Freddie Gershon, or "Freddie the Lawyer," is the top theater industry attorney and a founder of theatrical licensing firm, Musical Theater International.

Gershon started out as a performer and studied piano at Juilliard for eight years before switching paths and attending Columbia Law. After graduating, he decided to combine his interest in the arts with his law degree and spent the '60s providing legal counsel for big-budget Broadway shows like Jesus Christ Superstar and Tommy, and talents like Neil Sedaka, Eric Clapton, and Shel Silverstein. In 1983 Gershon began dabbling in production when he helped put together La Cage Aux Folles. Since the late '80s he's been president and CEO of theatrical licensing firm Musical Theater International, a collaboration with Cameron Mackintosh, which own licenses for a host of big-name shows including Aida, Beauty and the Beast, Rent, Hairspray and The Producers. Gershon's also co-chairman of SESAC, a performing rights organization that reps music publishers and songwriters in licensing deals. MTI controls the non-Broadway rights to 300 of Broadway's most popular musicals. That means Gershon decides whether a regional theater can use a specific show-and since royalties from these shows can earn the original playwright thousands, Gershon can make otherwise struggling playwrights some serious cash (and himself some serious commissions). Always looking for licensing opportunities, he started up the Broadway Junior program, which shortens and adapts Broadway musicals for public schools. He also lectures on the subject of entertainment law.

He penned the 1986 novel Sweetie, Baby, Cookie, Honey, about the ups and downs of his experience in the entertainment business. Critics weren't amused-one called it "a disgraceful story badly told."

Gershon and his wife Myrna live in a Midtown East penthouse apartment with their Tibetan terrier, Sherpa. The two-story home features a 2,000-square-foot terrace filled with flowers and trees.

[Image via Getty]