MONDAY UPDATE: The film director pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to lying during the Pellicano investigation. John McTiernan entered the plea to two counts of making false statements to the FBI and one count of perjury for lying to a federal judge while trying to withdraw a guilty plea. He faces up to a year in prison when he’s sentenced October 4th before the same judge he lied to.
SUNDAY PM: The Predator reboot debuted this weekend. But at 9 AM Monday, the director of the original goes on trial. John McTiernan is charged with lying to the FBI and to a federal judge in connection with the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping and racketeering case. But McTiernan, who also helmed Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October, and The Thomas Crown Affair remake, But here’s the problem: McTiernan is appearing for trial tomorrow before the same judge he allegedly lied to. In June, McTiernan lost a bid to suppress evidence in the case. U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer denied McTiernan’s request to exclude a telephone conversation Pellicano recorded in which he and McTiernan discussed wiretapping Charles Roven, a producer of the 2002 movie Rollerball that was also directed by McTiernan.
This case has quite a history. The 59-year-old director pleaded guilty in 2006 to lying to FBI agents about paying Pellicano $50,000 to wiretap Roven’s phone. Fischer sentenced McTiernan in 2007 to 4 months … Read More »
Imprisoned former celebrity P.I. Anthony Pellicano and a man he allegedly hired to threaten former entertainment business journalist Anita Busch (then working as a contract employee for the Los Angeles Times) have pleaded not guilty to two felony charges. Pellicano, who is representing himself, and Alexander Frederick Proctor are expected back in court June 25th for a status conference. A preliminary hearing has been tentatively set for June 29th.
This time, it’s Kevin Kachikian, the computer guy who developed the Telesleuth wiretapping program with Pellicano. Federal Judge Dale Fischer sentenced him to 27 months. He is free on $100,000 bail pending an appeal.
Federal Judge Dale Fischer sentenced ex-LAPD cop Mark Arneson, who got paid by Pellicano to run names illegally through law enforcement computers, to 121 months or 10 years in prison. And Ray Turner, the ex-Pacific Bell technician who helped Pellicano establish wiretaps, also was sentenced to the same jail term. Abner Nicherie, who hired Pellicano to wiretap a business adversary, was sentenced this afternoon to a 21-month prison term. Kevin Kachikian, the computer whiz who helped Pellicano develop the Telesleuth program will be sentenced on March 9th. Arneson and Turner were immediately handcuffed and hauled away. Hollywood producer Chuck Roven’s victim letter was submitted today to the court prior to sentencing. In, it, he talks about dealing with the invasion of privacy after learning his conversations with his family, friends and business associates were listened in on by John McTiernan and Pellicano. U.S. prosecutors Dan Saunders and Kevin Lally are readying to indict McTiernan again.
News reports say federal Judge Dale Fischer on Monday allowed the Die Hard and Hunt For Red October helmer John McTiernan to withdraw his guilty plea to lying to the FBI about the Pellicano scandal that involved Hollywood wiretapping. Immediately, assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Saunders, who prosecuted the Pellicano cases, said at the hearing that a new indictment against McTiernan would be forthcoming. A March 23rd hearing is set. The 58-year-old director requested the plea withdrawal on grounds he had inadequate legal representation and was jet-lagged and under the influence of alcohol when he agreed to it back in 2006. The charge of perjury against him claimed he paid Pellicano to illegally wiretap film producer Charles Roven over 2002′s Rollerball, and then lie to the FBI about it. In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated McTiernan’s 4-month prison sentence and ruled that he was entitled to a hearing on whether he could withdraw his plea. Pellicano has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.
Anthony Pellicano, the wiretapping Hollywood private eye turned convicted felon, finally found out his fate. U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer gave him a prison sentence of 15 years and ordered the 64-year-old Pellicano and two other defendants to forfeit a total of $2 million. Pellicano showed no emotion when the sentence was read, according to The AP. “I have taken full and complete responsibility,” he said. He had been convicted of a combined 78 counts, including wiretapping, racketeering and wire fraud, in two separate trials earlier this year. I’m told he gets no credit for time served.
