Rod Lurie exposed the tabloid National Enquirer in Los Angeles Magazine in 1990 and 1992.

In 1989, Lurie got a hold of a list of the Enquirer's paid tipsters. Soon after, Anthony Pellicano called Lurie, and according to Rod, became "very threatening [and] told me in no uncertain terms that he was working for the Enquirer and he was being paid a lot of money to get this file back."

Pellicano called Lurie's editor Nancy Griffin and warned, "Bad things can happen to nice lady editors."

Kim Masters writes in the March 2003 issue of Esquire: "In March 1990, Lurie was knocked from his bike by a hit-and-run driver, breaking some bones. He doesn't claim that Pellicano was somehow involved in the accident, but Lurie says Pellicano may have wanted him to think so when Pellicano called him shortly afterward. "Pellicano knew about it awfully fast," he says. "But that could be drama-queen stuff - on his part or mine."

An entertainment journalist tells me: "Don't forget that Rod Lurie was writing this series for LA Magazine 'To get the National Enquirer out of my Gelsons [supermarket chain]', said the editor at the time."

From the February 1992 issue of Los Angeles Magazine:

Now they're playing dirty! Hey, if you thought the Enquirer was sleazy before, look what it's up to now - using everything from mail theft, false police reports and even blackmail to set up the town's biggest superstars.

My wife's private line rang. A minute later she returned, slightly ashen, and said an "old friend" was calling.

When I took the phone, he didn't introduce himself. He didn't have to - I recognized his voice immediately.

"I thought I'd never have to call you again," Anthony Pellicano said.

The last time I heard from Pellicano was a year and a half ago, while I was working on a story for this magazine called "I was on the Enquirer's Hit List." Pellicano, a notorious private detective, had been hired by the National Enquirer to "discourage" my story. He was the man who Assistant U.S. Attorney James Walsh claimed had intimidated government witnesses in the John DeLorean case and who, in a recent issue of GQ, bragged he'd beaten somebody with a baseball bat on behalf of a client. Pellicano had said he'd killed "hundreds" of stories and strongly suggested I drop mine.

"What do you want?" I asked him.

"What do I want?" he said, as if the answer were ludicrously obvious. There was a small pause. "'Don R... [Pellicano's attorney Don Re?] whore...Don...Pellicano wants his job...call Patrick about Norm and relationship to Pellicano....'"

I was stunned. Pellicano was reading from the notes I had compiled during my current investigation into the Enquirer. "This is libelous," he said with a drawl. "I spoke to Don. R. He's one of my best friends. He says he never spoke to you... I'm going to subpoena all your notes... You've brought yourself a lawsuit, pal."

"Where did you get my notes?"

"Would you tell me your sources? So why would I tell you mine?"

As I was soon to find out, Pellicano had paid my research assistant $3000 for the notes. Not only that, the Star, which the Enquirer had purchased in 1990, had given my assistant a check for $500 to monitor the progress of my article. For the record, Michael Boylan, a high-ranking executive of Macfadden Holdings, a publishing-investors group that owns a dozen magazines, including the Enquirer/Star, insisted Pellicano was no longer in the company's employ when I called to complain. A few days later, I learned the Star not only had paid my assistant to spy on me but was allegedly researching a story linking me romantically to a celebrity who was married to an actor the tabloid had previously "outed."

So here we went again. Round two. That first time out, I had uncovered what amounted to a sourcing scandal. Tabloid reporters were falsifying sources as a way to meet the publication's three-source requirement and back themselves legally. The Enquirer had gone into a frenzy, hired Pellicano and hit me and Los Angeles Magazine with a barrage of calls and letters, charging, among other things, that I was harrassing and threatening Enquirer employees. Ultimately, the piece became the basis for dozens of TV shows and articles, including segments on 60 Minutes and Entertainment Tonight.

NINE MONTHS AFTER Lurie's article appeared, he got a phone call from an employee at the tabloid's headquarters in Lantana, Florida. Then the employee faxed Lurie dozens of pages of private hospital records of Richard Pryor, Carol Burnett and Burt Reynolds. It's illegal to have those. The Enquirer's public policy is that it does not purchase or accept those that have been stolen.

Over the next six months, Lurie's source would put him in touch with 75 other sources who all had some horror story to tell. Under pressure from their bosses, Enquirer and Star reporters had run amok, getting involved with not only invasion of privacy, filing false police reports, mail tampering and theft but, in some cases, out-and-out blackmail, forcing stars to collaborate with the tabloids on a long-term basis.

ROD LURIE TALKED TO Jim Cruse, who was fired after three years as an Enquirer reporter. Cruse believes the Enquirer fired him when it found out about a book he was planning to write.

According to Cruse, star Enquirer reporter Brian Williams made-up a story about Roseanne Arnold beating her daughter.

Williams has broken such stories as Jill Ireland's "bizarre" cancer treatments and the discovery of Roseanne Arnold's long lost child.

