Journalist John Connolly wrote stories about Danny Casolaro, Steven Seagal and "Inside the CIA" for Spy magazine. He's a complex, intelligent, troubling and sometimes unreliable reporter not afraid to use methods that would make many of his peers blanch.
Though a bulldog on the job, he's sensitive towards any criticism directed his way, and cuts people out of his life with the greatest of ease.
Calculating, John thinks himself much smarter than his sources, and this gets him into trouble. He will make grandiose claims that he can't back up and then he will claim he never said what he said. He's willing to lie to get a story, or simply to save face.
Connolly was the subject of a lengthy magazine article by Christopher Byron in the September 19, 1990 issue of New York Magazine. Some of his former clients viewed him as a "consummate liar." [Byron, Christopher, "Other People's Money, The Curious Saga of the Wall Street Broker Who Informed for the Government While His Clients' Funds Vanished," New York Magazine, 9/17/90, at pp. 40-45.]
Connolly wrote for years for Fortune magazine.
In 1999, Harvey Weinstein persuaded his publishing house to give a book contract (The Insane Clown Posse about Ken Starr) to Connolly, who was pitching a piece at the time for Premiere about Miramax. The book was never published.
Connolly emails 11/6/02: "Luke Ford, I was unaware of your website until this afternoon. Someone directed me to the Anita Busch articles. I'm quite impressed by your work. Very well researched and documented. Continued success. I also agree with your suggestion that the threats to Busch and Zeman originated in the [Steven] Seagal camp. I can assure you that Anita Busch was not the first reporter/journalist to ever be threatened by the "Seagal camp". My sources tell me to expect more arrests and that one of them, not an actor, will be someone very well, known in Hollywood. Stay tuned."
Luke asks: "Weren't you threatened with death by the Seagal camp?"
John replies 11/7/02: "The only threat I received during the Spy story was from Seagal's legal Doberman, Marty Singer. When I refused to stop researching the story, they sued me to attempt to stop publication. They alleged that I had slandered Seagal by asking questions about him. A few months after they filed the suit, they were disabused of that notion and withdrew the suit. Neither Spy, nor myself made any corrections, retractions or settlement to Seagal.
"The threat you mentioned happened six years ago. I had been hired by Time magazine to help Richard Zoglin write a feature on Seagal. Just prior to publication, Norman Pearlstein at the urging of Semel and Daly of Warner Bros. spiked the story [Buzz, 8/96 says Time abandoned the story as too much legal trouble for little payoff]. I took it to Penthouse and contemporaneous with the publication of the story I received a threat from the "Seagal Camp". Penthouse, my lawyer and myself took it very, very seriously. Without going into detail, the very same people that Seagal recently testified against were the fine folks involved in the very real threat to my life. I would think that the people involved in the threats against Busch and Zeman, might want to think about running to the authorities with their story before someone else gets there first."
Jeanette Walls writes on page 290 of her book Dish: "Reporter John Connolly also experienced Pellicano's hardball P.R. when he wrote an article on [Steven] Seagal [for Spy magazine in 1993]. Connolly claimed that he had evidence that Seagal was linked to the mob, had lied about his CIA experience, and had paid to have someone killed. Seagal turned Pellicano loose on Connolly. The reporter, a former cop, didn't back down, but the experience was harrowing. "Most journalism schools don't teach reporters how to respond to a Lousville Slugger," said Connolly. His tactics have a real chilling effect."
Journalist Ross Johnson writes for the May 2000 issue of Los Angeles Magazine:
For years, MARTIN D. "MAD DOG" SINGER of Lavely & Singer has been the all-around bad cop for stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Sylvester Stallone, Eddie Murphy, Celine Dion, Roseanne and Jim Carrey. "I'll make one call to a publicist to check out a tip," growls New York Post Page Six editor Richard Johnson, "and pretty soon I get a hand-delivered letter from Singer threatening all sorts of disasters and financial damages."
An August 1996 Buzz magazine article dissected Singer's rabid attempts to discredit [John] Connolly, who had written a damning piece on actor Steven Seagal for Spy. Singer not only slapped a libel suit on Connolly but also hit him with a slander suit for allegedly making derogatory statements about Seagal while reporting the Spy article. (Both suits were quietly withdrawn a few months after the story ran.)
