'Fortune Fights'

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Danielle and Andy Mayoras, both of whom earned law degrees from the University of Michigan, are the hosts of “Fortune Fights” on the REELZ television network as well as law partners in a Troy-based firm that specializes in estate planning work.

Photo courtesy Lemus Photography

‘Legal power couple’ takes in-depth look at celebrity battles

By Kurt Anthony Krug
Legal News

When it comes to celebrity legal matters and high-profile estates, lawyers Andy and Danielle Mayoras – considered a “legal power couple” – are the “go-to” experts.

Case in point: they are the hosts and executive producers of a new TV series called “Fortune Fights,” which debuted January 31, on the REELZ network. The show explores the various legal battles of celebrities.

“Some legal issues really aren’t heavily explored in the media. To put them out there for the everyday viewer to learn from was something that interested us and something we wanted to do for a long time,” explained Danielle.

 The celebrities to be profiled in the first season of “Fortune Fights” include Oscar nominee Johnny Depp; the late Robin Williams, the Oscar-winning actor/comedian and Detroit Country Day School alumnus; actor/pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan; pop star Britney Spears; the late Sonny Bono, a Detroit native who was married to fellow singer Cher and later became a Congressman; actress/singer Lisa Marie Presley; the late Casey Kasem, a Detroit native who was a deejay and voiceover actor; singer/actress/Michigan native Madonna; Oscar nominee Harrison Ford; and Donald Sterling, former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The first episode focused on the legal troubles of Depp, alias Capt. Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Depp married Amber Heard, whom he met filming 2011’s “The Rum Diary,” in 2015. Heard filed for divorce in 2016. She also obtained a temporary restraining order against Depp, accusing him of physical and verbal abuse.

In response, attorneys for Depp – who didn’t have a prenuptial agreement prior to marrying Heard – stated Heard was attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by accusing him of abuse.

Depp and Heard reached a settlement with him paying her $7 million, which she stated she’d donate to charity. As part of the divorce settlement, Heard dismissed her request for a continued restraining order against Depp. Their divorce was finalized January 13, 2017.

“The difference between our shows and other celebrity documentaries is we we’re not just focusing on one aspect of Depp,” said Danielle. “We talk about his divorce (from Heard) and even though he wasn’t legally married to (musician/actress) Vanessa Paradis, we also explore their separation and some of the financial things involved in that. In addition, we’re taking a look at some of the business litigation going on, the fighting between Depp and his financial advisers (regarding the management of his money), all of that.” 

The couple also hosted “Celebrity Legacies” on Reelz from 2014-15. They revealed just how rich some celebrities actually were when they died, as well as which ones died virtually penniless and who inherited their debts. Celebrities profiled included singer/actress Whitney Houston, actor James Gandolfini, Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana, Oscar winner Heath Ledger, and John F. Kennedy Jr., among others.

“Obviously, the legal focus on that show where we gave our expertise was the actual estate, whether there was an estate battle or if they died with or without a will. It was very much biographical, exploring what happened when they passed away with their estate,” said Danielle. “‘Fortune Fights’ is totally different because seven of the 10 celebrities we’re covering are still alive. We’re looking at all different aspects of legal issues. We’re looking at First Amendment rights, divorce issues, business litigation. We’re taking a closer look at all the different legal facets people run into.”

Besides hosting “Fortune Fights,” Andy and Danielle are partners and principal shareholders in the Troy-based law firm Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras, P.C., which specializes in estate planning.

“I pursued law because I genuinely wanted to help people and I’ve been blessed to be able to do it through estate planning,” said Danielle. “My clients have trusted me with the most personal details of their finances and family secrets. It is extremely rewarding to ensure their desires and wishes for their heirs are handled properly. The gratitude clients have throughout the process is very satisfying for me personally.”

 They co-authored the 2009 book “Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!” Soon thereafter, they became media experts regarding celebrity estates, appearing on CNN, “The Rachael Ray Show,” “Access Hollywood,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “NBC Nightly News,” and various Fox and NBC affiliates. For 9 years they have been writing for Forbes magazine.

“Celebrities are just like the rest of us. It’s only the dollar figures that differ,” said Andy. “We’ve been contacted by families of pop stars, Hollywood legends, and famous musicians. No amount of wealth can insulate someone from the pain and heartbreak that results from an estate battle or bad estate planning.”

Added Danielle: “The goal is to use these stories about celebrity estates to teach everyday people – whether they have a multi-million-dollar estate or a more modest estate.”

The couple met at the University of Michigan, where they earned both their undergraduate and law degrees. Andy graduated with distinction from U-M 1993 with an undergraduate degree in English and psychology. Danielle graduated with high distinction from U-M in 1993 with an undergraduate degree in English. Both graduated from U-M Law School in 1995.

“We had a mutual friend who had given us each other’s names and some other names of people starting law school. I introduced myself to Andy and we hung around with the same group of friends and within the first month of law school, we started dating,” recalled Danielle.

“We had a bet that led to our first date,” said Andy.

“The law school, at one point, had a party in the Law Quad for law students. Afterwards, we all went to a bar, Rick’s USA Café. Andy bet me that whoever lost at pool had to take the other person out for dinner. I won, fair and square, and Andy took me out for our first date not so long afterwards (to Mountain Jack’s),” said Danielle.

“I, of course, let her win,” said Andy.

Danielle disagreed.

“Totally not true,” she added with a laugh. “I was a good pool-player.”

Both spoke fondly of their time at U-M.

“I was thinking of going out-of-state for law school and I applied to a lot of top-tier law schools. I was very blessed that I got into a lot of them. But when it came down to it, Michigan is such a top-tier law school; it’s hard not to take advantage of that. Even though it was challenging at times, it was a great education and gave you a lot of great opportunities,” said Danielle.

Andy agreed.

“In terms of undergrad, it was a tremendous education. The thing I appreciated the most is the diversity in terms of people, subjects, things to do, things to learn about – the college life,” explained Andy. “In terms of law school, it was a great education and a great springboard. With a Michigan law degree, there’s so many different things you can do with it. Danielle and I followed a traditional course: We both started at large law firms with a lot of Michigan Law grads. We ended up at this firm and became partners and developed this niche.”

They got married in 1996. They reside in West Bloomfield with their three children.

Danielle spoke about the two best parts of her job – as both an attorney and as the co-host of “Fortune Fights” and “Celebrity Legacies.”

“We’ve been able to be on this adventure together for so many years. It’s always new and interesting and exciting and really nice to share that with your spouse,” she said. “The second is breathing some life into the law. A lot of people think of the law as something so boring. One of the goals of (‘Fortune Fights’) is to make law interesting and entertaining and make it more commonplace for people to address some of the legal issues they need to.”

 

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