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Kwatinetz brought along a relatively unknown heavy metal act from Bakersfield named Korn, while Green took with him actor/comedian Martin Lawrence.
THE RISE AND FALL OF THE FIRM
Kwatinetz’s Exit From the Company He Started with Michael Green in 1997 Marks End of an Era
In just a little over a decade, Jeff Kwatinetz’s The Firm guided the careers of a who’s-who of not only the top music acts in the industry, but also some of the leading actors, actresses and directors in Hollywood.

Founded in 1997 by Kwatinetz and colleague Michael Green, who left Sandy Gallin and Jim Morey together, along with fellow managers Peter Katsis and Gayle Boulware, the company set up shop in Jeff’s Malibu apartment. Kwatinetz brought along a relatively unknown heavy metal act from Bakersfield named Korn, while Green took with him actor/comedian Martin Lawrence.

Within two years, they had a staff of 15 working out of Sunset Boulevard offices, managing, aside from Korn, acts like Limp Bizkit, Staind, Ice Cube and the Backstreet Boys, with Enrique Iglesias and Mary J. Blige also coming aboard. By 1999, The Firm was well represented on both the album charts and in film, with Lawrence’s Big Momma’s House and Cube’s Next Friday topping the box office. Even noted entrepreneur Robert Sillerman invested $16 million in the company, with an eye towards acquiring the rest at some point.

Over time, the Firm’s roster grew to include Michael Jackson, Dixie Chicks, Linkin Park, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Snoop Dogg, R. Kelly, Audioslave, Chris Cornell, Jennifer Lopez, Dru Hill, Sisqo, Rob Zombie, Michelle Brnach, Static X, Puddle of Mudd, Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine and Jane’s Addiction.

After buying out partner Green in 2001, Kwatinetz made his big move in May, 2002, when he acquired ex-CAA heavy Michael Ovitz’s Artist Management Group for a reported $12.7 million, assuming $15 million of the company’s debt. That brought in Hollywood heavies Rick Yorn and his ex-sister-in-law Julie Silverman-Yorn and their list of superstar clients, which included Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Benicio del Toro, Samuel L. Jackson, Vin Diesel, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Natalie Portman, Milla Jovovich and Laura Linney, as well as director Martin Scorsese. The Firm then moved into AMG’s old headquarters on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills.

After investments from private equity firms Bain Capital and Thomas Lee, Kwatinetz continued expanding into TV/film production and retail branding with Virgin Cola, Pony footwear and Build-a-Bear. Major managers like Simon Renshaw, Rob McDermott, Andy Gould, Arthur Spivak and the late Stu Sobel added acts like Dixie Chicks, Linkin Park, Rob Zombie, A Perfect Circle, Queens of the Stone Age, Vanessa Carlton, Three Days Grace, Yellowcard and the Distillers to the mix.

Other executives who worked for The Firm include President/COO Dave Baram and ex- HITS editor Marc Pollack.

In 2004, Kwatinetz turned down an opportunity to merge with Irving Azoff’s Front Line Management, a decision he’d eventually regret. The Firm also launched the successful “Family Values” tour and, in 2006, started the in-house Firm Music label with Army of Anyone.

With the Yorns’ departure last October to form a new venture, Kwatinetz was back on his own, finally deciding to leave the company he once started.

What will be the Kwatman’s next move? He’s been active in politics since backing several Democratic candidates over the last few years, including Dick Gephardt and Presidential elect Barack Obama.

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