The Pellicano scandal keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. News reports say an FBI agent who dated actress Linda Fiorentino and allegedly came to know Anthony Pellicano through her was just charged with illegally accessing an FBI computer to help the ex-Hollywood P.I. in his defense. Mark Rossini resigned as a fed Friday before he was accused in a criminal information in U.S. District Court in Washington. (He’s exected to cop a plea on Monday.) The back story is complex: Fiorentino reportedly expressed interest in making the Pellicano family’s life story into a film. Because of his connection to the actress, Rossini is thought to be the source of an FBI report obtained by Pellicano’s attorneys. It raised questions about the credibility of a Pellicano nemesis, (now retired) FBI agent Stan Ornellas after Rossini “exceeded his authorized access to a protected computer belonging to the Federal Bureau of Investigation” on five different occasions in 2007, according to today’s court papers cited by the legal website TickleTheWire.com and The Washington Post. Let me get this straight: so Pellicano obtained information obtained illegally to try to defend himself from criminal charges of illegally obtaining information.
It also looks as if the now disgraced uber-entertainment lawyer and convicted felon in the Pellicano scandal won’t be doing his time under house detention, either. This morning, federal judge Dale Fischer granted prosecutors’ recommendation and sentenced Terry Christensen to 36 months, plus a $250,000 fine to be paid within 30 days. She is allowing him to stay out on bond pending his appeal, and authorities have confiscated his passport. But Fischer poured cold water on Christensen’s request for house detention instead of prison, which the U.S. Probation Office had recommended for a total 10 month sentence. “The probation officers’ recommendation was ludicrous,” she said. “Home detention in an 8,000-square-foot house is not punishment.” Fischer also ordered Christensen to three years on supervised release after his prison term ends. That means until he is 73 years old. No doubt about it: she threw the book at him. Speaking about Christensen’s own letter to the court expressing his regret for his actions in the wiretapping case, Fisher declared, “His regret seems of recent vintage.”
So goes Christensen’s once flourishing career after he was found guilty in August for hiring then Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano to wiretap Kirk Kerkorian’s ex-wife in a high profile 2002 child support case. Christensen wrote a letter to Fischer explaining away his crime as an “aberrational, isolated exercise of bad judgment”, but the judge didn’t buy it. ”Looking back, when I was approached by Mr. Pellicano, I should … Read More »
Former entertainment superlawyer and now convicted felon Terry Christensen is being sentenced at 8:30 AM Monday morning. But get this: he still thinks he’s a bigshot. Because he’s requesting to be put on probation for 10 months under home confinement. That’s right, he doesn’t want to go to jail with all the peons after he was convicted this summer for hiring then Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano to wiretap Kirk Kerkorian’s ex-wife in a high profile 2002 child support case. According to details provided by the Los Angeles Daily Journal newspaper (subscription only so I can’t link), Christensen is now explaining away his crime as an “aberrational, isolated exercise of bad judgment” on his part. His sentencing request was outlined in his recently filed sentencing memorandum. To be fair, the U.S. Probation Office is also asked for the same sentence for him, plus a fine of $30,000. But prosecutors, in their sentencing memo, called the Probation Office’s recommendation “reckless, uninformed, and completely inappropriate”. Their memo states that Christensen had managed the scheme with Pellicano to wiretap Bonder Kerkorian’s phones and, as an attorney, held a higher level position of trust that warranted prison time. So the feds demand that Christensen serve three years in federal prison and pay a $500,000 fine due to his “brazen efforts to corrupt and subvert the legal system… This is not a case of a defendant who committed a crime and who coincidentally happened … Read More »
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles has just filed its sentencing position papers for convicted Hollywood wiretapper and ex-private investigator Anthony Pellicano. The prosecutors are asking for a minimum prison sentence of 188 months, or more than 15 1/2 years, for The Pelican. The sentencing date is supposed to be November 12th.
The film director got some good news yesterday. The 9th U.S. Court Of Appeals has unanimously decided to send his case back to the U.S. District Court and thus laid the groundwork to enable action film director John McTiernan to possibly withdraw his guilty plea in the Pellicano case. You may recall that McTiernan lied to the FBI over hiring the ex-Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano to wiretap Chuck Roven, the producer of Rollerball which the director was helming at the time — only to have the G-Men play a recording of his incriminating conversation with Pellicano back to him. After McTiernan (Die Hard, The Hunt For Red October, Last Action Hero) was sentenced by federal judge Dale Fischer to four months in prison, he appealed the decision on the grounds his lawyer should have suppressed the recording recovered by the FBI from Pellicano’s computer. Now the appeals court has unanimously vacated his conviction and sent the case back to Fischer for an evidentiary hearing on the suppression issue.
