MICHAEL HOBEL

, 55

FIRM: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP

LAW SCHOOL: New York University School of Law

CLIENTS: FremantleMedia North America Inc., Funny or Die Inc.

Before there was "Survivor" or "American Idol" there was Michael Hobel. Hobel represented reality television producers Mark Burnett Productions for "Survivor" and FremantleMedia for "American Idol" in the deals that brought those shows and many others to the airwaves and contributed to the craze of reality programming.

"The T.V. business is changing so enormously, including the growth of reality television," said Hobel, a partner in the Century City office of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. "The changes affect every deal that everyone does, so you have to be on top of it."

Hobel has always felt an attachment to the entertainment industry. He's the son of Philip and Mary Ann Hobel, New York film producers who made more than 200 documentaries and produced the film "Tender Mercies," which earned Academy Awards for screenplay and Robert Duvall's acting.

So naturally, Hobel wanted to follow in his parents' footsteps.

After graduating from Harvard University, Hobel went to New York University School of Law with the plan of becoming an entertainment attorney for a few years and then moving on to the business side of the industry.

But his plan changed.

"Initially, it was thought of as a back way to get into the business," Hobel said. "But I liked the practice so I much, and I got so much fulfillment out of representing people in the entertainment business, that I was happy being a lawyer."

Hobel has amassed a client roster that includes large and small entertainment companies, independent producers, financiers and new media outfits including Funny or Die Inc., the comedy video Web site founded by comedian Will Ferrell.

And because of the types of clients Hobel represents, he is often negotiating with some heavy-hitting executives and well-known entertainment lawyers. But he welcomes the challenge of fighting for the best deals for his clients.

"There's a lot of pressure, a lot at stake," Hobel said, "And usually I'm dealing with smart, aggressive people on the other side who are trying to get the best for their clients, too."

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