Hillary's Private Eye Arrested in Reporter Intimidation Case
I found this on a Rush Limbaugh newsgroup:
A California private detective who worked to discredit Clinton Sexgate accusers Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers has been arrested in connection with attempts to intimidate a reporter for the Los Angeles Times after the FBI caught him with an arsenal of explosives.
Anthony J. Pellicano was arrested Thursday after a search of his office by a dozen FBI agents turned up an "array of explosives," reported New York's Daily News on Saturday.
In February, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton was alleged to have hired Pellicano in 1992 in an attempt to discredit Gennifer Flowers' claims of a twelve year affair with Mr. Clinton.
The episode bears an eerie resemblance to the account of Clinton sex-accuser Sally Perdue, who told the London Telegraph in 1994 that after she was threatened with physical violence, her car windshield was broken and spent shotgun shell was left on the seat. Perdue abruptly relocated to China a few months after talking to the Telegraph, shortly after Paula Jones sued Mr. Clinton for sexual harassment.
Though Pellicano's name never surfaced in connection with Perdue's allegations, he reportedly played a key role in attempts to discredit both Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers.
Four days after the Lewinsky story broke in Jan. 1998, ex-Lewinsky boyfriend Andy Bleiler came forward with the claim that she had stalked him. The Washington state school teacher also contended that Lewinsky wanted to become a White House intern so she could perform oral sex on then-President Clinton. "I'm going to Washington to get my presidential knee pads," Bleiler's lawyer, Terry Giles, quoted Lewinsky as saying.
"Anthony Pellicano, the L.A.-based private investigator and O.J. defense team veteran [was] responsible for digging up Andy Bleiler," the New York Post's Andrea Peyser reported days later.
Sexgate provocatuer Lucianne Goldberg told Peyser that Pellicano's services were bought and paid for by the Clinton White House. When Peyser confronted the Los Angeles private detective with Goldberg's claim, he didn't deny it. "You're a smart girl. No comment," Pellicano told the Post reporter.
Digging up Bleiler's "presidential kneepads" story wasn't the first time Pellicano had gone to bat for the Clintons. According to Ron Kessler's 1995 best-seller, "Inside the White House," Clinton's first presidential campaign relied on Pellicano's expertise in the field of audio analysis to discredit Gennifer Flowers' smoking gun tapes. "The Clinton camp made much of the fact that Anthony J. Pellicano, an expert on audio recording analysis, had told the press that a twelve-minute portion of the tape of conversations between Flowers and Clinton had been 'selectively edited' at two points," Kessler reported.
To counter Pellicano's claims, Flowers submitted her recordings to Truth Verification Labs, which found them to be 100 percent authentic. In 1999 Flowers filed a defamation suit against Clinton campaign officials James Carville and George Stephanopoulos - along with then-first lady Hillary Clinton - based on their attempts to use Pellicano's analysis to discredit her.
During a February court appearance, the head of Flowers' legal team, Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman, told the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, "Anthony Pellicano was a private investigator hired by Mrs. Clinton herself. And he's the one who did the analysis of the tapes."
Of the more than two dozen media reports on Pellicano's Thursday arrest so far, none have mentioned his ties to the Clinton attack machine.
Anita Busch - One Woman Mafia
Bernie writes: Busch is behind the demise of some of the town's biggest assholes: George Christy, Mike Ovitz, Steven Seagal and Anthony Pellicano. The girl has chutzpah. She goes after the bullies. What's not to like?
Southland Jews Debate Criticism of Israeli Policies
From LA Times: "A group of prominent Jewish intellectuals in Southern California is urging the American Jewish community to "reopen the channels of free debate," asserting that the prolonged Mideast crisis has created growing intolerance here for criticism of the Israeli government or compassion for the Palestinian people."
So I was reading over the ad and I noticed it was deceptive. In the third sentence it reads "We are Zionists..."
This petition was started by Professor David Myers who in his shul about a year ago told me he was no Zionist and that he was writing a book about the end of Zionism. Dr. Myers is way on the left.
Investigative Reporter David Hoffman
I recently made the acquaintance of journalist David Hoffman. He emailed me Friday:
Here are a few paragraphs from Hoffman's new book Murdergate! The Presidency, The U.S Government, and the Politics of Murder:
And the message Clinton and Bush have sent to their political opponents, is that if you are a threat to them, you will be silenced, perhaps permanently. In fact, the number of people allegedly killed to cover the Clintons tracks alone currently tops 50.
As shocking as that may seem, scandals involving murder, even on a scale as large as those marked by the Clinton administration, are not new. Under the Reagan/Bush administrationsùin the wake of the Iran-Contra scandalùhundreds of people involved in the CIA/NSC's illegal gun and drug running were quickly and quietly dispatched.
Out of roughly 5,000 of us who were originally involved in Iran-Contra, said Al Martin, who worked for General Richard Secord, approximately 400, since 1986, have committed suicide, died accidentally or died of natural causes. In over half those deaths, official death certificates were never issued. In 187 circumstances, the bodies were cremated before the families were notified. It was simply the CIA, George Bush [Sr] and pals cleaning house.
Where's The Love?
Hey guys, how about some love for scooping the LA Times by ten days on the Steven Seagal - Anthony Pellicano story? Remember, I'm doing this for all of us so we can date a better class of woman.
Khunrum writes: You da man Luke. Of course you know you have always been our hero...right guys? Let's all give Luke a Cyber Hug....
I don't want to date a better class of women. I love trollops, but thanks anyway. Keep it uncomplicated I say.
Still To Come In The Steven Seagal, Anthony Pellicano Investigation
I kep hearing about Robert Booth Nichols, a suspect in the 1991 murder of journalist Danny Casolaro? Journalist John Connolly writes about Nichols in his profile of Steven Seagal in the August 1993 issue of Spy magazine:
"One of the technical advisers on the set of Under Siege was Robert Booth Nichols, who has been identified in federal wiretaps as associating with the Gambino family. [See The Fine Print, Spy, July 1989] A retired Navy captain named Joseph John who was a technical adviser on the same movie -responsible for securing use of the U.S.S. Missouri for the movie - described Seagal and Nichols as "ass-hole buddies"; Seagal even cast Nichols in a tiny role."
According to John Connolly, the one person who had openly threatened Casolaro's life days before he died was Robert Booth Nichols.
From the book 'Virtual Government' by Alex Constantine pp.52-54, Mafia dons found lifelong friends in Hollywood (from mihr.org): "The wiretaps led the FBI to a self-described CIA asset, Robert Booth Nichols... Nichols, under oath, has described himself as an eccentric entrepreneur and intelligence genius."
David Guyatt writes: "Paul Wilcher was investigating possible government involvement in the October Surprise and the Inslaw PROMIS story. By May 1993 he told friends that his information had gone "beyond" Casolaro, and acknowledged fear for his life On 23 June 1993, he was found dead in the bathroom of his apartment. Wilcher's investigation records are missing. Unusually, FBI and CIA personnel were quickly on the scene. As with Casolaro, Wilcher's bathroom was thoroughly cleaned the next day. His body was cremated before identification was independently confirmed, and without complete forensic examination."
LAT's Kevin Thomas Loses It At A Screening
This story is a typical example of the smug arrogance of many members of the Los Angeles Times.
David Poland writes a great column today at Hot Button. He describes attending a screening Thursday for the movie To End All Wars:
[Los Angeles Times' second reviewer behind Kenneth Turan] Kevin [Thomas]... had a fit. The producer was there and was gently trying to intro the movie. But Kevin wasn’t listening. “Where’s the publicist?!?!”
The producer meekly explained that the publicist was supposed to be there, but maybe she was stuck in traffic and…
“I’m Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times and I was promised that there would be notes here when I arrived!!! I want you to call that publicist before you start the screening!”
Ron Brewington turns around and tells Kevin to, “Shut up!” And then they got into it. I thought for a second there that Ron was going to get up and beat Kevin. But the exchange just got a little more heated. “I’m not going to shut up!” “Who cares… ‘I am from the L.A. Times’"
After the film ended and I sat through most of the credits, I left. Kevin sat with his feet up in the upholstered seats on Jimmy Stewart 24 and looked old and cranky and smug.
I did a google.com advanced search on Poland's history of comments on Kevin Thomas:
David Poland writes: "And in serious trouble of being mistaken for a hack, we have Kevin Thomas of the L.A. Times, who is quoted this week as calling Orgazmo "Outrageous" and Solider, "Spectacular. A potent action-adventure fantasy.""
