Category Archives: Movies

Brian De Palma’s Blow Out: “Good Scream.”

(Everything I post is to some degree unfinished, but a movie about which so much can be said and so dear to my heart as this one, I will no doubt have more to say about, and so this post might be considered more unfinished than others. An invaluable resource on all things De Palma, which I have already mentioned here is the site De Palma a la Mod; an excellent resource for this specific post was the three hour plus episode devoted to this movie by The Projection Booth podcast, “Episode 140: Blow Out” hosted by Mike White, Rob St. Mary, with guest Jamie Duvall, and featuring interviews with Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz, and producer Fred Caruso. The podcast is frequented quoted in the following and I’m grateful for their diligent and in-depth work. SPOILERS for Blow Out, Dressed to Kill, The Fury, The Black Dahlia, Casualties of War, and The Parallax View. Since this is a fairly in-depth examination of this movie, it is assumed that whoever reads it has already seen Blow Out and requires no summary or description of the plot, and none is given.)

Something’s Got to Give had portrayed Marilyn as a shipwreck survivor who has been out of the world for years. She was to ask her rescuers, “Who’s President now?” Told it is Kennedy, she would respond, “Which Kennedy?”

Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe by Anthony Summers

PAULA
Where were you when Kennedy got shot?

HARRY MOSEBY
Which Kennedy?

Night Moves

SEGISMUND
A dream!
That seem’d as swearable reality
As what I wake in now.

CLOTALDO
Ay—wondrous how
Imagination in a sleeping brain
Out of the uncontingent senses draws
Sensations strong as from the real touch;
That we not only laugh aloud, and drench
With tears our pillow; but in the agony
Of some imaginary conflict, fight
And struggle — ev’n as you did; some, ’tis thought,
Under the dreamt-of stroke of death have died.

Life is a Dream by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

There came Death expertly threading his graceless bicycle through traffic at the intersection of Wilshire and La Brea where, because of street repair, two westbound Wilshire lanes were funneling into one.

Death so swift! Death thumbing his nose at middle-aged horn honkers.

Death laughing, Screw you, buddy! And you.

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

SEGISMUND
In all the shining circuits you have gone
About this theatre of human woe,
What greater sorrow have you gazed upon
Than down this narrow chink you witness still;
And which, did you yourselves not fore-devise,
You registered for others to fulfil!

Life is a Dream by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

I face the difficulty that anyone does who writes about one of their great passions, that the insights you have, the details you wish to point out, all an expression of the fervent excitement I have for this movie, these things have already been pointed out, are already well known, and your analysis is ultimately a self-centered demonstration, only of your own devotion, rather than giving off anything of valuable luminiscence. I do not think what follows is an entirely well worn path, and I try to avoid the rote or the obvious, but given that this is one of Brian De Palma’s most cherished films among his fans, I no doubt repeat things others have many times before. As always, it carries the value and disadvantage that it is only my view, an idiosyncratic map of a movie that has meant so much to me for many years.

STRONG AS A COBWEB IN THE WIND1

It’s often classed as a conspiracy theory movie, and though this is definitionally correct, it’s also a misrepresentation that might disappoint viewers expecting a creature of this zoological class. The approach of most of this genre of movie is polemical, and the conspiratorial schematic it presents is part of the polemic: such a conspiracy is possible, now. The Parallax View might be the most memorable example of this, attempting to make the implausible plausible, a conspiracy theory without melodrama in music, direction, or characterization, told in the language of social realism; where the assassination of political figures in the United States takes place, a cover-up with the accompanying murder follows, and the very man investigating the conspiracy becomes its patsy, the assassin’s weapon placed in his dead hand. There is the outlining of a plausible schematic, and at the same time the conspiratorial group is invested with powers that verge on the mystic. They are able to travel everywhere, they are near invisible, they can kill whoever they wish, and they are flawless in their actions, never giving themselves away or making a mistake – when they appear to do so in Parallax, they are actually just laying down a trail of breadcrumbs to lead the hero to his doom.

Blow Out inverts this almost immediately; it is not the villains who possess a power that might be considered almost divine, but the hero. Jack Terry goes out into the park to record sounds, and we see him able to hear at vast superhuman distances, the same mechanical gift which gives him entry into the world of the twisting plot that follows. He moves his microphone and picks up what to the viewer’s ears sounds like the leg rubbing clicks of some night insect, yet Jack’s knowledge of sounds is superior to ours, and he already hears something unnatural, mechanical in these insect-like sounds. They are not insect noises at all, but Burke pulling the wire back and forth of his watch, a nervous tic he falls into whenever he waits before pulling one of his acts of subterfuge, and we hear this same sinister noise when he is lying in the car before going into the garage to change the tire, and finally, before killing the prostitute at the train station.

After the sounds of the wire snapping in and out, Jack hears another sound from Burke at extraordinary distance which no one else nearby hears, the crunch of leaves as the man adjusts his position on the ground. The soundman then focuses on the owl, and the two briefly share the sides of the screen, both creatures of superhuman hearing. The owl cocks its head, picking up a sound so faraway it doesn’t even appear on the soundtrack and not even Jack hears it, the senator’s car approaching. The owl then turns its head entirely as the car drives quickly down the road and Terry shifts his attention as well, hearing the squeal of the tires long before the car is anywhere near in view.

The other trope of conspiracy movies, unused in Blow Out, is a hero moving along the nodes of the conspiracy before reaching its nexus, the heart, or one of several hearts of american power. This might be the Parallax corporation in Parallax, the top echelons of the CIA in Three Days of the Condor, the White House, no matter – but we have a sense of the hero navigating through the labyrinth and getting closer and closer to a center of the universe, the truth finally unveiled. By contrast, Blow Out begins on the fringes and stays on the fringes, with Jack’s position remaining essentially static. Jack and Sally are portrayed as being on the edges, of being unimportant people, not the Jim Garrison of JFK, but something like a face in the Dallas crowd and a minor dancer at Jack Ruby’s, through the movie’s compositions. There is Jack, on his listening expedition, the camera moving further and further out, till he is an insignificant point in the landscape.

A similar sequence, after Jack rescues Sally:

Jack is in the hospital, after the rescue, and he is sealed off in rooms while the frenzy erupts outside.

Jack is given a condescending point and summoning finger, as if he were a delinquent child, by a cop on behalf of one of the Philadelphia brahmins:

Jack and Sally meet for a drink as he tries to persuade her from leaving the city, and we have a prolonged establishing shot where the focus is split between them and the men at the bar.

There is the obvious culmination of this, where Sally fights for her life, a figure invisible to the crowd, high above the festive celebration:

That Jack and Sally remain on the edges of the conspiracy is a function and a necessity of the plot, but it also is very much to do with the position of these characters in society itself. They are part of the overly broad, overly general category “working class”, and though the label is overly vague, there is the obvious marker in both characters, which is that neither goes to university and there appears to have been no expectation that they would get a degree, joining one of the coveted professional classes, of doctors, lawyers, engineers, or tenured professors. Jack’s only recourse for acquiring a technical education is through military service – his family does not have the money for university, and Sally is not surprised that this would be his only option. America is both supposedly a classless society while being very much a country with a class hierarchy, and we can see the prevalence of such a hierarchy by the fact that characters from this class – other than cops, firefighters, and soldiers – rarely appear in movies unaccompanied with a polemical theme about their economic status. The movie must be about bettering themselves, about being someone other than themselves, about acquiring a university education – Blow Out, in contrast, is simply about these characters on their own terms. They are not made stupid, crude, or ugly as an expression of their class, they are not seen solely by those outside of their class, but rather, the movie’s perspective is their own. It’s difficult to conceive of Jack Terry having much interest in a university education, not because he’s unintelligent or incurious, but because his interest is so focused, so specialized around sound technology, that he would rightly wonder what a degree in any field would offer him. That Jack Terry fails by the movie’s end is not because of any lack of education or lack of intelligence, but because he sees the unveiling of the conspiracy as a redemption for the failed police sting, and he wants that redemption so badly that he becomes careless. This sin is not made into a problem or issue of any particular class, but a fatal error possible of every member of the audience.

I have written of an assassination plot and its cover-up, at which Jack and Sally are positioned at the very far fringes, and we now reach the final point which makes Blow Out very distinct from other conspiracy thrillers: there is no conspiracy. The events of the movie are not the result of a convergence of shadowy figures and forces, but the result of only one man, and that’s Burke. He has been given the simple assignment of having Manny Karp take photos of Sally and the governor together, and either by accident or on his own maverick initiative, he commits a murder. Everything that follows, the cover-up, the serial killings, the erasing of Jack’s tapes, the death of Sally, is Burke acting on his own, with campaign manager Jack Manners wanting nothing to do with this out of control lunatic he hired for a very simple piece of campaign sabotage.

The conversation between Burke and Jack Matters, campaign manager for the president:

JACK MATTERS
You were supposed to get some pictures of McRyan, not kill him.

BURKE
I understood the objectives of the operation…I never concurred with them. But I didn’t kill him, it was an accident.

MATTERS
You accidentally shot out the tire of his car!

BURKE
As you may recall, this was my initial plan as proposed at our meeting of June the 6th.

MATTERS
We rejected that plan, don’t you remember?

BURKE
Course I do admit I had to exceed the parameters of my authority somewhat, but I always stayed within an acceptable margin of error. After all, the objective was achieved. He was eliminated from the election.

MATTERS
Burke. I don’t know you. I’ve never seen you. Don’t ever call me again.

BURKE
Just a minute, sir. We’ve got some loose ends. I’ve changed the tire, made it look like a blow out. I’ve erased the sound guy’s tapes, so everybody will think he’s a crackpot. Karp’s disappeared, but I’ll find him. That still leaves the girl. I’ve decided to terminate her, and make it look like one of a series of sex killings in the area. This would completely secure our operation.

