Lawyer's Reality is Some Men's Fantasy
Author: Gail Appleson

Jeffrey Michelman is an entertainment and intellectual property lawyer in Clayton whose clients have included hip-hop star Nelly, the rock band Hanson and actress Neve Campbell.

He is living a dream these days, helping adult- film actresses compete for roles in legitimate theater. Michelman's Los Angeles production company, which he owns with a nephew, sold an idea to Fox Reality for an unscripted show calling for that scenario.

Shooting for "My Bare Lady" has started in California, and the show is expected to begin airing in Britain by the end of the year.

Seated in an office surrounded by Yoda, R2-D2 and other Star Wars characters, doll-sized James Bond figures, and photos of the Beatles and Woody Allen, Michelman spoke about the reality show, his poetry and his decision to stay in St. Louis.

What was your idea for "My Bare Lady"?
Many of the individuals who end up in adult films are there because they could not get work in legitimate film or legitimate theater. They wanted to stay in the Los Angeles area... and couldn't make enough money waiting on tables until the right moment came along. And money, being the great evil, drew many of these hopeful actresses into the adult-film business. I felt, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if they were given a second chance to be in legitimate or should I say non-adult film?" And Fox agreed, and Fox is paying Zig Zag Productions to produce it.

Why will the show be in Britain?
It's not my idea to move them to London. That is strictly beyond my control, as they say. If you know your history of reality shows, it seems everything starts over in England and then comes here. I guess if you can succeed in the old motherland, then I guess you can probably succeed in the United States.

So does that mean the show eventually will be aired here?
The plan is absolutely to bring it back to the largest commercial audience, which would be the United States.

What was your production company's role in the venture?
Generally, a production company comes up with an idea and often does nothing else. Our production company was involved in selecting the stars and that was a function of having access to many of the people in the industry.

Did you help interview the actresses?
I did not, for the record, even though I was invited.

If any of these women do get jobs on the stage, how would that make you feel?
I'd be thrilled. If someone goes to Hollywood to become an adult film star, that's great if that's what they want to do. There's openings. There's always a need for a fresh face.

It's a legitimate business, but it's not something I'd want my daughter to do. But I don't look down on anyone who does it. Most of the men in the world I know might look down on it, but secretly watch it.

On the other hand, I do feel strongly that someone who did not have that intention should, if the graces at all be fair, have an opportunity to get out from under that which they didn't intend. Some people have moved out of the adult-film business to legitimate film, but, by and large, my view of the industry is that once you're in it, you're stuck in it.

Is it hard to be an entertainment lawyer in St. Louis?
Very difficult. This is not the entertainment capital of the world, but I'm primarily an intellectual property lawyer (handling) patents, trademarks, copyright and trade secrets. And entertainment is kind of the sexy adjunct to trademark, copyright work.

Why do you stay in St. Louis?
I'm very happy with this town. It's very livable, and I like my law firm, and I like my colleagues. I have my friends here. I have my new grandson here. I like being 10 to 20 minutes from home instead of two to three hours. When you were an undergraduate, did you know you wanted to be a lawyer?
I wanted to be a poet. The first poem I'd ever written got published, and I thought, "My God, this is a great career." And literature was always my favorite subject. And that is when my mother explained that only dead poets made money. And that I really ought to think about something else.

Did it surprise you that you'd enjoy handling intellectual property issues instead of being a full-time poet?
I'm not surprised because IP (intellectual property) involves dealing with creative people, and in dealing with those kinds of people I got an extra thrill because many of them had as a vision something other than just making money as a result of whatever transaction they were contemplating.

Has practicing in this area helped you to be more creative?
Being an IP lawyer has given me incentive to do my own writing. I've written three books and dozens of small monographs.

Some people have described your book of poetry, "Peanut Butter on Bagel or Breast," as erotic. Would you agree?

It was not dirty, but it was passionate. You can call it erotic. It was, in essence, a book of feelings of love.

Has your poetry always been about love?
I wrote a poem about Vietnam that was published in Chai magazine. That wasn't about love in any sense of the word.

What are some of the things you like best about your work?
Meeting people with extraordinary ideas who come to me to patent, copyright and trademark their ideas.

Every week I hear of a new idea or read or see something artistic. And I love that part. I have no desire whatsoever to retire. I would get bored and shrivel up and die.

And I guess the second thing is, while we're never as lawyers held in the same regard as physicians, we can save a life in a different way and make a difference in somebody's career or their livelihood.

I love that part of the practice.

Jeff Michelman
Jeff Michelman is a prominent entertainment lawyer
who has a separate production company.
(Kevin Manning/P-D)

Jeffrey L. Michelman
Occupation: Principal, Blumenfeld, Kaplan & Sandweiss PC; chairman of its intellectual property & entertainment law group
Age: 63
Personal: Lives in Town and Country, has an adult son and an adult daughter
Education: Bachelor of arts, Pennsylvania State University, 1964; Juris Doctor (law degree), Villanova University, 1967; master of engineering, Washington University, 1975
Career: 1968-1973, U.S. Army, captain; 1973-1981, UniDynamics Corp., director of contracts; 1981-1991, Popkin & Stern, partner; 1991 to present, current position
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