imagine Entertainment and its partners, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, against comedian Mike Myers; Myers sought to renege on his commitment to write and star in a motion picture to be produced by Imagine
  • DreamWorks Animation LLC v. Rick Littleton: Successfully prosecuted a breach of contract, fraud and defamation action involving the purchase by DreamWorks of the horse that served as the model for DreamWorks' award-winning animated feature, "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron"
  • Jerome O'Connor v. DreamWorks Films, L.L.C.: Won summary judgment for DreamWorks against a producer who brought an action for breach of contract and fraud
  • Greg Brown v. The Harvey Entertainment Co.: Successfully defended an entertainment company in federal court against a trademark/unfair competition action; obtained a dismissal of the action within six months of the filing, and was awarded $70,000 in attorneys' fees against the plaintiff, which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal
  • Stephen Slesinger Inc. v. The Walt Disney Co.: Represented the owners of rights in Winnie The Pooh in their action against Disney for fraud and breach of contract relating to Disney's obligation to pay royalties
  • Florence Griffith Joyner v. Gordon Baskin: Represented a world famous Olympic athlete in a case before the California Labor Commissioner to terminate her obligations and recover commissions paid to her former personal manager
  • Davidson & Associates v. Pearson: Successfully defended a publicly held international entertainment conglomerate against a $30 million claim for misappropration of trade secrets; the case was dismissed within nine months of filing and the trial court awarded $300,000 in attorneys' fees to the defendant
  • Steven J. Wolfe, et al. v. James Moll, et al.: Successfully defended a writer/director against a claim that he failed to honor an oral agreement to transfer the copyright in a motion picture script to a producer; prior to the first deposition being taken, plaintiffs agreed to dismiss the entire action without any payment whatsoever
  • The Walt Disney Co. v. Max Howard: Defeated a motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on behalf of an entertainment industry executive who left one motion picture studio to head up a division of another motion picture studio
  • Elle Macpherson v. Lawrence Young: Successfully represented a famous super model in a defamation action against an attorney who made false statements to the media regarding the circumstances of his client's burglary and attempted extortion against the model; worked with the Los Angeles District Attorney's office on behalf of the super model/crime victim to obtain a guilty plea from the criminal defendant and the maximum sentence allowable under the law; obtained a public retraction and apology from the attorney who made the defamatory remarks
  • Geffen Records v. Don Henley: Successfully represented a major record company against a world renowned, Grammy-winning artist who refused to deliver any further record albums based on his claim that he was released from his contract after seven years
  • Art Buchwald v. Paramount Pictures: Was a member of the team that represented Paramount in its appeal of the Art Buchwald decision which held the net profit definition to be unconscionable
  • Estate of Jim Garrison v. Paramount Pictures: Defended Paramount against the Jim Garrison antitrust class action which attacked the studios' net profit definition; the Court gave the studio defendants a total victory when it dismissed the class action
  • Batjac Productions, Inc. v. GoodTimes Home Video Corp.: Represented a film production company in its appellate efforts to restore copyright protection to a classic film which inadvertently lost its copyright protection

Representative Entertainment Transactional Matters: Ms. Eskenazi's practice is unusual in that she also represents various entertainment clients in their transactional endeavors.

  • Renée Fleming: As Ms. Fleming is the most well-known opera star today, she is highly sought after for endorsement agreements; Ms. Eskenazi has negotiated several endorsement agreements on behalf of Ms. Fleming, including fragrances, luxury real estate developments and high-end luxury gift items
  • Joshua Bell: Negotiated several endorsement agreements for the internationally renowned concert violinist
  • DIC Entertainment: Member of the team that negotiated client's repurchase of an animation company from The Walt Disney Co.
  • The Harvey Entertainment Co.: Acted in the capacity of outside general counsel for a publicly-traded entertainment company which owned over 100 animated characters; devised and implemented business strategies to protect the company's copyright and trademark rights
  • Tomb Raider: Acted as outside production counsel for a theatrical motion picture; successfully resolved legal disputes that arose during production

Accolades

  • Named by The Hollywood Reporter as one of the Entertainment Industry's 100 "Power Lawyers," 2008 -2013
  • Named by Chambers USA as a Leading Individual in the practice of Media and Entertainment Litigation, 2007-2013
  • Listed by the Los Angeles Daily Journal as one of California's "Top Women Litigators," 2005, 2007-2013
  • Listed, "Top Women Attorneys in Southern California - Entertainment and Sports," Los Angeles Magazine, 2012
  • Listed by Variety as one of the Entertainment industry's top 50 "Legal Impact" attorneys, 2011
  • Listed by Variety as one of the Entertainment industry's "Women of Impact," 2011
  • Named an “Attorney of The Year” by The Recorder (San Francisco), 2009
  • Named one of “The Best of the Bar” by the Los Angeles Business Journal, 2007
  • Listed, Best Lawyers In America
  • Named one of Southern California’s Super Lawyers by Law & Politics Magazine, 2004-2013
  • Named one of Los Angeles’ “Women Who Make A Difference” by the Los Angeles Business Journal, 2006
  • Named by Century City Chamber of Commerce “Women of Achievement,” 2002
  • Rated, "AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5," Martindale Hubbell

Professional/Community Affiliations

  • Member, Board of Directors, The Festival of New American Musicals, 2006-present
  • Member, Stanford Law School Board of Visitors, 2002-2005
  • Participant, Trial Attorney Project, where Ms. Eskenazi tried several cases for the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office
  • Law clerk, the Honorable Donald B. King, First District Court of Appeal, 1985 to 1986
  • State Bar of California and has been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States District Courts for the Northern and Central Districts
  • Member, Intellectual Property and Litigation sections, American Bar Association

Media Commentary

  • Quoted (or mentioned) in several articles regarding the settlement of the Hobbit films litigation, Daily Variety, Los Angeles Daily Journal, Huffingtonpost.com, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Deadline.com, Bloomberg.com, The Hollywood Reporter, ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Telegraph.co.uk, law360.com, September 2009
  • Quoted in several articles regarding the Hobbit films litigation, The Independent, The Northern Star, The Age, Otago Daily Times, The New Zealand Herald, Xtra News, 3 News, Wired News - USA, Bloomberg.com, Stuff.co.nz, The National Law Journal's L.A. Legal Pad, School Library Journal, The Gazette (Montreal), July 2009
  • Mentioned, "Judge sends 'Rings' case to jury," Variety, June 3, 2009
  • Quoted, "Tolkien Lawsuit Against New Line Ordered to Jury," Bloomberg.com, June 5, 2009
  • "Tolkien Trust Sues Studio Over 'Rings'," Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2008
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