Entertainment Law Is Contract Negotiations With A Zing

By AJA WHITAKER, Business Journal Staff Writer
© The Business Journal
published February 28, 2003

TAMPA -- From an immaculate high-rise office downtown William Yanger looked out on an impressive view of the city and described the "zing" of his law practice, his love for baseball and the importance of his family.

The former insurance-issue specialist, Tampa native and University of Florida graduate now focuses his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, commercial transactions and entertainment law.

It's all in a day's work for Yanger to represent high-profile clients including singer Aaron Carter, younger brother of Nick Carter, a member of the Backstreet Boys singing group.

Carter is involved in a "testy" litigation against former manager Lou Pearlman and Pearlman's Orlando record company, Trans Continental Records Inc. Litigation with Pearlman, former manager of pop superstars like the Backstreet Boys, 'Nsync and O-Town, boils down to legal basics.

"It is an interesting area to practice in because it really is just contract law with a zing," said Yanger, 42. "All the same elements are there. My goal is to have parties combine their mutual interests into an agreement and succeed in what they are working on. Most industries are personal relationship industries, and I become a conduit for those relationships."

Yanger is an advocate of alternative dispute resolution and views litigation as a last resort.

William L. Yanger PA focuses primarily on the Tampa Bay area's film industry and production community.

When it comes to film making, the Bay area faces stiff competition from popular cities in states such as New York and California and also from the Carolinas, Texas, Minneapolis and Vancouver, Canada.

Last year economic impact from the film business brought in slightly more than $30 million to Hillsborough County, said Edie Emerald, Tampa Bay film commissioner.

Yanger works closely with Emerald and the film community to increase Bay area visibility to national and international production companies.

The Film Commission, a part of the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau marketing department, is a nonprofit entity that operates on a $125,000 budget and doesn't showcase the typical Bay area locations, Emerald said.

"We don't market the beautiful beaches," she said. "We market the alleyways, the rooftops and the jungles. My husband looks at me funny when I put on combat boots when I leave for work in the morning."

Yanger faces a professional challenge in helping convince nonbelievers of the quality of work and capability of local companies that can meet or exceed the expectations for other locations, he said.

Florida has a very aggressive sales tax exemption for production companies, which as acts as an incentive for in-state and out-of-state companies looking to use Florida as a backdrop for films, commercials, music videos or the Internet.

New Mexico, Texas and other states have similar laws on the books because these exemptions benefit companies from a fiscal standpoint to help reach their budgets, Yanger said.

As the Bay area entertainment community grows slowly but surely, so do Yanger's plans for the future.

"I have great goals of doing what we do on a larger basis," he said. "I'm sure as our production community grows, we will grow. I have established a unique knowledge of the industry locally. Those companies rely on the fact that when they send me a project they don't have to reinvent the wheel."

When Yanger isn't networking and hosting events for the production community he can be found on the baseball field or somewhere outdoors with his family and two English Pointers.

"I have three kids I am chasing every day," he said. "My challenge is seeing my clients get what they deserve and meet the needs of my kids."

To reach Aja Whitaker, call (813) 342-2463 or send your email to awhitaker@bizjournals.com