Leff Wins 2 PR Awards

Mitch Leff and his public relations agency, Leff & Associates, were awarded two Phoenix Awards at the Public Relations Society of America’s Georgia Chapter annual awards dinner Oct. 29.

The agency received an Award of Excellence in the research/evaluation category for work done for Sterling Risk Advisors’ new Sterling Risk Sentiment Index. The agency also won a Phoenix Award in the category of media relations for nonprofit organizations for regional and national public relations to increase donations after the Nepal earthquake for global health agency MAP International. MAP continues to provide medical relief to the victims in Nepal.

Variety Playhouse Sold

Little Five Points music venue Variety Playhouse, which has served as the home of the main event for the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, was sold at the start of November by Jewish community member Steve Harris.

But the theater is staying within the broad Jewish family: The president of the new owner, Agon Sports & Entertainment, is Jeff Eiseman, who is Jewish. Agon bought the Georgia Theatre in Athens in August 2014 and also owns a couple of minor-league baseball teams, the Augusta GreenJackets and the Boise Hawks.

Harris took over the Variety in 1990 after it went out of business as a movie theater and built it into a popular music venue. He is staying as a consultant for at least a year.

During that time, Agon plans $1 million in renovations, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, citing Agon managing partner Chris Schoen

Punchline Laughing Again

Seven months after closing its longtime home on Hilderbrand Road in Sandy Springs, the Punchline Comedy Club is back in business in Buckhead, replacing Jerry Farber’s Side Door inside the Landmark Diner at Roswell and Piedmont roads.

The Punchline, owned by managing partner Jamie Bendall (fresh off an appearance at the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center at which he did a little comedy while asking questions of authors Judith Viorst and Dani Klein Modisett), Chris DiPetta and Jim Bendall, had to give up its Sandy Springs site after 33 years because of the downtown redevelopment.

The comedy space inside the Landmark has been expanded from the 90 seats Farber had to more than 150 seats.

“I’ve known Jerry for 20 years and have a great deal of affection for him and his value to the Atlanta comedy scene,” Bendall said. “It was Jerry who actually first suggested we move to the Landmark when we announced we had to leave our original location.”

The closing night for Farber’s Side Door, in operation for nearly six years, was Oct. 28.

Farber headlined at the Punchline for 26 Thanksgivings. This year he is taking the Thanksgiving tradition to the Atlanta Comedy Theater in Norcross, where he is the headliner Thursday to Sunday, Nov. 26 to 29.
“We want to keep Jerry’s Atlanta Thanksgiving tradition alive with a fresh, new place to share his brand of well-crafted, old-school comedy,” Atlanta Comedy Theater owner Garrett Abdo said.

Bendall also has said he hopes to keep Farber involved with the Punchline at its new location, where DiPetta has floated the idea of running comedy shows 24 hours a day because the Landmark never closes.

Needle Named IP Legend

Ballard Spahr partner William H. Needle received the 2015 Intellectual Property Legends Award at a lunch Oct. 20.

The award recognizes people who have made significant contributions to IP in the fields of business, law and education. It is given out by Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, the State Bar of Georgia and the Atlanta Bar Association.

Baseball legend Hank Aaron and Georgia State University law professor Michael Landau also received the award.

Needle is a patent lawyer who has practiced law for 45 years. He founded Needle & Rosenberg in 1983. The firm merged with Ballard Spahr in 2008.

Needle represents clients in patent infringement cases, such as the copyright and trademark litigation for the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and the state of Georgia’s infringement cases involving the Vidalia onion trademark. He was an adjunct professor of patent law at the Georgia State School of Law from 1991 until 2011 and the Emory University School of Law from 1983 until 2009. He is also mediator and arbitrator for JAMS, the largest private alternative dispute resolution provider in the world.