Having copped a guilty plea for his involvement in an illegal gambling group, Bryan Zuriff is now hoping some words of recommendation from some powerful Hollywood friends will encourage a judge to spare him some time behind bars. “Bryan is prepared to take complete responsibility for his wrongdoing and complete whatever sentence you deem appropriate. With that said, I urge you to be lenient. Bryan is first and foremost a family man, dedicated to his wife and children. A harsh punishment will be a punishment, not just for Bryan, but for his entire family as well. They do not deserve that,” wrote Judd Apatow in a September 12, 2013 letter to federal judge Jesse Furman (read it and other letters of support for Zuriff here). “If there is good news here, it is that Bryan has taken the opportunity to face his demons and is coming out of this a better man in so many ways,” said Mark Gordon in a letter to Furman detailing what a good producer Zuriff is. The PGA chief’s company produces Showtime‘s hit Ray Donovan series, which is set to come back for another season next year. Lone Survivor director Peter Berg, Hangover producer Scott Budnick, producer Ann Biderman and, in his own handwriting, Ray Donovan star Jon Voight are among others who submitted letters to the judge commending Zuriff before his scheduled November 25 sentencing.
The former EP of the Hollywood fixer show was among 34 people charged with running gambling operations that have allegedly laundered more than $100 million. Steaming from a massive FBI investigation, charges against Zuriff and others were unsealed in late April by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney. The defendants were called “alleged members and associates of Russian-American organized crime enterprises.” In a plea deal struck in late July, Zuriff forfeited $500,00 and agreed to terms that could land him in prison for between 6 and 12 months. In the dense and biographical sentencing submission filed November 11 (read it here), Zuriff’s lawyers detailed to the judge how the producer has had a gambling problem since he was young, how he got himself caught up in the current situation, and asking for a “non-custodial sentence” for their client. Interestingly the documents also reveal that despite leaving Donovan when the case became in July, Zuriff was back on set soon afterwards. “A month later, he was asked to return to the show as a consultant and remains deeply involved in the production of its second season. He is an integral part of the formula of success for this show,” say the heavily redacted papers. It also notes that Bryan continues to be involved in a number of ongoing projects, including a Todd Phillips movie to be filmed in the summer of 2014, the production of the Steve Jobs story, and a number of other television and film projects.”
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.