David Poland writes: "[Teaching] Mrs. Tingle was a film I expected to be able to skip out on. That is, until I read Kevin Thomas' open-mouth, tongue wriggling wet kiss of a review in Friday's L.A. Times. I mean, hey, I'm glad you liked the movie. But, Williamson's "knockout directorial debut?" A "shrewd and energetic dark comedy?" And "Teaching Mrs. Tingle reveals Williamson not only to be as accomplished a director as he is a writer but also his willingness to move beyond horror to psychological suspense?" Is that a publicist in your pants or are you just happy to see the movie? Good God! I thought I would force this movie on myself, but after the box office returns and the ongoing flood of negative comments about the film, I'm probably going to side step Kevin's kiss."
David Poland writes: "How did Miramax get the L.A. Times to send second-stringer and well-known softballer Kevin Thomas to both Chocolat and Malèna? I understand Malèna, which is kind of a throw-away movie. But Miramax is hard-core serious about an Oscar run for Chocolat, and Kevin Thomas’s imprimatur is not going to cut it around here."
David Poland found it curious that one of the two positive reviews for Pearl Harbor comes from Kevin Thomas. "Why was it scary? Because Kevin, nice guy that he is, is the second string reviewer at the Times and generally is put onto small movies or big movies that the paper wants a positive review for."
Was the Times compensating for Kenneth Turan's personal attack on director James Cameron in Turan's Titanic review?
David Poland writes: "...Kevin Thomas, who is not a quote whore, but who is very, very friendly."
LA Times Catches Up To Scoop Luke
Matt Lait and Scott Glover write in the 11/22/02 LA Times:
A man charged with threatening a Los Angeles Times reporter who was researching the relationship between Steven Seagal and an alleged Mafia associate told an informant for the FBI that Seagal was behind the threat, according to court documents.
Alexander Proctor, a 59-year-old ex-convict charged with threatening reporter Anita Busch, allegedly told the informant during secretly recorded conversations that he had been hired to carry out the threat by Anthony Pellicano, known as the private detective to the stars. [I reported most of this 11/13. I know the name of the informant, a man with ties to the Russian mob.]
According to the FBI, Proctor told the informant that Seagal had hired Pellicano to threaten the reporter. "He wanted to make it look like the Italians were putting the hit on her so it wouldn't reflect on Seagal," Proctor told the informant, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by an FBI agent assigned to the case.
On Thursday, more than a dozen FBI agents searched Pellicano's West Hollywood office. An FBI spokesman, Matt McLaughlin, said Pellicano had been arrested in connection with what appeared to be explosive materials discovered in his office during the search. He is expected to appear before a federal magistrate today, McLaughlin said. [I named Pellicano a suspect 11/13 and wrote that he had close ties to Proctor.]
One federal law enforcement source close to the case said that "at this time, other than Proctor's uncorroborated statements, there is no independent evidence that Seagal was involved in the threat made to the reporter." The source added that investigators were still assessing Proctor's credibility and possible motives.
An attorney for Seagal said his client had no involvement in the June 20 threat against the reporter, who woke up that morning and found a dead fish, a rose and a note attached to her car windshield, which had been punctured. The note was a one-word message: "Stop."
Before he was handcuffed, Pellicano declined to comment. As a celebrity sleuth with a star-studded clientele, he has cultivated a tough-guy image: He hands out paperweights to reporters saying, "Sometimes ... you just have to play hardball."
Proctor, who was being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles without bail, has pleaded not guilty in the case. His attorney, Victor Cannon, could not be reached for comment.
According to court documents, Proctor told the informant that he owed Pellicano $14,000 and agreed to intimidate Busch for $10,000. But after the job was done, Proctor said, "they" were so pleased with his work that Pellicano agreed to wipe out his remaining debt.
Proctor allegedly told the informant that he was supposed to "blow up" Busch's car as a warning so she would stop reporting on the story about Seagal. But he said it would have been too difficult to set her car ablaze, because she lived near an apartment complex. He said Busch also had a neighbor who stayed up late at night, and he was apparently afraid he would be seen.
In the end, Proctor allegedly told the informant that he bought the fish and rose and placed them on Busch's car, putting a bullet hole in the windshield and taping the cardboard sign to it.
After Busch's car was vandalized, she told authorities she thought the incident was related to her investigative work on an article about Seagal and his former producing partner, Julius Nasso, who had a bitter business fallout with the film star.
According to federal authorities, Nasso is an associate of the Gambino crime family. He was indicted earlier this year, along with other reputed mob figures, in connection with a plot to extort money from Seagal. He has pleaded not guilty.
Seagal is scheduled to testify next year as a prosecution witness at the trials of several alleged mobsters and Nasso in Brooklyn. Last month, Nasso's attorney alleged in a court document that Seagal might have been involved in the threat against Busch, and that could reflect on the actor's credibility as a witness.
Proctor's taped statements to the informant are detailed in a 21-page application for a search warrant [to search Proctor's residence].
According to the FBI, the agency's informant was facing criminal charges of his own, including mail fraud, at the time he agreed to cooperate with the investigation of Proctor.
The day after Busch's car was vandalized, the informant called the reporter, saying he knew who was responsible. He said Proctor at that time told him he had vandalized the car and was working for guys "back East" who were ruthless and wanted Busch to back off her story.
The informant then agreed to wear a concealed recording device while trying to coax out more details about the plot from Proctor.
During a July 3 meeting with the informant, Proctor reportedly said he had actually carried out the threats against Busch on behalf of Seagal, not ruthless men from back East.
According to the court documents, Proctor talked to Pellicano on several occasions. There is no indication in the documents that he ever met with Seagal.
According to prosecutors, Proctor is an ex-convict with burglary and narcotics-related convictions. He is charged with interfering with commerce by threats of violence. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Dear David, Please Answer Me
Khunrum writes: Luke, why is your friend so silent? He seems to have much to say on his site?
Dear [Hot Button] David.. Khun Man here (again). If you recall I sent you an E mail the other day which went unanswered. I didn't think my question was intrusive or out of line. I merely asked if you made any money from your site. Well, I guess you don't want to answer that one. Let's try again..... David, Is your site affiliated with a sanctioned news-gathering organization or is this something you do on your own? BTW Do you make any money from this endeavor? Thanks David. Please answer this one. I can't learn anything if you won't answer.
Luke says: David is probably a little sensitive about some of the anti-Semitic characterizations made of him on this site and that's why he hasn't answered you. Also, unlike me, who gets about five emails a day, David gets about 100 a day, and almost all of them are from people working in Hollywood.
Khunrum, David is all about The Work. He's not in this for money. He doesn't like talking about money, particularly not with strangers. He is not yet fully acquainted with the Luke Ford Advisory Committee, of which you are an integral part.
David writes the Hot Button out of love though there are plans to turn it into a money-making operation next year through advertising (studio and otherwise). Blogs and column like Hot Button and LaExaminer.com are loss leaders. They don't bring in as much money as they cost in opportunity cost, but they are a way of getting yourself out there and possibly bringing in paying work.
I got a call from producer Alex Rose yesterday wondering who "Khunrum" was. I did my best to explain but it was all for naught.
The LA Times rakes in a ton of studio advertising and in exchange is gentle and boring in its coverage. Hard-hitting journalists like myself and Poland don't find it as easy to cash in.
Khunrum writes: I spend a lot of time trying to figure out who Chaim Amalek is. When I'm not doing that I wonder who I am. It's a lost cause...
David Poland writes Khunrum: "What is it you want to learn? The Hot Button started on TNT's roughcut.com site and it has been mine independently since February 2001. I now sell advertising on a very selective basis. Does that do it for you?"
Who Is The Smutty Mind Behind Movie City News?
After finishing my afternoon prayers, I surfed over to Movie City News and found a veritable smorgasboard of smuty link to sexually suggestive stories. Whoever is behind this dirty site, they are staying anonymous, probably out of shame of their lascivious predilections. Here are the four top links on the right column: The Vagina Line At The NY Times, Funny Nazis Hit Germany Monitor, Christian Science Monitor, Two Towers Sex Scene - Oops!
Notice how this wicked mind runs together vagina, sex, Nazis and Christianity so as to suggest a moral equivalence between them. Lukeford.net maintains a flaming sword between vaginas and Nazis.
I have my sneaking suspicion of the identity of the author of this site given the prominent link to the Hot Button.