MATTERS
WHAT OPERATION!

The Projection Booth podcast put together an episode, “Episode 140: Blow Out”, full of vital details on the movie in which they touched on the way information on the conspiracy is conveyed, far different from that in other movies of the genre. Mike White is the co-host, along with Rob St. Mary (fragment is at approximately 24:19-26:12 in the recording):

MIKE WHITE
So, it’s an interesting story of who’s watching who and who knows what when. Because that’s the other thing that I find very interesting about this one is the way we’re being handed information, like I was talking about with the television earlier, which kinda comes back a few times. I mean, there’s Manny, we see him on the TV, and that’s when Jack’s buddy comes in, and turns on the television set for him. But this whole idea of when do we know things versus when Jack knows them? Like, Burke putting the tire, the replacement tire, with the car, Nick Ryan’s car. We know that before Jack knows, and Jack is insisting “Check the tire! Check the tire!”, you know. It’s like, okay, we already know that that’s going on, and then we know as well, because we have Burke saying “I’ve erased all of his tapes,” so they’re going to think he’s crazy, we know that before Jack knows, and we get that amazing scene, of Jack going in, and playing all of his tapes, and having everything coming out blank, and that whole camera move, you know, I don’t wanna say three sixty, because that would imply the camera was in one spot and just turning around, cuz that camera is really exploring the space and going around, throughout the entire room, and just the way we run into Jack as you’re going around clockwise, it’s just a remarkable set piece.

This unveils a crucial aspect of Blow Out, but this is only a partial aspect. It is not simply that the audience knows things before Jack learns of them, but that we know things with certainty, that Jack only hypothesizes about – and of which he never gains hard evidence. Only the audience is able to clearly see that there is no conspiracy, that all the malice which takes place is caused by Burke. For Jack, this is all a cloud of unknowing, on which he projects a vast network which doesn’t exist onto this opaque expanse. “Who’s ever in on this thing has a contacts in the police, because they want McRyan to sink without a trace,” Jack tells Sally. “They don’t want to hear about my gunshot.” There is not Burke alone, but a they: “They have erased my tapes, they’ve made you disappear, and next it’s going to be me.” The asymmetry of information between Jack and the audience begins almost immediately after the accident, when Jack dives into the water to save Sally, at the same time the audience clearly sees Manny Karp move away from his hiding place under the bridge and run away, a figure entirely unseen by Jack.

By the end of the movie, he still has no idea whether the attempt to compromise McRyan came from the opposing camp, or McRyan’s own campaign manager, the man who asked that he lie about being at the scene of the accident. Jack’s suspicion is not glib paranoia, but comes from difficult worldly experience. He worked for the King Commission2, where he saw cops take money from gangsters to avoid prosecution, and he saw cops turn on their own when these crimes were revealed. Mackey hates him for his part in this, “I know all about you and your fucking tapes, you put a lot of good cops away”, and Jack must consider the obvious possibility that Mackey is working against him out of vengeance for what he did in the past3. In something like Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, or even All The President’s Men (if we’re unfamiliar with the real-life basis of the last), we learn things at the same pace as the heroes, while in Blow Out we’re given a situation that is entirely its opposite. Jack Terry has a gift of far reaching and discerning hearing which exceeds ours, yet he learns almost nothing more of the plot behind the accident, while we are shown all.

THE DROWNING POOL, THE BAGMAN, THE BURGLARS, ASPIRIN ROULETTE

The approach of Blow Out places an emphasis on the intimate, and the vivid sensual of noise and light, rather than the traveling of a convoluted plot which twists through the nodes of the conspiracy. As already said, this conspiracy has a node of one, Burke – there is no conspiracy – except that which Jack Terry has past basis to imagine. Instead of explorations of the echelons of power, we are with the characters close-up. We are given a lengthy sequence as Jack splices together the photos of the crash accident and syncs the audio with this film where we see his dedication and skill in his work; the well-known scene where Jack discovers the disorienting violation of his audio tapes having been erased, as the camera spins dizzyingly around and we hear the absence in what’s been left, not silence, but a chugging rumble and a whirring siren; the squalid scenes between Manny and Sally where we see the desperation and misery of her life. This is the core of the movie, rather than a murder plot, which, as said, remains largely a mystery to Jack by the film’s end.

I would liken the movie’s relationship to the historical scandal which initiates the plot with Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates, which takes the event of Chappaquiddick and rather than dwell on the specifics of that actual scandal, turns it into a kind of novella of vivid, often fantastic, sensation, where a woman drowns in a senator’s car, only to be revived, and the revival revealed to be an illusion, and again she dies, but no, by some miracle survives, all on an infinite loop, the recurrence of the death and the false promise of survival an unending nightmare. The senator’s tongue down the girl’s throat melts into the choking dark water, then into the suction hose that pumps her stomach in a revival attempt, the hose becoming the senator’s tongue again. The senator is obviously Edward Kennedy, but those wishing for a scathing satire will be disappointed; no mercy is shown by Oates in the portrayal, but her focus is more abstract, creating a fantastic horror world, and portraying the liberalism of the early nineties as a kind of a church in decline, where novices such as the dead woman have lost interest in the tenets of the faith and community good works, perferring idolatry of the church elders like the senator.

A fragment of Black Water, one of the many describing the crash, conveys the hypervivid sensation which takes precedent over plot points or attempts to parallel historical fact:

She heard the single expletive “Hey!” as the car skidded into a guardrail skidding sideways, the right rear coming around as in a demonic amusement ride and her head cracked against the window a red mist flashing across her eyes but she could not draw breath to scream as the momentum of their speed carried them down a brief but steep embankment, an angry staccato tapping against the car as if dried sticks were being broken, still she had not breath to scream as the car plunged into what appeared to be a pit, a pool, stagnant water in the marshland you might think only a few feet deep but black water was churning alive and purposeful on all sides tugging them down, the car sinking on its side, and Kelly was blinded, The Senator fell against her, and their heads knocked and how long it was the two of them struggled together, stunned, desperate, in terror of what was happening out of their control and even their comprehension except to think This can’t be happening, am I going to die like this, how many seconds or minutes before The Senator moaning “Oh God. Oh God” fumbled clawing at the safety belts extricating himself by sheer strength from his seat behind the broken steering wheel and with fanatic strength forcing himself through the door, opening the door against the weight of black water and gravity that door so strangely where it should not have been, overhead, directly over their heads, as if the very earth had tilted insanely on its axis and the sky now invisible was lost in the black muck beneath – how long, in her terror and confusion Kelly Kelleher could not have said.

Because Blow Out‘s focus is on the world of its two major characters, the initiating event incidental, the accident itself has the quality of a dream of overlapping scandals, of the Kennedy assassination, Chappaquiddick, and the government cover-up of Watergate. I would argue that the movie’s lack of focus on the conspiracy event, its disinterest in outlining a surrounding labyrinth, leaves us with images, the vast park, the sinking car, the drowning woman, the dead governor, abstracting the accident like Black Water does, and partly disconnects the event from actual history – when it is very much connected to past history, in the characters of Burke, of Manny Karp, of the accident, all of which are taken from the hard details of the intersection of Watergate and Chappaquiddick, and of which I think De Palma was familiar.

Richard Nixon was obsessed with all of the Kennedys, their good looks, their charm, their wealth, their connections to the eastern establishment that he despised, an animus that ran from the brother he ran against and lost, to the last survivor, even after the debacle of Chappaquiddick. This obsession shows up in that other movie which touches on Watergate, All the President’s Men, when Carl Bernstein talks to a secretary who used to work in the White House, about one of the Watergate burglars, E. Howard Hunt:

BERNSTEIN
Did you know…Howard Hunt? Didn’t he work in the office?

SECRETARY
Yeah, I knew Howard. He’s a nice person. He’s secretive. He is secretive. But. A decent man.

BERNSTEIN
Do you have any idea…what he did?

SECRETARY
Well, the White House said he was doing some investigative work.

BERNSTEIN (smiles)
What do you say?

SECRETARY
He was doing investigative work.

BERNSTEIN
On what?

SECRETARY
Different things.

BERNSTEIN
Like what? I’m just asking you.

SECRETARY
Well…the scuttlebutt for a while was that he was investigating Kennedy.

BERNSTEIN
Why?

SECRETARY
White House is real paranoid about Teddy Kennedy. I remember seeing a book about Chappaquiddick on his desk. And he was always getting material out of the White House library, the library of congress, anything he could find.

(the previous dialogue is not from the published script of All the President’s Men, which can be found here, but is a direct transcript from the movie since there are substantial differences between the lines in the movie and that of the script.)

This obsession is also revealed in the Nixon White House tapes, in these moments where the president tells his close advisors that he wants Ted Kennedy’s Secret Service protection to be used for surveillance, in order to gather damaging information which can be used to destroy him in the 1976 presidential campaign:

(Transcripts are taken from Stanley Kutler’s Abuse of Power and the transcript at whitehousetapes.net, Thursday, September 7, 1972 – 4:47pm – 6:15pm. Audio for the first segment is the file rmn_e772_06.mp3 taken from the nixontapes.org audio archive, specific page “Chron 4 Oval Office Conversations: July 1, 1972 – November 1, 1972″, entry OVAL 772-006. Audio for the second segment is the file rmn_e772_15b, also taken from the same site, same page, entry OVAL 772-015b. The tangential issue dealing with the names Schultz and O’Brien deals with George Schultz, then head of the Treasury and Larry O’Brien, head of the Democratic National Committee. The Nixon administration was trying to go after O’Brien through IRS audits.)

