Along with Bob Shaye, Lynne is co-founder of Unique Features and the former co-chairman and co-CEO of New Line, the studio responsible for Austin Powers, Dumb & Dumber, and the epic Hobbit trilogy The Lord of the Rings.

Lynne spent the first half of his career as an entertainment lawyer: He worked for almost two decades at his self-founded practice, Blumenthal & Lynne, and headed up the legal department at Embassy Pictures. In the '70s, he started providing counsel to New Line, which his Columbia Law classmate Bob Shaye had founded in 1967. In 1983, Lynne joined New Line's board and came on full-time in 1990 when he was named president and chief operating officer. Although New Line initially focused on cult films, the studio went commercial in the late '80s/early '90s with franchises like Street Fighter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Freddy movies. Following the 1993 acquisition of New Line by Turner Broadcasting (which, in turn, was acquired by Time Warner in 1996), they soon branched out into more mainstream comedies and dramas, finding success with a motley array of films including Dumb & Dumber, Seven, Austin Powers, Boogie Nights, Rush Hour, The Wedding Singer, About Schmidt, and of course, The Lord of the Rings. New Line also continued to pump out art house favorites through its subsidiary Fine Line, which was founded in 1990.

The studio's biggest gamble-and biggest success-was Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. Initially ridiculed for backing the pricey fantasy trilogy, Lynne and Shaye laughed all the way to the bank. The franchise racked up $2.92 billion at the box office, took home 17 Academy Awards, significantly boosted New Line's clout within the industry, and became a cultural touchstone and merchandising bonanza. But the post-Rings era was decidedly gloomier for New Line. While the company continued to milk revenue out of DVD sales of earlier films and had a few quasi-hits like Hairspray, it released all too many duds, including Snakes on a Plane, which tanked despite immense pre-release buzz, and Brett Ratner's lackluster third installment of Rush Hour. Worse, the mini-major bet over $200 million on the long-gestating fantasy epic The Golden Compass, which largely bombed at the domestic box office. In light of the studio's decline, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes folded New Line into Warner Brothers in 2008 and dismissed Shaye and Lynne, along with 600 of their employees. For their part, the former New Line honchos formed Unique Films in 2008—and have over a dozen projects reportedly coming down the pipe.

Like his former boss Dick Parsons, Lynne is an avid oenophile and vintner. He owns three vineyards on Long Island's North Fork spanning some 78 acres-Bedell Cellars (purchased for $5 million in 2000), Corey Creek, and Wells Road-which collectively yield 10,000 cases annually of Merlot, Chardonnay and other varietals. Lynne is also a collector of rare vintages, and keeps a 2,500-bottle collection at home; his apartment also features pieces from his expansive collection of contemporary art. In a fusion of his infatuations, he's commissioned several artists to design labels for his wines, including Eric Fischl (a 2001 merlot reserve) and photographer Howard Schatz (a 2005 Gewürtztraminer).

Lynne is one of New York's more prolific board presences. The modern art fiend is on the board of the MoMA, along with Jerry Speyer, Agnes Gund, Sid Bass, Leon Black, and his ex-boss Dick Parsons, among others. He also has seats on the boards of American Museum of the Moving Image and Citymeals-on-Wheels, along with Daniel Boulud, Drew Nieporent, Jason Kliot, and Patricia Wexler.

He and his wife, Ninah, have a daughter, Elizabeth, who's a lawyer. They live at 770 Park Avenue, where neighbors include Steve Roth and Daryl Roth; they also have a house in Fischer Island, Florida, which they bought for $2.4 million in 2004, as well as a house in East Hampton.

[Image via Getty ]