In a ruling that sets the stage for a courtroom showdown between Mike Ovitz and Deadline’s film editor Anita Busch, a LA Superior Court judge ruled against the former CAA co-owner’s statute of limitations defense in the longstanding Anthony Pellicano case.”Ovitz has not met his burden to demonstrate that, at the time of filing the original Complaint in May of 2004, Plaintiff had knowledge of actual facts to cause a reasonable person to believe that liability on the part of Ovitz for the torts alleged was probable,” said Judge Elihu M Berle in today’s ruling (read it here).
This goes back to the June 20, 2002, incident where Busch, working for the Los Angeles Times, found a dead fish and rose on her damaged windshield with the scrawled message “STOP”. Busch alleged other instances of harassment, computer hacking, illegal wiretapping and threats. This led back to private investigator Pellicano, and what became one of the largest illegal wiretapping case in the history of the U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI. Read More »
Good news today for Deadline readers! Our new film editor, Anita Busch, takes over the weekend box office report. Which means my month long stint as a semi-professional box office pundit has mercifully come to an end. While my straight ahead analysis might have let down some readers — I could tell by the comments that some craved snark the way Chris Walken wanted more cowbell — I found it instructive to observe the rhythms of weekend moviegoing, and to be the recipient of all the spinning that goes on among distributors. It was exciting to watch The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen break Thanksgiving holiday weekend records. I am certain Anita also won’t be interested in snark for snark’s sake. But she sure knows box office, distribution and marketing much better than I do, and she will focus on the correlation of grosses to production budgets and P&A spends to paint an accurate, unbiased picture of how these films are really doing. Let’s face it, winning the weekend with a twentysomething gross isn’t high-five worthy if the production budget is north of $100 million and $50 million more spent on P&A.
Related: Anita Busch Joins Deadline Hollywood As Film Editor
Michael Ovitz Sued For Owing $203K Legal Fees In Pellicano Scandal
Journalist and attorney Allison Hope Weiner is a special correspondent to Deadline and files this exclusive report:
Although former Hollywood private eye and convicted wiretapper Anthony Pellicano is behind bars, he’s not forgotten. As soon as the criminal portion of the Pellicano scandal was over, a judge lifted the 4-year stay on the civil lawsuits brought against the former private eye, the telephone company, the city of Los Angeles, and many of Pellicano’s former clients. The most interesting to the showbiz community is the one by Anita Busch, the former entertainment journalist whose allegations of wiretapping and harassment against the ex-P.I. prompted authorities to first search Pellicano’s office and start all his legal troubles. After Busch discovered she was wiretapped and found a dead fish on her car windshield along with a threat followed by harrassment, Busch filed a civil lawsuit against Pellicano and others including the P.I.’s former client Michael Ovitz. Her civil complaint was later amended to give more detailed allegations.
Although Busch’s naming the one-time CAA founder/Disney president/AMG manager/now private investor was highly publicized when first filed in 2006, a judge held that the civil lawsuits had to wait until the criminal proceedings against Pellicano and his cohorts were concluded. Since the lifting of the stay late last year, Anita’s lawsuit is now in full throttle. Day One of Anita’s deposition was completed in April (she showed up in a wheelchair). She’s expected to return for additional intense questioning. After that’s completed, Ovitz will get his
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Today the retired FBI agent who led the Pellicano investigation testified that he believed Ovitz’s hiring of the Hollywood private-eye led to that June 2002 fish-rose-&-note warning left on Anita Busch’s Audi. But Stan Ornellas stopped short of saying Ovitz specifically ordered the June 2002 threat against the freelance journalist who had co-written with staff writer Bernie Weinraub a series of stories exposing trouble within Ovitz’s management and production company AMG that spring. And, on cross-examination, the attorney for LAPD Sgt Mark Arneson asked: “Is it possible Mr. Ovitz hired Mr. Pellicano … but had nothing to do with the threats?” To which Ornellas replied, “Yes.”
Ornellas also testified that he interviewed Ovitz after Pellicano’s arrest in November 2002, and that Ovitz mentioned Busch’s name. The G-man also testified that the FBI retrieved a recorded telephone call of Pellicano speaking with Meyer after the FBI raided the P.I.’s West Hollywood office on Nov. 21, 2002. According to Ornellas, Pellicano said on the recording that Ovitz was at the heart of his legal problems. Ornellas also testified that Pellicano demanded $20,000 per month from Ovitz. Ovitz has not been charged with any wrongdoing in the Pellicano trial. (See my previous: Ovitz Testifies Busch/Weinraub NYT Articles “Wildly Embarrassing”)
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WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: Former freelance writer Anita Busch was sobbing on the witness stand as she was questioned first by Asst U,.S. Atty Daniel Saunders, and then by the defense, including defendant Anthony Pellicano. It was the threat against her that led to this wiretapping and conspiracy trial after the FBI raided the private eye’s office and the feds filed wiretapping charges against him and others. Bernie Weinraub also testified. I’ll be posting this material soon.
I’ve finished updating my morning story with Ovitz’s testimony. It’s all here: Ovitz Testifies Busch/Weinraub NYT Articles “Wildly Embarrassing”: Suspected Ron Meyer & David Geffen Were The Sources So Hired Pellicano.
Michael Ovitz was so press shy today leaving the Pellicano trial that he sat in the front seat of this Range Rover with his hand over his face and the visor to shield himself from photographer Jim Stevenson who snapped these 2 pics for DHD:
The New York Times interview with ex-Hollywood reporter/editor Anita Busch is such a non-story that it’s embarrassing not only in its hype but also in its omissions. For one thing, I wrote this identical story three years ago with much less info about the case than is available today. (See Requiem For Anita Busch.) For another, the NYT doesn’t detail Busch’s behind-the-scenes efforts to convey info and spin to journalists covering the longstanding Pellicano case (including to reporters for the NYT) which would disprove the article’s claim that she’s been silent until now.
Way more inexplicably, the NYT article today omits the primary reason why journalists at first didn’t believe Busch’s June 2002 account of threats against her: because she was claiming they were prompted by her then investigation of actor Steven Seagal’s alleged mob ties. At the time, she wasn’t the first to look into that story. In fact other media beat her to the punch. Yet even seasoned Mafia beat reporters had never experienced a threat to their person or property. So that’s why Busch wasn’t believed. (The incident in which a man threatened Vanity Fair writer Ned Zeman with a gun in August 2002 remains just a footnote even though Zeman, too, was working on a Seagal-mob story…)
Actually, the press was right to be skeptical: because now even Busch’s own civil lawsuit and the feds in their criminal lawsuit don’t finger Steven Seagal or the mob. The FBI’s … Read More »