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Hamptons Life

Jun 28, 2017 9:03 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Music, Film Producer Puts In Napeague Roots

14 Private Road, Montauk
Jun 28, 2017 9:47 AM

Little is known about a 0.44-acre property north of the Napeague Stretch that just sold for $3,050,000, including if it is considered to be in Amagansett or Montauk. What is not in dispute, however, is that the buyer, David Sonenberg (along with his wife, Shelley) is a top-flight music industry executive and co-producer of one of the more deserving Oscar winners for Best Documentary.

Mr. Sonenberg was born and raised in New York City, then left town to earn a degree in theater at Tufts University and a law degree at Harvard University. His true connection to music began when the New York law firm he joined represented major productions like “Hair,” “Godspell,” and “Cabaret.”

Mr. Sonenberg then struck out on his own, establishing DAS Communications, which managed musical artists in New York and Los Angeles. Out of the gate, the firm’s fortunes brightened thanks to Meat Loaf—not the recipe, but the singer, who DAS represented. His album “Bat Out of Hell” set a music industry record for sales of a debut album (and to date has sold over 50 million units). Other clients who signed on with DAS include Jimmy Cliff, Joan Osborne, Spin Doctors, John Legend, and Black Eyed Peas.

Mr. Sonenberg’s debut as a film producer was a very auspicious one. “When We Were Kings” was released in 1996, and it is a documentary about the “Rumble In the Jungle,” one of the most famous fights in boxing history. In October 1974, the seemingly unbeatable George Foster took on an aging Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight championship in the African country of Zaire. The film follows the preparations for the fight and Ali’s enthusiastic reception in Africa. He wound up stunning the world by defeating Foreman to regain the championship.

Mr. Sonenberg produced the documentary with Taylor Hackford and Leon Gast, who directed it. One of the cinematographers is a familiar name in these parts, Albert Maysles. Among those featured in the film were the writers Norman Mailer and George Plimpton, the performers B.B. King and James Brown, and the filmmaker Spike Lee. During the ceremony in early 1997, “When We Were Kings” received the Academy Award, and on stage to accept it, Mr. Sonenberg, Mr. Hackford, and Mr. Gast were joined by Mr. Foreman and Mr. Ali.

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