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Update on Anthony Pellicano trial

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Garyshandling_l

Garyshandling_l The Anthony Pellicano case has always been somewhat of a tease. With Pellicano accused of illegally wire-tapping and accessing confidential information on major Hollywood players with ties to Tom Cruise, Gary Shandling (pictured), and Sylvester Stallone, you could only imagine the juicy secrets concealed in the private eye’s cache of recorded conversations.  But as the Pellicano trial enters its third week, people are underwhelmed by what has emerged so far. “It really pales in comparison to Eliot Spitzer or the mayor of Detroit,” notes Laurie Levenson, professor of criminal law at Loyola-Marymount University and a former prosecutor.

Last week, on the heels of Gary Shandling’s testimony, Paramount Pictures chief Brad Grey took the stand to talk about whether he knew his attorney, Bert Fields, had hired Pellicano to check up on Shandling and producer Bo Zegna in response to lawsuits they individually filed against Grey. Grey reportedly testified that he was aware of Fields’ relationship with Pellicano but that he was not aware that Pellicano had done anything illegal. “Brad Grey’s only on the stand for 20 minutes, you’re not going to get all of the details of Hollywood, and frankly I think we’re not hearing anything particularly new,” Levenson said.

But one industry insider disagrees, stressing the magnitude of Grey’s testimony and the entourage of attorneys he brought along for support. “Last time I checked, wasn’t Brad Grey the guy who ran Paramount, the No. 2 to Sumner Redstone? He wasn’t down there for his health, I’ll tell you that. This government has had four years to put together that case. They’re trying to lay the foundation for something. I am convinced that they called him down there for something that we don’t know yet.”

Pellicano, who is representing himself in the trial, balked at the opportunity to question Grey while he was in the hot seat. It’s difficult to ascertain what Pellicano’s strategy is in all of this. Levenson thinks he is “trying to pretend that he’s going to keep his allegiance to his clients, and he’s more interested in undercutting the testimony of his former employees. He wants to come off as somebody who stood by his promise [to protect his clients].”

Although Pellicano may be protecting his clientele for his own sake, it seems that his loyalty only goes so far. On March 14, a recording of an alleged conversation between Pellicano and Chris Rock found its way onto the Huffington Post. In it, the two reputedly discuss how they might handle a potential scandal involving a tryst Rock had with a woman who filed a police report saying their relations were non-consensual. (A rep for Rock had no comment, and nothing further has come of it.) What’s interesting is that Pellicano was taping a conversation with a client he was supposed to be protecting. “The bottom line is he saw recordings and information as power,” reasons Levenson. “That was his safety card.”

Today the government plans on calling six witnesses, including Charles Roven, the producer who worked on Rollerball with director John McTiernan, and Robert Pfeifer, once the president of Disney-owned Hollywood Records. Although this trial hasn’t captured the public’s attention the way the O.J. Simpson or Phil Spector trials did — this is not a murder case, for starters — the United States Attorney’s Office doesn’t seem to mind if a few Hollywood luminaries happen to get burned. Just ask McTiernan, who’s appealing a perjury conviction.

Pellicano, who is representing himself in the trial, balked at the opportunity to question Grey while he was in the hot seat. It’s difficult to ascertain what Pellicano’s strategy is in all of this. Levenson thinks he is “trying to pretend that he’s going to keep his allegiance to his clients, and he’s more interested in undercutting the testimony of his former employees. He wants to come off as somebody who stood by his promise [to protect his clients].”

Although Pellicano may be protecting his clientele for his own sake, it seems that his loyalty only goes so far. On March 14, a recording of an alleged conversation between Pellicano and Chris Rock found its way onto the Huffington Post. In it, the two reputedly discuss how they might handle a potential scandal involving a tryst Rock had with a woman who filed a police report saying their relations were non-consensual. (A rep for Rock had no comment, and nothing further has come of it.) What’s interesting is that Pellicano was taping a conversation with a client he was supposed to be protecting. “The bottom line is he saw recordings and information as power,” reasons Levenson. “That was his safety card.”

Today the government plans on calling six witnesses, including Charles Roven, the producer who worked on Rollerball with director John McTiernan, and Robert Pfeifer, once the president of Disney-owned Hollywood Records. Although this trial hasn’t captured the public’s attention the way the O.J. Simpson or Phil Spector trials did — this is not a murder case, for starters — the United States Attorney’s Office doesn’t seem to mind if a few Hollywood luminaries happen to get burned. Just ask McTiernan, who’s appealing a perjury conviction.