Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Garry Shandling Gives Brutal Testimony

WHAT A MORNING! Garry Shandling Gives Brutal Testimony About Brad Grey And Bert Fields At Pellicano Wiretapping Trial

Hollywood feuds were front and center at the Pellicano trial today. Accusations were flung about former Hollywood manager Brad Grey, now the chief of Paramount, and his pitbull entertainment attorney Bert Fields, during comedian Garry Shandling's testimony this AM. The prosecution succeeded in showing why Grey chose to hire Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano while at the same stirred the pot by encouraging Shandling to make a lot of nasty allegations not just about defendant Pellicano but also Grey and Fields, neither of whom are accused of any wrongdoing by the government. Late night threatening phone calls, smear campaigns in the press, forged signatures on contracts, financial hanky-panky over TV shows, phones that were bugged, illegal background checks using government databases -- these are some of the accusations which Shandling leveled. But Pellicano also scored some points when he cross-examined the comedian.

Here's Garry Shandling's testimony:

Shandling took the stand around 8:05 AM today. He looked great -- healthy and in shape (his friends say he has been devoting much of his time off to exercise and meditation recently). "He didn't look like the neurotic noodge everyone knew from before," a spectator told me. Shandling was wearing a black suit but no tie with his shirt. When asked what he did for a living, Shandling joked, "That's a bad sign. I'm a comedian." To which federal judge Dale S. Fischer responded, "Not to me, sir."

The comedian was appearing as a witness for the feds, and was questioned by assistant U.S. attorney assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Lally. Shandling established that he has known Brad Grey for 25 years, they met when Grey was 21 and Shandling was 31, and they had an 18-year relationship as client and manager. The prosecutor quickly sought to explain the feud that severed the personal and professional relationship between Shandling and Grey back in 1998-1999: finances relating to HBO's The Larry Sanders Show, which Shandling starred in and Grey produced from August 1992 to May 1998. Lally asked who owned the show. Garry replied, "This is where the troubles began."

Shandling said his accountant Warren Grant called him at home one night to inquire about a financial matter having to do with Garry and the show. "Call Brad Grey," Shandling replied. The accountant called back 10 minutes later. "I couldn't get an answer," he told the comic. Shandling said his attorney Barry Hirsch also had a very difficult time getting "any answers" from Grey.

About his business relationship with Grey, Shandling commented that "Brad said everything's on a 'need to know' basis." That's when Shandling decided that "I need to know what I don't know."

Shandling made the allegation that, as a result of his inquiries, "Brad Grey threatened me one night to make my life miserable."

The comedian said it took Hirsch three months to untangle financial matters having to do with the show. But now Hirsch and Shandling wanted to see the contracts in Grey's possession. At that point Hirsch counseled his client, "You've got to threaten a lawsuit. That's the only way you're going to get these contracts." So Shandling hired Boies, Shiller out of Washington DC because he said he wanted a law firm that wasn't located in Los Angeles [and, presumably, didn't have Hollywood client conflicts]. He testified that in 1998 he filed a lawsuit against Brad Grey for breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. Shandling claimed the reason was that Grey was getting half-ownership of the show plus a producer's fee plus Shandler's commission, plus other fees. To defend himself, Grey hired Bert Fields of Greenberg Glusker.

Then the prosecutor asked Shandling if he knew Pellicano was on board working against him. The comedian said yes -- and claimed that 5 yrs earlier Brad Grey had told him that, "With Bert Fields, you get Anthony Pellicano." Shandling went on to explain that his friend, security expert Gavin De Becker, immediately recommended they do a "bug sweep" of Shandlings' phones "because of 'Bert Fields' reputation."

Shandling alleged that "they [presumably Brad Grey and/or Bert Fields and/or Anthony Pellicano] began a spin campaign to destroy my reputation by planting stories in newspapers that amounted to character assassination. It was a spiritual test." Shandling turned to the jury and spoke about "The creep factor. It's a feeling that's hard to communicate when you read articles about yourself that aren't accurate. I put up with a lot of pain and soul-searching to get through it."

Shandling said he used to take walks and talk about the case with his confidante, former Saturday Night Live comic Kevin Nealon, another Brad Grey client.

