After all this time — the years, the witnesses before the grand jury, the rumors, and the media coverage — I can tell you that the trial memo filed last night by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the case of United States v. Pellicano, et al is not going to shake up Hollywood one iota. Of course, these are very serious charges against Anthony Pellicano and his co-defendants Mark Arneson (a 29-year veteran of the LAPD), Abner Nicherie (a Las Vegas businessman), Rayford Turner (a former telephone field technician), and Kevin Kachikian (who allegedly developed the “Telesleuth” wiretapping software program for Pellicano). (The prosecution’s case against an additional co-defendant, bigtime entertainment attorney Terry Christensen, will be made in a separate trial). Of course, the alleged activities negatively impacted all the victims’ lives. But this trial memo is a long, long way from the bombshell that many thought would turn Hollywood inside out. Yes, Hollywood figures are mentioned in it prominently. But no specific charges among the 111 counts are leveled against any of them and, in some cases, they’re victims. But perhaps more information will come out at trial since the government said it expects to call approximately 80 to 100 witnesses to testify before the jury. Here are the entertainment-related names in chronological order with the feds’ statement of the case and my own explanation of the showbiz connections:
– Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane, the CAA partners, are mentioned in a footnote (#11) because “recovered from Pellicano’s computers were scanned computer printouts of DMV and criminal history information for Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane bearing Arneson’s name and a date of August 10th, 2001, which comports with the date when Arneson conducted database inquiries on these individuals”. No context is provided in the trial memo. But Lourd and Huvane were clearly victims. Their CAA issued an “it’s Ovitz or us” ultimatum in 1999 after Michael Ovitz broke his promise not to raid the talent agency he co-founded and instead signed Robin Williams and seven other actors and directors away from CAA to his newly started management company AMG. Ovitz is mentioned in the feds’ trial memo as having hired Pellicano.
– Alec Gores: The trial memo says that, at the end of 2000, venture capitalist Alec Gores hired Pellicano to investigate his wife’s relationship with his younger brother Tom. Alec and Tom Gores are the brothers of Paradigm talent agency owner Sam Gores. Sam Gores is not mentioned. Alec Gores will be testifying during the trial about the allegedly illegal work which Pellicano did.
– Paramount boss Brad Grey is mentioned, but no wrongdoing by him is alleged in the feds’ trial memo: “In July 2000, screenwriter Vincent Bo Zenga sued Brad Grey for breach of contract and fraud. The defense team representing Grey retained PIA in early February 2001. During the course of the subsequent investigation, confidential information regarding multiple investigative targets was acquired through, among other means, protected law enforcement database inquiries and illegal wiretaps. For these services, Grey’s attorneys paid Pellicano $25,000, which cost was then passed on to Grey as part of the firm’s monthly bill for litigation costs.” There is no other mention of Grey in the feds’ trial memo. But there is a footnote (#19) stating, “Grey, upon the advice of his attorneys, previously had hired PIA in January 1999 in connection with a civil proceeding involving former client Garry Shandling.” At the time, Shandling was an important client of Grey and his major talent management and production company (which also put together and ran the The Larry Sanders Show series on HBO). That is, until the two men fell out in a long and nasty legal wrangle over Shandling’s charges of conflict-of-interest against Grey.
– Garry Shandling is talked about in the footnote above, which continues: “On January 20, 1999, Arneson conducted NCIC databse inquiries for information on Garry Shandling and his personal assistant Mariana Grant, and conducted a DMV database inquiry for information on Shandling’s accountant Warren Grant. On February 10, 1999, Arneson conducted an NCIC database inquiry for information on Shandling’s private investigator James Nielsen, Nielsen’s wife, daughter, and investigative partner. On March 4, 1999, Arneson conducted an NCIC database inquiry for information on Shandling’s friends Kevin and Linda Nealon and Shandling’s girlfriend Linda Doucett. On March 9, 1999, Arneson conducted an NCIC database inquiry for information on Shandling’s friend Gavin DeBecker.” Not explained is that Shandling had sued Grey, his longtime manager.
– Comedian Kevin Nealon, mentioned in the above footnote.
– Actress Linda Doucett is mentioned in the above footnote. Fans of the old HBO series The Larry Sanders Show will remember her as busty blonde secretary Darlene Chapinni, as well as star Shandling’s real-life girlfriend. She was fired when they broke up, and she filed two lawsuits against him, Grey and the show.
– Gavin DeBecker, the security expert whose firm has serviced many Hollywood superstars, is mentioned in the above footnote.