Cruse says Williams telephoned the Child Protection Services unit in Van Nuys and reported Arnold had been abusing her. Brian knew the CPS is required to investigate all charges of child abuse, even anonymous ones. "He said he was a parent of a classmate of Jessica Pentland's [Arnold's daughter by her first marriage] and reported that she came to school with bruises, and that maybe Tom Arnold, supposedly on drugs at the time, had [done] her harm," Cruse stated.

Cruse, another reporter and a photographer, staked out Arnold's home for two days until the social-services representative showed up, talked to Arnold and her family and concluded there was no basis for the allegation. The Enquirer shortly thereafter ran a story that Arnold was being investigated for child abuse.

Cruse said on May 10, his editor, Steve Coz, told him to go to the Benedict Canyon home the Arnolds had been renting. Cruse determined that Tom and Roseanne were packing.

Two days later, Cruse returned to the property with another reporter, Robert Jordan [aka Robert Hudson], to see if the house had been trashed. "What Coz wanted was a pigsty story," Cruse said. The two reporters wandered the house and could find no damage.

When the story appeared in the Enquirer July 17, 1990, it reported broken windows and ruined rugs in almost every room, a shattered $5000 antique chair, a giant tic-tac-toe board drawn in black paint on top of expensive wood paneling, holes punched in walls and moldy, half-eaten pizzas.

What happened? Cruse says Jordan returned to the house and trashed it. "[Jordan] said he'd taken garbage cans and emptied them all over the house and the pool area," Cruse said. "He photographed it right after he had hit set up." The photos were never published.

ROD LURIE discovered that manufacturing stories was common among tabloid reporters. According to one tabloid editor, to add a little zip to one story, an Enquirer reporter informed the police that he'd heard screaming and furniture braeking in Fawcett and O'Neal's home. Though the police found nothing, the tabloids reported the police investigated disturbances at the home.

Stringer Bob Daniels remembers how in late Spring 1989 reporter Neil Hitchens and paparazzo photographer Phil Ramey tried to get photos of Farrah in a compromising position with a carpenter who claimed he was banging the actress. Three sources corroborated the story to Lurie.

Why the need for such photos as the Enquirer does not publish such material? "My understanding," Daniels, said, "Was that we would get the photos to use as leverage with Farrah on future stories."

BY THE END OF ROD LURIE'S investigation, it was clear that Enquirer and Star reporters "blackmailed" a number of major stars into becoming "friends" of the tabloids. One instance involved a major - and wholesome TV megastar. The Enquirer got photos of him in a compromising position. The Enquirer wouldn't run the story because the actor was too popular. To bash him in the paper might backfire, alienating readers. But the photo and story were too good to waste.

The Enquirer used them to blackmail the celebrity. Cruse said he was present when Coz called the star. "Coz told him about the photo," he said. "He also made up some things. He said the girl had told us about bondage and drugs and things like that. It was all a bluff, but he bit."

The star agreed to be accessible to Enquirer reporters. Soon after, he was on the Enquirer's front page, lamenting the drug problems of a family member.

MIDWAY THROUGH LURIE's INVESTIGATION, he began hearing stories that U.S. Postal Service investigators had begun looking into allegations that Enquirer reporters were stealing mail - a federal offense punishable under U.S. Code 18, Section 1708. The press agent who had set up the purchase of Madonna's stolen medical records, in fact, admitted that a few years ago, when Faye Dunaway was going through her divorce, it was his job to stake out her mailbox. Each day for about a week, he would wait for the mailman to arrive, then check all the envelopes in the box. If there was anything of interest - say, a letter from an attorney's office - he would pluck it.

Another Enquirer staffer said rifling mail was routine practice and that reporters even had a name for it: "Playing Mailman." Here's how it worked: A reporter would go to a celebrity's local post office and fill out a forwarding-address form for the celebrity, rerouting the star's mail to a prearranged address. The reporter would then pick up the mail and peruse it for any usable information. (When I asked paparazzo Phil Ramey if he had ever heard of "Playing Mailman," he chortled, "Yeah, yeah. But they do it just to fuck with people. What's the big deal?")

One of my sources, whom I'll call Jerry, a three-year veteran of the tabloid, also admitted he had been involved with mail theft. "We paid a live-in friend of Tony Danza to steal one specific piece of mail...a letter from the Screen Actors Guild," he said. "My bosses felt it contained information we needed. We made arrangements through one of Danza's employees to have this friend pick up the mail when it came in and bring it to me."

Dr. Park Dietz, an expert on obsessed fans and the prosecution's psychiatric expert in the John Hinckley trial, once said that obsessed fans have an "unholy alliance with the tabloids." Many rely on the tabs for personal details and the latest information on their celeb idols.

