Now Reading
How NBCU’s Legal Chief Is Juggling Reality Woes and Olympic Triumphs

How NBCU’s Legal Chief Is Juggling Reality Woes and Olympic Triumphs

There’s a photograph in Kimberley Harris’ office that might catch some visitors by surprise. It’s a picture of Gabriel Macht, the actor who played Harvey Specter in the USA legal drama Suits.  

You know the character — reckless, slick as ice. In other words, the polar opposite of the attorney who sits at this desk.  

Harris has been heading NBCUniversal’s legal department since 2013, overseeing contracts, litigation and all other legal matters for the theme parks, broadcast and cable networks (like the one that aired Suits), streaming services and studio lots that make up the company’s array of businesses. But there’s another, very different sort of lawyer who turns out to have inspired Harris to pursue the career path that she ultimately chose: former President Barack Obama. 

Back in 2008, Harris was working at Davis Polk as an associate, climbing her way up to partner in its litigation department. But when Obama was elected, she decided to change course. “I felt that this was my opportunity to do public service,” she says, “and if I could work for the first Black president, that would be something I would really like to do.”

Harris landed a job at the Department of Justice’s criminal division, then quickly moved on to the White House Counsel’s Office, where she rose to the rank of deputy White House counsel. It was, she says, excellent prep for her current gig heading a media company’s legal department. “Everything you do in the White House is in the public eye,” she explains. “NBCU is very similar to that because of the nature of the business. It’s being a lawyer under a lot of public scrutiny.”

That was evident last year, with a few high-profile lawsuits related to reality TV talent as well as the Hollywood strikes. This year, she and her team are looking more to the future, guiding the company through a range of new initiatives. They’ve been helping launch a theme park in Orlando (Epic Universe, scheduled to open next year) as well as a smaller, family-focused park in Texas and a horror attraction in Las Vegas. And they’ve been busy preparing for NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics in Paris. “We’re fans as much as we are lawyers at the company,” she says, “so we’re all really excited about it.”

Of course, there are still knotty challenges ahead as NBCU grapples with a slew of disruptions, from AI to industry contraction. But Harris is prepared for whatever comes next. “I think my job is really about risk identification,” she says. “You’ve got to see what’s coming.”

See Also

Not how Harvey Specter might approach it, but Harris is no Harvey.

This story first appeared in the June 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright © MetaMedia™ Capital Inc, All right reserved

Scroll To Top