At this point, Lally brought out Exhibit #300, so Shandling put on his reading glasses to look over several sheets of 1999 government law enforcement database printouts on individuals connected to Shandling. The name of LAPD Sgt. Mark Arneson, one of Pellicano's co-defendants in the trial, is all over the pages "This bothers me as much as the first time this was shown to me," Shandling tells the courtroom. Among the names being investigated are his assistant Marianna Grant, his accountant Warren Grant, his former fiance Linda Doucett, and Kevin Nealon and his then wife Linda. [The feds' trial memo said Gavin De Becker was also investigated.]

The prosecutor asked Shandling if at that time he was still friends with Doucett and whether they were in touch. [Fans of the The Larry Sanders Show will remember her as busty blonde Darlene Chapinni, secretary to sidekick Hank "Hey Now!" Kingsley. She was also Shandling's then real-life girlfriend. Doucett was fired when they broke up, and she filed two lawsuits against him, Brad Grey and the show. But Shandling and Doucett became friends afterwards.] The comic replied that Doucett called him complaining "I'm getting weird calls from Brad Grey late at night."

The prosecutor returned to the investigations list, and Shandling complained again. "It continues to bother me as I go down this list. It's a creepy feeling."

After 30-plus minutes of questioning by the prosecutor, Shandling at 8:39 AM faced cross-examination by Anthony Pellicano, who is defending himself. The former P.I. mumbled "Good morning," but Shandling didn't return the greeting. Pellicano's tone was neither respectful nor affable nor argumentative. One spectator described it as "dry".

Pellicano immediately asked Shandling whether Gavin De Becker found any taps or bugs when the phones were swept. Shandling said no. The comedian also testified that there was no written report made about any bugging of his phones and that the sweep was done only once.

"Did you have knowledge that Anthony Pellicano was involved?" the P.I. asked, referring to himself in the third person [which Pellicano is doing frequently in court].

Replied Shandling, "To my knowledge, Anthony Pellicano did that press campaign because a few reporters mentioned it to me."

"Can you name the reporters?" Pellicano asked.

"Anita Busch," Said Shandling, referring to the entertainment journalist who alleges in a civil lawsuit that she was threatened, investigated and wiretapped on Pellicano's orders.

"Can you name another?" Pellicano pressed.

"No," Shandling replied.

"What did Anita Busch say?" Pellicano queried.

Responded Shandling, "She didn't elaborate."

Then Pellicano asked Shandling about his contracts with Brad Grey. "Did you sign these contracts?"

Shandling then made explosive accusations against Grey. "Some [presumably the signatures on the contracts] were forged. Others were signed by Brillstein Grey [management company] employees. Others were signed under misrepresentation."

The P.I. asked Shandling if he'd had a successful career.

"I don't think in those terms," the comic replied.

"When did your career take a monumental change?" Pellicano queried.

"When I hosted The Tonight Show," Shandling said.

"Subsequent to that, what other monumental changes took place in your life," pellicano pressed.

Replied Shandling, "I consider monumental to be a word you use only once. You want more than one monumental time?"

"Well, didn't Brad Grey get you this show?" asked Pellicano, referring to The Larry Sanders Show.

"The Larry Sanders Show was sold over the phone with [then HBO chief] Michael Fuchs in a 13-episode deal," Shandling answered.

"What was Brad Grey's role in this?" Pellicano continued.

"He didn't say anything until I sold the show. And then he said, 'I'll take half," Shandling replied.

Eight minutes later, at 8:47 AM, Pellicano was finished with the cross-examination, and Shandling left the courtroom. The feds helped him enter and leave the Roybal building without being photographed by the pack of media waiting outside with their cameras and microphones.

Linda Doucett will take the witness stand for the feds on Tuesday March 18th.

(My thanks to LA Weekly's Steven Mikulan who's phoning updates from the trial to DHD.)

ThURSDAY 2 PM UPDATE: Brad Grey just issued this statement: "I am extremely saddened by Garry’s recollection of events dating back more than a decade. His representation is very different than what I remember and what I know to be true. Garry and I had a long personal and professional relationship, which frankly ended when he hired [Washington DC litigator] David Boies, and sued me and Brillstein Grey [the Hollywood management and production company] for $100 million. His actions forced us to hire our own lawyer -- Bert Fields -- and our friendship was overtaken by a legal process that was directed by lawyers and which ended with an equitable settlement. Even though we haven’t spoken since that time, he remains one of the most talented people I have known and I wish him only the best."

Posted by Nikki Finke on Thursday, Mar 13th, 2008

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