A Philadelphia Story
Entertainment law pioneer Lloyd Remick is still evolving at 84
Published in 2022 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Magazine on May 20, 2022
When Lloyd Remick’s career as an entrainment lawyer began, he had never heard the term entertainment lawyer before. There’s a slight chance he invented it on the spot—or at least that’s how the story goes around Philly, with an assist from the legendary “Clown Prince of Basketball” Meadowlark Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Back in the 1970s, Remick was making some noise representing Philly rock bands in contracts and deals when Lemon reached out to him for help with negotiating a contract with the Globetrotters.
“He says, ‘I hear you’re a pretty good lawyer for entertainment and sports stuff,’” Remick remembers. “And I heard ‘entertainment’ and ‘lawyer’ together closely like that. I don’t think I ever heard it before that conversation.”
It’s been nearly 50 years since that seminal moment—years filled with late nights at sweaty boxing gyms, cross-country bus tours with a jazz-funk group, and million-dollar negotiations for the world’s top athletes—and the chameleon of entertainment law continues to adapt and thrive.
As the entertainment industry has evolved, so has Remick, whose client roster has gone from ’70s psych rock bands to ’80s jazz innovators, from professional athletes to Olympic boxers, from media personalities to TikTokers.
The music industry was the gateway to his practice. “Way back when, it was ‘record a demo, bring it to a record company, negotiate a contract and tour, etc,’” Remick says. ‘Now it’s, ‘Let’s examine streaming data, followers, subscribers, retweets.’ The game has changed.”
In the stony downstairs wing of his 200-plus-year-old farmhouse, where gold records from Grover Washington Jr. to Bunny Sigler adorn the walls, autographed Dr. J basketballs start conversations and the prop championship belt from Rocky V looms large, Remick fits the bill of a Philly entertainment lawyer.
Also a good host. “You look hungry,” he says with a smile, before serving warm sticky buns and Entenmann’s doughnuts in a sun-dappled dining room.
That smile, along with his charm, curiosity and energy, help keep him ahead of the curve and light on his toes at 84.
“Let’s be honest,” he says. “Most people look at me and cannot figure out why I am still doing this at my age.” He admits he no longer hops on airplanes to L.A. or trains to New York on a moment’s notice. “The younger guys do that. I’ve already paid my dues.”
Remick heads up Zane Management (“Zane” is his middle name), a boutique sports, entertainment and communications consulting and management firm. Along with attorney Stephen E. Vanyo, Remick represents an array of recording artists, writers and producers, as well as television, radio, and entertainment personalities. He also serves as of counsel to Philly’s Braverman Kaskey Garber.
Throughout his career, Remick learned that talent comes in all shapes and sizes, so to truly meet the needs of every client, he needed to immerse himself deeply into their worlds. He not only does his homework, but he fosters deep, personal relationships, notes Vanyo. “Some entertainment lawyers just do music, some entertainment lawyers just do TV, some just do theater,” Vanyo says. “We represent all types of God-given talents.”
That includes Hall of Fame play-by-play Eagles announcer Merrill Reese.
“I have 100 percent trust in him,” says Reese, the legendary voice of the Philadelphia Eagles. “Not only do I always have faith that he’ll do a great job for me but that he’ll represent me with class, dignity and never with any bad feelings. Sometimes it’s easy for negotiations to turn acrimonious, but that’s never the case with Lloyd.”
Reese remembers the time he saw suspect language on a contract that the program director at WYSP said was ‘standard.’ “It basically said they had a right to not renew my contract at any time within a 90-day, postseason notice,” he says. “But I was committed to them for five years.”
Hesitant to sign, Reese told the program director he had to go through Remick. “The PD was all, ‘Oh, we don’t need to do that. This is just standard. You know we’d never let you go. We’re friends here.’ I called Lloyd and he said, ‘Don’t you sign that—this has nothing to do with friendship.’”
Almost immediately, Remick got the language removed. “And don’t you know, less than a year later, that director was gone,” Reese says.
Remick, who grew up in Philly, had his eyes on law school early on, but only as a means to get to the FBI, his childhood dream.
He first got accepted at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, but while standing in line for class registration, fate intervened. Remick noticed two square-jawed military recruiters attracting a crowd at a nearby booth.
“There were a lot of cute girls all ogling these two guys,” he remembers. “And the Army guy sees me standing, staring at him and he says, “Would you like a uniform?”
An ROTC scholarship helped cinch the deal, and for four years, “while everybody at Penn at the time was wearing khakis with buckles in the back and three-piece suits, I was decked in Army-shade green, and marched most of those four years.”
When the Army came calling, Remick delayed active duty and went to Temple law school, before reporting for officer’s basic training in 1962.
One of Remick’s officers learned that the young first lieutenant was a newly minted lawyer, and promptly changed his scenery to one better suited to his skills: military justice and procurement law. As Remick navigated the onramp of military law for about the first month and a half, “I thought I died and went to heaven,” he says.
But early one morning in October (after a long night at the officers’ club with 15-cent tequila shots), everything changed. He was shaken awake by a superior officer.
“I said, ‘Why are you waking me up at 0-500?’ and he tells me that the colonel wants to see me. There were supposedly nuclear missiles in Cuba, aimed at the United States,” Remick says.
As the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded and the Cold War reached its hottest point, Lt. Remick needed to adapt again, fast. He was thrust into a supergroup of contract advisors and lawyers assembled by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. As U.S. forces considered invading Cuba, the officers hoped to centralize their purchase of key military assets like tanks and Navy destroyers for Vietnam.
