The Real Pellicano Story
Did the private eye intimidate alleged rape victims on behalf of a client?
Sordid details: As expected, Paramount chief Brad Grey's testimony at the Pellicano trial was not too sexy. Garry Shandling may have gotten people's hopes up with his complaints about Grey's behavior as his manager, but no one in this case has a stake in pursuing that angle. The question was whether Grey knew of Pellicano's alleged wrongdoing, and Grey, naturally, said he did not.
So it's hardly surprising that Shandling—a professional, after all—turned out to be more entertaining than Grey. For those looking for a big takedown of Hollywood power, it's long been clear that the trial seems unlikely to pay off. But the fact that Pellicano's big-name clients appear to have skated doesn't mean that the allegations in this case aren't sensational. They could hardly be more so.
If the government's got its facts right (and Pellicano, acting as his own counsel, isn't mounting a serious defense so far), then the worst is true: Justice in this country can be bought pretty easily, if not cheaply.
The case has elicited testimony that Pellicano convinced cops and phone company employees to snoop through data that should have had vigilant protection. He perverted the system, and not just to benefit rich clients who wanted to shake off unwanted spouses or thwart opponents in business deals. He is accused of having successfully intimidated a number of alleged rape victims to prevent their testifying against a client. Got that? It would mean that he helped an alleged serial rapist get off the hook.
And he got away with it all for years.
For a long time, Pellicano's tough-guy talk seemed to put him on the verge of self-parody: the hard-boiled gumshoe playing the private-dick role in the manner that people in Hollywood would expect. And in many cases, his alleged victims were hard to pity—like producer Bo Zenga, who had to take the Fifth more than 100 times when he was deposed in a lawsuit that he had initiated. (Zenga has also declared himself an award-winning screenwriter when all he had "won" was a contest that he'd made up himself.)
Then there was Lisa Bonder, who tried to shake down Kirk Kerkorian for $320,000 a month after gaming a DNA test to trick him into supporting a child who wasn't his. It was hard to feel bad when Pellicano exposed that type of behavior.
But even if all of Pellicano's victims had put themselves in harm's way, what he appears to have done goes far beyond their concerns. Every day of testimony sharpens the focus on allegations that should scare everyone—even folks who have never gotten closer to Hollywood than the multiplex. (link)
March 17, 2008
Oink: The trial of private detective to the stars Anthony Pellicano perked up a bit last Thursday with Garry Shandling swearing under oath that his former manager Brad Grey was, in essence, a pig.
Kim Masters is an NPR correspondent and the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everyone Else.
Still from Horton Hears a Who! by Blue Sky Studios © 2008 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Photograph of Anthony Pellicano by Danielle Klebanow/Splash News and Pictures. Photograph of Anthony Pellicano by Westley Hargrave/Splash News.