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Now That's Entertainment (Law)

Three Florida attorneys discuss their involvement in entertainment and sports

Published in 2006 Florida Super Lawyers magazine

Think preparing your federal tax return is a chore? Imagine having to pay income tax in dozens of cities and state around the country each year, a challenge for professional athletes who play in more than a dozen locations each season.

Though they may only play in a given place for three days, “the way [officials] look at it, those three days are worth tens of thousands of dollars based on million-dollar contracts,” says Ben J. Hayes, a shareholder in the St. Petersburg office of Carlton Fields. A former pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, Hayes practices sports and entertainment law, often representing buyers who are acquiring sports franchises, individual athletes in sports like tennis and golf, and clubs and leagues. While entertainment law conjures up images of flashy court battles like Michael Jackson’s sexual abuse trial or Russell Crowe’s assault charges, it often deals with the mundane.

Jorge Hernandez-Torano is a partner with Holland & Knight in Miami, the hotbed of the Latin music scene. His clients range from Cuban-born jazz musician Arturo Sandoval to the Rolling Stones when they’re on tour in South Florida. He’s also counsel to the Latin Grammy Awards. “A lot of people might think it’s a glamour day or a fun day,” he says, “but for the people in the industry, it’s a work day.” And many stars don’t flash and sizzle.

“Most of the people I work with are really focused—and they are all business,” says Richard Warren Rappaport, a partner with the Boca Raton office of Adorno & Yoss and chair of the Florida Bar’s entertainment, arts and sports law section. His clients run the spectrum from actor Steven Van Zandt of The Sopranos to supermodel Eva Herzigovaand action star Steven Seagal. “People who become famous—or infamous—are viewed under a magnifying glass and appear larger than life,” Rappaport says.

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