Howard D. Kurtzman '79
President, Business Affairs, 20th Century Fox Television
Cutting the Deal in an Ever-Changing World
With an admired father preceding him in the industry, a career in entertainment law seemed a natural to Howard Kurtzman. "I never expected to do anything else," he said. At 20th Century Fox Television, the largest supplier of prime time television series for the various networks, Kurtzman negotiates deals with the talent and networks associated with the various series. "Each year we conclude a number of high profile transactions that are of great importance to the company," Kurtzman said, "It's a very fast paced, competitive, global business."
A graduate of Southwestern's SCALE® program, Kurtzman served an externship with Viacom where he built relationships that were key to his future. "Southwestern's Los Angeles location is what made it possible for me to extern in the entertainment field," Kurtzman said. Following graduation, his former boss at Viacom hired him into Universal Studios where he worked with television series creator Stephen J. Cannell, among others. Later, he joined the new Cannell Studios as Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs. In a series of deals, Cannell Studios was sold to New World Entertainment which later merged with 20th Century Fox, where Kurtzman assumed his current responsibilities. "Basically," he said, "I've only had one job."
He was recently instrumental in launching a new production branch at Fox designed to create "edgy and inventive" primetime series. "For many years, the network business stayed the same," Kurtzman said, "producing programs for broadcast on network-owned stations." "Today," he continued, "That's all changed. New technologies, vertical integration of the industry, deregulation and changes in distribution are occurring at a very fast pace with the result that studios are buying networks, TV station ownership is turning over, and information storage systems have transformed our business almost overnight. The rules of the game change annually, and you are always reevaluating the way you conduct business."