EXCLUSIVE: Renowned entertainment lawyer Craig Emanuel is leaving the Century City-based firm Paul Hastings, where he was a partner and global chairman of the Entertainment and Media practice. After practicing law for over 42 years, Emanuel is retiring from legal practice to focus on his work as an advisor to his longtime client, Ryan Murphy, and his Ryan Murphy Productions.
Murphy was a client of Emanuel’s throughout his Hollywood career; Emanuel signed with the then-aspiring writer in 1996, before selling her first screenplay, “Why Can’t I Be Audrey Hepburn?” to Steven Spielberg, and before embarking on a hugely successful television career with his first series, the 1999 series. Popular.
Emanuel’s clients will remain with Paul Hastings and grow with Erik Hyman, current co-president of the firm’s Entertainment and Media practice, who has worked with Emanuel for more than 25 years.
Besides Murphy, Emanuel’s clients include Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, writer Tony Gilroy, Mandalay Pictures and MSG Entertainment.
Murphy and Emanuel developed a close relationship over the years.
“He was one of the very first, if not the first, to believe that I could be something,” Murphy said in a profile of Emanuel in Variety earlier this year. “His belief in me and what I could accomplish was always very moving and important.”
Emanuel was at Murphy’s side as his career took off with a string of hits, including Pinch/Fold, GleeTHE American horror story franchise and its many ramifications as well as the popular 9-1-1 procedural. Emanuel’s arrival as an advisor comes ahead of a major move for Murphy who is expected to move to Disney after the WGA strike in another mega-deal for his Ryan Murphy Productions which was based at Netflix and will continue to produce sequels to recent successes. Monster: Jeffrey Dahmer History and The watchman.
Australian Emanuel began his career in Hollywood at Nigel Sinclair’s new West Coast office of Sinclair Tenenbaum. He then was a partner for 20 years at Loeb & Loeb. He then moved to Paul Hastings where he has worked for five and a half years.
However, in the same Variety profile, Emanuel admitted that there was a point about seven years ago when he considered leaving the legal arena “for something else.”