While JFK and Nikita Khrushchev eventually worked that particular scuffle out, the U.S. soon found itself at war in Vietnam. At its onset, Remick began working in earnest for the Department of Defense, helping it negotiate multimillion-dollar contracts for ammunition, artillery, tanks and airplanes.
“Much bigger [stakes] than you’re going to ever see as a lawyer,” Remick says. “Military experience for me was one of the keys of my life. I loved it. And I really thought about staying in and making it a career.”
But while Remick scored contractual victories from behind a desk, his friends were dying on the other side of the world. One buddy, an airborne Pathfinder ranger from West Point who Remick met during officer training, went missing in action on Christmas Eve in 1962.
Remick reached his breaking point. He barged into his commanding officer’s headquarters and demanded deployment into action overseas. The officer shot back. For every soldier who fights in combat, 20 or 30 others were needed to serve internal functions—from tailoring uniforms to ordering tanks to cooking food to, yes, negotiating deals for DOD.
“And you better learn young man that we are cogs in a machine,” Remick remembers the officer barking at him. “If a piece of that cog doesn’t function, the machine doesn’t work and you lose wars.”
The lesson stuck with Remick after he left the military to find law work. “Whether it’s in law or life or anything,” he says, “to really succeed, you need to have a good team around you.”
You also need to be engaged with what you’re doing. Remick quickly landed a job at a private firm, but the work—basic, transactional—bored him. One day, a colleague referred a new client to him: a young rock ‘n’ roll artist who needed help negotiating a management contract. “It seemed to me that the percentage the manager was taking was rather high,” he says.
The band landed the contract, and soon more bands and artists began seeking him out. “And I noticed that my Army crew cut started to grow a little longer,” he says.
Philly 70s-era rock bands like The American Dream, Forest Green and Good News found themselves under Remick’s legal tutelage. Lemon then came along and added sports to Remick’s repertoire. By then, his law firm colleagues had grown tired of the endless line of “hippie-dippies” infiltrating their office to meet with Remick. It was time to branch off on his own.
To help cinch the decision, Remick landed the man he calls the client of his lifetime: jazz legend Grover Washington Jr. The saxophone prodigy was a musical force throughout the ’70s and ’80s, charting on Billboard’s R&B and Top 40 charts for his smooth blend of jazz and pop. During their 20-year relationship, before Washington Jr.’s death in 1999, the lawyer and artist were closely tethered, thanks in part to Remick’s hustle to help the artist succeed, no matter what.
“Listen, did I ever carry a saxophone on the stage when the sound guys weren’t around? The answer is yes. Did I worry about the color of gels in the lights for lighting? Yes,” Remick says. “Most lawyers don’t do that. That kind of lawyering afforded me the opportunity to go on tour [with Washington Jr.] to Brazil, Japan. It was a different kind of learning experience.”
Nearly all of Washington Jr.’s early output was instrumental tracks. After years of cajoling, Remick says, he finally convinced the jazzman to release a single with vocals: “Just the Two of Us” with singer Bill Withers. The song helped Washington Jr.’s album Winelight go platinum in 1981, and he won two Grammys. Remick is quick to point out that the song is experiencing a revival, thanks to the #justthetwoofus challenge on TikTok.
By the mid-’80s, Remick was also representing a handful of world-class boxers, including Olympians Tyrell Biggs and Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, and world title-holder Meldrick Taylor. He was there, at weigh-ins with Don King and the afterparties with Lou Duva. He knows how long it takes to stitch up a post-fight face (36 hours, for the record).
Along the way, Remick nurtured his own creative soul. He writes songs and plays a little keyboard but can’t carry a tune. He practices martial arts and kickboxing. And he’s a published novelist.
Two Times Platinum is a gritty thriller about a young entertainment lawyer who represents a femme fatale who is in the mix with some unsavory mobsters. “It is fiction,” Remick adds, “though people think it’s not.” He hammered it out in less than a year via a strict regimen: “I set aside five nights a week for approximately nine months to get out this story,” he says.
It helped him appreciate some aspect of what his clients go through. “It’s easy as a lawyer to send a client who writes a novel to a book signing, and it’s easy to listen to an author explain their book,” he says. “But it’s another thing to be at an actual book signing or give a lecture on your book yourself. It bares your soul.”
For 32 years, Remick has also lectured on entertainment and sports law as a professor at Temple University. Vanyo calls Remick a consummate learner.
“The entertainment industry is obviously so different now,” Vanyo says, “so he learns all these new things because he’ll get questions from students, and that piques his interest.”
Even during a pandemic, the octogenarian mastered the art of the Zoom meeting, while boning up with Vanyo on the expanding esports industry (now an internationally recognized sport) and trends like NFTs and the metaverse. “He just has a crazy appetite for learning everything new in the world,” says Vanyo. “He’s able to take it, process it, understand it, relate it, and then bring it back.”
“It just amazes me,” Remick says. “When I think I have seen it all, and done it all, a client will come up with something that’s totally new. And it’s just fascinating for me to get into it and help them.”
Remick says big entertainment dollars are bringing lawyers to his practice area in droves. “The world of entertainment and sports is radically changed,” he says. “Now [lawyers] flock to it because they see the high-priced contracts of professional athletes. And they all think of it as glamor and glitter. Did I love the fact that I could get into Studio 54 without waiting? Yeah. But I really believe that the practice is something where you really have to work hard. It’s like any other profession in law: It takes a lot of work.”