The U.S. Attorney’s Office today accused famed movie director John McTiernan of lying to the FBI in connection with the Pellicano scandal. The alleged victim in the McTiernan matter was wealthy film producer Chuck Roven. Though described by the feds as a “producer,” McTiernan is best known in Hollywood as a film director of such major movies as Predator, Die Hard (1 and 3), The Hunt for Red October, Last Action Hero, The Thomas Crown Affair, and Rollerball. McTiernan and Roven worked on the 2002 MGM movie Rollerball, which was plagued by hellacious problems including bad buzz, delayed release and awful reviews. However, I spoke today to several MGM execs who oversaw the film back then and they could not recall any bad specific blood between McTiernan and Roven.
Early this evening, I reached McTiernan’s current wife Kate Harrington, who professed she didn’t know anything about the accusations against her husband and registered surprise at the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement when I read it to her. “I’ve just returned home from a long trip,” she told me from the couple’s Western ranch. “As far as I know, John and Chuck had a good relationship.” She should know: she’s credited as a costume designer on Rollerball. McTiernan wasn’t immediately available, his wife told me.
Kate Harrington is a well known costume designer who worked with McTiernan on The Thomas Crown Affair. She also was hired for The 13th Warrior directed by McTiernan and made her feature film debut on the action thriller Eraser. Raised by writer Truman Capote from age 12 to 24, she worked as a model then moved to fashion’s editorial side for Town & Country, Interview and Vanity Fair magazines.
The McTiernan-Roven matter had Hollywood stumped by this evening. Not even The Los Angeles Times or The New York Times could get to the bottom of what had transpired between them. If anything, I immediately assumed today’s U.S. Attorney’s Office announcement would be related to McTiernan’s nasty divorce from producer Donna Dubrow; instead, I was shocked to find out it involved Roven who, through a spokesman, declined immediate comment on the matter. That’s because the FBI doesn’t want the victims mouthing off to the media. But it also appears likely the out-of-the-blue announcement was intended to send a message to Hollywood in general: something along the lines of, hey, people, don’t even try to lie to us because we’ve got the goods on all of you.
In recent weeks, my phones have been ringing off the hook with the names of major Hollywood players who may yet become embroiled in the Pellicano scandal. I’m talking about HUGE figures, none of whom have even be mentioned yet.
But back to today’s news. Producer of City of Angels, Three Kings, Scooby Doo (1 and 2), and The Brothers Grimm, Roven is the one-time husband of studio boss Dawn Steel until her tragic 1997 cancer death and now the husband of restaurateur Stephanie Haymes. The multi-married McTiernan has been famously battling his ex-wife Donna Dubrow over their divorce settlement. Though the pair split up in 1997 and Dubrow is now living with ex-studio boss Ned Tanen, the matter is still “raging” before the courts, Dubrow told me today. Dubrow said that McTiernan hired Pellicano in 1998 to investigate her. How did she know this? “Because I saw the checks written to him,” she told me. Dubrow also claimed she used to hear constant clicks on her phone line. She is formally asking the FBI to let her know if she was indeed wiretapped by Pellicano and if Pellicano had been hired by her husband to do so.
Dubrow and I spoke about how understandably paranoid McTiernan was known to have become after he directed Last Action Hero which tanked at the box office despite pairing Arnold Schwarzenegger with Shane Black at the apex of their careers. I recalled Sony execs telling me at the time, and Dubrow confirmed, that McTiernan suspected several big Hollywood names of working overtime to spread bad early buzz about that movie both to sink McTiernan’s career and the struggling studio’s fortunes. So McTiernan could have been crazed when his Rollerball — a remake of the 1975 Norman Jewison futuristic classic — also began receiving bad early buzz many months before its scheduled release date. According to a Los Angeles Times story by Richard Natale back in 2002, the website Ain’t It Cool News and its founder Harry Knowles almost singlehandedly blew the film’s chances at the box office. I reached Natale today and asked if he recalled any problems between McTiernan and Roven over the film, but Natale didn’t.
The U.S. attorney’s office statement reads: “On or about February 13, 2006, in Los Angeles County, defendant JOHN McTIERNAN knowingly and willfully made a false, fictitious, and fraudulent material statement, in that, during an interview conducted by the FBI, defendant McTIERNAN claimed that he had no knowledge of any wiretapping conducted by Anthony Pellicano and had never discussed wiretapping with Anthony Pellicano, when in fact, as defendant McTIERNAN well knew, he had hired and paid Anthony Pellicano to conduct a wiretap of Charles Roven and Anthony Pellicano had discussed with defendant McTIERNAN his interception of Charles Roven’s telephone calls and the information that Anthony Pellicano had obtained from that wiretap.”
Stay tuned for more updates. Top photo: McTiernan. Bottom photo: Roven.