The ongoing attempt to find dirt on Ted Kennedy intersected with the Chappaquiddick drowning, which prompted the Nixon White House to send out a private detective to research the area to find any witnesses or dirt they might use to further damage the Massachussetts senator. The man they sent out for the assignment, Tony Ulasewicz, is described by another Watergate burglar, G. Gordon Liddy in his memoir Will. The Caulfield mentioned is Jack Caulfield, another private detective in the pay of the Nixon White House:

We found “Tony,” later identified at Watergate hearings as Anthony Ulasewicz, at Apartment 11-C, 321 East 48th Street, Manhattan. Caulfield had described the place as “a very elaborate pad – beautiful, wait’ll ya see it. My guy Tony’s puttin’ the make on one of the Chappaquiddick broads. The joint’s wired for sound. He gets her in the sack a few times, wins her confidence, and we get the facts.”

When “Tony” opened the door, I couldn’t believe what I saw. First there was “Tony” himself; a big, overweight middle-aged man who in his best day would not exactly rival Redford. Still, Casanova himself was an ugly man, and maybe “Tony” had something only a woman could appreciate. The apartment itself was something else. It was small, so small that the “bedroom” was nothing but a tiny converted alcove with a pitiful, homemade wall erected across its opening and a curtain for a door. The wall, in which he was trying to hide a tape recorder, was covered in the fake brick sold at Montgomery Ward stores in poor neighborhoods to dress up aging kitchens. A white shag rug was on the floor, and the windows were hung with red imitation velvet drapes. The decor was strictly better-grade Juarez whorehouse circa 1951.

I note two things. Jorge Luis Borges praises the magical precision of the phrase “half as old as time,” in a poetic stanza4, as opposed to the more banal and obvious “as old as time,” and this magical precision is there in describing an apartment as “better-grade Juarez whorehouse” as opposed to simply “Juarez whorehouse”. The other, more important point, is that the description of the sleazy Ulasewicz and his tiny, squalid apartment is very reminiscent of a character we are already well familiar with, Manny Karp.

Ulasewicz’s voice, a practical, matter of the fact, guttural well familiar with the ass end of politics, comes across well in a BBC documentary on the Watergate scandal (“Watergate 1/5: Break-in”, “Watergate 2/5: Cover-up”, “Watergate 3/5: Scapegoat”, “Watergate 4/5: Massacre”, “Watergate 5/5: Impeachment”), showing up in part two, when the detective is recruited for another assignment, to pay off hush money to the Watergate burglars.

Segment running from approximately 24:24-26:35:

NARRATOR
Five days after the break-in, the burglars were brought to court to be released on bail. The president’s men set about organizing their hush money. Richard Nixon’s private lawyer, Herb Kalmbach, got the assignment.

MAURICE STANS (CAMPAIGN FINANCE CHAIRMAN)
Herb Kalmbach was a close personal friend of mine, and I trusted him in every respect. So, when he came to me and said he’d like all the money I could find up to a hundred thousand dollars, I said, “I can’t find a hundred thousand dollars,” but I know where there is some money, can you tell me anything more about it? He said, “I can only tell you it’s a matter of the White House needing some money – related to the campaign.

NARRATOR
Kalmbach collected seventy five thousand dollars of Nixon campaign funds. But he had to find someone to deliver it.

TONY ULASEWICZ
I got a call…to come down to Washington. And to meet with Mr. Herbert Kalmbach. I came to the hotel in Washington, D.C., I came up right away…he didn’t have his socks on, and he apologized for that. And I’d been in the army, in the navy, and he apologized for not having his socks on. At any rate, he got into this story, he’d met with John Dean. A park bench across from the White House. Dean said that on the highest authority, it was decided, that Herb Kalmbach would provide funds and that Tony Ulasewicz, the only one they could trust, would distribute said funds, to those who broke into the Watergate building. So now, he has an attaché case, and he’s got seventy five grand in there. The seventy five thousand now, he’s taking it out of the attaché case, and putting it on a bed. Now, seventy five grand, you know, is quite a bit of lettuce. And there was a laundry bag in the closet, one of these, very thin brown paper that you put your laundry in and leave it out by the door. And I plucked all that cabbage, and I put it into the bag, tied it up with the string, maybe twice over, put it under my arm, and said we’ll be in touch. Now, I’ll await your instructions.

Segment running from approximately 40:16-41:43:

NARRATOR
Nixon’s re-election machine looked unstoppable. But he knew that if the Watergate burglars started talking, it would be all over. So his campaign funds were used to buy more than just rallies, they bought silence. Howard Hunt and his wife began taking delivery of the hush money to distribute to the burglars.

TONY ULASEWICZ
I’m gonna do these drops at the airport. And I would- Because lockers were always handy. I’d get a locker number, I’d take the key, put the money in the locker, take the key out. And I’d tape it underneath the telephone. Then I would call on another phone, I’d call the person, whatever name we’d use, Mrs. Hunt at that time, one time Mr. Hunt appeared and picked it up, and I’d say the key is taped- Take that key and go to the locker and pick up your drop. And that’s the way we did it. And it worked very well.

If Karp is made in the image of Ulasewicz, then Burke is a replica of the Watergate burglar already mentioned, G. Gordon Liddy. There is a constricted, lunatic fanaticism to Liddy, and a blind worship of force, both of which can be seen in Burke. It is possible that Liddy’s later behavior can be traced to his overwhelming desire to serve in the army, and fight in Korea, the latter hope dashed when he busted his appendix after a bout of drinking followed by a sit-up contest. This failure to serve may have caused him to overcompensate later on, where he invested every aspect of life with the rigor of a Prussian and coiled violence of a Cossack. Liddy would work in the White House, ostensibly as legal counsel to the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), but really to perform intelligence gathering and sabotage of their democratic opponents. The political aides inside the Nixon White House would brag and brag about the presidential rallies they’d organized, which soon ran on Liddy’s nerves. “Hey, you guys,” he’d ask, “you want to see a real rally?,” after which he took them to one of his favorite movies, Triumph of the Will.

Liddy would present something called GEMSTONE to Nixon’s Attorney General for approval. GEMSTONE was a series of plans to disrupt Democratic rivals and gather information on these rivals through spies and surveillance, each element named after a gem or mineral element. Liddy does a thorough job describing the presentation in Will, and the following are some representative excerpts:

DIAMOND was our counterdemonstration plan. At the time, we still expected the [Republican convention] to be held in San Diego. I repeated my objections to the site, then pointed out that the best technique for dealing with a mob had been worked out years before by the famed Texas Rangers.

I pointed out that we would be dealing with skilled and determined urban guerillas who had been distributing manuals for violent guerilla tactics against the convention, including homemade bombs; that the Sports Arena area would be impossible to hold against a well-led mob attack; and that I proposed to emulate the Texas Rangers by identifying the leaders through intelligence before the attack got under way, kidnap them, drug them, and hold them in exico until after the convention was over, then release them unharmed and still wondering what happened.

RUBY concerned the infiltration of spies into the camp of Democratic contenders, then the successful candidate himself. COAL was the program to furnish money clandestinely to Shirley Chisholm of New York to finance her as a contender and force Democratic candidates to fight off a black woman, bound to generate ill-feeling among the black community and, we hoped, cause them difficulty with women.

EMERALD outlined the use of a chase plane to eavesdrop on the Democratic candidate’s aircraft and buses when his entourage used radio telephones.

QUARTZ detailed emulation of the technique used by the Soviet Union for microwave interception of telephone traffic, and I explained in detail the way it was done by the Soviet Embassy.

For use in gathering information at the Democratic National Convention at Miami Beach, Hunt [this is the already mentioned Watergate burglar, E. Howard Hunt] and I had an option to lease a large houseboat moored within line of sight of the Fontainebleau [a hotel in Miami]. This would enable it to be used as a communications center for CRYSTAL – electronic surveillance. It was an opulent barge, with a lush bedroom featuring a large mirror over the big king-sized bed. We’d get our money’s worth from the houseboat. It would double as headquarters for SAPPHIRE because it was from there that our prostitutes were to operate. They were not to operate as hookers but as spoiled, rich, beautiful women who were only too susceptible to men who could brag convincingly of the importance of what they were doing at the convention. The bedroom would be wired for sound, but I disagreed with Hunt’s suggestion that movie cameras be used. That wouldn’t be necessary to get the information, might cost us the women recruited who might object to being filmed in flagrante, and, as I pointed out to Howard, there wasn’t room to install them overhead anyway.

I presented a plan for four black-bag jobs, OPALs I through IV. They were clandestine entries at which microphone surveillances could be placed, as well as TOPAZ: photographs taken of any documents available, including those under lock. As targets I proposed the headquarters of Senator Edmund Muskie’s campaign on K Street, N.W.; that of Senator George McGovern on Capitol Hill; one for the Democratic National Convention at any hotel, because we had access to just about anything we wanted through all the Cuban help employed in the Miami Beach hotels. One entry would be held in reserve for any target of opportunity Mitchell wished to designate as we went along. I looked at him questioningly, but he just kept sucking on his pipe, suggesting none.

The total cost of these operations, Liddy would tell attorney general John Mitchell, was one million dollars.

John Mitchell made much of filling and relighting his pipe and then said, “Gordon, a million dollars is a hell of a lot of money, much more than we had in mind. I’d like you to go back and come up with something more realistic.”

As I restacked the charts, John Mitchell continued, “And Gordon?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Burn those charts; do it personally.”

“Yes, sir.”

Again, these plans for illegal wiretaps, break-ins, use of prostitutes for surveillance of members of an offical political party of the United States were all presented for approval to the highest arbiter of justice in the land, Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell. In Blow Out, Burke receives his orders from the president’s campaign manager, Jack Manners, with the killing of the governor and the later cover-up all rogue operations which had been presented to the campaign manager, and which he has already rejected. Who does Manners look uncannily like? John Mitchell.