In his Century City office festooned with photos of his three children, Singer manages a wan smile when reminded of the flap. "That story really made me out to be this mean, ruthless lawyer;" he recalls. "I was surprised how much work I ended up getting from it."
I read on Weaselsearch.com about journalist John Connolly's lawsuit against his former research assistant Hariette Surovell who sold his manuscript on Ken Starr: The Insane Clown Posse.
From Weaselsearch.com: "We have obtained documents and other material that make it clear why Drudge and his right-wing pals wanted Connolly's book to never see the light of day. There is information in that book that proves that the people who went after President Clinton, and it could well be argued that he did deserve what he got, were as bad or worse as Clinton when it came to honesty and integrity. The book also raises very serious questions which go the very heart of Watergate Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's sworn testimony as to how he learned of Linda Tripp's tape recordings of Monica Lewinsky.
"We have also learned that the supposed "Right-wing conspiracy" theory espoused by Senator Hillary Clinton may or may not have been a reality, but they certainly circled the wagons and went on a jihad to stop Connolly's book. A source who formerly worked at Talk magazine and who has asked for anonymity told Weaselsearch, "Contemporaneous with the attack by Drudge and Coulter, we received a very threatening letter from an attorney representing Richard Porter. He was one of Ken Starr's law partners and also one of the so-called "elves" who had kept the Paula Jones lawsuit alive for four years until they could finally bring Clinton down. We also had a call from someone at the Wall Street Journal asking if John Fund was to be in the book. Anyone with a brain would have know that this was a concerted plan to kill the book.""
A source says: John Connolly (not the novelist) has used Weaselsearch.com before to get information out.
Ken Auletta in his New Yorker profile of Harvey Weinstein says Harvey set Connolly up with a book deal with Talk Miramax books when it looked like Connolly was going to profile Weinstein for Premiere magazine. Yes, John had pitched Premiere but they were never going to allow an attack dog like Connolly to profile their friend Harvey Weinstein.
That whole Ken Starr book was a set-up. Talk editor Tina Brown called him in. 'Look, we want you to be a writer for Talk Miramax books.' John pitched this book, 'Murder on Staten Island.' They said, 'Great, but there's another book we want you to write.' And Talk Miramax, big Democrat Party supporters, assigned Connolly to go after Ken Starr, knowing it was never going to be published, but as a political exercise to do a hatchet-job on Starr and company.
When Talk dropped the book, Connolly said, 'Big deal. I never wanted to write it anyway.' He wanted to get going on his other book. So he took the $100k advance and went on his way.
An Article about Arnold Schwarzenegger appearing in the March issue of Premiere Magazine  has raised the ire of Schwarzenegger's friends, physician and co-workers, who blasted the magazine for publishing false statements about Schwarzenegger's health and behavior. Schwarzenegger's former co-stars, such as Linda Hamilton, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sharon Stone, Rita Wilson and Kelly Preston, as well as director and producer James Cameron, have come forward to denounce the Article by John Connolly, titled "Arnold the Barbarian." Well-known producer Arnold Kopelson also weighed in, describing an account of a purported event on the set of Eraser as "a total fabrication."
The Premiere Article written by John Connolly (whose former clients have viewed him as a "consummate liar" as reported in New York Magazine), has been criticized as a work of fiction denounced by a whole host of people who are specifically mentioned in the Article but who were never contacted by Premiere before publication.
Recent articles in US WEEKLY and the LOS ANGELES TIMES also recount the groundswell of support for Arnold voiced by his co-workers and friends, who view the Premiere story as a "hatchet job" with political undercurrents.
The Premiere Article relies largely on unidentified sources in describing alleged instances of inappropriate behavior by Arnold. But the actresses and female producers who worked with him over the years have squarely condemned the Article's false characterization of Arnold's behavior on the set and his treatment of women, sending blistering letters to Premiere Magazine in support of Arnold. Others mentioned in the Premiere story also refuted the reported incidents, which they characterized as ridiculous fabrications.
Arnold's Co-Workers Decry Article As Fictional Gossip-Mongering
Linda Hamilton, who co-starred with Schwarzenegger in both of the wildly-successful Terminator films, denounced as "fantasy" the story of an incident in a limousine in which the Premiere article claimed Arnold lifted her onto his lap in the presence of her then-boyfriend Director James Cameron and others (including Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver). Hamilton stated in a letter she sent to Premiere's Editor in Chief: "Let me be perfectly clear. In my nearly twenty years of friendship with Arnold Schwarzenegger I have never witnessed ANY HINT of the behavior you so carelessly ascribe him. I have known and witnessed Arnold on set as a man who is tirelessly PROFESSIONAL, and in life as a singularly devoted husband, father, and family man." Hamilton went on to describe the publication as "unsubstantiated/gossip-mongering/character-assassinating/smear campaign/tactics."
