Shandling already said that in a lawsuit filed in 1998, in which he complained that Grey overdid it by cutting himself in as a producer of Shandling's television show, taking ownership of half the show, and giving himself commissions on Shandling's work as a writer and actor. Whether this meets the legal definition of piggishness is unclear since the suit was settled. So Shandling never testified about his grievances until now. And, of course, Grey at this point is running Paramount, so Shandling's grievances have a fresh resonance.
Grey felt moved to issue a statement that he was "extremely saddened" by Shandling's allegations and said that he remembered the facts differently, though he offered no specifics. Once Shandling sued, he said, he was forced to hire Bert Fields. So his (very profitable) "friendship" with Shandling was "overtaken by a legal process that was directed by lawyers." Translation: Bert Fields hired Pellicano—not me—and who knew about any wiretapping?
All the big-name players who were Pellicano fans—Brad Grey, Michael Ovitz—have declared themselves to be shocked at allegations that Pellicano had a ring of on-the-take cops and phone-company employees to assist him in eavesdropping and perpetrating other schemes on their behalf. The Los Angeles Times has quoted Ovitz's attorney as stating that "neither Mr. Ovitz nor [his company] authorized or had any knowledge" of snooping or other activities performed with Ovitz's interests in mind.
The Pellicano trial prompted a producer we know to reminisce about the days when Ovitz was the most powerful man in Hollywood. "Remember how Ovitz always used to ask if you were on a hard line when you talked to him on the phone?" he asked. "And we all thought he was being paranoid!"
But now, it seems just possible that Ovitz suspected something. For us, the trial brings back a memory from the days in the mid-'90s when Hollywoodland was toiling on a book (Hit & Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood, with partner Nancy Griffin). We knew about Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss and her links to various film executives in our book. But none of this was public yet—no one had ever heard of Heidi Fleiss—and we were trying to figure out how to get these interesting facts on the record.
At one point, Hollywoodland asked one of the major players whose named has arisen in the Pellicano case if he knew of Fleiss, watching carefully what his face revealed. (If the conversation had been on the record, we'd tell you who it was.) He said he'd never heard of her, but he gave us some advice: If we wanted to learn more, he said, look at the phone records.
We were confused. We did not have subpoena power. How could we get phone records? "There are ways," he assured us with a knowing smile.
This makes it hard to believe that all the Pellicano clients were as ignorant of his activities as they claim. But apparently evidence is lacking. Eliot Spitzer may have been nailed with lightning speed thanks to wiretapped conversations. But Ovitz, Grey, and Fields were apparently innocent dupes—and are presumably extremely saddened to learn of any acts of thuggery perpetrated on their behalf. (link)
March 14, 2008
It's Fun To Have Fun: Your Hollywoodland correspondent attended the glamorous premiere of Horton Hears a Who! last Saturday and was present when protesters started yelling shortly after Horton uttered his famous motto: "A person's a person, no matter how small."