Ask dermatologist Peter Kopelson what it takes to run a successful practice in Beverly Hills replete with A-plus-list Hollywood patients, and, as is his way, he’ll tell it to you straight. One must, of course, possess the skill, training and experience of a top physician, but it doesn’t hurt to have the negotiating skills (and, frankly, the patience) of a smooth-talking CAA shark. “Honestly, this type of person is used to a lot of hand-holding—being told what to do and where to go,” says Kopelson of the stars who frequent his office. “We’re good at that. My patients feel comfortable with me in the way they feel with their agents, putting the decision in my hands. I can help them plan their filming schedules around recovery time. They have to trust me.”
If anyone is qualified to comment on the subtleties of Beverly Hills medicine, it’s Kopelson. The 46-year-old physician has the top-flight training (New York University medical school, chief dermatology resident at UCLA) and the latest high-tech tools that his field has to offer.
But as the son of heavy-hitting producers Arnold and Anne Kopelson (Se7en, Outbreak), he is also an insider. When he was in med school, his dad won an Oscar for Platoon. “I grew up with actors and people behind the camera,” he says. “I’d say about 100 percent of my patients are linked to the entertainment business, either behind or in front of the camera. It really helps not to be fazed [by fame]. I feel comfortable talking to people about their careers.”
While Kopelson isn’t one to name names (he takes that doctor-patient confidentiality thing seriously) and, until now, has been generally press-shy, suffice it to say that the men and women he treats are at the tippity-top of the Los Angeles food chain. (Ellen Pompeo, Debi Mazar and Christian Louboutin are admitted loyalists.) And these days, Kopelson is, more than ever, in a position to eradicate every last SAG card–carrying wrinkle and age spot in town. In April he combined practices with Sheri G. Feldman, a dermatologist who had been an associate of Arnold W. Klein’s for the past 17 years. The 63-year-old Klein, of course, has been “the guy” to see in L.A. about injectables for the past couple of decades. (He’s also famous for being Michael Jackson’s dermatologist.) “Arnie Klein is a brilliant man,” says Kopelson. “The timing was right for him with fillers like collagen and with Botox. He made his money and his mark. Now it’s our turn. As a pair, a team, we are both situated at a perfect point to take over the town.”
Klein, for his part, says he’s hardly ready to pass the torch, though he seems to find the challenge amusing. “I appreciate Dr. Kopelson’s comments and certainly respect him as a fellow dermatologist,” Klein responds via e-mail. “But as a connoisseur and collector of art, I don’t recall ever reading about any of Michelangelo’s students suggesting he retire.”