(Tapped from DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com.)
SO FAR, THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT TRIAL of notorious Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano has shown Hollywood in as bad a light as possible. Which means the industry, of course, is transfixed by the latest news from inside the Roybal Federal Building. Too bad even the feds don’t know what’s going on. I just got off the phone with top Hollywood litigator Bert Fields, who told me exclusively, “I intend to testify. I have nothing to hide. I have not been subpoenaed, but if I am, I will show up and testify.” This after the feds said in pretrial proceedings on Tuesday morning that Fields planned to take the Fifth Amendment rather than testify about his relationship with Pellicano. Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
So far, there’s been some juicy stuff to report from trial testimony involving prominent Hollywood figures: Paramount boss and former manager Brad Grey versus comedian Garry Shandling; director John McTiernan versus producer Chuck Roven; even onetime studio mogul Michael Nathanson versus Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss. About Nathanson, who was linked to Fleiss, Pellicano was heard on tape saying, “I saved Michael Nathanson’s ass. He was into prostitutes and coke.”
Humilitainment, thy name is the Pellicano trial.
For instance, Peter Knecht, the lawyer for Bilal Baroody — a former Malibu neighbor of Universal president/COO Ron Meyer — testified on Tuesday. According to testimony, back in 1997, Meyer loaned Baroody $300,000. After Baroody never repaid the loan and left the country, Meyer hired Pellicano in 1999 to get back the money. The feds played a secretly made tape of a conversation presumed to be between Pellicano and Knecht, who detailed some of Baroody’s primo real estate holdings, like his Malibu house and a high-rise on Wilshire Boulevard. “… And this is what’s driving Ronnie crazy,” Pellicano told the lawyer. “He [Baroody] swore on the Quran that he’d pay. He’s fucking with the wrong guy.”
“Ron Meyer?” asked Knecht.
“Me,” said Pellicano.
BIG-TIME HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER Chuck Roven was as low-key on the witness stand Tuesday as his attire (he didn’t even bother to wear a tie), and gave only perfunctory answers to questions centered on the 2002 remake of Rollerball, the movie he made with director John McTiernan — who has already pleaded guilty to perjury in the Pellicano case.
Roven even short-handed his own account of battling with McTiernan during the Montreal shoot. “As sometimes happens, I had a different creative concept. … and we would have discussions about that.” At which point the government produced list upon list seized from Pellicano’s office of often-misspelled names of MGM and Warner studio executives, agents and associates, logged from Roven’s phone calls.
Later, the feds produced Exhibit 54, a tape on which McTiernan is heard talking to Pellicano.
“Well, I think you got an education in the film industry,” McTiernan is heard saying.
“I had no fucking idea …,” replies Pellicano.
At one point on the tape, Pellicano cautions McTiernan about the fortune this kind of surveillance was costing him.
“Let me get you a list of specific names he’s either talking to or about,” McTiernan suggests.
“I would just feel guilty taking your money and spending it,” Pellicano tells McTiernan. “This guy [Roven] takes up to 10 minutes deciding if he’s miffed or not. I’m about to scream listening to this.”
WHAT A MORNING IT WAS WHEN Garry Shandling testified a couple of weeks ago: His testimony put long-running Hollywood feuds front and center. Accusations flew about Paramount chief and former manager Brad Grey and his pit-bull lawyer, Bert Fields, including late-night threatening phone calls, smear campaigns in the press, forged signatures on contracts, financial hanky-panky over TV shows, phone bugging and illegal background checks done on government databases.
When Shandling took the stand, Judge Dale S. Fischer asked what he did for a living.
“That’s a bad sign. I’m a comedian,” Shandling joked.
“Not to me, sir,” Fischer responded.
The troubles between Shandling and Grey began when Shandling’s accountant, Warren Grant, called the comedian one night to inquire about a financial matter having to do with HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show, which Shandling starred in and Grey produced from August 1992 to May 1998. “Call Brad Grey,” Shandling told Grant.
The accountant called back 10 minutes later, saying he couldn’t get an answer. About his business relationship with Grey, Shandling commented: “Brad said everything’s on a ‘need to know’ basis.” That’s when Shandling decided that “I need to know what I don’t know.”
Shandling alleged on the stand that as a result of his attorney’s inquiries, “Brad Grey threatened me one night to make my life miserable.”
The comedian said it took his lawyer, Barry Hirsch, three months to untangle financial matters having to do with the show. Hirsch and Shandling then wanted to see the contracts in Grey’s possession. At that point, Hirsch counseled his client, “You’ve got to threaten a lawsuit. That’s the only way you’re going to get these contracts.” Later, Shandling made explosive accusations about the signatures on the contracts: “Some were forged. Others were signed by Brillstein-Grey employees. Others were signed under misrepresentation.”
The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Lally, asked Shandling if he knew Pellicano was onboard and working against him. The comedian said yes — and claimed that five years earlier Grey had told him, “With Bert Fields, you get Anthony Pellicano.” Shandling went on to explain that his friend, security expert Gavin de Becker, immediately recommended they do a “bug sweep” of Shandling’s phones “because of Bert Fields’ reputation.”
Shandling said he used to take walks and talk about the case with his confidante, former Saturday Night Live comic Kevin Nealon, another Brad Grey client.
At this point, Lally brought out Exhibit 300. Shandling put on his reading glasses to look over several sheets of 1999 government law-enforcement-database printouts on individuals connected to Shandling. The name of LAPD Sergeant Mark Arneson, one of Pellicano’s co-defendants in the trial, was all over the pages. “This bothers me as much as the first time this was shown to me,” Shandling told the courtroom. Among the names on the printouts were his assistant Marianna Grant, his accountant, Warren Grant (no relation), his former fiancée, Linda Doucett, and Kevin Nealon and his then-wife Linda.
Pellicano, who has been defending himself, then cross-examined Shandling. The former P.I. mumbled, “Good morning,” but Shandling didn’t return the greeting. Pellicano scored at least one important point: When asked if de Becker found any taps or bugs when the phones were swept, Shandling said no.
During his own testimony a few days later, Grey denied preventing the comedian from seeing his contracts. The Paramount boss also denied knowledge of any wiretapping, background checks done using law-enforcement databases, or other illegalities in connection with his defense in two lawsuits.
Doucett, who has told the press she was victimized by Pellicano, also briefly took the witness stand. The former actress, who played Hank Kingsley’s secretary Darlene on The Larry Sanders Show, said she received a threat within weeks of her first meeting in November 2003 with FBI agent Stan Ornellas about Pellicano. Her voice cracked as she testified that an anonymous caller telephoned her at her home and asked if she was Linda Doucett, then said that if she talked to her “friend Stan” she wouldn’t be seeing her son anymore. Doucett then phoned an ex-boyfriend, former HBO chairman Michael Fuchs, who urged her to tell the FBI.
Pellicano asked Doucett how the threatening phone call could be linked to him.
“You’re the only bad guy I know,” she replied. Later, one of the co-defendant’s lawyers got Doucett to admit there might be other bad guys in her life.
All I can say is that the Pellicano trial should come with its own theme song, courtesy of Bob Marley: Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
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