UPDATE: Infotainment companies breathed a sigh of relief today as their stocks rallied when market indexes finished Thursday way, way up (Dow +410, S&P +50, NASDAQ +100). Now let’s see if it’s sustainable and if CBS, Disney, Viacom, News Corp and others dependent on advertising revenue can start worrying less. Today’s jump was aided by the SEC rules on naked short-selling that went into effect today and a similar crackdown announced in London. Investors also gave a big thumbs-up to a prpoposal being floated by the federal government to create a Resolution Trust Corp-type entity to take all that toxic debt off financial balance sheets. If implemented, this would ease the current credit crisis and affect Big Media in a very positive way, especially pure-play movie studios. Film financing to help them minimize risk might be reborn. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take this one day at a time.
GE (NBC Universal) rose $1.71 (+7.41%) to $24.79
Media Stocks Get Hammered Wednesday
Big Media Stocks End Tuesday Up & Down
Yes, Bloody Monday Affected Hollywood
Disney rose $1.25 (+3.88%) to $33.44
News Corp (Fox) rose $.54 (+4.23%) to $13.32
Time Warner rose $.21 (+1.53%) to $13.95
Viacom rose $1.42 (+5.79%) to $25.94
Sony Corp fell $.23 (-.72%) to $31.77 because the Nikkei index got hammered.
CBS rose $.63 (+4.19%) to $15.68
DreamWorks Animation rose $1.14 (+3.95%) to $30.00
Marvel Entertainment rose $1.81 (+5.29%) $36.00
2ND UPDATE, New Info Throughout: The Dow finished down nearly 450 points, the S&P down 57, and the NASDAQ down 109. It was one of the ugliest sessions of the past 10 days of butt ugly, with comparisons to the post-9/11 period on Wall Street. The word for Wednesday? “Deleveraging”. I’ve already written how this bottoming out has affected film financing short and long term. (Ouch, MGM, I feel your pain.) But now there’s a new worry for infotainment stocks: sinking market value.
GE (NBC Universal) fell $1.67 (-6.66%) to $23.39
Disney fell $.32 (-.98%) to $32.19
News Corp (Fox) fell $.78 (-5.75%) to $12.78
Time Warner fell $.34 (-2.41%) to $13.74
Viacom fell $1.18 (-4.59%) to $24.52
SNE fell $1.67 (-4.96%) to $32.00
CBS fell $.95 (-5.94%) to $15.05
One bright spot? The SEC is finally getting tough on naked short-selling. (See below.) Many eyes are on General Electric, the parent company of NBC Universal: its stock keeps falling because of naked short-selling after being lumped in with the embattled financials (due to GE Capital) even though this is a diversified conglomerate. Here’s why this matters: big and small investors from Main Street to Wall Street all have GE in their portfolios. I doubt there’s a pension fund that doesn’t have at least a 2% position. But as much as Jeff Immelt is pretending to carry on with business as usual, the vultures are starting to circle. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: unless and until the SEC cracks down on aggressive … Read More »
UPDATE: This was another eerily quiet day in Hollywood as everyone monitored Wall Street. The Dow fought through tremendous volatility from the moment the stock market opened 175 points down, continuing through midday, and ending 142 points up Tuesday. NBC Universal parent company GE was especially affected early in the day when it was lumped in with the embattled financials even though it’s a broadly diversified conglomerate. But shares surprisingly wound up 1.87% ahead once the Dow moved higher. Viacom was hit hardest today, falling 3.46%. How all infotainment stocks and their parent companies will be impacted by insurance giant AIG’s fate (still hanging in the balance) is anybody’s guess for later this week. Stay tuned.
