Kennesaw State

James Brown's lawyer remembers the Godfather

Name of Publication: 
Access Atlanta
Excerpt of Article: 

by Jennifer Brett

There are more than 6,000 names in Joel Katz’s Rolodex. One name was there first, and the rest followed: James Brown.

The late, legendary performer whose life story will be portrayed in the film “Get on Up,” opening Friday, was Katz’s very first client and a friend for more than 30 years.

“He used to tell people, ‘I started Joel Katz!’” the entertainment super-lawyer said Tuesday after speaking at summer commencement at Kennesaw State University (home of the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program, located about 15 miles north of Joel Katz Parkway in Atlanta).

“He was very smart," Katz said. "He was not educated, but he had a Ph.D. in streetology. He taught me so much.”

Katz, who received an honorary doctorate from Kennesaw State on Tuesday, was not consulted about the movie and hasn’t seen it yet, but said his client would have loved seeing his life story on the big screen.

The most key lesson Brown ever taught him, he said, was patience.

“He would always tell me, ‘Don’t rush anything. Watch me on stage. Everything I do is for effect,’” Katz said.

Katz is the chairman of the Global Entertainment and Media Practice at the law firm Greenberg Traurig and former chairman of the American Bar Association’s Entertainment and Sports Law Section. His client list is packed with music industry giants likeJustin Timberlake and Ludacris, and reading his list of board memberships and industry accolades would take longer than his commencement speech lasted.

Things looked vastly different at the dawn of his legal career more than four decades ago.

“I started with absolutely nothing,” said Katz, who got through law school at the University of Tennessee thanks to a scholarship and a six-day-a-week job working 6 p.m. to 6 a.m as a Holiday Inn night clerk. Graduation in 1969 brought him to a one-bedroom apartment in Atlanta and a teaching job at Georgia State University.

In 1971, he opened a law practice. He had a tiny office, a secretary he shared with other lawyers and one big problem: “I had no clients.”

One afternoon, the telephone blessedly rang. A banker on the line had taken Katz’s course at Georgia State and enjoyed it. Now he needed to help a client locate a good entertainment lawyer.

“Do you know anything about entertainment law?” the banker asked. Katz pondered that for a second. “I was honest: ‘No, I know nothing.’”

This, somehow, was the right answer. The next day, he was ushered into the penthouse suite at the Omni where Brown was getting his hair done.

“I was in awe,” Katz said. After a 10-minute discussion, Brown decided Katz was his man and stroked a retainer check for $2,500. The next day, they headed for New York, where Katz’s job was to negotiate a huge recording contract.

“He wanted $5 million and a jet plane, and a variety of other contractual demands,” Katz said.

Recording executives were gobsmacked. “No one who understood the recording industry would ask for such crazy things,” Katz recalled one of the executives bellowing. “As his yelling intensified, I began to realize why Mr. Brown chose me.”

After Brown signed the contract giving him most of what he wanted, Katz accompanied him to a news conference where Brown closed by saying, “I want to thank my lawyer, Joel Katz, from Atlanta, Georgia, the best entertainment lawyer in the whole world,” recalled Katz, who collected $50,000 for his work on that contract and remained Brown’s lawyer until he died on Christmas Day 2006.

“The Atlanta Constitution and several other newspapers carried articles and my name was in all the articles: Joel Katz, the best entertainment lawyer in the world. A few days later, I received a call from a country music artist from Austin, Texas. He had read the articles. He said if you’re good enough for the Godfather, you’re good enough for me. Willie Nelson went on to be a superstar, too.”

A slew of others followed, and Katz’s clients have included Michael Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Julio Iglesias, Tammy Wynette, Kris Kristofferson, George Strait and George Jones. “What I learned that helped me can help you,” Katz told KSU’s graduates. “Learn the gift of patience. The tortoise will win every single race. It is the interactions between human beings that creates relationships.”

Kennesaw State University hosts Coca-Cola and its customers for 2014 Sustainability Summit

Event created to educate and promote sustainable business practices

KENNESAW, Ga. (May 5, 2014) — For years, an award-winning sustainability movement has taken root at Kennesaw State University, and now KSU is hosting Coca-Cola and some of its customers on campus to help educate and inspire them about sustainable business practices.

The Coca-Cola Inspiring Change 2014 Sustainability Summit, held May 5-7 at both Kennesaw State and The Westin Peachtree Plaza, includes speakers, demonstrations and panel discussions regarding sustainable practices intended to advance knowledge and grow this environmentally responsible movement. One key panel event includes KSU students from the “millennial” generation discussing their thoughts on brand loyalty, sustainability and personal responsibility regarding the environment. In addition, summit attendees will tour Kennesaw State’s Hickory Grove Farm to learn more about KSU’s award winning “farm-to-campus” program.

