By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
These days, Bergman wears two hats, one as a producer with PBS’s Frontline and another as a correspondent with The New York Times. Although others are also contributing to the Pellicano reports, a big gun like Bergman was brought in to counter the L.A. Times’ self-described “task force” working the Pellicano story. Since then, Bergman has been the behind-the-scenes driving force of the NYT’s articles, with the understanding that he can use whatever is dug up for a Frontline documentary as well. After a storied career chasing down bona fide bad guys, it seems a big step down for Bergman to focus on Hollywood’s detention-hall delinquents, especially when it’s obvious the most prevaricating president since Richard Nixon is occupying the White House.
Another integral player is FBI special agent Stan Ornellas. If the call ever came in to Central Casting for an FBI agent, no one would fit the bill more perfectly. He’s the G-man who helped indict seven people, including former Bell city administrator John Pitts and Mayor Pete Werrlein Jr., on felony charges of racketeering and conducting an illegal gambling business in connection with the Bell Club, billed as the world’s largest card casino when it opened back in 1980. Since being given the organized-crime beat 10 years ago, Ornellas tracked down cyber-criminals Kevin Poulsen, Justin Petersen and Ron Austin and, for a while, trailed the infamous hacker Kevin Mitnick. (Among their dastardly deeds, Petersen and Poulsen rigged the telephone lines of three Los Angeles radio stations, enabling them to win two Porsches, two trips to Hawaii and thousands of dollars in the stations’ contests.)
Ornellas helped get to the bottom of the Busch threat case, which led him to Pellicano and Hollywood. Based on his conversations with potential witnesses, Ornellas clearly knows the names of Tinseltown players but not the intricacies of the relationships that make the entertainment industry go round. He is focused on why Hollywood swells would even do business with a lowlife like Pellicano, much less allow him to step over the line if — and it’s a huge if — they knew he had jumped it by wiretapping.
Finally, there’s Bert Fields, the Century City entertainment attorney whose nonstop lawsuits against Disney have earned him the nickname “The Exterminator.” (Full disclosure: Fields has submitted a declaration in support of a lawsuit I’m waging against Disney and News Corp.) Hollywood’s premier litigator, billed as never having lost a trial, Fields is best known for trying Jeffrey Katzenberg’s $250 million employment contract dispute with the Mouse House. He dragged Michael Eisner into court where the tall executive made that “midget” slur against the diminutive Katzenberg in front of gleeful reporters.
Fields cut his teeth on divorce cases when he first went into practice and back when his client Jack Webb was doing Dragnet. Fields loves to tell how, when representing actor Edward G. Robinson over a disputed collection of Post-Impressionist paintings, he tricked Robinson’s wife into going out of town and then arranged to remove the paintings from the couple’s home in the dead of night. In 1982, Fields merged with the much larger Century City law firm that today is Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman Machtinger & Kinsella. Fields’ team works in isolation; even other entertainment lawyers at the firm don’t know his cases until they hit the headlines. These days, most of Fields’ clients hire him after they’ve been on the opposing side of a deposition or negotiation.
No doubt the press coverage of Pellicano will continue, and Fields’ name will rate top billing in the scandal. But, what, him worry? Fields has always relished any and all media coverage — or didn’t you see his terrific recipe for chicken fajitas in the L.A. Times’ October 29 report on his Malibu supper party?
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