There was another operation that Liddy was involved in, outside of the command structure of John Mitchell, and that dealt with a reporter named Jack Anderson, who’d infuriated the White House by his publication of stories reliant on insider leaks that were devastating to the administration. Liddy is forthright in Will about the plan of action against Anderson, put forth by fellow Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt at a luncheon, also attended by a medical doctor named Edward Gunn. Both Gunn and Hunt were formerly of the CIA.

The purpose of the luncheon, Hunt had explained to me previously, was to take advantage of the expertise of Dr. Gunn in preparing, for the approval of Hunt’s “principal,” a plan to stop columnist Jack Anderson. Even with each other, Hunt and I often, when discussing the most sensitive of matters, used the term my principal rather than identify our superiors. I, at least, had several. Hunt, to my knowledge, had only one: Chuck Colson.

Anderson, Hunt reported, had now gone too far. As the direct result of an Anderson story, a top U.S. intelligence source abroad had been so compromised that, if not already dead, he would be in a matter of days. That was too much. Something had to be done.

I took the position that, in a hypothetical case in which the target had been the direct cause of the identification and execution of one of our agents abroad, halfway measures were not appropriate. How many of our people should we let him kill before we stop him, I asked rhetorically, still not using Anderson’s name. I urged as the logical and just solution that the target be killed. Quickly.

My suggestion was received with immediate acceptance, almost relief, as if they were just waiting for someone else to say for them what was really on their minds.

Liddy would also explain in Will his justification for assassinating a journalist:

There is a point beyond which I will not go, and that is anything my conscience tells me is malum in se (evil in and of itself) or my judgement tells me is irrational. I have no problem with doing something that is malum prohibitum (wrong only because of the existence of a law prohibiting it).

An example of malum in se would be the sexual assault of a child. In every society such a thing would be recognized as wrong. It would require no act of the legislature forbidding it to inform people that it was wrong. An example of malum prohibitum, on the other hand, would be the statute prohibiting driving through a stop sign without coming to a complete halt. Absent such a law, to do so would be a morally indiffernt act.

Common sense tells us that minor problems require and justify but minor responses, and only extreme problems require and justify extreme solutions. In the case of killing it is well to remember that the Ten Commandments, translated correctly from the original Aramaic, do not contain the injunction “Thou shalt not kill.” It reads, “Thou shalt not do murder.” Quite another thing. There are circumstances that not only justify killing but require it (when one is charged with the safekeeping of a child, for example, and the only way to prevent its death from another’s attack is to kill that other person). These are all situations that require informed and responsible judgements.

A number of methods of assassination were discussed. There was the possibility of applying LSD to the steering wheel of Anderson’s car, which might trigger a disruption of motor functions, causing Anderson to fatally crash his vehicle. You could play a game called aspirin roulette, where one of Anderson’s aspirins was substituted with a lookalike pill that was a lethal poison. Another suggestion from Liddy: “I submitted that the target should just become a fatal victim of the notorious Washington street-crime rate.” One more was to smash into Anderon’s car, killing him, but making it look like one more traffic accident. Liddy would recall this last approach when he was a guest on “The Howard Stern Show” (this interview is in four parts on youtube, one, two, three, four, and the following is taken from part one, 13:35 to the end of the clip):

STERN
If you had killed Jack Anderson, like you proposed to the Nixon Administration, what would you have used? Because you did advocate an assasination.

LIDDY
Yeah. Well, what we decided to do was…we knew the route he came into the office…and it included a traffic circle.

QUIVERS
You’re going to shoot him in the circle?

LIDDY
No, you’re not gonna shoot him in the circle. There’s a way you hit the car in a certain way, and it would flip and kill him.

STERN
The bullet, when they-

LIDDY
There’s no bullet, there’s a car accident.

QUIVERS
You’re hitting the car with a bullet, right?

LIDDY
No. No. You are hitting the car with another car.

This background is brought up to make obvious that the elements of the conspiracy in Blow Out are neither radical nor fantastic, but a very real part of American history, with a few small paths changed. Rather than gather information after Chappaquiddick, imagine if Tony Ulacewicz had been tasked with getting damaging information before it had taken place. Instead of Hunt and Liddy hiring prostitutes for purposes of surveillance as part of the SAPPHIRE section of the GEMSTONE plan, Ulacewicz would bring in a woman with the objective of destroying a candidate. Instead of assassinating a journalist for the greater good of the country, we might imagine Liddy, or a figure like him, believed that the killing of a governor was one of those situations that served a greater and necessary purpose. Rather than kill the man through an ersatz car accident, he would take the suggestion of Robin Quivers, and hit the tire with a bullet. It was a situation that required “informed and responsible judgement,” to use Liddy’s phrase, and perhaps the killing of a senator or a governor fell under the category of malum prohibitum rather than malum in se. Perhaps the killing of three women to cover up the assassination might fall under malum prohibitum as well. If anything, Blow Out is perhaps more conservative in its conspiracy, because we have only the actions of a rogue agent. As we can see in the excerpted section, however, one of the top officials in the White House may well have been behind the initial order to kill Jack Anderson. We now have audio tapes of Nixon personally ordering a break-in at the think tank, the Brookings Institute5. In this movie, we have a single agent acting on his own. In reality, we had a White House that went rogue.

AUDIOPHILIA / PERSONAL EFFECTS / I AM OF BOTH YOUR DIRECTIONS

Blow Out was at first not called Blow Out, but something else entirely, as described in The Projection Booth podcast, fragment going from 46:50 to 48:00:

MIKE WHITE
The title, Blow Out, was not the original title for this film. Personal Effects was the first title for it…which I found to be a very interesting title, really, because you’ve got both the idea of the sound effects and them being your effects, but then the whole idea of personal effects, usually, when you talk about someone passing away, you are given their personal effects. And so it’s just this kind of nice play on words, and him going to Blow Out was definitely much more of a throwback to Blow Up, which I think is a very nice homage that he’s doing with the title, and you’re right, there’s definitely some nods back to Antonionni but…I don’t know, the thing when it comes to Antonionni’s films, at least the few that I’ve seen, it always feels like somebody took his movies and put them in a pot of boiling water, boiled out all the emotions, and then what’s left is what gets projected on screen? Because it just never feels like I care about any of the people in his films, it always feels like a bunch of sleepwalkers going through the motions, whereas with Blow Out, I definitely felt like there was so much emotion, and I really cared for these characters.

There are several associations with the phrase “Personal Effects”, the most obvious that it’s the name of Jack Terry’s sound engineering company, never said aloud, but there in the print on the glass of the door:

Personal effects, as White says, are the possessions you might acquire after someone’s death, which immediately makes one think of Sally, but I find the phrase hints at Sally in another way: Jack works in sound effects, while Sally works in make-up, which might be thought of as personal effects. De Palma’s movies are often extraordinarily succinct, wasting few words on lengthy exposition or backstory. We sense characters visually, through their expressions, their posture, movements, clothes, and their work. Kate of Dressed to Kill is one of the most memorable characters in any of his movies, yet she has almost no dialogue, with Kate made a tangible, memorable presence entirely in her face, as she observes, reacts, is chased, and chases back. The vocations of Jack and Sally are a handy metaphors for aspects of these characters which, in another movie, might be made more explicit.

The sensibility of a conspiracy theorist, or simply someone looking deeply into a particularly obscure world and discerning a pattern, is well captured in the profession of a sound engineer. Jack Terry doesn’t just hear at great distance through his technology, his hearing is extraordinarily acute through years of experience, able to discern small subtleties of sound. “You heard the blow out,” the cop tells Terry of what he heard on the night of the accident. “Yes I heard the blow out, but the first sound I heard was the bang.” Replies the cop: “That’s some kind of an echo.” Jack: “No. Look. I know what an echo sounds like, I’m a sound man, and, the bang was before the blow out.” He insists that the sound is there, though no one else can hear it – when Jack plays back the tape for Sally, she says, “I mean, I heard a noise, maybe it was a gunshot.” Only when she hears the sounds accompanied by Karp’s film is she able to clearly recognize the gunshot. This is very much like the closed off world of someone who might be investigating a historical or political mystery; they insist they perceive a pattern, yet others, not knowing the details of the various minor characters and coincidences of this unilluminated corner of the world cannot say with certainty whether their theory is credible, only seemingly credible, or false. This is also something like what a movie director feels – whatever the setbacks and problems in filming, whatever others say, they see a vision in the screenplay and the footage that others do not, and sometimes these certainties crashes thuddingly to the ground, and other times this mad vision is exhilaratingly right. The viewer has the luxury of certainty, the movie showing us that Burke clearly was behind the governor’s death. This certainty is often expected on the part of the audience, that the hero’s suspicions are always right, that the hero is always correct and righteous in his actions, and this very attitude is upended by the movie’s finale. De Palma is well aware of how easily the audience can fall into unquestioning assent that a movie’s protagonist is always right, and later in his career he uses this to play a rather nasty trick in Mission: Impossible. There, in an early scene, we are shown footage of a senator speaking on TV, who Ethan Hunt will impersonate at the embassy. This speech is played loud enough for the audience to easily make out every word, for us to easily discern its meeting, and this senator is greeted with withering disdain by the television host, and dismissive laughter by our heroes:

ETHAN HUNT
We’re using Waltzer?

JIM PHELPS
He’s our guy.

HUNT
Isn’t he chairing the arms services committee?

PHELPS
Not this week. This week he’s fly fishing, at the Oughterard Slough in County Kildaire with one of our best Irish guides.

CLAIRE
He won’t be back anytime soon.

WALTZER
-irrelevant at best, or unconstitutional at worst.

TV HOST
With all due respect, Senator, it sounds as if you want to lead the kind of charge that Frank Church led in the nineteen hundred and seventies.

WALTZER
No- No-

TV HOST
…and in the process destroyed the intelligence capability of this country.