For their part, the tabloids don't seem averse to exploiting these delusions - or, in fact, aiding and abetting them. According to Cruse, on several occasions Enquirer reporters allegedly sold the addresses and phone numbers of celebs to overzealous fans. According to a friend of Greg Louganis, a mentally ill man who had approached the Olympic diver said he had gotten his address from a reporter at the Enquirer looking to make a few bucks.

The Star and Enquirer sometimes print the delusions of fans as facts (e.g.the claim of a San Diego photographer he had an affair with Kirk Cameron's bridge Chelsea Noble in 1991).

According to Dr. Walt Risler, a University of Indiana professor and a nationally recognized expert on the subject of obsessed fans, playing into the fantasies of an obsessed fan is not only shoddy journalism, it's potentially dangerous. "Tabloids are already part of the lives of celebrity stalkers. When they validate their delusions like this, they are lighting a fire under a combustible situation."

Why are tabloid reporters running amok? ROD LURIE concludes it's because the tabs went public in 1991 and are driven to find sensational stories to attract readers, advertisers and profits.


Journalist Stuart Goldman writes on tabloidbaby.com about a 1990 incident:

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."

John Connolly writes in the February 1994 issue of Los Angeles Magazine about Anthony Pellicano:

...[In] 1990 when Rod Lurie was researching his Los Angeles magazine piece on how the National Enquirer gets its information. Lurie got a call from Pellicano, who identified himself as a private investigator working for th Enquirer. Indeed, as Lurie recalls, Pellicano said, "I am the Enquirer." He demanded to know the identity of Lurie's source at the tabloid. When Lurie wouldn't cooperate, Pellicano said he would find out, adding, in what Lurie termed in the article a threatening manner, "I am relentless." In the ensuing months, Pellicano lived up to that image. He called Lurie on his unlisted phone number, bad-mouthed him to his sources, accused him of extortion and threatened him with a "nuisance suit" to block the article's publication. The piece was published without further incident, but the following year, when Lurie was working on another Los Angeles story about tabloid dirty tricks, he again crossed paths with Pellicano. Lurie was told by his assistant that Pellicano had approached him and asked him to spy on Lurie. Although the assistnat said he turned Pellicano down, Lurie remained suspicious.

The next day, he fabricated some notes about the Enquirer and asked the assistant to type them into the computer. Two days later, he got a call from Pellicano, who smugly read to him the very notes he had written. Late last summer, I tracked down the assistant, who admitted in a taped interview that Pellicano had paid him $3,000 for the notes. But Pellicano wanted to be sure he was getting his money's worth. To guarantee the assistant wouldn't try to pass off counterfeit information, Pellicano threatened him. According to the assistant, Pellicano said, "I make a living knowing if somebody's bullshitting me! I can look up a bull's asshole and give you the price of butter." Then, pointing to a blue aluminum baseball bat in the corner of his office, Pellicano told the assistant, "Guys who fuck with me get to meet my buddy over there in the corner."

Charles Rappleye writes in the 7/1/93 issue of Columbia Journalism Review:

At first pass, working for the National Enquirer, the Star, the Globe, and most of the other tattler sheets is not so far a leap from the normal routines of straight journalism. Most of the reporters and editors come from careers in journalism - the Globe's then editor, Paul Levy, spent eight years as a national and foreign correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, for example - and for the most part their jobs require reporting, development of sources, and careful writing in the breathless, colloquial tone that the papers cultivate. Headlines like Space alien meets president Bush! or kitty coughs up flaming hairballs! are generally left to the Weekly World News, the most ludicrous of the papers published by Enquirer/Star Group, Inc.

What distinguishes these tabloids is the hell-bent way they go after stories that involve the rich and famous. Stakeouts, undercover operations, pay-offs, and outright bribes are standard tools in the tabloid reporter's kit. And if the story isn't there, they will inflate one, blowing a dispute over a restaurant menu into a failing marriage.

It is in the Hollywood bureaus, close by the film and television stars that are their standard fare, that the tabloids routinely go overboard. Reporters are expected each week to come up with startling news that will shock millions of readers already inured to the sensational. To ensure a steady flow of gossip, each of the tabloids has developed an extensive network of informants - publicists, waiters, valet parking attendants, and hospital clerks - who can expect a hundred dollars or more for the price of a phone call.

When that isn't enough, reporters are expected to fabricate stories. They lay the groundwork for libel defense by paying off tipsters even though no relevant information was provided; after the stories are published, when attorneys for the defamed start calling, the tabloid lawyers can point to the check stubs and show that the reports were based on "sources." Tabloid executives like Enquirer editor-in-chief and president lain Calder have emphatically denied that the practice of "false sourcing" exists, attributing the allegation to "a powerful group in the entertainment industry that wants to muzzle the Enquirer." But Los Angeles writer Rod Lurie, formerly a reporter with the New York Daily News, proved the existence of the practice with the aid of internal ledgers slipped to him by Enquirer employees.