Home ENTERTAINMENT Katzenberg, Cruise, May More say goodbye to a Hollywood heavyweight lawyer: Deadline

Katzenberg, Cruise, May More say goodbye to a Hollywood heavyweight lawyer: Deadline


Hollywood powerhouses past and present officially said goodbye to one of their own on Sunday.

Bert Fields, who died on August 8 at the age of 93, was honored today by clients, family and colleagues at a memorial service in Santa Monica. Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Estrich and Michael Ovitz honored Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP partner and industry advisor in front of a wealthy crowd that included Fields’ widow Barbara Guggenheim, Leslie Moonves and Julie Chen Moonves , Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, super producer Jerry Bruckheimer and David Geffen, among many others.

Individually, Katzenberg, Hoffman, and Ovitz remembered a man who was clearly both their friend and their attorney.

“As the greatest of gladiators, he loved taking on formidable foes,” Katzenberg said of Fields, who represented him in the late 1990s during Katzenberg’s multimillion-dollar battle with Disney. Calling the attorney a “kind, loyal and generous friend” and a “superhero,” the former DreamWorks Animation chief had the crowd on the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage laughing by pointing out Fields’ “wicked sense of humor.”

Later, an emotional Hoffman spoke of Fields’ “fearless” nature, a quality that was repeated over and over again this afternoon. The Oscar winner called Fields “a man I’ll always think of…always at the best of him.”

Longtime Fields clients Tom Cruise and the hilariously candid Elaine May appeared virtually during the three-hour memorial of mostly masked attendees to offer their condolences and remembrances of the man.

the Mission Impossible star spoke of first meeting Fields through Hoffman during the making of rain man. Declaring that he was “grateful” for Fields’ friendship, Cruise called the attorney “the most fascinating person I have ever met.” Cruise added that Fields was “a person that he knew he could always count on.”

“He loved the Davids, he hated the Goliaths,” former CAA chief Ovitz told the audience.

Starting with a clip of an old Dredge In the episode that features Fields as a matinee idol playing a courtroom lawyer, Memorial Sunday kicked off with a video tribute to the lawyer’s life, career, family and sense of absurdity.

Also speaking today at Rich Eisen’s memorial were Fields’ colleagues, his goddaughter Ali Hoffman and other relatives, including the attorney’s grandchildren, Michael and Annabelle Fields.

But the comments that clearly dominated the day belonged to Fields’ widow, Guggenheim. With loving, tearful, Shakespearean-referenced and humorous but always serene comments, Guggenheim closed the memorial with an intimate account of the life of the man she was married to for more than three decades.

“He was always so nice to everyone,” she said in a speech in which her voice often cracked with emotion. Giving insight into Fields’ writings on the lives of Richard III, Shakespeare and Elizabeth I, among other books he wrote, Guggenheim also had some news for the crowd. She said that before she died, Fields completed a final work, on William the Conqueror and the history of the house of Plantagenet.

Praising her prolific husband’s “fighting spirit in all aspects of life,” Guggenheim promised the play would be released.

A born bon vivant and storyteller as much as a lawyer, Fields took pride in his literary endeavors as well as his litigation, a fact that only enhanced his reputation in high-profile circles when it is considered that Fields outdid Disney and Michael. Eisner to win a $250 million payout for former studio boss Katzenberg in the late 1990s. Mythologized for decades as a showdown between Jeffrey and Goliath, Fields’ systemic legal methodology and somewhat prescient embrace of technological perspectives for the entertainment industry, it left Disney’s lawyers reeling.

Other clients included Cruise, the now outcasts Harvey and Bob Weinstein, avatar capo James Cameron, Madonna, Hoffman, Warren Beatty (against Paramount for cuts to acclaimed Reds), the Beatles, Michael Jackson, The Godfather author Mario Puzo and his legacy, Star Wars creator George Lucas, Bruckheimer, and Steven Spielberg.

Yet never hesitating to take off the white gloves, Fields also found himself embroiled in the underbelly of Hollywood. Specifically, the attorney’s association with disgraced private investigator Anthony Pellicano, who spent a decade behind bars and was released in 2019, proved problematic. In 2008, Fields testified in the FBI case against Pellicano, whom he had hired on numerous occasions. Ultimately, Fields’ skill on the stand and Teflon skin left him relatively untouched by courtroom drama and Pellicano’s actions.

While those events were briefly mentioned during the memorial, today’s heavyweight reunion made it clear that those dark days are now just a footnote in Fields’ career.



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