Saturday, April 20, 2024

UPDATED RIP Howard Weitzman, 81, Great Hollywood Based Attorney Who Rejected OJ Simpson Case, Repped Michael Jackson Estate



Messages of condolence have come in. Howard’s law partners at Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump LLP wrote: “Our beloved friend and partner Howard Weitzman passed away yesterday. A renowned trial lawyer and dealmaker, Howard skillfully handled some of the most famous cases in Hollywood. Howard’s wit, charm, and brilliant legal mind are legendary, and we will miss him dearly. We send our love and condolences to Howard’s wife Margaret, his sons Armen and Jed, and to his many clients, friends, and admirers. RIP Howard, you will always be a giant.”

And John Branca, John McClain and the Michael Jackson Estate sent this message:

“We are heartbroken at the passing of our friend and colleague Howard Weitzman. Howard has always been a relentless fighter for righteous causes and ferociously fought for Michael during his lifetime and after. He has been an integral part of the Estate team.  Howard brought more than just his skills as a brilliant lawyer to the team; he had the uncanny ability to find ways to resolve issues outside of the courtroom – a skill not all litigators possess.  And one of the truly amazing things about Howard was how he could make anyone he met – whether they were on the same side as him or opposing him – feel like a respected colleague and his friend.  It is his friendship we will miss most of all.”

WEDNESDAY NIGHT There are a lot of tears tonight in Hollywood. The great attorney Howard Weitzman has passed away at age 81, I’m told, from cancer.

Howard was a friend, a resource for me. I met him after he pulled out of the OJ Simpson case in 1994. Simpson had hired him, but Howard knew better– he never said so, but that was the case. Simpson hired Robert Shapiro, who formed the Dream Team. Over the years whenever I need insights into a case, or something in Hollywood, Howard was always there to help. I will really miss him.

Starting in 2009, when Michael Jackson died, Howard came to represent Michael’s estate. He worked with John Branca and Joel Katz, and they have been a great team over the years. I know they are devastated by this loss.

Condolences to Howard’s family and friends.

I’m reprinting Howard’s bio here from his website just so you see his range and depth.

Mr. Weitzman is recognized as one of the most influential attorneys in the nation. His practice includes litigation in civil, criminal, antitrust and regulatory forums. Mr. Weitzman has been lead trial attorney in over 300 civil and criminal jury trials, and has represented over 1,000 individuals and companies on matters ranging from intellectual property and entertainment issues to family law and estate issues. He has twice received the Jerry Geisler Memorial Award as the outstanding trial lawyer in Los Angeles County. He has been profiled in a number of publications and was named one of the top fifteen lawyers in the country by The National Law Journal.

Mr. Weitzman’s clients have included every major motion picture studio, talent agencies William Morris, ICM and CAA, and many high-profile clients including John DeLorean, Michael Jackson, Marlon Brando, Morgan Freeman, Magic Johnson, O. J. Simpson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ivan Reitman, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Sean Combs and Chuck Lorre, amongst others.  He currently represents the Estate of Michael Jackson.  He is perennially named a “Power Lawyer” by The Hollywood Reporter and in Variety’s “Legal Impact Report.”

From 1995-1998, Mr. Weitzman served as Executive Vice President, Corporate Operations for Universal Studios, where he was responsible for restructuring the corporate part of the business. Mr. Weitzman regularly counsels major corporations on contract and business strategies.

Mr. Weitzman taught Trial Advocacy at the University of Southern California Law School for 12 years. He has lectured at Harvard, Georgetown Law Center, UCLA and numerous other law schools across the nation, and has been a speaker at countless seminars and symposiums for Bar Associations and conferences. Mr. Weitzman has been a guest on many national television shows, including “Larry King Live,” “Dateline,” and “Good Morning America.”



Representative Matters

  • The representation of The Estate of Michael Jackson in numerous litigation matters, including a lawsuit against Lloyds of London seeking to recover proceeds from a cancellation insurance policy covering Michael Jackson’s planned “This Is It” concert tour and disputes arising out of the exploitation of Mr. Jackson’s intellectual property.  Mr. Weitzman provides strategic support for the Estate on an ongoing basis with respect to a variety of legal and business issues, including the administration of the Estate, the handling of creditors’ claims and the restructuring of debt obligations.
  • Lead counsel, handling the very public dispute between Chuck Lorre, the co-creator of “Two and a Half Men,” and Charlie Sheen.  In this extremely high profile and widely publicized matter, Sheen blamed Lorre for his termination from TV’s top sitcom, and sued Lorre and the production studio for $100 million.  Mr. Weitzman led the KWIKA team, which reached a mutually agreeable resolution for both sides.
  • Lead counsel to international pop star Justin Bieber against Mariah Yeater, who accused Bieber of fathering her child in 2011.  The paternity suit against Bieber was ultimately dropped in another possibly career altering, high profile matter successfully handled by Mr. Weitzman.
  • Represented Britney Brands in a dispute regarding royalties from Spears’ top-selling fragrance line. Marketing company BrandSense claimed it had orchestrated a fragrance deal between Britney Brands and Elizabeth Arden, making millions for Spears and her company in exchange for 35 percent of her profits.  However, BrandSense claimed that Britney Brands had violated the original agreement by attempting to cut the marketing company out of payments for Spears’ “Radiance” perfume.  BrandSense sued Spears, her father, and her company, for $10 million, claiming the contract guaranteed royalties on all perfumes developed by the partnership between Spears and Elizabeth Arden.  Mr. Weitzman filed a new lawsuit on behalf of Britney Brands, contesting these claims, and alleging that the marketing company withheld profits, and that the contract only included three fragrances that were under development at the time of the contract, not future fragrances.  Spears and her legal team demanded damages, and a declaration that BrandSense is not entitled to any further royalties.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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