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All-Star Entertainment Conference Gets Rave Reviews

November 14, 2011

Before the conference, TJSL Professor K.J. Greene told everyone to “hold on to their seats, because this conference has it all!”

He was right. 

The All-Star entertainment law conference “From Deals to Disputes and Creators to Lawyers: Film, TV and Videogames in the Age of Remix” on November 12 lived up to its advance billing!   It was entertaining too – from start to finish!  The conference was a huge hit – and it attracted an overflow audience to the law school.

The keynote speaker, Denise Beaudoin was definitely entertaining!  She is a television production lawyer for the Dr. Oz Show and a veteran of ABC and MTV. She spoke about how she has changed as the television business has changed, staying on top of – even ahead of the trends -because she is always learning.

“Some of the worst jobs I’ve had are some of the best jobs I’ve ever had.  That’s because I learned so much,” Beaudoin said. “You’ve got to look ahead at where things are going.”

And where things are going, Beaudoin said is the trend in television to sponsorship integration. “TV commercials are on their way out,” she said, as she talked about how product placement is the best way to get “eyeballs on the product,” as they do on American Idol with its ubiquitous Coke logos.

“Denise was the hit of the conference–brilliant and charismatic,” said Professor K.J. Greene, who organized the conference along with 2L Camara Mathis.

Camara managed to bring in one of the big names at the conference:  her father.  TV Judge Greg Mathis, moderated the panel on making television deals.  “If I had a daughter, I’d want her to be just like Camara,” he joked.

Judge Mathis and his sense of humor brought down the house, but he inspired everyone as well with the story of his journey from his troubled past to becoming a judge. “Much of your blessing will come from blessing others,” he said.

TJSL was well-represented at the conference.  Marisa Sommerville ‘03, the production attorney at American Idol Productions, spoke about dealing with would-be contestants on the wildly popular program. “People will do anything to be famous,” she said.  “And we treat all of them fairly.”

It was a great homecoming for Sommerville. “It was my first visit to the new school and it is beautiful.” she said. “It was nice to come back as an alum and talk to current students and answer their questions.  It really was a lot of fun and I’d be happy to come back anytime.”

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Joshua Kunau ‘07 showed a clip of the current documentary he is producing that is about GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) and how they have become pervasive in processed foods in America, even though packaging labels are not required to disclose it.

One of the most fascinating panels was about video games and featured Heidi Holman and Peter Becker, both attorneys at Microsoft who work on X-Box 360.  That product has posted an amazing growth in sales and is on the forefront of the game industry revolution – because it is not just a game console, but a multi-media device. 

The biggest legal issues in the video game industry?  “Network security and privacy,” according to Becker. And many in the audience learned that policing brands worldwide is not an easy task. “There’s no such thing as a global trademark,” said Holman.
Few wowed the crowd like Roger Kupelian, who showed a sizzle reel of some of the visual effects he created for movies like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Flags of our Fathers” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

Kupelian said that disputes often arise over the use of images that go into creating visual effects – which are often” borrowed” from other sources and then transformed.  “People have disputes often because they misunderstand each other,” he said. “That’s why we need (entertainment) lawyers.”

Filmmaker David Bojorquez said that these disputes can be headed off if a “fair use test” is developed – but “fair use does not mean free.” Bojorquez showed a preview clip of the documentary he’s working on now – “Beyond the Moonwalk” – a documentary about the evolution of the kind of dancing made most famous by the late Michael Jackson.

TJSL Professors Claire Wright and Jeff Slattery also appeared at the conference as moderators.

The conference got rave reviews for its brilliant content, as well as its entertaining tone.

“It was the best I have been to and I have been to conferences all over the world and paid hundreds of dollars and I have not seen people so engaged and requesting more, said conference attendee Lacy J. Lodes ‘08.

“I came to the conference expecting to be enlightened on pertinent issues surrounding the television deals I now work with.  I was not disappointed,” said Jakgeem Mays ’10, who is a business affairs coordinator with NBC/Universal.  “Each panelist brought their unique, qualified perspective to the table – enabling an animated discourse that resonated with both law students and lawyers alike.  Professor Greene and Ms. Mathis have truly raised the bar.  I’m looking forward to the next event.”

University of New Mexico School of Law Professor Sherri Burr, who moderated the panel on video games, seemed to get as much out of the conference as the attendees.  “I congratulate you on a tour de force of a conference,” said Professor Burr.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it informational.  It was nice to meet Camara Mathis’ dad (Judge Mathis.)  I even suggested him as a Black History Month speaker at UNM. “

“Every panel exceeded my expectations,” said Professor Greene. “We had numerous prospective students there seeing first hand why TJSL is the place to be for entertainment and IP law.”