For his part, Academy Award winning Director-Producer James Cameron (who worked with Schwarzenegger on the blockbusters Terminator, T2 and True Lies) likewise condemned Premiere for its report of the fictional limousine incident. In a letter to Premiere, Cameron described the report as "pure fiction," adding that over the 18 years he has known Schwarzenegger, he has "never seen Arnold act in the coarse fashion [Premiere] describe[s] with any woman, at any time, ever, and most certainly not with Linda Hamilton . . . ." Cameron added: "The situation you describe did not take place, and though I object on principle to your printing of pure fabrication like some cheesy tabloid, I particularly object to the unfair and absurdly off-the-mark picture it paints of Arnold, who is as good a man and human being as I have known."
Jamie Lee Curtis, who won a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Schwarzenegger's wife in True Lies, said that the Premiere article "outrages" her. She wrote of Schwarzenegger in a letter to Premiere: "I admire him as a man, husband, father, friend and icon of the power of the American dream. I hold him in the highest esteem." Curtis stated that she worked with Arnold for seven months on True Lies, during which his trailer door was always open. She added that she never observed anything like the behavior described in the article, noting that Arnold's "wife and his family are the most important things to him in the world." Curtis lambasted the article as a "smear campaign" and a "politically motivated hatchet job." Chastising Premiere's publishers, Curtis told them, "you should be ashamed of yourselves."
Rita Wilson, who played Schwarzenegger's wife in the comedy Jingle All The Way, wrote to Premiere that Arnold "has acted only in the most professional of ways" when they worked together. She added that he "always treated me with respect, as well as everyone else on the set. He never stepped over any boundaries or made me feel uncomfortable." Also noting that Schwarzenegger's trailer doors were always open, Wilson said that she was "saddened" by the hurtful article.
Actress Kelly Preston, who has known Schwarzenegger since working with him on the 1988 comedy Twins, also wrote to Premiere to challenge its characterization of Schwarzenegger, stating that she has "never known him to be anything but kind, respectful and a true gentleman." She also described him as "a loving father and devoted husband," adding that she counts her "experience working with him as one of my fondest memories."
Major behind-the-scenes players in Hollywood have also rallied to Arnold's defense.
Well-known Producer Arnold Kopelson, who produced Eraser, challenged the article's account of a purported incident in Schwarzenegger's trailer during that production. Kopelson, who won a Best Picture Academy Award for Platoon, noted Schwarzenegger's professionalism, and described procedures on the movie set which would have made it close to impossible for the reported incident to have taken place. Kopelson cited his extensive presence on the set during which he and Schwarzenegger were "virtually inseparable for major blocks of hours during each day and more often than not, on weekends as well," as support for his conclusion that the incidents described in the Premiere article could not have taken place, since had they occurred Kopelson certainly would either have observed them or would have heard discussions about such improprieties on the set.
What Kopelson did observe were discussions with Arnold exhibiting "only love and respect for Maria and their children." Describing the article as "dribble," Kopelson said that the events described in the article were "inconceivable," and concluded that Premiere's account of Schwarzenegger's behavior is "a total fabrication."
Rae Sanchini, who has been President of Lightstorm Entertainment since 1993 and was Executive Producer of True Lies, and who was an executive at Carolco Pictures when it produced Red Heat, Terminator 2 and Total Recall, wrote to Premiere that "In all this time I have never once witnessed any of the incidents described in your article or any other conduct consistent with the very stilted picture you paint of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Quite the contrary, he has always treated me and the other women producers and executives involved in these various projects with the utmost respect and courtesy." Sanchini continued: "Although I have worked with Premiere on a number of past articles, I was not contacted in connection with this story, and the names of the many other women producers whom Arnold has successfully – and repeatedly – worked with were also notably absent."