XXX writes: movie city news is really great though the layout sucks. He should just do a more outrageous looking site to emphasize what's worth reading, like mensnewsdaily.com. That's a better example of how to do what he's doing.
Why do LA Times reporters and editors trash Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York movie in private conversation yet praise it when they talk to Miramax publicists?
Miramax gave advance screenings to the LA Times and Variety journalists and critics because these writers are safe aka spineless wimps. But they won't give an advance screening to manly men like Jeffrey Wells who might rip the living Allah out of it.
Fischel writes: "You seem to portray Jeffrey as a Man's Man; David "Hot Button" Poland as a tool of the bourgeousie studios. Of course, you have also taken great pains to inform us that the former is a sturdy gentile with "whipcord thighs", the latter a rotund and dark but clever rich Jew. Are you not being a tad anti-Semitic here, Luke? Accurate or not, your characterizations play into certain anti-Semitic stereotypes that have vexed my people for many years. Please take greater care not to serve those interests that do not serve our interests."
Luke says: Well, while David Poland was spending last weekend in the lap of publicist luxury, hobnobbing with Hollywood gedolim, Jeffrey, the token Gentile among elite movie columnists, was riding his bike in a manly way into a gutter and falling and injuring himself in a gory bloody way, which he shrugged off like the rock-ribbed WASP he is.
Luke says: I've seen the light. I was too hasty and too harsh, too often and too much, with Miss Busch. And I'm very sorry.
Manhattan Girl writes: Did Anita Busch settle your grievance with the kind of thing that makes studio execs roll over? (A true Luke Ford question.) You have certainly become her biggest defender on earth. It's like you converted to Anita-ism.
NiceJewishGirl writes: "Luke, sweetie, that is so awful about Anita! Message to Steven Seagal and company: Who is your audience for Seagal films? Women like Me and My Friends! And you know what? I'm gonna wipe the web with your ass! I'm going to go over to the StevenSeagal.com site and post on those message boards. I want you to know that I LIKED Seagal, and you BETTER APOLOGIZE TO Anita! You better leave Luke ALONE!!! I'm going to go over to my friends on other sites and TELL THEM WHAT YOU DID!! YOU HAD NO RIGHT TO TOUCH HER!!! You know what, I'm a tougher fighter than Luke, I will kick your ass if I ever see you! I'm gonna go on those message boards and you are going to be sorry!! People think of me in this town as a Courtney Love type, you bet! You better leave him alone you scumbag! I am not afraid of you or your brothers! Lukey are you allright? Kiss kiss..."
NYT writes Luke: "I tried to read your story but it's all background. Where's the scoop? What's the scoop? Next time put it in the lead, like a real journalist."
Rabbi Gadol Endorses Luke's Moral Character
Rabbi Gadol writes: "All of my congregants are expected to behave themselves blamelessly, leading sober, righteous and G-dly lives. There is to be no leaning at prayers. There is to be no lying, blasphemy, fornication, drunkenness, wenching or picking locks."
Luke Adams says: The dutiful son of a preacher, I have succumbed to neither gambling, drinking or riotous living, and am therefore welcome in shuls around Los Angeles.
The appeal of young women, however, is to me exceedingly strong. I am of an amorous disposition. Since an early age, I've been most fond of the society of females. Yet I keep myself in rein.
I've had my favorites among them and spent many an evening in their company and this disposition, although controlled, engaged me too much until I was fully observant of the Torah. I will give no enumeration of my youthful flames. It would be considered no compliment to the dead or to the living.
I will say that all Jewish women I've known are modest and virtuous girls and have always maintained that character through life. No virgin or matron had cause to blush at the sight of me or to regret her acquaintance with me. No father, brother or son ever had cause for any grief for any intercourse between me and any daughter or mother or any other relation of the fairer sex.
Who Betrayed Anita Busch?
Los Angeles Times journalist Anita Busch was going along like normal, digging into a story about Julius Nasso and star Steven Seagal. Then June 20th, Anita got threatened with death.
Someone burned Anita. She asked a question of someone close to Seagal and the next thing she knows, she's threatened.
One of Anita's key sources is Phil Goldfine, the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Steven Seagal's Steamroller Productions.
Phillip B. Goldfine, former senior VP at Tri-Mark television and feature film buyer for New Line Cinema and Fox Broadcasting Co., makes $175,000 a year (according to documents in the Nasso vs. Seagal lawsuit) working for Steven Seagal setting up foreign sales deals. Phil knows a lot of stuff that he plays innocent on. He's a big Anita Busch source. Phil wanted to get out of Seagal's camp when Seagal changed from Nasso to Danny Provenzano.
Goldfine and Anita Busch are close. He may have parlayed the wrong information to the wrong person. Anita says she was attacked out of the blue. I think she gave the wrong information to someone in Seagal's camp (I have no evidence it was Goldfine) who then betrayed her and may have ordered the attack.
Kurt Cobain Diaries
Kurt Cobain wrote: "I like to make incisions into the belly of infants then fuck the incisions until the child dies."
MattWelch.com opines: "The Wall Street Journal ran a particularly useless column today about the disturbing content of Kurt Cobain’s diaries (to be more precise, it was about the devious media cover-up of the disturbing content of Kurt Cobain’s diaries). Tony Pierce’s rebuttal is not for the weak of heart … or maybe it’s precisely for the weak of heart, or at least for people who find the personal journals of great dead artists reasons to slander them anew."
Luke replies: "It's hilarious to consider some drugged out rocker a great artist. Matt, when you have kids, you will have to grow up and out of your cultural anarchism. Kurt Cobain et al don't seem nearly as amusing and provocative once you have to take on adult responsibilities. Cultural pollution is a far greater threat to our society than air pollution, from the perspective of us conservatives."
David writes MattWelch.com: "Artist should not given a free pass for making the best rock album. Culture does influence people. Artists DO influence people. France not only hates us because we had to save their ass, they hate us because our culture has a tremendous influence over theirs – to a point where they legislate against its adaptation. And artists do not just stick to art - they want to use their position within the culture to influence the culture. And they don’t just stop at recommending what music we should listen to. Sharandon wants me to be a lefty socialist. Lennon would want me to just hug saddam and say “give peace a chance”. Madonna wants women to sleep around. These are VALUE statements matt – not artistic statements. Artists want acclaim, and then they get their acclaim, they want to TRANSFER it so they can influence me. Hey…it is a free country. I just don’t think the artist is free from condemnation."
Khunrum writes Tony Pierce: "Are we to believe that Cobain was a genius because he sold millions of records? He wrote some great rock tunes but that doesn't make him anything more than a musician, a high school drop out and a confused individual. John Lennon wrote some great tunes but then he decided he'd go into politics. Mark David Chapman realizing Lennon was a phony (and no possessions too) blew him away. "Hey, John Let's share your possessions. Can I have the Bentley this weekend" ...NO? Bam!....After the Attica Prison Riots John and Yoko wrote a ditty (I am paraphrasing) "Put the judges in prison and set the convicts free"...Every time Chapman goes up for parole the Yokster lobbies to keep him safely tucked away....Musicians should supply the public with good music. Actors should turn in a good performance. Other than that I am not interested in hearing their political or social opinions."
A Lukeford.net Mission Statement
I want to know who was behind the threats to entertainment journalists Anita Busch (June 20) of the Los Angeles Times and Ned Zeman from Vanity Fair (on August 28).
On June 20th, Anita Busch's windshield was smashed in with a hammer. A bomb squad was called out and part of San Vicente Boulevard was shut down while they investigated.
On June 21, a snitch called Anita and told her that Alexander Proctor, an associate of Anthony Pellicano, smashed her windshield. The snitch told Anita that some scary guys had hired Proctor to intimidate her. Anita became deathly afraid and started making calls.
Anita called the FBI and gave them the name of the snitch. The FBI then talk to the snitch and it was on the basis of a recording of Alexander Proctor boasting about threatening Busch that Proctor was eventually arrested and jailed.
Busch's LA Times editors told her to go stay in different hotels and not to use her regular computer. Why? Because the bad guys purportedly after her were purportedly connected with the FBI.
Yes, the head guy of the FBI's West Coast operation, Ron Eider, is good friends with Steven Seagal, according to New York defense attorney Barry Levin. Eider has had Seagal over to his house. Eider and Seagal play golf together. Eider is star struck by Seagal. Eider shows Seagal off like Steven is his cupie doll.
