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March 12, 2009

Entertainment Attorney George Hedges Dies


Esteemed lawyer named to Hollywood Reporter's
Top 100 Power Lawyers in 2007 and 2008

March 12, 2009


Prominent entertainment attorney George R. Hedges died of cancer on Tuesday, March 10, in South Pasadena. He was 57.

Over the course of his distinguished legal career, Hedges received numerous accolades, including an Award of Commendation from the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, and from 2004-2007 was named a “California Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles magazine.

In 2007 and 2008 he was named to The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 100 Power Lawyers List, and he appeared as a legal expert on leading national news programs.

As a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, Hedges represented the Producers Guild of America, as well as production companies, television networks, actors, directors, talent agencies and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences

Hedges represented the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in its ongoing arbitration with the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences over various matters related to the respective organizations’ Emmy Awards.

He was recommended to the Television Academy by its general counsel, Dixon Q. Dern, who knew him both personally for a number of years and from previous cases, and regarded him as one of the most accomplished litigators in California.

“We will surely miss George’s astute legal abilities, but to those of us who knew and worked with him, he was more than a lawyer and professional colleague,” said John Shaffner, chairman and chief executive officer of the Television Academy.

“More importantly," Shaffner continued, "he was a true gentleman and an individual who represented the highest level of integrity — a real role model for others.”

“George had the ability to cut to the core of the problem and explain it clearly,” said Television Academy chief operating officer Alan Perris. “He was an acutely intelligent, honest and elegant man who quickly became a friend as well as a legal advocate.”

In a statement from the Producers Guild, Marshall Herskovitz and Vance Van Petten said, “George recognized the importance of what producers do; he believed in our cause and argued it passionately and victoriously. His ability to demystify the legal process and isolate the issues and values at hand was second to none.”

Among the notable cases Hedges handled were the Producers Guild and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences’ dispute with producer Bob Yari over his eligibility for producer credit on Oscar winner Crash. He also represented agent Ed Limato in his case against International Creative Management, invoking the “seven year rule” to release Limato from his employment contract.

Other clients he represented included Mel Gibson, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Simon Cowell, Robert Cort, Fox, CBS, Creative Artists Agency, United talent Agency and the Endeavor Agency.

For all of his many achievements as an entertainment attorney, Hedges was perhaps most proud of his pro bono representation of Adam Miranda, an inmate convicted of murder whose death sentence he fought to overturn for more than 20 years, obtaining a unanimous decision reversing the death sentence in 2008.

Hedges’ indefatigable devotion to Miranda’s cause — which he continued to pursue while maintaining his entertainment caseload — was heralded in a May 7, 2008, editorial in the Los Angeles Times that celebrated the outcome.

“If a respected entertainment lawyer had not decided 20 years ago to devote a substantial chunk of his life and work to helping a California death row inmate — for free — Adam Miranda would be dead by now,” said the editors, who added, “Confronted with the enormous cost of the death penalty in California, its supporters argue that it would be cheaper if the process were sped up. Yet Miranda’s case shows how important those seemingly endless appeals can be.”

A native of Philadelphia, Hedges earned a B.A. and M.A. in classical studies at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from USC Law School. After clerking for a judge, he joined Kaplan, Livingston, Goodwin, Berkowitz & Selvin as a litigator.

He went on to form Hedges & Caldwell in 1988. He practiced there for 10 years before moving to Quinn Emanuel in 1998 to launch the firm’s entertainment litigation practice.

Hedges also founded the laserdisc company Discworks and the television production company Thomas Road, which produced Lost City of Arabia for the PBS series Nova.

In addition to his legal work, Hedges was a noted archeologist who led significant expeditions. In 1997, he helped to discover unknown archeological sites in Yemen, and in 1992 he helped discover the lost city of Ubar in Oman.

He is survived by his wife Christie and two sons — Shon, a film editor, and Duncan, a law student.

Donations may be made to the memorial fund at Polytechnic School at Polytechnic.org

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