WALTZER
I wanna know who these people are. And how they’re spending our tax payers’ money. We were living in a democracy, the last time I checked6.

De Palma, I think, is very much a skeptic of the national security state, and he puts what is probably the sanest attitude in this movie, and the one he probably most likely agrees with, in this marginal character who simply wants greater accountability and transparency for an intelligence agency that might well be acting outside of the constitution. This attitude may well have greater resonance in the present time than at the time of the movie’s release, given what we now know. Yet how can this senator possibly be right, if he is some reedy voiced senior, dripping in earnestness and piety, looked on with ridicule by a heroic character played by the biggest movie star in the world and mocked so mercilessly by the host of a TV show? It is perhaps helpful to note, and allows us to return to the subject of Blow Out, that this same TV host is John McLaughlin, an alumnus – like G. Gordon Liddy and John Mitchell – of the Nixon administration, where he was a speechwriter and one of the staunchest defenders of the president, even after Watergate broke7. Yet how could this Nixon devotee possibly be wrong, if a character played by Tom Cruise agrees with him?

There is nothing obviously unsympathetic about Jack Terry, there is no karmic payback in Sally’s death. Jack is more heroic and virtuous than most of us; he worked to end corruption in the Philadelphia police department, and he saves Sally from drowning. Jack is a man who is the audience’s heroic proxy, and his quest for redemption is our quest for redemption as well – we wish him to succeed as it gives us hope that we too might begin again, that we will have second and third chances. There is the expectation of movies that they will affirm our heroic fantasies, and Blow Out gives us a partial affirmation, providing us the concrete proof that Jack is entirely right in his belief in an assassination attempt, and then pulls the rug out from us – Jack fails in his mission because he badly misjudges the situation, and this misjudgement is a result of his quest for redemption by exposing the conspiracy, yet we in the audience wish him on in this reckless mission. We expect the very mechanics of the type of movie we’re watching – a thriller with a charismatic Hollywood star – will save him, that a hero in this context cannot fail. Yet he does.

Sound effects are Jack’s speciality, and make-up is Sally’s. Though we are never told any exact details about the matter, I think it can be inferred that she has suffered great abuse, and had to abide such abuse. We see her with Manny Karp as he paws at her, as she initially resists with little energy, as if she has become conditioned to expect a steady dose of such maltreatment in this life. This might be what allows Jack to act as he does in his worst moments in the movie, sending her back to get the film from Karp, humiliating her and then intimidating her into doing this, knowing that she won’t fight back.

SALLY
What are you going to do?

JACK
What do you mean what am I going to do? What are we going to do?

SALLY
What do I have to do with this?

JACK
Oh, will you cut the shit, Sally. I know what you were doing in that car.

SALLY (quietly)
What do you know.

JACK
That you and your friend Karp were setting up McRyan to be blackmailed, getting scummy pictures of you and the candidate getting laid after the Liberty Ball, right? What did you do, tell him that running water under a well-lit bridge gets you hot?

SALLY (quietly)
Who told you that.

JACK
I got a look at your earlier work. Some motel candid camera shots. You got nice tits. Who was paying you to flash them at McRyan?

JACK
Nobody wants to know about conspiracy, I don’t get it. Let me tell you something. I know what I heard and what I saw. And I’m not gonna stop until everyone in this fucking country hears and sees the same thing. And you’re gonna help me. Yeah you. You’re gonna find your pal Karp, and you’re gonna get that original film. Because this isn’t any good, I need the original. Because if we don’t get this out and in television for everybody to see, they’re gonna close the book. And any loose ends that happen to be hanging out like you or me, are going to be cut right off. So you got your choice. You can be crazy or dead, either will do.

SALLY (on the verge of tears)
Alright, alright. I’ll try and get the film. Then will you just leave me alone about all of this?

JACK
I wish I was the only one you had to worry about.

SALLY
You know if you’re trying to scare me, you’re doing a good job.

JACK
I’m trying to save our asses.

SALLY
I’ll look after my own ass, thank you.

When Jack tells Sally, “And you’re gonna help me. Yeah you. You’re gonna find your pal Karp, and you’re gonna get that original film,” he gives her the same condescending, commanding pointed finger that he received from the cop, when he was told to change his story:

There is an economic element to this intimidation as well: we see the sizes of their respective places, and Jack’s is clearly bigger, a two storey house. Money determines your importance, and whatever the miseries of his work, he is doing far better than her, has more money, is relatively more important, and this intimidates her as well. The assassination film is his project, and he forces her to do what’s necessary that it be completed. Jack stashes the audio tape away in the ceiling, and the camera takes its perspective, looking down, Jack’s guiding polar star which he makes Sally’s guiding polar star as well. When we shift to the scene at Karp’s, it ends with Manny unconscious, the camera looking down again from the ceiling on the wreckage, the outcome of Jack’s obsession.

(the respective houses of Sally, and then Jack’s)

Sally tells Jack, “I know how to fix a face”, and he asks her in the conversation at the bar, “How about if I broke a nose? How would you deal with a broken nose?”, and she says, “Ah, that’s easy.” You’re reminded that make-up is a useful skill to have to hide bruises, to conceal the personal effects of a man kicking the shit out of you. Sally, of course, knows how to apply make-up so that it doesn’t even look like she’s wearing make-up, and she’s equally able to adopt a pose where one cannot easily tell how much of it is natural girlishness, and how much a survival strategy to forget past hurts and avoid further suffering.

She is a particularly nettlesome character to some viewers, and the discussion on The Projection Booth with regards to her is especially enlightening. This excerpt conveys succinctly the broad range of feelings towards her, as well as what her character embodies, fragment running approximately from 18:54 to 22:49:

MIKE WHITE
Jack saves Sally, pulls her out of the sinking car. We’ve got the governor, who might have been the next president, in the car with them, setting off this whole political intrigue. So, what did you guys think about Nancy Allen as Sally?

ROB ST. MARY
She seems almost child-like. At times. And child-like to a point, for me, is a bit annoying. It’s almost like she’s so oblivious to what’s going on, is so sorta naive, that it’s almost, it’s kinda hard for me to have sympathy for her at times, because I’m like, you are so dumb. You can’t even kinda figure this out. There are parts where she just seems way too ten years younger than she should be, she seems like a girl in her early teens or something, and I don’t know why I got that feeling, but I definitely got it in the early go, and as she progresses, it gets better, like the character gets a little hip to what’s going on, and sorta realizes the implications of what she’s dealing with.

JAMIE DUVALL
It’s a tough performance to grapple with in many ways, and I think it was a completely brave choice the way she chose to play it. Because you could see her as a complete air-headed bimbo at the movie’s start, with the high voice and the, you think it’s too exaggerated, but I think she starts with a stereotype, and she slowly humanizes it. And I think that her idealism, her kinda wide eyed idealism, is very fitting with the theme of the movie, because she’s the stereotypical hooker with the heart of gold. In her position, she has probably seen a lot of terrible things in life, and yet she maintains that kind of wide-eyed dreamy innocence in some way. While Travolta’s character, he’s grasping at the last straws of his idealism. And this is his, through the course of the movie, this is his one chance to try and make things right. I like the contrast between those two characters and I like that the innocence in her is exaggerated.

WHITE
Yeah, there’s a telling moment towards the end of the film, I know we’ll eventually get to it, kinda want to throw out this here now: do you guys see her as just being, I know this is going to sound really frickin ponderous, but: do you see her more as a symbol of America’s innocence and, you know, Jack is maybe someone who is post-sixties whereas she is maybe pre-sixties kind of thing? Do you see her as kindof that desire for a simpler, better time and that she kinda lets some of these things, because she has been in these bad places. I know that you said, Jamie. I know that you- you see her caught in one of these candid motel photograph kind of things and yet, she doesn’t seem like she’s that person. She just seems to be kinda oblivious and wants to move on with things, and look for the better way whereas Jack doesn’t, do you see her as that symbol of innocence?

DUVALL
I do think you can very easily see her as that. She’s got her blinders on, to the dangers of the world around her. But she can’t escape them forever. And- I think there’s a reason why she’s killed in front of a big American flag, at the end of the film. I mean-

WHITE
Oh, SPOILERS.

DUVALL
Oh, I’m sorry. It’s pretty hard to avoid when you’re talking about where that character goes and what she means to the story. You know, her demise. Yeah, I think that’s a beautiful reading, and I love how you used the term countercultural, because De Palma is a countercultural film-maker. He’s always been a political minded film-maker. And I think that both of these characters kinda represent that in some way.

The startling, iconic shot just mentioned is, of course, this one:

Though an outwardly simple character, Sally has several fascinating ambiguities, such as whether she ever worked as a prostitute, how much she was involved in that work, and how she reconciles the frequently rough life of sex work with a kind and trusting disposition. The sections of The Projection Booth when Nancy Allen speaks of her character might be its most insightful moments, as she seemingly acknowledges that Sally worked as a prostitute while also denying it. We sense perhaps the protectiveness actors adopt for their own characters, but perhaps also the way an actor cannot express a detail about their character without also adopting the perspective of the person portrayed: I wear the kind of elegant expensive boots that a prostitute of the time would wear, but I’m not a prostitute since I’ve insisted on forgetting that I was ever such a thing, and so how could I be something that I don’t remember being?

A fragment that runs from 2:15:08 to 2:15:54:

MIKE WHITE
Your character, even though I sense she’s a prostitute, is one of the nicest people in the film.

NANCY ALLEN
Well, she’s not exactly a prostitute (laughs) as I said before. She is in her- She is working with this guy, this creepy detective, to expose these horrible cheating men. So, in her mind, she’s really doing a service to other women. Of course, she’s in complete denial of what she’s doing. As I am of her character, because I don’t see her as a prostitute. I see her as a very sweet, well-intentioned, young girl, who was easily manipulated and trusting, of men. So, you know, I can relate to that.