According to Barry Levin, Eider told the FBI's New York office not to believe anything negative about Steven Seagal. According to Levin, Eider told Phil Scalia, who's running the FBI's investigation of the waterfront, "Hands off Steve. He's a good guy. He's one of us. We vouch for Steven. We take Seagal at face value."
So Anita Busch is scared out of her mind that the FBI is protecting Steven Seagal and possibly bugging her telephone and monitoring her computer and her emails. And this is the same FBI, who did such a great job protecting us September 11th, and took over the investigation of the threats to Busch from the LAPD Organized Crime division.
According to Seagal's attorney Marty Singer, Steven Seagal is a federal agent. With which branch? I dunno. Perhaps the EPA? Seagal played an EPA agent in one movie. Seagal pals around with federal agents and has long claimed to have done work for the CIA.
Seagal has all kinds of gun permits. Being a federal agent would allow him to have those. There are many things you can do as a sworn federal agent.
Stanley Ornellas is an FBI agent who's been tracking an Israeli-led Ecstasy ring with ties to the Russian Mob. Ornellas was brought on to investigate the Busch threat. His boss is Eider, who's buddies with Seagal. So Ornellas doesn't want to investigate Seagal, but he has evidence that he needs to investigate Seagal's camp as being the possible origin of the threats to Busch and Zeman. So how serious an investigation is Ornellas going to do of his boss's buddy?
I fear this whole thing will get swept under the rug and Proctor will take the rap and he won't reveal who hired him.
Reporters have had their lives threatened for doing their job and nobody cares except me. Nobody else seems to be digging into this story but me. I'm not very good but I'm all there appears to be.
The FBI wants to concentrate on their ecstasy investigation in Canoga Park and their New York waterfront investigation and they don't really care that journalists get threatened.
Anita Busch resigned from investigating Seagal and she wants nothing to do with any journalistic investigation of who threatened her. She wants her nightmare to end. Zeman has moved on to other stories.
Says Barry Levin: "Anita Busch just washed her hands of the whole thing. She was so scared and so upset that she just wants nothing to do with this. She doesn't want to pursue the criminal charges either. She doesn't care. She just wants to be left alone."
The FBI is investigating a high profile private detective about the threats to Anita Busch and an arrest in imminent, according to a source at the Department of Justice. I wonder if this high profile private detective is Anthony Pellicano?
Attorney Don Re wanted to represent Proctor but the DOJ told Re he couldn't because of his ties to Pellicano.
A lot of journalists have come to bad ends from messing with people like Steven Seagal and Robert Nichols Booth and Anthony Pellicano. And nobody gets punished for it.
Nichols was a suspect in the 1991 murder of journalist Danny Casolaro.
Alexander Proctor, charged with threatening Busch, is not cooperating, which is why he's been denied bail.
JMT writes: Steven Seagal is a federal agent? Uh, yeah. Just like this guy was . . . .
A Shout From New York
Cool girl from Manhattan writes: I just heard about your site from a friend of mine at the LA Times. You're wrong about Anita Busch. She is not a paranoid freak. Some bad stuff has happened to her. Why don't you lay off her and go after a real scum sucking writer...somebody like Tina Brown!
Luke Gets Fax From A friend of the First Amendment
Dear Luke Ford: Just a quick mention about the journalist John Connolly and the posting that linked your readers to the site run by Arnold Schwarzennegar's foundation. Arnold is upset with John Connolly over the Premiere article. I"m sure one of Arnold's "People", i.e., Marty Singer, the press lawyer for Arnold and Steven Seagal, fed documents critical of John Connolly to Arnold's web site.
I know John Connolly. I believe he is reliable investigative journalist. Vanity Fair believes he's reliable, or they would have never used him on the Steven Seagal story.
You've been treading on dangerous ground lately. You're starting to get into the real reason why Alex Proctor hasn't had to admit who hired him to go after Anita Busch. Proctor is like one of those Cubans who broke into the Watergate office complex in 1972, and you're the night watchman who found the office door jimmied. When the shit storm lands on your head, don't say I didn't tell ya to watch yer ass. I salute you for being the last journalist to stand up to thugs who want to silence journalists, but is your life worth it? Sign me, A friend of the First Amendment.
Bad Things Happen To Journalists Who Mess With Anthony Pellicano
Journalist Stuart Goldman writes on tabloidbaby.com: The Enquirer's chief goon, Anthony Pellicano, ("The Nation's Most Publicized Private Investigator") began a nonstop campaign to hound [Rod] Lurie, [Gavin] de Becker and myself. Pellicano was right out of a bad Fifties B-movie. He loved to do the good cop/bad cop bit. He threatened, he bullied, he wheedled, he cajoled. (At one point, Pellicano sent me a personal check as "hush" money to keep me from incriminating the Enquirer.) When I changed my private telephone number -- which I did frequently -- he'd call just to let me know he'd made the new number (Pellicano enjoyed a rep and expert bug/wire man).
On March 11 [1990?], Rod Lurie was riding his bicycle near his home in Pasadena. An unmarked car (no plates) drove up behind him, suddenly sped up, and whacked Lurie fifty feet into space. The bicycle was instant scrap, and Lurie wound up in the hospital with two broken ribs and a busted back.
When I called him after the accident, Lurie was resolute: "It was no accident," he said hoarsely. "That car hit me on purpose. There's absolutely no doubt about it ... I saw the the guy veer over and go right for me."
I asked him if he had any idea who was behind it."Lemme put it like this," Lurie said. "The tabloids warned me if I didn't back off I'd be sorry. I think they just made good on their threat."
LIKE ALEXANDER PROCTOR, the man jailed for allegedly threatening LA Times reporter Anita Busch, Pellicano is an electronic eavesdropping specialist:
From forensicaudio.com: "Anthony Pellicano is none other than the nation's foremost forensic expert on tape recordings. His expertise proved crucial in sparing automaker John Z. De Lorean from a new career manufacturing license plates. Pellicano also helped expose the infamous eighteen-minute gap on the Nixon Watergate tapes and the extra gunshots during the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas. His expertise is all but irrefutable in a court of law.
"[T]he term forensic audio was coined by Pellicano, who pioneered work in this revolutionary field more than twenty years ago. Pellicano's laboratory in Los Angeles a dazzling array of computers, spectrum analyzers and other electronic gadgets is generally regarded as the finest in the country, rivaling those of top law enforcement and intelligence agencies."
No Nookie For Nimoy
From the New York Press, Mike Dojc writes:
It was 9:30 a.m. when the phone rang and Leonard Nimoy introduced himself. He was just winding up a 16-city tour for his photo book, Shekhina. Shekhina is filled with eerily beautiful black-and-white photos of women in various states of undress, draped in tefillin and tallis–Jewish prayer accouterments normally worn by men. It’s quite a bold statement and has raised some controversy in more conservative Jewish communities.
I was to be interviewing Nimoy for a men’s magazine, Ramp, as well as a Canadian women’s magazine, Pursuit. The interview had been arranged with Nimoy’s book publicist and his personal assistant. His call came on cue.
Then I asked my second question:
"Was part of your thinking at the time you took up photography that this might be a good way to pick up women?"
I was hoping for a laugh, or at least a witty, sharp-tongued response. What I got instead was a burst of anger.
"Are you kidding me?" he fired back. "What kind of magazine is this? Is this a nudie magazine?"
Startled, I could only murmur a no.
"Well, why are you asking me about picking up women?" he went on. "What kind of insulting question is that?"
Nimoy hung up.
Nimoy’s publicist [wrote]: "Leonard Nimoy is a serious artist, eager to discuss a project that means a great deal to him, and your question was trite and rude," she wrote me. "Had you done your research, you would have known that he was happily married."
The Bachelor Climaxes 11/20 At 9PM On ABC
It's interesting to compare and contrast the LA Times' by the number profile of The Bachelor producer Mike Fleiss with the more thoughtful New York Times front page story on the spate of humiliation television by Alessandra Stanley: "Humiliation is the unifying principle behind reality shows like "The Bachelor," which ends its second season on Wednesday."
The New York Times is a consistently deeper and more thoughtful publication than its West Coast counterpart. The contrast is particularly dramatic when you compare the NYT's Sunday magazine, which is consistently fascinating, and the lightweight LAT version.
From the LA Times, 11/20/02:
Born in 1964, TV producer Mike Fleiss' second cousin is Heidi Fleiss, the infamous ex-Hollywood madam.
