Executive edge: Niki Frangos Tuttle

On New Year’s Eve 2010, Denver lawyer Niki Frangos Tuttle worked into the night on an intriguing television deal before arriving late to a dinner party chock full of celebrities.

It was the launch party for the Oprah Winfrey Network, and the partner in Hogan Levells’ Denver office had just cemented programming contracts for the network that would go live the next day.

“Oprah got up out of her chair and said, ‘I know who you are,’ gave me a big hug and thanked me for helping her with her network,” Tuttle said. “She is a very gracious and genuine woman and it was a unique opportunity to work on something that was her vision – a network that embodied who she is and what she believed in. To be associated with something that’s about wellness, living a healthy lifestyle and having a positive self-image was just wonderful.”

Since 1990 when she represented then-cable giant Tele-Communications Inc., Tuttle has been representing content providers and content distributors with an emphasis on programming. She’s worked with many of the major networks and cable companies and represents sports teams in media rights and sponsorship deals. She’s negotiated cable, broadcast and radio contracts for Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League.

“I represented the Colorado Rockies when they did their cable, television and radio deals,” said Tuttle, a Denver native who did undergraduate work and earned her law degree at the University of Colorado. “To be there on opening day when Eric Young hit that first home run was a very exciting time.”

When she started negotiating contracts, there was no such thing as an iPod, video on demand, DVR recording or even the proliferation of networks that exist today. She keeps up with new media through trade publications and by attending industry shows.

“Think about how many networks have launched in the past 25 years and just how transformative the industry has been over the years,” said Tuttle, 54. “When I turn on the TV or I see my friends surfing the channels, I get memories that come back from over the years.”

Since age 15, Tuttle knew she wanted to be a lawyer and indeed, she became the first lawyer in her family. Her father, Nick Frangos, owned the Congress Lounge on East Colfax for 45 years  –  a watering hole for legislators and lobbyists.

“He had a lot of bigwigs come in but he also had a lot of people come in from off East Colfax,” Tuttle said. “He treated everyone the same and I’m thankful to my parents for raising me to know that it’s incumbent on all of us to give back.”

For Tuttle that means serving on the board of Rocky Mountain Human Services. Its Operation TBI Freedom assists veterans with service-related brain trauma and injuries. She is also on the dean’s advisory committee at the University of Colorado School of Law and sits on the board of Rocky Mountain PBS.

“I feel I have had a lot of opportunities in my life,” said Tuttle. “I work really hard but enjoy what I do and have a passion for it. I’m very fortunate to land in a career that suits my personality and skills. These contracts are really picky and it takes a detailed person to think through the deals. I like working on the agreements because to me they are like puzzles and you have to make sure all the pieces fit together.”