EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Kwatinetz, who went to Harvard Law School and graduated near the top of his class, is leaving The Firm as CEO after relaunching the company two years ago. He will now move into the law firm of Geragos & Geragos to practice civil rights litigation, though he will remain actively involved in CubeVision and the new pro basketball league The Big3 he co-founded with Ice Cube. Kwatinetz said he sees the move as an expansion of his career to include all the interests that he wants to encompass, and all three are intrinsically linked.
“I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing. When I saw Straight Outta Compton, it was a moment for me. I always thought that entertainment could make a difference and Ice Cube has always done that himself. Small or large, I need to make material change and be a force for good,” Kwatinetz told Deadline. He is an active member of the California Bar Association.
Kwatinetz will become Of Counsel working aside Mark Geragos and Ben Meiseles. Kwatinetz and Geragos struck up a friendship and produced ABC’s Notorious along with mutual close friend Kenny Meiseles, and then Geragos became a substantial investor in Kwatinetz’s and Ice Cube’s BIG3.
Those who know Kwatinetz are not really surprised by this move as he has been talking about wanting to make a true societal impact for the better for a long time. He said he wants to continue to bring forth stories that can make a positive impact and also utilize the education and skills that he possesses to affect societal perceptions and facilitate real change.
The move comes after the completion of the first season of the BIG3 and the simultaneous capital raise for CubeVision Films. The executive will continue to be involved in CubeVision with his client Ice Cube and involved in the BIG3, many of the players of which are helping kids get off the street to make something of themselves.
The BIG3 has an eight-team structure with players that include ex-NBAers Allen Iverson, Charles Oakley, Mike Bibby, Chauncey Billups and Kwame Brown. The second year of the league will be carried live on Fox Sports 1 and Fox in summer 2018.
Kwatinetz and Ice Cube will become co-CEOs of the BIG3. Amy Trask will continue at BIG3 as chairman of the board. Trask has known Kwatinetz for about 20 years and Ice Cube for about 15 years.
“BIG3’s unique structure was created around player empowerment and both BIG3 and CubeVision challenge the ingrained power structure of the privileged few dictating who calls the shots in sports and entertainment,” said Kwatinetz.
Cube and Kwatinetz have known and worked with each other for over 20 years. The two will also continue to work together building CubeVision. Earlier this year, the company successfully raised substantial funding for film development and acquisitions in addition to striking a television deal with Fox. It has more than 20 TV shows and films in various stages of development and production including VH1’s Hip Hop Squares and Disney’s Oliver.
“I’m very proud of everything we’ve accomplished and that makes me feel confident to take this next step,” said Kwatinetz. “With the success of BIG3 and CubeVision, I am motivated by that and the overall good they can bring and know this move is the final piece of the puzzle. When I see Mark (Geragos) working on cases like Colin Kaepernick and see other civil rights cases he is working and doing out of a passion of what is right, that speaks to me. And for me, these three things naturally align.”