Fleiss has produced such TV shows as "The Bachelor," "Before They Were Stars," "Million Dollar Mysteries," "Battle of the Child Geniuses," and "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire." That Fox special drew great ratings but became a scandal when it was revealed that the producers failed to discover a restraining order in groom Rick Rockwell's past.
I met Mike Fleiss in late 1999 when I auditioned for the Multi-Millionaire show.
"It's true what they say, man," Fleiss said of the TV business during an interview in his office last week, where framed posters on the wall suggest his cultural influences (Jimi Hendrix, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"). "They don't care. If you've got what they want, they'll buy it." (LA Times, 11/20/02)
Fleiss grew up in Fullerton and attended UC Berkeley, where he studied journalism.
He got his first real job in television in the early '90s, writing stunts for the Fox show "Totally Hidden Videos." He was 26 years old with a pregnant wife.
"Fleiss proved adept at canvassing the country for videotape, cold-calling and trolling the Internet for footage to license, something you could package as, say, Fox's "World's Scariest Police Shoot-outs." In the course of his early travels in the frontiers of shock TV, he befriended others who today play a big role in the genre -- Mike Darnell, Fox's executive vice president of alternative programming and specials, and Bruce Nash, with whom Fleiss worked on such shows as "Breaking the Magicians' Code," before the two had a falling out and became rival producer/salesmen. A former Fleiss show staffer summed up his talents this way: If anyone could pitch a show in which you either win a Range Rover or get killed on national TV, it's Fleiss." (LA Times, 11/20/02)
Fleiss wears shorts and flip-flops around the office.
Why Isn't Don Re Representing Alexander Proctor?
Why isn't famed Los Angeles defense attorney Don Re representing jailed crook Alexander Proctor, the unlicensed private eye and electronics surveillance maven? Proctor resides in jail accused of threatening journalist Anita Busch.
I hear that Re has been disqualified from representing Proctor because of a conflict of interest. Does this conflict of interest relate to Re's close ties with notorious private eye Anthony Pellicano, who's close to Proctor?
Proctor's public defender Victor Cannon doesn't return my phone calls. Don Re doesn't return my email and fax. Marty Singer doesn't return my fax. Anita Busch has blocked my email.
And who betrayed Anita Busch? For a few weeks in June, she's investigating the Julius Nasso - Steven Seagal story. Then out of the blue, on June 19, her windshield is broken and her life is threatened. It seems she asked the wrong questions of somebody close to Seagal who betrayed her.
Nasso's defense attorney Barry Levin, a wild and crazy guy, says the FBI is investigating Seagal over death threats issued to journalists investigating him, including Vanity Fair's Ned Zeman.
I hear legal bulldog Marty Singer no longer works for Steven Seagal. I guess Seagal has thrown up his hands and realized he's going to get a ton of bad publicity. Why pay Marty $400 an hour when he can't stop it?
Gangs of New York
Roger Friedman writes for Fox News: Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York finally screened yesterday for selected press and exhibitors.
I can tell you definitively that this epic story of New York in the 1850s is a success through and through. It will easily earn Scorsese a Best Director nomination, a Best Picture nomination, and for Daniel Day-Lewis, a slam-dunk nomination for Best Actor.
Day-Lewis' performance as Bill the Butcher is more than just mesmerizing. It's the one to beat, even with formidable opponents such as Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Campbell Scott, Michael Caine, and Leonardo DiCaprio waiting in the wings.
Pushing The Hot Button
Who's been lying to David Poland? He's been cranking out a daily internet column on the industry for five years. Is he feeling the pressure in today's column?
Poland writes on the Hot Button: "The more “important” this column becomes in the Oscar game, the weirder things get. You would think things would get easier, clearer. But instead, it becomes more and more like a house of mirrors.
"You would think that I would be used to being lied to by now. I’m not. You would think that people would be aware that they were lying. Sometimes, they are not."
What is he talking about? I think a lot of internet journalists like Poland are tired of being treated like second-class citizens by Hollywood publicists.
Actor James Coburn Dies
From the LA Times: James Coburn, the big, versatile leading man with a toothy grin who appeared in such films as "Our Man Flint" and "Affliction," for which he won an Academy Award, died Monday afternoon at his Beverly Hills home. He was 74.
Coburn died of a massive heart attack while listening to music with his wife, Paula, his manager, Hillard Elkins, said late Monday. "He died too early, but he died in his wife's arms," Elkins said.
John Connolly's Spy Magazine Profile Of Steven Seagal From 1993
Dark 68-year old businessman and former contract employee [Robert Strickland] of the CIA, is on the set of Marked For Death, starring Steven Seagal.
Strickland has known Seagal for more than a decade, since they were both in Japan, where Seagal worked in his mother-in-law's dojo (Martial arts school) and Strickland worked for the spooks. Seagal has been telling the press that he too worked for the agency - a claim neither the press nor Strickland has been able to substantiate bu tthat certainly adds to the aura of terminal menace the Mike Ovitz protege likes to project. Perhaps, goes a common Hollywood jest o fthe time, Seagal has the CIA and CAA [talent agency Ovitz founded] confused.
Strickland is enjoying the ultimate accolade that Hollywood bestows on civilians - he's sitting in the star's trailer. The star is mouthing off about one Gary Goldman, an ex-mercenary with whom he was collaborating on a screenplay the previous year. The two have had a falling-out over money and screenplay credits, and Goldman, in revenge, has written a letter to the Los Angeles Times exposing Seagal's supposed intelligence background as a tissue of exploitative lies. This has made the tough guy very unhappy.
Seagal gets around to the point of the meeting, pullin gout of a drawer a confidential profile of Goldman assembled by private investigators. Strickland, long aware that Seagal can be hotheaded, finds this something of an overreaction to a squabble over a screenplay. But the dossieris peants compared to what happens next. "I'd like you to do me a favor," says Mr. Ovitz's fair-headed boy, reaching under the table and pulling out an attache case. "I'd like you to kill Gary Goldman."
He opens the case. It contains $50,000 in cash.
All the stunned Strickland can say is, "You're crazy."
The actor merely looks frustrated. "If you won't do it," Strickland recalls him saying, "get someone who will. Pay him what you want and keep the rest."
Late 1990. The set of Out for Justice. Same principals - Seagal and Strickland. Raeanne Malone, one of four women hired by Warner Bros. to serve as Seagal's personal assistants, is in the bathroom of his trailer, brushing her teeth. Strickland watches as Seagal begins loudly calling for Malone, saying he needs her immediately. She emerges still brushing her teeth. "Gee, Raeanne," says the man of honor and protector of the weak, "You look like that when I come in your mouth."
In May 1991 all four assistants - Malone, Nicole Selinger, Christine Keever and another woman - quit because of Seagal's continuing piggery. Three of them threaten to bring sexual-harassment charges against him. Malone and another of the women, in return for a pledge of confidentiality, are paid in the vicinity of $50,000 each.
Summer 1991: A top-level security consultant, a 28-year veteran of a government intelligence agency, flies from Washington to New York at Seagal's behest. He is picked up by Seagal's limousine, driven to his home on State Island and ushered out to the pool, where, shortly thereafter, he is joined by Seagal and his business partner, Julius Nasso.
The purpose of this meeting? Seagal wants the consultant to set up Alan Richman, a writer from Gentlemen's Quarterly. Seagal doesn't like the way he came across in a story Richman wrote about him; in fact, he ha already gone on Arsenio and called Richman "a five-foot-two fat little male impersonator." (Richman is, in fact, a lean, five-foot-nine former Army captain.)
Seagal tells the consultant that Richman is gay - "a fag," in the actor's words. (Richman is actually heterosexual.) He wants Richman Richman to set up with a homosexual "to get pictures of Richman going down on the man." The pictures are to be used to destroy Richman's career.
The security consultant, incredulous, refuses. But Seagal is undaunted. Later on in the meeting he asks his guest what it would take to "whack" a certain man from Chicago. Our man asks Seagal if he means whack as in "whack dead." Replies, Seagal, referring to the man's intelligence background, "Of course, you people do that all the time."
"You're crazy," says the consultant, and once again Seagal's bid to contract a murder is refused. (The consultant later told Spy, "I don't really know whether if you agreed to hit some guy, if he'd draw up a contract for you, or if this is just his way of saying that 'anyone who crosses me might get hit.'")