Schwarzenegger's long-time dresser, Gregory Allen Hall, who has worked with Arnold for nearly a dozen years, sent his own scathing letter to Premiere's editor after reading the story's account that Arnold had supposedly humiliated him with cruel comments during the filming of Terminator 2, allegedly leading to Hall's termination. Hall denounced the story about him as false, telling the editor, "Mr. Schwarzenegger has been extremely generous to me and aside from being a good boss he is a good friend. While it is true I was fired from a film, nothing else you reported is true. The film was 'True Lies' not 'Terminator 2,' and I was fired by my boss the Costume Supervisor, not a producer and it was Mr. Schwarzenegger who rehired me (as his personal dresser) when he found out I had been fired." Hall went on to chastize the magazine for failing to contact him about the story.
Producers of the London television program The Big Breakfast on which Schwarzenegger appeared with host Denise Van Outen, denounced the claims in the Premiere article that any improprieties took place when Arnold did the show. In fact, they were so delighted with Arnold's appearance that Producer Nicholas Lazarus urged him to return to the show again when his schedule permits, writing "we would dearly love to welcome you back on to The Big Breakfast very soon." Describing Schwarzenegger as a "fantastic guest," he added that Van Outen had no problem with the interview and enjoyed meeting Arnold, stating that they consider him "a great friend of the show."
Renowned Cardiac Surgeon Proclaims Medical "Facts" In Article "Represent No Facts At All"
Schwarzenegger's cardiac surgeon, Dr. Vaughn A. Starnes, also chastised the magazine for its false depiction of Schwarzenegger's 1997 elective heart valve replacement surgery. Schwarzenegger, a former 13-time "Mr. Universe" and 6-time "Mr. Olympia," who has served as Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, Chairman of the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness & Sports, and Chairman of the Inner City Games Foundation, previously sued with successful results when false statements were published about his health. Among other bogus statements in the Article, the Premiere story states that Schwarzenegger had three of his heart valves replaced with pig valves during his 1997 surgery. In fact, however, Schwarzenegger's cardiac surgeon confirmed that the valves used in Schwarzenegger's surgery were human homograft valves, not pig valves, used to correct a congenital defect. During the successful surgery, two, not three, of Schwarzenegger's heart valves were replaced. Dr. Starnes, who serves as Chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, wrote to Premiere: "I would like to comment on the medical facts of this article. [¶] First of all, they represent no facts at all." Starnes went on to confirm that Schwarzenegger's "condition was not obtained by the use of steroids" but was rather the result of a congenitally acquired condition. Dr. Starnes also confirmed that Arnold's "outlook is excellent with the expectant duration of this valve to be far in excess than quoted for a pig valve."
Schwarzenegger does not shy away from filing defamation lawsuits in response to false stories about his cardiac health. Most recently, the Berlin High Court in Germany reaffirmed Arnold's victory in a defamation suit he filed against German cardiologist Dr. Willi Heepe, who was ordered to pay Schwarzenegger monetary damages and attorneys’ fees, and to issue a public retraction. And a little more than a year ago, Schwarzenegger settled his $50 Million defamation action against the US tabloid, the Globe, which had published an article falsely stating that Schwarzenegger suffered from a "heart crisis" and was a "ticking time bomb" long after his complete recovery from valve replacement surgery. In addition to payment of an undisclosed amount and a charitable contribution to the Inner City Games Foundation, the former owners of the Globe admitted it made a mistake and published a prominently placed retraction, correction and apology.
Motives & Background Of Writer John Connolly Called Into Question
But while the Premiere Article about Arnold may have garnered some attention, perhaps the real news item is the story that Premiere would rely on having an article written by John Connolly. Connolly was himself the subject of a lengthy magazine article by Christopher Byron in the September 19, 1990 issue of New York Magazine, which reported that Connolly 's former clients viewed him as a "consummate liar." [Byron, Christopher, "Other People's Money, The Curious Saga of the Wall Street Broker Who Informed for the Government While His Clients' Funds Vanished," New York Magazine, 9/17/90, at pp. 40-45.]
According to the New York Magazine article, as well as other sources including legal documents and National Association of Securities Dealers filings, Connolly has been the subject of controversy since the 1980's, when he faced charges for alleged securities violations. Connolly was later reportedly the subject of a federal investigation in New Jersey arising from his alleged use of outdated police credentials to gain access to sealed court records. That incident reportedly resulted in Connolly being forced to resign his job as a staff writer for Forbes Magazine. [LF: Not true.]