– Screenwriter Bo Zenga is prominently talked about in the feds’ memo because he was allegedly investigated by Pellicano and Arneson inside the NCIC datatbase after he sued Brad Grey over profits from the motion picture Scary Movie. Also allegedly investigated by the two defendants was Zenga’s wife Zorianna Kit, a TV reporter covering the entertainment beat. Bo Zenga’s telephone also was allegedly wiretapped because of a reputed deal between Pellicano and SBC employee Teresa Wright.
– Keith Carradine was mentioned in the feds’ trial memo because his then wife Sandra Carradine hired Pellicano to investigate the actor in connection with property issues in her then-pending divorce proceedings. “Specifically, on April 26, 2001, Arneson conducted an NCIC database inquiry for information on Keith Carradine and his girlfriend, Hayley Dumond. As to the use of illegal wiretaps, Sandra Carradine, who pled guilty to perjury for lying about the existence of PIA-implemented wiretaps when questioned before the grand jury, has since admitted that Pellicano wiretapped Keith Carradine’s telephone and that Pellicano played wiretapped conversations for her.
[Sandra] Carradine’s admissions are corroborated by a telephone conversation recovered from Pellicano’s computer, dated May 17, 2001, in which Pellicano told Sandra Carradine that ‘what I’m hoping to get the next time I go and gather all this stuff that I’m gathering is that there is a conversation between he and Hayley.’ Pellicano and [Sandra] Carradine then discussed the contents of the conversation he had just played for her. In doing so, Pellicano reminded Carradine that he ‘had to do this twice’ because ‘they cut the f****** cables.’ “
– Bert Fields is mentioned once as the attorney hired by hedge fund manager Adam Sender to represent him in a civil lawsuit against movie producer and Nevada gubernatorial candidate Aaron Russo. “On Fields’ recommendation, Sender retained PIA [Pellicano's PI firm] in March of 2001.” There are no allegations of wrongdoing by Fields, one of the most prominent entertainment attorneys in Hollywood.
– Aaron Russo is talked about in the trial memo because hedge fund manager Adam Sender partnered with the movie producer to create a movie production company. “Ultimately, after Sender spent more than $1,000,000 in start-up costs, the production company never materialized and Sender hired attorney Bertram Fields to represent him in a civil suit against Russo.” Government allegations say Russo was illegally investigated through protected law enforcement databases and his phones were illegally wiretapped by Pellicano and associates. Russo managed Bette Midler, produced her Tony award-winning Clams on the Half-Shell Revue, and produced her first feature film The Rose. Russo also produced Trading Places and Teachers. Over the course of his showbiz career, he also created and managed The Manhattan Transfer. and actors David Keith, Frederic Forrest, Susan Sarandon. Russo died of bladder cancer on August 24, 2007.
– Michael Ovitz is prominently mentioned in the feds’ trial memo, but there is no allegation of wriongdoing by him. The time period discussed occurred after Ovitz, at one time the most powerful man in Hollywood as chief of CAA, was fired as president of Disney had started a talent management and production firm. “In May of 2002, PIA was retained by attorneys representing Michael Ovitz to assist in separate lawsuits against Ovitz’s business, Artists Management Group (“AMG”), by sports promoter Arthur Bernier and sports agent James Casey. During the course of this representation, confidential information regarding multiple investigative targets was acquired through, among other means, protected law enforcement databases inquiries. PIA was paid $25,000 for its services in each case.
“In addition to the specific matters for which PIA was retained, Pellicano and Ovitz discussed individuals within the entertainment community who were the source of bad press against Ovitz. During these conversations, Ovitz and Pellicano discussed Ovitz’s belief that New York Times writer Bernard Weinraub had been recycling negative stories about him and that, on occasion, he was assisted by Los Angeles Times writer Anita Busch. AMG billing records reflect that the payments for the Bernier and Casey litigation matters were made on May 10, 2002. On May 9, 2002, Arneson conducted an NCIC database inquiry for information on Arthur Bernier.”
Ovitz’s AMG failed and sold out to rival management company The Firm. Since then Ovitz has not been welcome in showbiz because of a Vanity Fair interview he gave in 2002 in which he blamed Hollywood’s supposed “Gay Mafia” and its accolytes for his professional demise. See my LA Weekly column, Vanity Too Fair.