Steven Seagal is a movie star, mor specifically an action movie star. The public has long since stopped believing in the movie star as moral paragon, but an odd residue of affectionate respect clings to action stars, probably because they're men of brawn-over-brain, seemingly incapable of the treachery, duplicity, and calculation associated with intelligence. Action heroes, whatever their personal flaws, benefit more than other movie stars from the mythical figures they portray. Steven Seagal, the latest addition to the pantheon, is no exception.
But Seagal stands apart from his action-hero brothers. With Seagal, the gap between myth and reality makes the shortcomings of Arnie, Chuck and Sly look like kid stuff. After a six-month-long investigation, Spy has concluded that Seagal is not simply a fraud, a liar, a coward and a bully but also a onetime bigamist who on at least two occasions said he wanted to contract out a murder, who had to settle a nasty sexual harassment claim and who, not surprisingly, hired and does business with people having ties to organized crime.
Almost everything you've ever bothered to read about Steven Seagal is a lie. It is true that he has starred in five motion pictures, and it's also true that he has a black belt in aikido. Apart from those facts, there is little you can count on.
Once, for example, Seagal said on Arsenio that he had spent a lot of his youth in Brooklyn. In fact, he was born in Michigan and lived there until he was five, when his family moved to California. He later clarified he recollection, saying he had visited cousins in Brooklyn. Also, he seems to have distanced himself from his Jewish side. Mom was Irish and the family worshiped indifferently, as Catholics or Episcopalians. But Dad was Jewish, and the family pronounced its name the normal way: SEE-gul. When he and Gary Goldman were in business together, Seagal said he didn't want to call their production company Seagal/Goldman Productions "because that would sound too much like two Jews from the garment business." Shortly after that, the actor returned from an art exhibit where he had seen a painting by Chagall. The work moved him to decree that thereafter he would call himself Se-GAL. He declined to attend his father's funeral in 1990.
The actor is even trickier about his personal relationships. He told Bob Strickland that he married Miyako Fujitani because he had gone to Japan in the first place to avoid the draft, and by marrying a Japanese national he would be less likely to be sent back to the United States. (Of course, if Seagal's birthdate is April 10, 1952 - other dates have been published - his lottery number of 194 was probably high enough that he had nothing to fear from the Selective Service.) In 1991, however, Seagal told Movieline that he'd married Fujitani because she was pregnant. Fujitani denies this. In an interview with Spy, Fujitani, who has a greater facility for dates, laid down chapter and verse. "I met Steven in California in the fall of 1974," she told us. "He followed me back to Japan in October. We got married in December 1974. Our first child, Kentaro, was born on October 3, 1975."
Seagal has often bragged that he was the first and only Occidental to own and run a dojo in Japan. In fact, the dojo, which was founded by Fujitani's father, a noted aikido black belt, was owned by his mother-in-law and managed by his wife, herself a black belt. Seagal has also boasted of his courage in battling criminals. Sometimes the thugs are members of the Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia; other times, they are mere garden-variety criminals. "I jumped right in their faces," Seagal told Movieline. "I was a tenacious motherfucker, man, and I was fearless."
"It is a lie," Fujitani told Spy. "He once chased a few drunks away from the dojo but never was involved with Yakuza." She also has some insight into Seagal's distinction as the first Occidental to receive an aikido black belt. "The only reason Steven was awarded the black belt was because the judge, who was famous for his laziness, fell asleep during Steven's presentation," she says. "The judge just gave him the black belt." And while Seagal has since risen to the sixth level of black belt, martial-arts buffs scoff at his prowess because he has never competed.
"Of course, Miyako Fujitani has reason to be unhappy with Seagal. She told Spy that it was Seagal's ambition to return to America to seek his fortune in either the movies or the restaurant business, and that she scrimped and saved for years, even denying herself and her children necessities, to help pay his way home. Before he left Japan in 1980, Seagal told her, "I always do the right thing; I never will betray you." According to Fujitani, he then availed himself of her savings and hied off to America, where, without bothering to divorce her, he married Adrienne La Russa in 1984.
If Seagal has a bad memory for dates, he has a simply awful memory for wives. About a year after entering into a state of bigamy with La Russa, Seagal became interested in the actress-shampoo pitchwoman Kelly LeBrock. According to [author] Joe Hyams, Seagal saw LeBrock in the 1984 Gene Wilder vehicle Woman in Red. Hyams remembers Segal saying, "She is my destiny." Hyams was friends with LeBrock's former agent, Jerry Pam; he arranged a dinner where Seagal could meet Pam. "During dinner," Hyams recalls, "Seagal asked Pam what was the best way to get publicity. Pam told him the best way was to be seen in the company of somebody famous. Later Seagal asked if Pam could help him meet Kelly LeBrock. Pam told Seagal that Kelly was currently in Japan."
The bigamist then flew to Japan to woo the woman who would become his third wife. Within two weeks they were lovers, and within the year she was expecting his child. By this time, Adrienne La Russa had decided to file for an annulment. Seagal did not dispute her motion, and she didn't seek any financial damages or support from him. "Not only did I not ask for anything," La Russa told Spy, "but I gave him money for months afterward just to get him out of my life." She added, "I can't say very much, because I am afraid of Steven and his friends." At about the same time, Fujitani divorced Seagal, leaving him free to marry LeBrock.
It's not surprising to hear that Seagal would accept money from women when he leaves them. Before he broke into movies, it was well known that he was having financial problems. A dojo he had opened when he returned from Japan in 1980 failed; a second one was doing only moderately well. According to his friend Bob Strickland, Seagal was so desperate for cash in 1985 that he arranged for a soldier-of-fortune friend to steal LeBrock's Porsche Carrera for the insurance money.
Seagal had other sources of wealth more mysterious than insurance fraud. His pal Mark Mikita, who runs a dojo in LA, and has known Seagal since his days as a martial-arts instructor, says that on at least two occasions a flat-broke Seagal disappeared for a week and returned flush with cash. (This claim has been corroborated by Joe Hyams.) According to Mikita, Seagal once returned wtih a new car and a stack of $100 bills six inches high. Seagal boasted to Mikita and Hyams that he had pulled a hit for the mob to get the money.
Is any part of this bragging the truth? And if it is, is the man personally dangerous? He certainly likes to be perceived as tough. He's fond of portentous phrases like "I'm not the one who got hurt or carried away," or - endlessly - "I'm a man of honor."
Hot air? Maybe. According to several Spy sources, Seagal packs a .45 in his belt, not just loaded but cocked and chambered.
The most frequent way Seagal projects danger is by referring to his period of service for the CIA. For example, he told the Los Angeles Times that while he was in Japan, he as an adviser to several CIA agents, and through them he met "many powerful people" for whom he did "special work and favors."
Seagal undoubtedly knew some agents: perhaps it was from them that he appropriated the heroic tales he tells about himself. According to Mark Mikita, the actor specializes in taking bits of other people's experiences and claiming them as his own. On one occasion, one of Seagal's students, a former Green Beret, was talking about his time in Laos. Later Seagal told the same story to another group, only now he had become the protagonist.
Once Seagal became famous, it was essential that he maintain his mysterious facade. In early 1988 he was collaborating on a screenplay with two writers, Temmak Kramer and the aforementioned Goldman, who describes himself as "an unconventional-warfare and intelligence specialist." During a Los Angeles Times interview at the time, Seagal once again floated a vague tale of his association with the CIA. Perhaps the reporter, Patrick Goldstein, was skeptical, because Seagal took the further step of persuading Goldman to back up his tale. "I know this much," Goldman told the Times. "I've been out with Steven on several missions, and he knows how to get things done. He has a certain high level of skill that you don't just pick up reading fantasy magazines. I don't think anyone would question his capabilities." Goldman then carefully added, "I think it would be fair to say that at some point in time Uncle Sam recruited Steven Seagal because they thought he had particular talents that would prove useful on certain assignments."
The following year, Seagal and Goldman had their argument about money. This prompted Goldman to send a letter to Goldstein recanting everything he had said about Seagal's CIA background. Spy has obtained a copy of that letter, dated August 18, 1989. "Please accept this written apology for any deception, stated or implied, that I may have conveyed," Goldman wrote. "The plain truth of the matter is that Seagal was and is a gutless coward who is trying to convert the heroic deeds of those brave men into a personal history for himself."