“Kennesaw State University’s Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality (ICSH) is an outstanding local example of sustainability excellence in action,” said Robert Jefferies, assistant vice president, Coca-Cola Refreshments. “One of the reasons we chose to co-host our 3rd Annual Customer Sustainability Summit with KSU is that they have tested and implemented cutting edge innovations in sustainability that many of our foodservice, retail and strategic marketing partners will want to emulate.”

Kennesaw State was recently named among one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada by The Princeton Review. Other accolades for Kennesaw State include the 2013 National Restaurant Association’s Innovator of the Year award and Operator Innovations Award for Sustainability, and the Innovator Award from the Georgia Restaurant Association.

“The Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality program at KSU infuses sustainable business practices into all facets of culinary and hospitality management, educating students with the skills, knowledge, and abilities to maximize efficiency, productivity, and profitability," said Christian Hardigree, director, KSU's Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality. "Part of our mission is to develop relationships with private industry. In partnering with Coca-Cola, a company who understands how critical sustainability is within the industry, we hope to help further educate their customers and highlight best practices."

Learn more about the Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality at Kennesaw State


Kennesaw State University Math Bowl

Campus Green Generic Image of Kennesaw Hall

KENNESAW, Ga. (March 18, 2014) - Kennesaw State University and the Cobb County School District will present the fourth annual Elementary School Math Bowl to get students excited about the world of mathematics.


The math competition at Kennesaw State is part of the Teacher Quality Partnership between the University and the Cobb school district. Approximately 150 students will solve word and number problems in a competition designed to challenge and inspire them. The students will also receive a tour of the campus and participate in an awards ceremony.


Fourth- and fifth-grade stduents from LaBelle, Hollydale, Fair Oaks, Milford, Birney and Russell elementary schools will visit the campus to compete in teams and as individuals.


The event is Friday, March 21. Students compete from 9:15 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Math Bowl students will be given a tour of the campus from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. before heading to the Prillaman Hall auditorium (room 1000) for an awards ceremony at 12:15 p.m.


Kennesaw State University, 1000 Chastain Road, Kennesaw, Ga. 30144

Competition will be held in rooms 205, 217, 225, 226, 227, 122B in the University College building.

Closing ceremony and awards will be in the Prillaman Hall auditorium, room 1000, from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m.


KSU dance director receives Cobb symphony award

Name of Publication: 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Excerpt of Article: 

7:11 p.m. Monday, November 22, 2010


Ivan Pulinkala, founding director of Kennesaw State University’s dance program, received the Cobb Symphony Orchestra’s Award for Artistic Excellence, the first award of its kind presented by the symphony.

Pulinkala is artistic director of the KSU dance company, and has been director of the dance program at the university since 2005. Prior to his work at KSU, Pulinkala was choreographer and director of Delhi Music Theatre in India before moving to the U.S. in 1998 to pursue a master’s degree in dance.

Pulinkala received the symphony award earlier this month during the Cobb Symphony Master Works Concert at the Murray Arts center of Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw. KSU offers a bachelor’s of arts degree in dance and enrolls more than 80 dance majors

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cracking a Cold Case

Surveying Moore's Ford Bridge area for new evidence
KSU archaeology students conduct metal survey to help solve 1946 Walton County lynching
What happened to two African-American couples on July 25, 1946, near Moore’s Ford Bridge in Walton County is not a mystery. In what has been labeled “America’s last mass lynching,” a group of 20-25 Ku Klux Klansmen pulled the two men and their wives from a car, brutally beat them and shot them multiple times with rifles, pistols and a machine gun.

Marking the state’s Civil War history

Name of Publication: 
Dalton Daily Citizen
Excerpt of Article: 

DALTON — The markers are no more than cold aluminum and black enamel, their texts as succinct as a few tweets.

But the larger Civil War stories they summarize are as rich and remarkable as they are obscure.

One tells the tale of desperately hungry women who rioted in towns from Marietta to Columbus and tried to steal food they could not otherwise afford. One in Dalton recalls perhaps the only instance in Georgia where African American Union army troops fought in pitched battle. Yet another in Rincon describes how hundreds of freed slaves, abandoned by Union soldiers, drowned in Ebenezer Creek rather than be captured by Confederates and returned to bondage.

