Prison Break: Die Hard director John McTiernan is the latest celebrity to clear jail waivers this week after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated his four-month prison sentence for lying to federal investigators in the Anthony Pellicano case. McTiernan, who at first denied hiring Pellicano to wiretap his Rollerball producer Charles Roven, pled guilty to the charges last year; soon after, he appealed to withdraw the plea on the basis of inadequate legal counsel and, in his words, "All this for Rollerball? Have you seen Rollerball?" Free to direct again, he has since been sentenced to four years of B-pictures, with time off for good behavior. [AP]
Remember Anthony Pellicano, the thuggish Hollywood private eye recently convicted of racketeering and wiretapping? He worked frequently with attorney Bert Fields, Fields' celebrity clients and other lawyers at Fields' firm. And he reportedly worked for Tom Cruise. But now that Pellicano is lost to the justice system, Cruise, still represented by Fields, has a private investigator named Paul Barresi defending his interests. And Barresi just did a strange thing: He provided to the Daily News federal court papers accusing Cruise of helping lead misdeeds by the Church Of Scientology, including harassment of this lovely sort:
Drew Pinsky is downright respectable, at least by TV doctor standards. Unlike "Dr. Phil," he has an actual medical degree, practices medicine and even teaches psychiatry. His reality show, Celebrity Rehab, is both more gripping and responsible than other celebrity "reality" vehicles. But Tom Cruise has allowed his lawyer to compare "Dr. Drew" to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, because the doctor told Playboy the following about movie star Cruise's fevered devotion to the Church of Scientology:
And so it ends: The long local nightmare that was the Anthony Pellicano trial has ended with essentially the same whimpering inertia that marked its duration. Those early reports of Pellicano's convictions have fleshed out in the hours since: guilty as charged on 76 of 77 counts of racketeering, conspiracy, wiretapping, wire fraud and identity theft, yet acquitted of "a single count of unauthorized computer access," according to The New York Times. (His four co-defendants were convicted of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy.) Pellicano will be sentenced Sept. 24.
In perhaps the most anticlimactic ruling in the history of celebrity jurisprudence, disgraced Private Eye to the Stars and all-around not-nice guy Anthony Pellicano was this afternoon convicted of racketeering and conspiracy in federal court. The LA Times is reporting that additional verdicts are forthcoming for wiretapping; for the convictions so far, Pellicano faces up 10 years in prison. Though we think we can safely bet our homes on the remaining counts, we'll have something a little more official later on as word becomes available.
Here's another reason to finally cancel your landline telephone and just use your cell: home phones are "really, really easy" to tap, according to a Times digest of lessons from the wiretapping trial of Anthony Pellicano, the Los Angeles private investigator of journalists and movie moguls. Anyone tapping my line would mainly just hear me calling my own mobile phone to determine which pocket I left it in. But in case you actually conduct secure communication from home, or like to indulge in the occasional Raymond Chandler fantasy, here are the key attack vectors:
Thank God that the threat of an Anthony Pellicano mistrial came and went without fruition; not only would we have faced the indignity of another star parade of scowling, snail-trailing movers and shakers filing to the witness stand, but we would have missed out on the performance art of Pellicano's closing argument, relayed second-hand today by tireless Huffington Post correspondent Allison Hope Weiner:
· Mel Gibson has signed on for his first acting job since Signs and We Were Soldiers back in 2002. In Edge of Darkness, a feature based on a BBC miniseries from the '80s, he'll play "a straitlaced police investigator whose activist daughter is killed, probably by the Jews." [Variety]
· Could one-half of the lusty network coupling responsible for siring struggling, bastard offspring The CW be missing their former identity? Warner Bros. just launched TheWB.com, where you can catch streamed episodes of old programming and newly launched online series. [Variety]
Having apparently run out of the tantalizing audio excerpts with which she's been sustaining our interest in the Anthony Pellicano trial, Allison Hope Weiner is testing a new kind of bombshell today over at The Huffington Post — and it's called "A Possible Mistrial." It's not as sexy as it sounds, but that's not to say it won't be eventually: A government witness testifying to have handled paperwork saying co-defendant Sgt. Mark Arneson was in bankruptcy — a claim he denied under oath — may have actually forged and filed the paperwork herself. Brilliant!
After having a Bert Fields-shaped carrot dangled before them, Pellicano trial-watchers will be disappointed to learn the famed Scary Hollywood Lawyer will not be testifying. Reports THR, Esquire: "Co-defendant Mark Arneson, a former LAPD sergeant, planned to call Fields, and the veteran entertainment attorney even showed up to court twice this week to take the stand. But he was never called, and today a spokesman for Fields said Arneson's attorney decided not to call him after all." With a witness list quickly running dry of A-list celebs and Hollywood power-players, we fear we'll soon go back to not caring again. Is there any way we can get someone fun on the stand? Maybe Bruce Vilanch in a "What, Me Worry?" T-shirt? [THR Esq.]
All kinds of drama unfolded Wednesday in one of the more turbulent days of the Anthony Pellicano trial, with ex-journalist Anita Busch following fork-tongued Michael Ovitz to a slow death on the witness stand. As if you had to ask, the cross-examination showdown between Busch and Pellicano — whom the writer all but accused in court of infamously harrassing her out of writing articles about Ovitz after joining the LA Times — did not go smoothly:
Mike Ovitz just testified about how he hired private eye Anthony Pellicano, on trial on federal racketeering and wiretap charges, to obtain "embarrassing or otherwise useful information about the New York Times journalists and their sources," according to the Times. The former Hollywood mogul said he paid Pellicano $75,000, which did not get him information about the reporters, but did net him a fetching nickname, "Gaspar," some dirt on his rivals and, if reporter Anita Busch's hotly-contested testimony is any indication, some serious cloak and dagger directed at the reporters:
Michael Ovitz hit the Pellicano witness stand this morning with a heart full of gratitude for his former private investigator, whose ongoing wiretapping trial became a state-sanctioned love-in as the ex-CAA/Disney/AMG boss recalled all the fun they had back in the day while paranoiacally destroying people's lives:
The guy who runs tech security for Condé Nast has admitted lying to the FBI and lending his services to private detective Anthony Pellicano even though he knew Pellicano was tapping people's phones. He's also been accused, in the course of Pellicano's racketeering and wiretap trial, of leaking a pre-publication copy of Vanity Fair that Pellicano mysteriously obtained, and of bragging about bugging the office of his Condé Nast supervisor. So why does he still have a job?