In an interview with Spy, Goldman says he had long known that Seagal tends to tell grandiose tales about himself. Late in 1988, a former soldier of fortune and treasure hunter named Randy Widner invited Seagal, Goldman and another man to hunt for treasure off the coast of Barbados. At that time, Seagal had been telling Goldman that he'd been a U.S. Navy SEAL. Evidently this was one frogman who did not take well to water. As Goldman recalls, "Randy was driving [a Zodiac raft] in circles while Steven and I carried the gear out to him. The surf was unbelievable, really tough... He started screaming and panicking and was sure he was going to die and all that crap." Goldman says Seagal had to be helped onto the vessel. "Wildner had to pull Seagal by his hair; I pushed his ass onto the boat with my shoulder." Later that evening, Goldman says, he realized that Seagal could not read a compass or a map. (Seagal describes himself as "autistic with numbers.") With that, Goldman says, he totally dismissed the notion that Seagal had ever been involved in any covert operations. In his letter to the Times reporter, Goldman wrote that Seagal "would surely die of starvation if he was given a compass and a map that led to a restaurant five miles away."
After a month after Goldman wrote a letter to Goldstein, the reporter ran into Seagal at a movie premiere and brought it up. A few days later, Goldman says, he got an angry call from Seagal that ended up "almost conciliatory," with him assuring Goldman that he'd help him in the future.
Meanwhile - as we have seen from Bob Strickland's account - the actor was asking his old friend to kill Goldman for $50,000. But it wasn't enough that Strickland dismissed the offer out of hand. For months afterward, Strickland says, Seagal repeated the request, until early the following year, when Seagal told him Goldman had left the country. (Indeed, Goldman went to the Phillipines in early 1990 and did not return for two years.) The Los Angeles Police Department recently started looking into the whole affair.
Among the reasons Strickland maintained the relationship was that they had other dealings. Seagal wanted to make a movie based on Strickland's life, and in May 1990 he paid Strickland a $50,000 advance on a $250,000 payday for the rights to his life story. In December 1991 they too had a falling-out. Strickland concluded that Seagal was representing his adventures as moments from his own life. He even saw Seagal on Arsenio recounting an adventure from his heroic days with the CIA; the adventure, of course, had really been Strickland's.
The CIA man, angry in the extreme, called Seagal and demanded that the actor stop appropriating his life, and said that if he didn't, he would expose Seagal as a phony. And in fact he soon did, detailing all these accusations in a letter to Seagal's agent, CAA chief Mike Ovitz.
Why Ovitz? Because Ovitz, as is widely known in Hollywood, is Seagal's protector, mentor and presumably - from time to time - his handler.
The boilerplate story about how Seagal got started in show business is that Ovitz was one of his martial-arts students. Ovitz, according to legend, believed Seagal had stardom written all over him and prevailed upon Warner Bros. to give him a screen test, then cast him in a movie. The rest, as they say, is history.
Unfortunately, the truth is less tidy. For example, Seagal was not exactly a blank slate upon which Ovitz could project his destiny-bending vision; friends say Seagal had been trying to get into movies as far back as his time in Japan. Additionally, the claim that Ovitz was Seagal's student - repeated as recently as this May in The New Yorker - has been refuted by Seagal, who told the Los Angeles Times in 1988 that Ovitz was never his pupil, but that the two "love each other"; in the same interview, Seagal described himself as Ovitz's "guru."
Joe Hyams is also a martial-arts buff; he and his wife, Elke Sommer, often put Seagal up early in his career. Hyams has no idea how the Ovitz-Seagal connection formed, but it was clearly strong. "For whatever reason," Hyams told Spy, "Ovitz wanted Warner Bros. to give Seagal a picture. He suggested to Warners that in return for giving Seagal a picture, he would have RIchard Donner, who was his client, direct the sequel to the very successful Lethal Weapon."
At the same time, someone at CAA, possibly Ovitz, arranged for Seagal to demonstrate his martial-arts skills before a group of Warner Bros. executives. Dressed in full regalia - baggy black pantaloons and white robes - Seagal put on a show that deeply impressed the executives. "It was quite miraculous," Warner Bros. president Terry Semel told the Los Angeles Times. "With just a toss of his hands, Steven would send the other guy flying. It was pretty astounding." What Mark Mikita - who participated in the demonstration - finds astounding is that none of the executives seemed to know that the whole thing was orchestrated. "I still can't believe those guys at Warners didn't know it was a rehearsed demonstration," Mikita told Spy. "It shouldn't have fooled anybody, Seagal could not toss me or anyone else in the air unless we were in on it."
According to Hyams, Warners was impresse denough to hire Andy Davis, an up-and-coming director, and spend $50,000 on a screen test for Seagal. "The test was a disaster," Hyams says. "Seagal's voice was squeaky, and he did not come across well on-screen." At that point, Hyams said, Ovitz took a most unusual step: He went back to Warners and offered them Donner for Lethal Weapon 2 for the same fee he'd gotten for the incredibly successful original. Whether the latter part of this deal went down isunknown (Donner would not return our phone calls), but Seagal got his break.
In careful studiospeak, Warners acknowledged the unusual nature of an arrangement in which a mega-agent with a premium and well-established client may have trifled with that client's advantage in order to promote a total and minimally talented unknown: "Michael has been one of Steven's major supporters," Terry Semel told the Times. "He went far beyond the role of just being Steven's agent. In fact, with the type of superstar client list Michael has, you wouldn't normally see him work so closely with a first-time actor."
What's the explanation for Seagal's extraordinarily rapid advance? Does he have powerful friends other than Ovitz? Certainly he claims to, and they tend to be invoked when he has differences with people.
A case in point: After Bob Strickland noticed that Seagal was appropriating his stories, he left dozens of messages warning him to stop. Seagal filed a harassment suit against Strickland and got an order of protection against him. In answer, Strickland filed a sworn affidavit in Burbank Superior Court. Among much else, Strickland said, "On December 11, 1991, Steven Seagal stated to me, in my attorney's presence, 'If anybody from the CIA fucks with me, they will be hurt.' He claimed he was backed by very powerful people." (Charlotte Bissell, who was present as Strickland's attorney, confirmed his statement.)
The affidavit went on to state that a mutual friend named James Berkley "called me from New York...and advised me to 'watch my ass.' He stated that my safety could be in jeopardy because Steven Seagal is backed by powerful people who have a vested financial interest in preserving his image and reputation." When interviewed by Spy, Berkley elaborated a little, saying only, "You don't fuck with people from 18th Avenue in Brooklyn."
Julius Nasso is a 40-year-old pharmacist from Staten Island and the owner of Universal Marine Supply Company, which supplies pharmaceuticals to merchants vessels. He is also Steven Seagal's partner in Steamroller Entertainment, formerly Seagal/Nasso Productions, which has its New York headquarters on the second floor of Nasso's offices on 12th Avenue in Brooklyn. It's not clear how he and Seagal became partners. In an interview with Spy, Nasso said he broke into filmmaking in 1984, when he served as an assistant to the late director Sergio Leone during the filming of Once Upon a Time in America. He said his good friend Tony Danza, the actor, was instrumental in getting him involved. Danza told Spy, "I know Nasso, but he's no friend of mine. I didn't introduce him to Seagal."
Seagal tells people Nasso is his cousin, and Nasso sort of agrees. "Our ancestors were related," Nasso told us, although he couldn't be more specific. Nasso is Italian and immigrated to the United States from Sicily when he was three. Seagal is Irish and Jewish. America is a wonderful melting pot, but this seems to stretch all limits, baffling even Seagal's mother. "I never heard of Jules until a few years ago," Pat Seagal told Spy. "I know he's not related to us."
Of course, if in fact Seagal and Julius Nasso were cousins, they might have the same uncle. In an interview in The New York Times, Nasso shows respect for his successful uncle, the one for whom he was named, the one for whom at one time or another he worked. That would be Julius Nasso, the owner of Julius Nasso Concrete Corporation. In 1985 the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York charged Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno and ten other defendants with a wide range of racketeering activities, including extorting money from construction companies to submit fraudulently rigged bids. Julius Nasso Concrete was nmaed in a civil case for participating in the bid-rigging scheme. Employees of Julius Nasso Concrete testified for the government, and Salerno was sentenced to 100 years in prison.
Whether or not Nasso and Seagal are cousins, they are certainly close. Nasso served as Seagal's best man when he married Kelly LeBrock, and he is godfather to two of their children. Also, they are next-door neighbors. And yet, they are more than neighbors - tax records show that Nasso is the co-holder of the deed to Seagal's Staten Island home, the one with the $560,000 mortgage, which sits across from the house formerly occupied by the late Tommy Billotti, who was whacked with Gambino boss Paul Castellano in 1985.
