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The Listener

Entertainment lawyer Stephen Weizenecker on the pitfalls of fame

Published in 2007 Georgia Rising Stars magazine

Stephen G. Weizenecker started out managing rock bands in high school in Clearwater, Fla. Twenty years later he’s still managing entertainers—singer T-Boz, actor Kyle Massey, football player Ronnie Brown and former NBA star Dominique Wilkins—now they’re just a little more famous.

 
“My clients are constantly creating art, which lasts much longer than what lawyers usually do,” says the of-counsel attorney with Greenberg Traurig in Atlanta. “A lawyer makes a case and sues somebody. The case ends, and no one remembers it. Here you represent someone whose work probably will outlive the people involved.” 
 
The 39-year-old likens his job to that of a corporate counsel. “My clients bring their legal issues to me, whatever they may be,” he says. “If I don’t do that area of the law, I’ll find the right people who will.” 
 
Weizenecker says that life has become so complex for entertainers and athletes—the pitfalls so numerous—they need a savvy team of people around them. “What you and I make, no one knows but us. But if an actor makes $2 million for a picture? It’s widely reported, and all of a sudden a bunch of wacky people are calling up trying to get a piece of that.” 
 
Other clients include POP Films, an Atlanta-based company (The Signal), and Legendary Pictures, which recently partnered with Warner Bros. on the box-office smash 300. Weizenecker is also a board member of the Rome International Film Festival, which every year brings independent filmmakers from around the world to Rome, Ga. 
 
“The [movie] industry really has turned around here, both as an investment vehicle and a creative vehicle,” he says. “Georgia has a lot more settings than other states—from the ocean to the mountains to urban [locales]. Also, the cost of living is generally lower, the weather is good, and film companies don’t have to deal with unions.” 
 
“Steve has a great ability to negotiate and close complex business transactions,” says entertainment attorney Joel Katz, chair of Greenberg Traurig’s global entertainment practice. “Plus, he’s a pretty mellow guy. In this business, you have to be a good listener and give your advice quietly.”  

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