– Anita Busch, the former Hollywood Reporter editor, gets the most ink in the trial memo as a repeat victim. “On May 16, 2002, Arneson conducted NCIC database inquiries for information on James Casey, Anita Busch, and Bernard Weinraub. On that same day, Arneson also requested DMV photos for Casey, Busch, and Weinraub by Express Mail. Reformatted DMV reports on Bernier, Casey, and Busch, as well as a six-page computer printout showing all of their respective runs, were recovered from Pellicano’s computers, with the Casey and Busch reports being dated May 31, 2002.
“Also on May 16, 2002, SBC employee Teresa Wright conducted an inquiry on the SBC proprietary BOSS database for information on Anita Busch, entering ‘ERR’ as her reason for access. Wright has pleaded guilty to computer fraud for conducting this inquiry unlawfully, has admitted that she did so on Turner’s behalf, and further has stated that she used the term “ERR” (error) to ‘cover’ for the inquiries that she conducted on Turner’s behalf.
“Turner’s home telephone records reflect that he called Wright twice on May 16, 2002, and Wright called Turner three times on the same date. Turner had retired from SBC months earlier. After noticing persistent problems with her telephone line, Busch, on November 5, 2002, contacted SBC and asked the phone company to investigate the problem. Later that day, SBC technician Clifford Shillingford discovered a wiretap on Busch’s telephone and further confirmed that there was no court order authorizing the wiretap. Shillingford then had the wiretap removed. Shortly thereafter, however, Busch’s problems with her telephone line returned, which led Busch to recontact SBC. On November 18, 2002, SBC employee Teresa Henry discovered yet another unauthorized wiretap on Busch’s telephone.”
But that’s not all. “On July 9, 2003, Mark Arneson, who previously had resigned from the LAPD rather than participate in a compelled interview with Internal Affairs regarding his database inquiries, was interviewed at the United States Attorney’s Office in the presence of his counsel. The interview was governed by a standard ‘proffer’ agreement providing that Arneson’s statements could not be used against him as long as he was completely truthful. He was not.
“Specifically, when asked about his inquiries of law enforcement databases on the name ‘Anita Busch,’ Arneson affirmatively asserted that his inquiries on Busch were related to a legitimate gambling investigation he was working on in his capacity as a vice squad detective in the LAPD Pacific Division. Arneson stated that as part of that investigation he and other detectives conducted surveillances at previously identified gambling and organized crime hangouts, including Enzo’s Pizzeria and Matteo’s Restaurant. Arneson recalled seeing a woman he believed to have been Busch at Enzo’s and Matteo’s on repeated occasions, and said that he conducted inquiries on her in order to determine whether or not she was involved in gambling or other organized crime activities. Arneson further claimed that no surveillance reports were generated documenting his observations of Busch, and said that whatever documentation he received as a result of his inquiries would have been discarded when Busch was eliminated as a potential suspect in the investigation.
“The evidence will show that this Arneson’s story regarding Busch was a complete fabrication. For example, Busch will testify that she has never eaten at Enzo’s Pizzeria, and did not eat at Matteo’s Restaurant on or around May 16, 2002, the date that Arneson conducted his computer inquiries of Busch and his daily report indicated that he spent the day in an alcohol sales decoy operation and in “prostitution” enforcement. Moreover, as noted above, Arneson conducted these database inquiries as part of a series of runs that he conducted on PIA investigative targets, including occasional Busch writing partner Bernard Weinraub.”
I wrote an LA Weekly column, Requiem For Anita Busch, detailing how the one-time editor and reporter had forsaken journalism because the Los Angeles Times and the Hollywood press corps turned their backs on her when she became an alleged target of Pellicano et al. The timing of the alleged Pellicano probe of Busch came a few months after she as a freelancer and Bernie Weinraub as a staff reporter together wrote a series of articles about Michael Ovitz’s financial troubles for The New York Times. (The probe also coincided with an investigative story about actor Steven Seagal which Busch was working on as a contract employee for the Los Angeles Times. That’s why the initial search warrant for Pellicano’s office by the FBI mentioned Seagal, not Ovitz.) Ovitz ranted about Busch and other perceived enemies in a 2002 interview with Vanity Fair. (See my previous LA Weekly column, Vanity Too Fair.)
– Bernie Weinraub is mentioned in the trial memo because of the above. Weinraub was a staff reporter for The New York Times for decades, including 13 years covering Hollywood until he retired in 2004. He is now a playwright. He also is married to Sony Entertainment Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal. Ovitz ranted about Weinraub and other perceived enemies in that 2002 interview with Vanity Fair.