In a deposition in a civil assault case in which Seagal is involved, Seagal stated under oath that he doesn't know how much money has has, doesn't know what he owns and doesn't know what he is paid per picture. At that point, his attorney, Martin Singer, interrupted with a clarfication: Seagal does not have an individual contract with Warner Bros.; other people are involved. In fact, the contract is with Steamroller, and the other party is Nasso. Nasso seems to have quite a bit to say about Seagal's financial affairs. For example, when Bob Strickland's business deal with Seagal soured, he was told to repay the advance, which had been drawn on Seagal's personal account, not to the actor but to Nasso.
Last December, Nasso - whose business card identifies him as a Warner Bros. producer - hosted a party aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York Harbor for the foreign distributors of Seagal's recent hit, Under Siege. In his interview with Spy, Nasso said he "was active in the foreign distribution of Seagal's films." Why Warner Bros., which has the largest foreign-distribution system of any studio, would need the help of a pharmacist is anyone's guess. Warner Bros. refused to be interviewed for this story.
Nasso's own explanation to Spy for his involvement in the global distribution of Seagal's first movie, Above the Law: "Because of my experience in the drug business [i.e., the pharmaceutical-drug business], I had contacts all over the world."
Goofy though this sounds, it's pretty harmless. Far less innocent are the people with mob connections who've gone Hollywood with Seagal. One of the technical advisers on the set of Under Siege was Robert Booth Nichols, who has been identified in federal wiretaps as associating with the Gamino crime family. [See The Fine Print, Spy, July 1989]. A retired Navy captain named Joseph John who was a technical adviser on the same movie - responsible for securing use of the U.S.S. Missouri for the movie - described Seagal and Nichols as "asshole buddies"; Seagal even cast Nichols in a tiny role. Another performer in a Seagal film, Jerry Ciauri, is the stepson of a Mafia capo, Robert Zambardi, who reportedly got Seagal to give his stepson a part in Out for Justice. Seagal hired Ciauri, who has ambitions to be a movie star, to play a bookmaker. In a key scene, Seagal beats up a number of bad guys in a bar; the one varmint who never takes a punch is Ciauri. "No way Seagal was going to take a swing at Bobby Zam's kid," Spy was told. Ciauri is awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder, grand larceny and coercion.
Seagal would have made his directorial debut on a film called Man on Honor. The movie, produced by Nasso and Seagal and written by Seagal and screenwriter Jim Carabatsos, was to have begun principal shooting earlier this year but was shelved when Fox withdrew financing. That was only the latest chapter in the picture's complicated financing. Originally money had been raised by Joseph John. Having caught the movie bug, John wanted to produce Seagal's next picture. "I raised $20 million from some of my Saudi Arabian friends," John told Spy, "but at the last minute Steve pulled out of the deal. Nasso then called and told me, 'We don't need your $20-million, we're going to raise it from friends in Brooklyn.'" Their friends didn't come through; just weeks later, Nasso approached John's Saudi friends for the money. They declined. Nasso and Seagal then went to Europe to seek financing. Among the places they stopped were Switzerland and Sicily. At press time, Man of Honor was on indefinite hold.
What happened, Spy has been told, is that Seagal annoyed his investors with his arrogance and high-handedness, and by failing to keep certain promises. Apparently his friend withheld their financing for Man of Honor as a way of giving Seagal a schiaffo - a slap in the face - so that in the future he would remember who's who and what's what.
Meanwhile, Jerry Ciauri's acting career is going nowhere fast.
There is an outside chance that all of Seagal's posturings, from his phony CIA stories to his real association with people of distinctly murky background, are the result of nothing more than obsession - that Steven Seagal has never been even remotely involved in the profession of war or murder; that he would never follow through on a threat or even a plan to whack someone; that he associates with the murky ones simply because that's the way he gets his kicks. That, in short, Steven Seagal is one sick hombre - a violence groupie.
But what makes Seagal of heightened interest are the specific terms and circumstances of his advancement.
Seagal's ascent was and has been guided by one man. And this raises intriguing questions. Why would so shrewd an operator as Miek Ovitz, at the height of his Hollywood power, undertake to promote Seagal's career so visibly? Some private motivation? Did Professor Ovitz see Seagal as a kind of action-movie Eliza Doolittle? Or did other considerations balance out the obvoius limitations of Seagal's talent? Was Ovitz aware of his protege's background and provenance at the outset? If not, why would he not distance himself from Seagal once they become more apparent? These are just some of the questions Spy hopes to have answered in the very near future.
Penthouse, late 1996, by John Connolly:
* A former housekeeper, Leah Bumgarner, has said that when she worked for Seagal in 1990-91 he forced sex on her. She was subsequently fired, and shortly thereafter, arrested for stealing personal effects from Seagal's house. She pled guilty to petty theft, but claims she did so only to avoid a jail term. "I still regret not fighting the false charges against me," she says. "Seagal ruined my reputation to protect himself."
* Four actresses recounted to this reporter instances in which, they say, Seagal either fondled them at late-night casting sessions in his home or hotel room, or made other sexual advances. "Seagal was a slimeball," says a former casting assistant. "Actresses didn't want to be alone in the room with him."
One prominent actress, who calls Seagal "probably the worst I've ever worked with," describes the prevailing mood of fear. "[Industry executives] think, if you can sue a Seagal, I won't hire you because you may sue me. If one girl says something, she may never work again."
In the office as well as on the set, Seagal is well known for crude comments and intimidating behavior toward women. He "would often brush up against the women in the office in a lewd and sexual way, and often would 'accidentally' touch the women on their breasts or buttocks," says one of the assistants who later quit and received a financial settlement.
Seagal's scorched-earth legal tactics against his foes are a recurring theme of his career. For more than four years he fought a lawsuit brought by a Salvadoran parking-lot attendant, Roberto V. Cerritos, who claimed Seagal and a friend of the actor's assaulted him over an alleged slight to Seagal's wife in 1989.
Seagal produced an eyewitness to corroborate his account of the incident. But Joe Torello, the Beverly Hills police detective who questioned this witness, found his story so implausible that he dismissed it as "all B.S." Torello was familiar with the gentleman: A few years earlier he had surfaced as an eyewitness for Sylvester Stallone when that macho superstar was accused of trying to run a photographer off the road.
Vanity Fair, October 2002 by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:
Seagal's film career is in a death spiral, thanks in part to his vile, simian behavior toward colleagues, women, employees, and reporters - not to mention his serial dissembling, his dime-store theology, and his all-around vulgarism. That he is Hollywood's longest-running bad joke is no news flash.
Hollywood stuntman Gene LeBell choked Seagal unconscious during an informal exhibition of aikido.
By the time Under Siege 2 went to video, Seagal's box-office appeal had "plateaued." WIth each misstep, from The Glimmger Man (1996) to Fire Down Below (1997), Seagal became a bigger liability, his waistline increasing, his hairline retreating. When Warner Bros. put him on a strict diet and supplied him with a trainer, they found cookie crumbs on the fitness equipment.
[In a 1993 civil suit, a visibly agitated Seagal pleaded the Fifth Amendment when asked if he'd ever solicited murder.]
In 1996...Seagal ran afoul of his own Sonny, 79-year-old John "Sonny" Franzese, a feared capo in the Colombo crime family, not to mention a convicted bank robber. Franzese, Nasso says, was working for a man who'd complained that Seagal was chasing his wife. "Seagal was panicked," Nasso says. "He kept telling me that Sonny Franzese was going to kill him." But Franzese didn't kill Seagal. In fact, within a few years the two men were working together.
Danny Provenzano is the great nephew of Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano, the murderous TEamsters boss, who died in 1988 while serving a 20-year sentence for racketeering.
In the fall of 2000, Provenzano paid a visit to his very good friend Steven Seagal on the set of Exit Wounds in Toronto. "There was a lot of talk between people of questionable merit and Steven," recalls Damian Lee, who was in town at the time. "[Seagal was saying to people], 'I have a problem. Can you help me with this stuff down in New York?' Some guys were muscling him. " During Provenzano's visit, according to both Nasso and Provenzano, it was determined that Seagal would no longer be in business with Nasso. He'd now be working with Provenzano and his fellow producer, who was none other than Sonny Franzese.