Executive Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs, General Counsel
David W. Harleston is Executive Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Al Jazeera America, LLC, where he is responsible for advancing and protecting the business and legal interests of the U.S. network and its holdings. Previously, Harleston served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Current TV. In that capacity, Harleston managed and oversaw worldwide business and legal affairs for the news/political commentary cable/satellite television network and its companion news and information social media site. Harleston joined Current TV from Nelvana, Ltd. (now a division of Corus Entertainment), the leading producer of animated children’s series in the U.S. and Canada, where he headed up U.S. Business Affairs and negotiated with every major cable and network channel for the production and distribution of animated properties. Harleston is a cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. Harleston began his career as a judicial law clerk to Hon. Stephen Reinhardt, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, where he drafted opinions on matters of criminal procedure, immigration, intellectual property and the First Amendment, among others. Following his clerkship, Harleston joined Simpson Thacher and Bartlett in New York where he litigated extensively in the arenas of securities regulation and intellectual property.
Harleston served as Counsel to Sony Music Entertainment where he negotiated agreements for the services of major global artists ranging from Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey. After negotiating Sony Music’s acquisition of an interest in the then-fledgling Def Jam Recordings, Harleston joined Russell Simmons in the global launch of the first hip hop record label. Harleston was subsequently named President of Def Jam where he developed the careers of artists that included Public Enemy and LL Cool J and oversaw the soundtrack recording for Spike Lee’s groundbreaking film “Do The Right Thing,” among other achievements. Harleston was later appointed Sr. Vice President of MCA/Universal Music, the world’s largest distributor of recorded music, where he continued his work with artists that included Mary J. Blige, Patty LaBelle, Al Green, Gladys Knight, and others, and oversaw soundtracks to several blockbusters, including Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Dangerous Minds.”
Harleston is the recipient of a variety of honors, including recognition by leading industry trade publication CABLEFAX as one of the most influential minorities in cable television. He resides in New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA.