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Saturday, 13 February, 2010 2:03 AM

Entertainment attorney Richard Rattner to give speech at WSU Oakland Center on Feb. 17

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Richard Rattner sits in a conference room at Williams Williams Rattner & Plunkett, P.C. in Birmingham, Mich.

by Jason Rzucidlo


DETROIT -- Richard Rattner is an entertainment attorney at the law office Williams Williams Rattner & Plunkett, P.C. in Birmingham, Mich. He will be giving a speech at Wayne State University's Oakland Center titled "Are You Ready to be America's Next Star" on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 5:30 p.m. The event is free for WSU Alumni Association members and current students. It is $5 for graduates who are not members of the Alumni Association and $10 for everyone else.

"My career in the entertainment business started when I was younger, of course I played in bands," Rattner said. "When I got into the practice of law, I had a lot of friends that were involved in music. A lot of people had played in groups, a lot of them jazz players. As a result, they asked me to start teaching a course at Wayne State University on the business of music. I didn't know much about it at the time -- studied a little bit, took over the class several years ago. I told them I'd do it for a few years to help them out because they were just starting the jazz studies program at WSU."

The entertainment attorney is very supportive of Michigan's 42 percent tax incentive for the film industry.

"I think it's terrific," he said. "Not only does it have to do with film, but it also allows us to do the solid second unit work in other types of work that helps this state. Added to that, you have painters and carpenters and electricians and plumbers. All of those people are employed by the movie industry. This area was always a good area for production -- in music especially. In the heyday of the car industry and the last part of the 20th century when GM, Ford and Chrysler were at their top, we had tremendous amount of talent in this town. We did a lot of industrial music, we did a lot of advertising, we did a lot of post-production work. Those are the things that the movie credit helps us take part in now."

Can you give us a preview of your upcoming speech at the WSU Oakland Center?

"Realizing that we only have about an hour, part of that hour will be devoted to questioning," Rattner responded. "My intent is to go over some basics and parameters of what the performing artists should really concern him or herself with in the industry. That involves looking at and approaching contracts that they're probably not used to reading. Very importantly the issue of copyright and also protecting any type of intellectual property that they can create. Don't forget that a performing artist is a creator. The most important thing for that person is to delegate other jobs that are more suited to accountants and lawyers and agents to those people so the artist is free to create."

What's your advice to students who are graduating in film and are looking for their first job?

"At this point and time, you should canvass every production and post-production house you can find on the internet and otherwise," he suggested. "I would get a foot in the door any place you can. Work any place you can. This is a tough industry. It's always been a tough industry. But you can't even get into it and go forward into it unless you're a part of it. So my advice to students getting out of school is to get a job. If you're lucky enough to get a job in the industry you want to get it in, you're in good shape."

Rattner says Michigan a great place to start for students graduating in film.

"There's no doubt that the Los Angeles area and other areas of the country have a plethora of jobs in the movie industry," the entertainment attorney said. "But that doesn't mean that Michigan is not a fertile ground for jobs. It might even be that the student who graduates from a Michigan college or maybe a college near Michigan may even be better off in this area because the contacts that that person has made over a period of time and because the contacts they've made in college. If you are situated in Michigan, you might find a home in Michigan."

What is your average day like as an entertainment attorney?

"My day is spent in other areas of the law other than entertainment," he said. "I have specific clients that I handle in entertainment and I don't do 100 percent entertainment law. So I don't want to mislead you there. As an adjunct professor at Wayne State, and someone who does have several clients in the industry, I am working hard for them when the need arises. An entertainment attorney in this town doesn't take the place of an agent and doesn't take the place of a manager. There are attorneys who spent more time in entertainment -- therefore, they take on more of a managerial role. My method of operation doesn't include that. I like my clients to get different experts in different fields."

What is your most proud accomplishment in the entertainment business?

"It would have to do with representing certain clients and their successes," Rattner responded. "I really can't talk about that because that's their business. That's what gives me a great thrill and that is to professional advise my clients so that they might be a success in whatever performing industry they are in."

The entertainment attorney is also an adjunct professor at Wayne State University.

"Wayne State University is as good of resource as this area could ever hope to have," he said. "Wayne State is servicing and educating a tremendous amount of talented artists in all fields. We have many, many great public universities in this state and we're lucky to have them. The three biggest being Wayne, Michigan and Michigan State. All of them do a terrific job. We have a lot of talent here, a lot of natural resources if you will. We can be very, very proud of living here. And you can make a success of yourself here in the arts. It's important we understand the value we have in this state."

Click here to order tickets for Richard Rattner's speech at WSU Oakland Center. The event is open to WSU students, graduates and the general public. Tickets are free for WSU alumni association members and current students, $5 for WSU graduates who are not part of the alumni association and $10 for everyone else. A networking reception begins at 5:30 p.m. and the program kicks off at 6 p.m. The WSU Oakland Center is located at 33737 W. Twelve Mile Road in Farmington, Mich.





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