7:43am PT by Eriq Gardner
Anita Busch Wants FBI Agents Testifying at Anthony Pellicano Trial
If Anita Busch's lawsuit against former Hollywood super-agent Michael Ovitz proceeds to trial as scheduled on November 13, it will mark the last of many civil actions over the activities of private eye Anthony Pellicano, currently sitting in a Texas prison for illegal possession of firearms and explosives, unlawful wiretapping and racketeering. With the looming trial in mind, Busch is pushing a California judge to authorize the testimony of current and former FBI agents who, 15 years earlier, investigated the Pellicano matter.
Busch has been waiting her trial turn for quite some time.
In 2002, the entertainment industry journalist found a dead fish with a red rose on the broken windshield of her car, with a card that said, "Stop." She faced threats, the hacking of her computer and tapped phone lines.
She's suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, invasion of privacy and more. Ovitz, who co-founded Creative Artists Agency, has already admitted to hiring Pellicano. A Los Angeles Superior Court has ruled that her claims against Ovitz didn't come too late. The liability phase of the trial is now set to commence. When it does, it will follow other Pellicano-related civil suits against Tom Cruise, Chris Rock, Brad Grey, AT&T's Pacific Bell, the City of Los Angeles and many others.
Back in 2002, Busch and a Times colleague were working on a series of articles about Ovitz' career. When the "Stop" note came, Busch testified she originally understood it to be in reference to another article she had been pursuing about producer Jules Nasso, actor Steven Seagal and organized crime in Hollywood. Power attorney Bert Fields, who has also fended off litigation over Pellicano, told her it could be something other than the Seagal story. She jotted in her notes, "Dear God... it could have only been one person... only one person makes sense and that is Michael Ovitz."
Now, Busch and Ovitz will square off at trial. In court papers on Thursday, her attorney writes that Busch "was extraordinarily damaged by the events, her career as a journalist destroyed." (She now writes for Deadline Hollywood.)
Evan Marshall, her attorney, has filed an ex parte motion to intervene in Pellicano's criminal case for the purpose of ordering testimony from FBI agents. He writes that depositions or trial testimony will serve the purpose of authenticating FBI interview summaries taken during the old investigation. According to court papers, interviewees included Ovitz, Fields, Pellicano, Seagal, former LAPD officer Mark Arneson, Ovitz' ex-lawyer James Ellis and CAA co-founder and current NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer.
Busch originally requested the FBI authorize the testimony, and the federal agency denied it absent a court order. Marshall tells the court that interview reports are of "central importance" to the civil case and "now of only historical interest to the Justice Department."