June 05, 2013 11:00am PT by Gary Baum
Anthony Pellicano Wiretap Lawsuit Nears Settlement
This story first appeared in the June 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
It's been more than a decade since P.I.-to-the-stars Anthony Pellicano left a dead fish with a rose in its mouth and a sign reading "Stop" on the windshield of journalist and former THR editor Anita Busch's car.
On June 6, a long-awaited civil settlement will be announced in the class-action suit against AT&T brought by more than 500 unintentional victims of his wiretapping.
The company placed blame on a few rogue employees for colluding with Pellicano. But THR hears from a source that an undisclosed financial settlement is forthcoming regardless.
It will be a flat compensation to anyone Busch is documented to have chatted with during the period, since under California law both parties must consent.
This includes everyone from her doctors to her regular Hollywood sources and some THR employees.
A spokesperson for AT&T tells THR, "AT&T is committed to our customers’ privacy. The claims in this case involved a few rogue employees who no longer work for AT&T, and we’re glad to have reached this agreement to resolve the matter."
Pellicano was sentenced in 2008 to 15 years in prison for running a wiretapping enterprise on behalf of some of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. Around the middle part of last decade, there were nearly two dozen Pellicano-related civil lawsuits that were filed by various victims against telephone companies, law enforcement and individuals allegedly responsible for hiring Pellicano in the first place.
The slew of litigation, which threatened to expose Hollywood's deepest, darkest secrets, has moved slowly over the years because the criminal prosecutions against Pellicano and folks like Die Hard director John McTiernan had to move first.
In the past few months, the lawsuits have gained steam toward resolutions. Some cases, like a Hungarian model's lawsuit against Chris Rock, have been settled. Other cases such as one against Tom Cruise and another against Paramount chief Brad Grey have been dismissed on statute of limitation grounds.
The big lawsuit brought by Busch against various individuals including Michael Ovitz is still active and could be headed to a trial very soon. Later this month, the judge presiding over that case will address some of the remaining pretrial issues and potentially structure what would likely be a show-stopping trial that might solve some of the biggest Pellicano mysteries out there.