There’s growing fallout from Vanity Fair‘s upcoming June issue article, and it’s not good for the mag. Given what I reported yesterday about Pellicano’s ex-wife challenging facts and quotes attributed to her (Kat Pellicano vs Vanity Fair), and today’s Variety story of denials by reps for Brad Grey, Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler, the late Chris Farley and HBO (Names Take Aim at Pellicano Article), the obvious question right now is: Where were Vanity Fair’s celebrated fact-checkers?

Today, Daily Variety‘s Gabriel Snyder gathers denials from hither and yon. A Paramount statement says: “Specific allegations and statements made by unnamed sources about Brad Grey in Vanity Fair‘s piece on Anthony Pellicano are total fabrications.” Cindy Guagenti, who flacks Pitt and Sandler, gives Daily Variety this statement, “Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler and the late Chris Farley have never once engaged the services of Anthony Pellicano, either directly or through a representative.” Guagenti adds that none of the three thesps were contacted by the magazine before the story was published. And Brillstein-Grey’s Mark Gurvitz, who manages the Farley estate, tells Daily Variety, “He’s never once been involved with Anthony Pellicano in any way whatsoever.” Even HBO released a statement saying the timing was off by two years when the magazine reported that Grey had considered replacing The Sopranos with The Pellicanos when James Gandolfini once walked off the set.

What is even more troubling here is that Guagenti told Daily Variety that none of the three actors’ reps were contacted by the magazine before the story was published. And HBO said that VF writer John Connolly “specifically asked and was told by Grey’s representatives that a pilot idea about Anthony Pellicano arriving at HBO and the James Gandolfini contract negotiations were at least two years apart,” yet that denial never made it into the magazine. Isn’t that precisely why magazines have independent fact-checkers on the staff to backstop these kinds of denials and clarifications?

Of course, cynics would point out that Daily Variety’s story today seems intended to make Paramount Pictures head Brad Grey look better regarding his Pellicano connections than he does in the VF article. And that’s another interesting point. It’s well-known that VF editor Graydon Carter has close personal ties to both Grey’s boss, Viacom Inc president Tom Freston, and Grey himself. I was told by a VF insider that Graydon had specifically told the article’s writers to let the chips fall where they may. Yet I and other reporters heard (unlike some, I didn’t publish the rumor) that Carter at the last minute supposedly softened all the stuff about Grey. But reading the VF article clearly shows that didn’t happen. You know what they say, with friends like this…