Another fragment, running from approximately 2:28:55 to 2:33:51:

MIKE WHITE
Where did you come up with that voice to do?

NANCY ALLEN
The voice came after, I had a visual, sometimes I try, just when you think about a character, and I had this visual of her as a, just a little rag doll, just a little raggedy ann, curly red haired, I don’t know, it kinda floated through me as I was walking around, as I tend to do, just mulling over characters, and I had a visual of her, and Brian wanted me to do a Philadelphia accent, which I had a really hard time with. I just hate accents so much, I was really resistant to doing it. We talked about characters like Giulietta Masina in, god, I’m going blank now- You know, not so bright, well intentioned, kindof character, do you know the movie I’m thinking of? With Giulietta Masina and Anthony Quinn? What is that movie, I know you know what one I’m talking about, I know what one I’m talking about.

WHITE
Is it La Strada?

ALLEN
YES! Thank you. Brilliant. You win the prize. So, we were talking about that, and I said, what if I just do kindof a New York-ese, not well educated kind of way of talking that, and just- The idea of, I was trying to think, why do women, certainly the women that I know, [goes into higher pitched, babyish voice, which sounds a lot like Sally] You know, this is kind of one of their voice days. [back to normal] And I thought, well, you know what? These are women who are resistant to growing up, keep their child like qualities, it works for them to a point, I mean, obviously, as you get older it’s a little bit unappealing. But- so- Maybe that’s going to justify- Take that idea and apply it to this character. And so, that’s where that came from. I will tell you, I think one of the first things that I shot was the hospital scene. With John. Who was unshaven, and wouldn’t wear make-up, and poor George Litto, who was producing at that time, came to the set, and he said “I’m paying three million dollars to a movie star, and he won’t wear make-up?” And then he looked at me and said, “Are you…you using that voice throughout the whole picture, or just in this scene?” And he just walked away, shaking his head, he didn’t know what to do with either of us. That’s where all of that came from.

WHITE
Whenever I think of you in the film, I think of your voice, but I also think of that coat, that you wear.

ALLEN
Oh, yes! [laughs] YES. There were many of those. Ann Roth made, six or eight of those, with the fox collar and…yeah yeah yeah, it was a great coat.

WHITE
It was like crushed velvet?

ALLEN
EXACTLY! Very good. Indeed it was. And I had very expensive boots. Always very expensive boots, because Ann Roth had done Klute, and she’d done a lot of research about hookers and girls like that, and they always had good shoes. Great boots.

WHITE
But you weren’t a hooker?

ALLEN
Well, THAT’S RIGHT. That’s what I say. [laughs]

WHITE
I guess the coat helped my perception of that.

ALLEN
She [Ann Roth] had such a great touch of detail, I don’t know if anyone has noticed it, because there’s probably only one scene where it’s visible to the eye, but when I talked to her about the character and I told her my visual concept, and things I was thinking about with her, and the idea, that some day she was going to be a make-up artist, a movie star. I liked the idea that this young girl had an idea about lucky charms, and things like that. So, she put together, I still have it somewhere, it’s a rabbit’s foot, on a thin pink satin ribbon. That I always wore, and it was either under- but I always wore that charm when we were shooting. It was, those little details really make a difference when you have something like that. That’s what’s so great about the collaboration of film, where an actor can work with another actor, and a director, and a costume person, and make-up person, and really great costumes, and wonderful hair and make-up, it really fleshes out a character, and all of a sudden you look at yourself, and you go, yeah, that’s her. That’s it. This is it exactly, and you start to feel it in a big way.

This mixture of ambiguity and simplicity, the kindness, the voice, all make me link this character to an actress now inextricably connected to the Kennedys, and that would be Marilyn Monroe. The accident at the heart of the movie, which might feel like a dreamy conflation of american tragedies, might carry the echo of a lost hypothetical: what if Marilyn Monroe had hooked up with the one Kennedy brother she didn’t, and was there in the car with him at Chappaquiddick? Though I think Allen has a wider range, I can see Monroe’s peculiar genius making her a perfect fit for the part of Sally had Blow Out somehow been made in the 1950s, one of those roles where she would have been great, but which would also provoke the question of whether she was acting, or just playing Marilyn Monroe…or whether she’s always playing Marilyn Monroe. This tragic icon would get paid $50 to be photographed nude by Tom Kelley, who would sell the pictures for $500, which then went into a calendar that made a profit of three quarters of a million dollars; “He says he heard all about our fine divorce work and offers us six grand,” says Manny Karp, explaining the meeting with Burke for the McRyan job. “Six? You told me three,” says Sally. “Yeah, well, three before and three after,” says Karp. Sally: “When were you going to tell me about the three after?” Monroe, we’re told in The Genius and the Goddess, “was a prostitute, in cars on shady side-streets, in return for small amounts of money to buy food,” just as Sally had to do paid sex work to survive; the most striking similarity is that Monroe, despite the very grim circumstances of her life, was able to exhibit a girlish, open-eyed, friendly atttitude, and how much of that was affect beneath which the actual Marilyn was enwrapped is an open question. Nunally Johnson, a screenwriter and friend of Monroe would say that she was “generally something of a zombie. Talking to her is like talking to somebody underwater“, and this might be something like the exasperation people have with Sally, where you might ask, what part of you isn’t gauzy cotton candy?8

I don’t think I’ve ever had this complaint with the character, because Sally has always made perfect sense to me, someone who has been very badly hurt over and over again, and has made herself into a strange kind of creature, an unknowable amnesiac submissive, to avoid being hurt again. In her first scene after the drowning, Sally moves about drugged, finally so comatose she has to be pushed onto her bed. In her last scene, she’s dragged about in a tight grip by Burke. Manny gets her in the beds of men for divorce work. Jack pushes her into retrieving the film from Manny. Throughout the movie, she acquiesces to being a device in other plots, culminating in the last, which she finally resists, a victim in a series of killings. We might see in the three characters of Jack, Burke, and Sally, a trinity, with Jack the middle point. Burke is technically adept like Jack, able to tap into and re-wire the phone system much like the title charcter of Three Days of the Condor, yet he is a sociopath, a man entirely without any sense of the humanity of others. Jack does have this feeling, along with Burke’s precision and focus, yet when his obsession overtakes him, when he forces Sally to retrieve Karp’s film, he loses this empathy. Sally has none of the engineering gifts of these two men, but is far more compassionate, with a far greater sense of the feelings of others, and this makes her guilt ridden, and it compels her to forget, to sometimes act as if some things never took place. “Manny, we got him killed,” she says tearfully to Karp, about governor McRyan’s accident. “Don’t give me any of this conscience shit,” says Karp. “You’re a pig, Manny,” she says, “And I’m a pig too.” Though it’s never said openly, one reason why Sally connects with Jack, feels such sympathy for him, is that they both know what it’s like to be haunted by the past, a death they feel complicit in causing.

One can understand why Allen felt the rabbit’s foot so crucial, because this is a character, whatever her outward circumstances, who somehow remains wide eyed and optimistic. She believes that luck will guide her to a better life, and this is the same magical thinking cure of most Hollywood movies, that we needn’t worry, that things will somehow turn out for the best in the end. The rabbit’s foot will protect Sally’s life, and Jack Terry will somehow prevail, save her, and become a hero by uncovering an American coup, and in another movie we can easily imagine this happy ending. But not this one. The one detail that Allen misremembers is that the rabbit’s foot was not a hidden talisman serving as just a helpful lodestone to the actress visible only in one scene – it is prominently displayed throughout the movie, another example of De Palma effectively using the visual, clothing and props, to convey a character well. Sally is wearing the rabbit’s foot when she dies:

I see Sally as someone like Marilyn Monroe, where we’re no longer sure where the artifice begins and ends, but I also see her as a play on the types we might see in the kind of exploitation movie that’s shown in the opening. Sally would be the squeaky voiced Bimbo, but rather than leave her as the flat expendable type of a low grade horror movie, she’s made into something complicated, a woman of kindness, suffering, and desperation. She’s accompanied by another possible type from the exploitation movie, the nameless hooker played by Deborah Everton, who in another movie would be a woman to be hated, the Bitch or Slut. Though we know almost nothing of this character, the performance makes this character into something other than a flat type as well, a woman who has to put up with lousy, tiresome, nasty work for her pay. She can turn on a charming, luminiscent face and turn it off on a dime, which aren’t simply the skillset of a hooker, but the basic necessity of anyone in the service industry, whether you’re a waiter, counter person, barista, or tech support, with the demand that you remain friendly towards the customer putting you on the edge of hating the customer as well. The hooker gives a beaming smile to Burke, then with a quick turn it fades off, the fade out accompanied by the clank of the telephone door. The friendliness is machine like, just as working in the service industry is like an unending lesson in how to be a friendly machine, and you have to be a friendly machine because you have no other choice. “You need the money that bad?,” Jack asks Sally about her extortion work. “C’mon, you know where I work,” she replies. “I get paid to smile my ass off and show the twenty seven colored lipsticks they’re pushing. You know how much I make? Shit is what I make.”

