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The 2002 arrest and subsequent trial of private investigator Anthony Pellicano exposed the worst of Hollywood, showing how A-listers, moguls and the lawyers they employed used the PI to dig up dirt on their enemies and one another, often illegally. THR profiles some of the major players in the sensational scandal.
In June 2002, the entertainment journalist and former The Hollywood Reporter editor found a dead fish with a rose in its mouth on the cracked windshield of her car along with a note: "Stop." The ensuing investigation led to Pellicano's downfall. Busch later sued Michael Ovitz for hiring Pellicano to harass her. After years of delays, the lawsuit was set to go to trial in early February, but Busch and Ovitz settled in January. Busch now works at Deadline Hollywood.
The former CAA uber-agent and Disney studio chief hired Pellicano to try to stop a series of stories authored by Busch and Bernard Weinraub about his then-company, AMG, in The New York Times. Had Busch's lawsuit gone to trial, Ovitz was prepared to argue it was actor Steven Seagal — another Pellicano client — who was responsible for the dead fish on Busch's car. Ovitz is now an investor and art collector.
The once high-flying Hollywood entertainment lawyer was convicted of conspiring with Pellicano to wiretap the phone of Lisa Bonder, Kirk Kerkorian's ex-wife, during the divorce of Kerkorian and Bonder after a 28-day marriage and a contentious paternity dispute. After losing numerous appeals, Christensen is serving a three-year prison sentence at FCI Sheridan, a medium-security facility in Oregon. He's set to be released Jan. 1, 2019.
The FBI alleged the actor hired Pellicano to thwart Busch's reporting on a story about his ties to organized crime. Seagal never was charged and did not testify in Pellicano's criminal trial. More recently, he has been embroiled in allegations of sexual misconduct: In January, British actress Rachel Grant alleged that Seagal sexually assaulted her during preproduction on the direct-to-video movie Out for a Kill. He denies the allegations.
The director of Die Hard (1988) and Predator (1987) went to prison after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about using Pellicano's services (the government alleged he had producer Charles Roven's phone tapped over a dispute about their film Rollerball). McTiernan was released in February 2014 after serving 328 days. He retreated to his Wyoming ranch and has rarely been seen since. The last movie he directed was 2003's Basic.
At Pellicano's 2008 trial, Shandling said his former manager Brad Grey hired the PI to spy on the star after he sued Grey over profits from The Larry Sanders Show. (Attorney Fields, a Pellicano client, represented Grey.) Shandling's former fiancee, actress Linda Doucett, also testified that she was spied on during the same period. Shandling died in March 2016.
All of Hollywood was on high alert when the prosecution called Grey, then head of Paramount, to the stand March 20, 2008, to testify. Grey said he employed Pellicano twice on the advice of lawyer Bert Fields; during the Garry Shandling lawsuit and when Brillstein-Grey was sued by producer Vincent "Bo" Zenga over profits from Scary Movie (2000). But Grey testified he never knew of any illicit activity. Grey died in May 2017 of brain cancer.
This story first appeared in the Feb. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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