There may be no such thing as an untold Civil War story, but as the state gears up for the 150th anniversary of the war, the conflict’s lesser known events are being officially highlighted in ways not imagined 50 years ago. Through an expansion of the existing historical marker program, the Georgia Historical Society, Georgia Battlefields Association and Georgia Department of Economic Development and other agencies are not trying to change the war’s narrative so much as expand it. ...

‘An important step’

There are 2,000 historical markers around the state, according to the Georgia Historical Society. Of those, nearly 920 reference the war and relay key moments of action, sum up the lives of military top brass and describe what life was like for individual soldiers.

Most went up in the 1960s during the centennial and were coordinated by the state’s historical commission. But interpretation of the contest was kept narrow. Virtually no official signs dealt specifically with women, life on the home front, politics or slavery, which many scholars say was a root cause of the war.

“Multiple interpretations of the same event; That’s what makes history work,” said Brian Wills, executive director of the Center for the Study of the Civil Rights Era at Kennesaw State University. “So it had to happen that eventually the story had to broaden. It’s an important step for Georgia to take.”

Battle of television news titans

Name of Publication: 
BBC News
Excerpt of Article: 

Fox News is famous for its iconoclastic conservative take on US politics, while rival MSNBC is seen by some experts as becoming its liberal equivalent. But do cable news stations influence election campaigns?

For the best part of a decade Fox News has been the dominant US cable news network.

Its blend of jaunty news during the day, and colourful conservative pundits - like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck - during the evening has proved a popular formula.

Beck has gained notoriety. His eponymous show on Fox News, where he can weave together targets as diverse as Woodrow Wilson, the Black Panthers and Goebbels in a heady hour-long polemic, is watched by 2.5 million people, despite being hours before primetime. It beats its rivals on the other cable news networks more than 4-1. Fox News is for Americans who have felt for years that the media are dominated by the East Coast liberal elites that make decisions that don't reflect the rest of America”

Fox News's dominance has caused concern for some on the other side of the political divide. ...

For all of Fox News's alleged partisanship, there are some analysts who feel MSNBC is going the same way - turning into a liberal version of Fox News.

"It's definitely there," says Prof Kerwin Swint, author of Dark Genius: The Influential Career of Legendary Political Operative and Fox News Founder, Roger Ailes.

"You can see their progression of following the lead of Fox News."

KSU professor to receive Board of Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award

Sabine Smith is one of three University System of Georgia professors to receive honor
KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct. 19, 2010)Sabine Smith, an associate professor of German at Kennesaw State University, has been tapped to receive the 2011 Board of Regents’ award for teaching excellence, one of only three awards given to faculty members selected from the University System of Georgia’s 35 schools.
Smith was designated the most outstanding teacher at a regional or state university. The Board of Regents also named an outstanding individual faculty member representing the system’s two-year and state colleges and one representing research universities. 
The Board of Regents honored Smith for her innovative teaching, the co-curricular activities she devises to immerse students in German language and culture, and her leadership in establishing a German studies major at KSU. 
“This is an outstanding and richly deserved honor for Dr. Smith and for Kennesaw State,” said President Daniel S. Papp. “She exhibits an extraordinary level of dedication to her students and the teaching profession, and a commitment to the university’s academic ideals. We are very proud of her accomplishments.” 
Smith, who holds a Ph.D. in German from the University of California, Davis, joined the KSU faculty in 1999 as the only full-time German professor in the foreign languages department.   Since then, the German studies program she helped design evolved into an undergraduate minor at Kennesaw Statein 2000, and became a major in 2007, and now has seven instructors. Enrollment in German courses at KSUgrew from 78 in spring 1999 to 231 in spring 2010. 
“Having grown up in Europe, I personally value foreign language and culture study as a ticket to experiential learning and global citizenship,” said Smith, who was selected by fellow faculty in 2009 to receive the Distinguished Teaching Award from the KSU Foundation. 
Smith said she works to provide students the broadest possible range of experiences to learn another language and culture, including study-abroad, internships, interdisciplinary studies, speakers, cultural events and service-learning projects such as teaching German at local schools. 
“When students exhibit both content knowledge of the language and culture they study and complete a sojourn in an immersion environment they experience as foreign, they have made significant progress in achieving intercultural competence as global citizens,” she said.
Smith and other recipients of annual Board of Regents honors for teaching and scholarship will receive $5,000 and a certificate when the awards are presented during a ceremony in March.      
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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 70 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 23,000 from 142 countries.
Contact: Sabbaye McGriff, 678-797-2550 or

“Year of Romania” Day kick-off events draw crowds

An afternoon lecture by former U.S. Ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe on the Oct. 13 “Year of Romania” Day drew a standing-room-only audience to the 300-seat auditorium in the Social Sciences building.

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