Attorneys Allen Grubman & Michael Reinert Honored, Roasted at Entertainment Law Initiative Lunch

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Allen Grubman

"Most of the time, people call me with complaints," said Grubman, "So it's a nice change of pace to receive an award."

"Most of the time, people call me with complaints," said Allen Grubman, a partner at Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, when he accepted the Entertainment Law Initiative President's Merit Award at the organization's annual lunch on Friday (Jan. 26). "So it's a nice change of pace to receive an award."

The annual Entertainment Law Initiative lunch, now in its 20th year, honors leading music lawyers -- this year Grubman and Fox Rothschild partner Michael Reinert, who won the Service Award. It's known as one of the more intellectually interesting events of Grammy Week, but it's rarely one of the most amusing. This year it was both.

Although the Entertainment Law Initiative lunch has traditionally been a seated meal at a Los Angeles-area hotel, this year's edition was held at New World Stages as a reception followed by awards presentations in one of the theaters.

Grubman, who is known for being as funny as he is tough, told the story of how he became a music lawyer -- he sang until his voice changed, went to Brooklyn Law School and got his first gig after saying in a job interview that he couldn't pay very much to work there.

Republic Records Chairman and CEO Monte Lipman introduced Reinert as a "lawyer's lawyer," then screened a parody "sizzle reel" that advertised Reinert's one-man Off Broadway shows about his experiences as a cancer patient as though they were Hollywood blockbusters. (His comment about Grubman: "Usually when I hear from Allen, he says, 'Hey, schmuck, when someone offers you a check, shut up and take it!") Lipman and his brother, Republic Records president and COO Avery Lipman, also played a congratulatory video message from Stevie Wonder, one of Reinert's most prominent clients.

Reinert accepted his award, thanking colleagues, family, his doctor, Wonder and Mel Lewinter, who worked closely with Doug Morris at Warner Music, then Universal, and now Sony. Early in his career, Reinert said, when he was doing some work for Atlantic Records, Lewinter helped his prepare for a meeting -- and then became a mentor and eventually a friend.

The event's featured speaker was New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has tried to limit the way bots buy up tickets for resale. While he commended music business organizations for working well together on national issues, he encouraged them to take their issues to state governments as well. "More innovative public policy," he said in a well received speech, "will continue to happen on the state level."