Court filings and documents issued by the National Association of Securities Dealers cite instances of censure, fines and permanent injunctions against Connolly arising from his alleged conduct from the mid-1980's through the early 1990's. Charges against Connolly were maintained in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991 by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the State of Florida, and the NASD. In another instance, Connolly settled a dispute with a brokerage customer, signing an agreement in which he admitted that he "knowingly and intentionally violated the express instructions" of his client, and Connolly settled by agreeing to sign a Confession of Judgment in exchange for the client's agreement to "refrain from filing an action against Connolly and refrain from filing a complaint with the appropriate authorities."
SEC and court documents reveal that Connolly was charged with, and allowed a consent order to be issued against him with a Permanent Injunction, arising from a civil complaint that the SEC filed against him. Although Connolly neither admitted nor denied the charges that he violated various securities laws, he consented to issuance of a permanent injunction preventing him from engaging in the sale of securities. Other SEC documents reveal that Connolly has been censured, fined and barred from the Securities business, citing allegations of dishonesty, which included establishing security accounts under fictitious names, establishing an account for his wife and then failing to disclose that relationship, engaging in a scheme of free-riding at three separate brokerage firms, fraudulently concealing material facts, issuing counterfeit subpoenas (which the Board of Governors of NASD held "demonstrates recent deceptive conduct which contradicts Connolly's assertions that his actions since 1986 have been beyond reproach"), knowingly tendering checks in payment for purchases on accounts with insufficient funds, and forging applications and tax forms.
Connolly was most recently in the news in June 2000 after Talk Miramax Books declined to move forward with Connolly's planned book The Insane Clown Posse, which was a planned expose of members of Kenneth Starr's investigative team. Talk Miramax reportedly killed the project after the Drudge Report posted an excerpt from the book on the internet. Media reports at that time noted past controversies swirling around Connolly, including being barred from the securities business and having been the subject of a federal investigation in New Jersey for allegedly using outdated police credentials to gain access to sealed court documents.
Premiere was aware that Talk Miramax had pulled Connolly's Insane Clown Posse project, and was aware of Connolly's history, including his run-ins with the SEC. Why Premiere would entrust the Schwarzenegger story to a reporter with a checkered past like Connolly’s is unknown.
Schwarzenegger's representatives noted that prior to publication of the Article, Premiere's publisher and Connolly refused to disclose any of the story's details despite repeated requests by Arnold's representatives. The result was the sensationalized Article being widely promoted by Premiere in advance of publication in order to maximize sales, after Arnold was denied the chance to comment on the story's specifics prior to publication.
It is widely speculated that the media attention brought to the Premiere Article was garnered for political purposes by a pair of unlikely bedfellows. Connolly recently failed in his pro-Democratic efforts to publish an exposé of Kenneth Starr's investigative team. The unpublished book Insane Clown Posse was reportedly a behind-the-scenes sex-and-politics attack on Republicans, which publisher Talk Miramax Books declined to publish after salacious excerpts appeared on the Drudge Report.
After the Premiere article hit the stands, a Senior Political Advisor to Democratic California Governor Gray Davis seized the opportunity to exploit Connolly's story about Schwarzenegger. In an apparent effort to serve Democratic political objectives, he sent
John Connolly replied to his critics in the May issue of Premiere, 2001: During the course of researching this article, neither James Cameron nor anyone at his company, Lightstorm Entertainment, responded to my numerous requests for an interview regarding Arnold Schwarzenegger. Linda Hamilton’s spokesperson told me on four separate occasions that Ms. Hamilton was too busy to speak with me. Nor did Jamie Lee Curtis return any of my phone calls.
In addition, I called Dr. Starnes’s office five times for an interview. He, too, never returned any of my calls. Furthermore, my story states that Mr. Schwarzenegger had three, not four, valves replaced. As for the issue over whether they are pig valves, in June 1997, Mr. Schwarzenegger appeared on Oprah Winfrey. When asked whether he chose a synthetic or pig valve for the replacement, Mr. Schwarzenegger responded, “I’m not going to say which valve I chose, but now every time I see bacon, I start crying.”
I repeatedly requested that Mr. Schwarzenegger grant me an interview, either on or off the record. I made these requests through Mr. Schwarzenegger’s publicist and through other associates of his. All of these requests were denied. Mr. Schwarzenegger refused to talk to me. I stand by my story.