Rather than hating this prostitute for the coldness you need to make it through the day doing certain kinds of work, we empathize with her. Any hatred for this character, who might be the nasty Bitch the audience is supposed to hiss at in another movie, does not emanate from anyone sympathetic who we might connect with, but the lunatic serial killer Burke, who stares after her with cold loathing. We’re briefly given something of this perspective in Blonde, the fictional account of Marilyn Monroe’s life by Joyce Carol Oates, when it enters the mind of the photographer who shoots Monroe’s calendar. “Shooting a girl’s ruined face and her breasts jiggling and her ass and she’s young-looking as a kid stuffed into a woman’s body, innocent like something you’d want to smudge with your thumb just to dirty up.” These women move from exploitation types where their killings would be simply a dramatic musical cue and gore, blood dripping over bare tits, say, to a place where their deaths have a tragic weight, where the audience resists the possibility that Sally might die. The women have a sorrowful end, but the movie does not smudge them with its thumb. After Sally’s death, she is reduced back to something inhuman again, a mere sound effect, an accompaniment for a horror movie’s routine, expected death that means nothing. Her last breath on earth is now a small useful element, like gristle or copper residue, left over from one industrial process that can be re-used in another, in this case the manufacture of low cost nudie slashers. We are given a horror movie where the victims are more substantial than we expect them to be. We get the deaths promised in the film’s mock opening, and at the same time, not what we wanted at all.

As always in De Palma, there is voyeurism. If voyeurism is an activity where we, the observers, are allowed the excitements of sex and violence without cost or involvement, then movies might be thought an ideal expression of this form, the same privilege as in real life, but where the observed activities will play out exactly as we wish – the man or woman will take off their clothes until they’re fully naked, the hero will wreak cruel vengeance, the woman in peril will be saved. All three of these describe vicarious fantasies of De Palma’s movies, and in all three movies, the fantasies are subverted. Dressed to Kill provides us sexual voyeurism, where Nancy Allen’s Liz strips down to her bra and panties, then turns on a lunatic killer by describing her fantasy of submitting to sex at knifepoint. We are then given a near recreation of this same fantasy, with Liz first showering nude when the same lunatic killer enters the house, and then Liz in a state of helpless and abject terror before her throat is cut. The very thrills that turn on the deranged killer are there to turn us on as well. We are given a titillating close-up of an unconscious nurse unzipped of her uniform, the kind of chest bursting outfit only found in exploitation movies and porno, before we shift perspective to see who is peeking on this erotic vision, and we see whose eyes we share, those of the masturbating grotesques of the asylum. The director plays the same trick on us as we gawk at a sapphic pairing in The Black Dahlia before we cut to the voyeur, another crippled grotesque, and, of course, the beginning of Blow Out, where we peek on co-eds in panties, bra, or less, and we are revealed in the mirror as one more deformed, moronic lunatic.

Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill

Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill

Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill

The Fury is about a young man gifted with telekinesis who is programmed to hate the arabs he is told murdered his father, and his perspective becomes so distorted that he lashes out with rage and kills some Saudi sheiks visiting the United States. He is presented to us as a damaged sociopath, but when the movie’s other telekinetic character, who throughout has always been afraid of the destructiveness of her powers, finally unleashes her abilities to annihilate her enemy, it is our catharsis. The images that shape the sociopath of the movie shape us as well9.

Though Sally does sex work, like Liz in Dressed to Kill, at no point is the idea of sexual fantasy played with. Though Sally is a beautiful woman, the movie’s perspective is distinctly unerotic. Here, I think one might mention one last trait of Sally which she shares with Marilyn Monroe, and this is why Sally is the center of a fantasy, but not a sexual one. What recurs in every account and biography of Monrone’s life was her extraordinary vulnerability, a reaching out for a love that would save her. This, I think, is part of the fantasy of Monroe after her death, that you might be this man – if only she’d known you! – whose love would be subtle and tender enough to rescue her from the claws and rusty nails of this wretched life. There is the similar fantasy of the end of Blow Out, a vulnerable child-like woman unable to fend for herself who will be rescued by the hero, the hero a proxy of ourselves, redeeming everything in his life that has gone before. The Fury and Dressed to Kill foil the audience’s desires implicitly, you are given what you want, but you are likened to a monster. Blow Out is explicit, the fantasy is destroyed. The woman in trouble dies.

AMERICAN LIGHTNING / MEMORIES OF THE U.S.A. / THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION

As already said, the characters of Blow Out, people without college educations, people who would be considered part of that vague and stigmatized grouping, “working class”, are often placed on the fringes and the bottom tier roles of American movie life, the top roles reserved for executives, lawyers, doctors, and other members of the professional class, and the Philadelphia they live in is a visual reflection of this. What we see of the city is squalid and dirty, with an underlying current of despair and exhaustion, a sense perhaps of a partly abandonned city, a chunk of the population having already left for the outlying suburbs. We are given unflashy, unvarnished grit, a place of greys and faded light all the while the bright divisions familiar to all, of the American (and French) tricolor recur again and again, standing out in this stark landscape, before becoming the light that overcoats the tragic night scene at the liberty bell.

The color theme begins with the joke opening. The dancers in red and white negligées, the blue light behind them. Blow Out is a serious movie, but not self-importantly serious, and this scene contains one of my favorite lines in a De Palma movie for its beautiful delivery, “Oh, go to Sue. Fuck off.”:

The dominant red of the room in which the couple have sex. Red, obviously, is a good color to associate with sex. The main part of Blow Out is a movie without erotic sex (does anyone consider the blow job in the train station to be erotic?) and the only time this strong, overwhelming red recurs is in episodes of violence. The red of Manny Karp’s room when he forces himself on Sally, and is then knocked out by a beer bottle, the red light of the construction site where the first woman is killed, and the red light of the tower where Sally dies.

The red, white, and blue seen very briefly in one of the passing students:

The opening ends abruptly and we are in the screening room. Jack is in a blue shirt, there are the red curtains, and the man running the console wears white.

Small hints of the theme in the props of Jack’s office, the red white and blue of the schedule and the clock; the news with the liberty day logo and the newscaster in a tricolor outfit:

We leave the color scheme almost entirely in the pastoral setting of the accident, except for one element, the woman’s red coat:

During their first moments together after she’s recovered, Jack and Sally are in a setting which feels like a kind of purgatory, overwhelming white without any of the three colors:

This creates a striking contrast with the motel setting, where the colors come into play stronger than ever before. The cars in the parking lot bathed in red light from the motel insignia, which is a bell pattern in neon:

Burke changes the tire; blue coat, blue bag, red screwdriver, red wire cutters:

The red, white, and blue wallpaper of the motel room, the red, white, and blue bed settings, the blue drapes, the blue doors, the red phone, the red ashtray, the red chandeliers, Jack’s blue shirt, Sally’s white gown:

The red, white, and blue of the design on the door of the editing room where Jack puts together the edit of the accident photos and his sound recording:

The outside shot of Jack’s building as he finishes the edit of still photos and sound, red fire engine doors and red car, Jack works in a red shirt. Jack almost always wears combinations of red and blue:

There is the student of the opening that we briefly glimpse, in a red, white, and blue pattern, and the first victim who we follow for an extended period wears the very same tricolor mix, first spotted on an escalator where she is preceded by a crowd with prominent red and blue:

The two passing women who briefly obscure our gaze during this pursuit:

The red, white, and blue of the bus that blocks our view:

The red light that bathes the construction site, that shades Burke’s face, the tricolor pattern of the poster, which matches the pattern of the motel wallpaper, the red and blue of the victim’s sweater:

The red, white, and blue of the construction machines as we rise away from the building site:

With Mackey, Jack is now in all blue:

Jack goes to Manny Karp’s photo place, in red, shop with red dresses, passerby in blue:

At Manny Karp’s place, the red of the carpeting, the blue of the cop’s uniform, the whites of the photos. A sidenote: the pictures on the wall and the wallpaper make clear that the motel room at the beginning is in the same motel, perhaps the same room, where Sally and Manny do their divorce work:

Jack bullies Sally into getting the photos back from Manny, he’s in blue, she’s in red:

The overwhelming red of Manny Karp’s place:

Jack at the scream auditions, all blue, red curtains, the director in red:

The editing room when the tapes are erased, blue door, red extinguisher against white background:

Jack at home, red shirt, red cabinet, blue phone, white wall:

Jack and Sally speak on the phone, red shirt for Jack, white housecoat with blue trim and blue phone for Sally:

The red, white, and blue of the prostitute and the sailor in the train station:

The woman alone now in the phone booth:

Red dress, blue toothbrush, white bristles:

Sally in the train station; strong reds in this movie are associated with violence, and a group of children cross the station floor, the chain of red foreshdowing her doom:

Jack realizes something is wrong, red shirt and blue outfit:

As the chase begins, blue jeep and red car in the parking lot:

The tricolor of the parade members is obvious. The crowd sequence flooded with red and blue light should be well remembered by anyone who has seen the movie, and the following is a brief overview. The obvious zenith is Sally in front of the American flag, followed by the soldiers in revolutionary garb ringing the bell:

After Sally’s death, we move to a snow covered landscape, a bookend to the white background of the hospital room where Jack and Sally first spoke. Jack is all in blue, and he wore a blue trenchcoat and blue tie when he discovered Freddie’s body:

The white backgrounds of the snow covered park and the hospital room are one bookend, the other is the camera traveling from the tree leaves, to Jack’s technical equipment, till we reach a close-up of Jack himself, which is a mirror of the sound engineer on his listening expendition. Then, we moved along the antenna, now we move along the earphone wire:

The liberty bell strangler was finally killed, red white and blue:

We revisit Sally’s death in this last scene, and so the dominant color is the red of the studio drapes:

The use of this motif goes beyond the simple purpose of dramatic movement from low volume to crescendo; that these colors, recognizably American colors, reach their full bloom in a tragic act of violence that takes place in the background of a patriotic ritual, suggest the contradictions of the American character, a fascination with violence while denying that such attraction exists, or that the violence one is attracted to is anything but righteous, and yet this ambivalent fascination is not entirely a bad thing: it provided a vital heart to American movies and literature for decades. The finale of Blow Out is horrifying, but it’s also bravura, brilliant film-making, it’s gorgeous. Blow Out opens with a couple having sex in a room filled with red, and when the same dominant red appears later, it’s always there when violence is about to take place. This is a movie about a country at a time when violence was considered more acceptable than sexual desire, but it’s also about two characters, Jack Terry and Burke, whose sexual energies are subliminated in their obsessions. Film-making is an obsession as well, and the rich blooming colors of the ending are a counterpoint to the tragedy, but they are also the bright lights of ecstasy, the obsession fulfilled of the film-maker.