Disney rose $.15 (+ 46%) to $32.51
News Corp (Fox) fell $.25 (-1.81%) to $13.56
Time Warner fell $.04 (- .28%) to $14.08
Viacom fell $.92 (-3.46%) to $25.70
CBS fell $.16 (-.99%) to $16.00
GE (NBC Universal) rose $.46 (+ 1.87%) to $25.06
Yes, Bloody Monday Affected Hollywood
UPDATED THROUGHOUT: First it was turmoil inside NBC’s fall scripted shows like Kath & Kim and My Own Worst Enemy. Now there’s trouble inside CBS’s primetime sked. I’m told that The Ex List‘s creator/showrunner Diane Ruggiero is exiting: some say she quit over creative differences, others say she was pushed to jump. In any case, executive producer Rick Eid will take over running the show. And CBS stock has been tumbling. Les Moonves this week told Wall Street what a lousy year it was for advertising, especially with the problems of U.S. automakers. But don’t cry for his beleaguered Big Media company yet: he predicted an ad turnaround in 2009.
Indeed, automotive marketers and movie studios are leading the way to help NBC sell out mid-80% of its 2009 Super Bowl XLIII ad inventory earlier than expected — including about a dozen or so advertisers who agreed to pay $3 million for a 30-second spot (as opposed to the $2.7 mil that Fox asked in 2008). And NBC claims to Ad Age it’ll set prices higher as the Tampa game date draws near. Talk about an obvious attempt to goose early ad buys. But here’s what I think is hilarious: NBC is using the Super Bowl to try and sell ad packages across its properties because NBC’s primetime is gonna stink up the joint this season.
Here’s why I know networks are preparing for the worst: because bosses like Les Moonves and Jeff Zucker keep telling business reporters that their … Read More »
UPDATE: Sentencing will take place November 17th.
Maybe Terry Christensen should have hired a real criminal attorney and not his entertainment law partner Patty Glaser who clearly got out of testifying against him by becoming his counsel. Being found guilty on one count of wiretapping and one count of criminal conspiracy means that Christensen could be jailed for as long as 10 years. This verdict is sure to shake up the entertainment legal landscape because Christensen was the managing partner at the powerhouse law firm of Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro.
Of course there’ll be an appeal, especially after the federal judge took the rare step yesterday of dismissing a juror who apparently lied about making biased statements. (Like how the defendants should be allowed to wiretap because the U.S. government does, and ”this case is a joke case” because “no one died.”) The jury foreman had asked that juror No. 7 be replaced because his mind was made up when deliberations began and he refused to take part in them. The juror himself claimed the others were angry with him because he disagreed with the majority.
Christensen and the Hollywood private eye he hired, Anthony Pellicano, were convicted of hatching a plot to intercept the telephone calls of Lisa Bonder, the ex-wife of billionaire Christensen client Kerk Kerkorian when both … Read More »
Both ex-Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano and Terry Christensen, the managing partner of the showbiz law firm Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro, are charged with wiretapping and conspiracy. Lawyers rested their cases on Friday.
My LA Weekly colleague Steven Mikulan emailed me this about Kirk Kerkorian’s 30-minute testimony today before a packed federal courtroom. Summary: Kerkorian testified that he had no knowledge of any wiretapping.
“The Las Vegas land baron and former MGM/UA owner (twice) put in a long-anticipated appearance this morning at the trial of former private investigator Anthony Pellicano and Kerkorian’s Century City entertainment attorney, Terry Christensen. The 91-year-old Kerkorian entered the courtroom in Los Angeles’ Roybal Federal Building dressed in a blue blazer, gray slacks and black loafers, and seemed to be holding his left hand, which he placed in a pocket during testimony. During his 26 minutes on the witness stand, the unsmiling billionaire admitted he was hard of hearing and not entirely sure of specific dates; at one point he checked himself while referring to the FBI as “the RAF.” (Kerkorian had flown for the Royal Air Force as a contractor during WWII.)
“Those in court expecting TV melodrama were predictably disappointed. Kerkorian had been called as a defense witness by Christensen’s attorneys to declare he had no knowledge of a plan to wiretap his former wife, and, seemingly, to confirm the implied irresponsibility of real estate heir and sometime-Hollywood player Steve Bing. In 2002, DNA obtained by Kerkorian’s security operatives, who
… Read More »
The billionaire two-time owner of MGM/UA takes the witness stand at 11 AM.