On The Projection Booth‘s “Episode 140: Blow Out”, the movie’s upsetting terminus was discussed by both producer Fred Caruso and Nancy Allen, as well as the possibility of a happier coda.

This fragment runs approximately from 1:55:30 to 1:57:17 (audio is occasionally quirky here, but is entirely audible and coherent):

FRED CARUSO
Let me tell you about the end of the picture. I mean, the film was well-received, as a decent business, but there was always the question, “Should Nancy Allen have lived at the end?” When John Travolta goes to the hospital and sees her, should her eyes have opened, should they have kissed on the lips, the music comes up, and a happy ending at the end. Yes, he could still be the soundman, he could still go back to his laboratory, he could still hear all of that stuff…but rather than making it such a sad, sad ending, black veiled, black cloud over the picture, what should the real ending have been in the movie? That was a question the studio had, George Litto had, I had, Brian had, and then Brian of course, said, “Look, that’s the ending of my movie. That’s how I end my movie. If the audience likes it, fine. If the audience don’t like it, fine.” So, there’s always been a controversy as to would the picture have been more popular with an audience, and done more business, if, and also if you recall, the one sheet advertising that you saw in the newspaper and the front of the theater, was a picture of John Travolta, black and white, with a horror scream, his face looked like a horror scream, and it said Blow Out, which made that look like a horror movie. Rather than a suspense love story. That’s the question, which would have been better, which would have been the better way to do it. I don’t know. But that was always wandering in the background, even as the picture got released.

This fragment runs approximately from 2:23:00 to 2:24:30:

MIKE WHITE
I heard that there was a different ending to the film at one point.

NANCY ALLEN
A different ending? No, we, myself, [editor] Paul Hirsch, and…I forget who else, really lobbied to…once John got involved, and then you have the two of us together…my argument, well, Paul Hirsch said, “You can’t have- John Travolta can’t not save the girl.” (laughs) You can’t kill her. And people are going to love these two, and they’re going to hate you for doing this. My feeling was, she can die, but you have to really have to let them have that moment together, we have to feel that maybe there’s love, maybe there’s something, so people can really feel his loss. So, there was conversation. There was never a different ending. The only thing different, as I said earlier, there were no parades, there were no mummers’ parades, there were no fireworks, none of that existed, that was all developed to make it a bigger, more important picture, now that we had John in there. “Wait a minute, this is John Travolta,” you have to make- I believe it was George Litto who talked to Brian and said you know, we gotta do this, gotta make this bigger, so, that’s how that piece developed. But, Paul and I, whoever else was vying for a slightly different thing with John and I, we lost, John and Brian said, “NOPE,” it’s not happening. So, that’s what I remember.

The death of Sally does not strike me as capricious sadism, or arbitrary in any way, or anything other than organic to the material, a finale that feels necessary just as the death of Anna Karenina feels necessary, where one cannot imagine any other possibility that wouldn’t ring false, a betrayal of the story. The movie’s closing would have no tragic power if De Palma had contempt for this character, and killed her off because he wanted her to die. It has a tragic power because he, like the audience, wants this character to live, just as he wants Oanh of Casualties of War to live, and yet if these women were to survive, it would make everything that came before it meaningless. It would transform these movies into their antithesises, where none of the choices of the characters had any dramatic weight, because the very structure of the movie would ensure that these decisions would have no consequence, because events would always turn out for the best. What I’ve just described is a shared trait of most Hollywood movies now, and one which makes them, whatever the overdramatic stakes and whatever the portentous music, so entirely lacking in tension, for the simple fact that the game is rigged, and we are sure the heroes will end up in the proper winning square, whatever they’ve done beforehand on the playing board.

Though I know some have dismissed the last scene as a ludicrous twist, I can only see it as striking a very uncomfortable, uncannily truthful note. Jack Terry once used his skills for investigation, and he now uses them again for the purpose of perceiving more deeply. Sally Bedina is someone who forgets or pretends to forget the most difficult episodes of the past, and her gifts lie in concealment. Jack Terry is discouraged from looking deeper at a mysterious accident, and encouraged by the governor’s aide and the police to adopt something closer to the attitude of Sally, to stop remembering what’s so inconvenient. “We’d like you to forget about her, forget you ever saw her,” Lawrence Henry, the governor’s friend asks of Jack, speaking of Sally. “One playmate just vanishes from McRyan’s car, just like that?,” asks Jack. “That’s right,” says Henry. This kind of amnesia of historical events is often wrongly attributed as unique to the United States, when it very much isn’t, though it’s perhaps most striking in America because of its many virtues. It is an amnesia that perhaps began with its very birth, with the idea that no man or woman who was enslaved was truly human, and so this historical crime never actually took place. “Your past catching up with you?” someone asks a nervous Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. “I told you darling,” she replies. “I don’t have any past. ‘Marilyn’ was born yesterday.” There is a tradition, occasionally an American tradition, to cleave the horror from great tragedies to make something more palatable and profitable. In Gone With the Wind, the slaves are happy men and women who fight on behalf of their masters. M*A*S*H begins as a satire of the bloody absurdities of the Viet Nam war, and ended up an incredibly successful sitcom without any connection to the horrors of that war. The mass death and devastation of New York City is replayed as a background of colorful apocalypse in Man of Steel and Star Trek: Into Darkness. The horror of this last contains an extra frisson because it was connected to something very real, very upsetting, and now it is spliced into something without any such weight – and this splicing is exactly what Jack Terry does. He still has evidence of the conspiracy, having made a copy of the audio tape, and he could easily put it together with a series of photos again, since all that Frank Donahue ever wanted was just the audio tape. Jack Terry, however, has stopped investigating, and now he’s trying to do what Sally does, which is to just forget.

Jack Terry is involved in image-making, and throughout the movie, we are shown images made that turn out to be misleading, wrong, false, or exploitive, the surface horror of the viscera, rather than the squalid horrors of Sally’s life. “When these policies are carried out, and the economic climate improves, as we expect it will…the people will rally to support the president, in the upcoming primaries,” says campaign manager Jack Matters on TV in the opening. “A lot can happen between now and then.” The “lot that can happen,” which the TV doesn’t reveal has nothing to do with the policies, but the photos of Sally with McRyan. We are told on TV that the first woman is the victim of a ritual sex slaying, when we know her death is part of a cover-up plot. The movie ends with the news telling us that Burke was finally killed by Sally, when we know it was Jack. Neither Jack nor Sally are ever mentioned as being anywhere near the accident site. The news is misleading, or it is callously opportunistic. “EXCLUSIVE! PHOTOS OF MCRYAN’S DEATH!” blares the newstand ad for the magazine with the pictures that Jack edits together, and the PHOTOS OF MCRYAN’S DEATH! have nothing to do with any larger investigation of the accident, but blood, guts, corpses. Jack works on movies that are horror and death as entertainment, and the newspapers are in the same business as well.

Jack Terry returns to cheapie horror, where blood, and death, and killing, disconnected from anything is acceptable. In this, he might also be tracing the very arc of his creator, who started out as a political film-maker before becoming very successful making thrillers, and would always arouse revulsion when he moved back into anything political. A movie about a sex criminal like Dressed to Kill or a fictionalized account of a crime fighting squad like The Untouchables is just a fun night at the movies. To make a movie about sex criminals in an actual historical context, with a very real individual fighting for justice in Casualties of War is to touch a third rail that everyone wishes did not exist. The problem with Jack Terry isn’t that he’s so emotionally destroyed that he uses a tragedy for its necrokineticism to give a cruel flourish of an exclamation mark to a terrible movie’s scary moment, because this kind of exploitation is commonplace and expected. The problem is that Jack Terry just can’t forget.

(On March 25th, 2014, some exact quotes were added, specific livelier substitutes in place of generalizations; no meanings were altered. Some new images were added as well, such as the comparison of the houses of Jack and Sally, as well as the text on the pointing fingers of Jack and the cop. The section on the hooker played by Deborah Everton was added as well. On March 26th, some small fixes were made, footnote #3 about Mackey in the flashback and the comparison of the personality types of Sally, Jack, and Burke was added. On March 28th, the text was again edited for various aesthetic fixes, and small issues of grammar. No new material was added on thate date. On April 14th, 2014, the excerpt from Hunter Thompson’s The Great Shark Hunt was added to the footnote on John McLaughlin.)

(All images from Blow Out copyright Orion Pictures. Images from All the President’s Men copyright Warner Bros. Images from Dressed To Kill copyright Filmways and associated producers. Images from Mission: Impossible and The Fury copyright Paramount Pictures. Images from The Black Dahlia copyright Universal Pictures.)

FOOTNOTES

1 This subhead, as well as the part of the later subhead, “I am of both your directions”, is taken from the stanzas of a poem by Marilyn Monroe, excerpted in Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe by Anthony Summers:

Life -
I am of both your directions
Existing more with the old frost
Strong as a cobweb in the wind
Hanging downward the most
Somehow remaining
those beaded rays have the colors
I’ve seen in paintings – ah life
they have cheated you…
thinner than a cobweb’s thread
sheerer than any-
but it did attach itself
and held fast in strong winds
and singed by leaping hot fires
life – of which at singular times
I am both of your directions-
somehow I remain hanging downward
the most
as both of your directions pull me.

2 The King Commission is an obvious substitute for the real life Knapp Commission (the wikipedia entry, “Knapp Commission”), which arose after Frank Serpico would testify to corruption in the NYPD. A number of movies feature the Knapp Commission, or an obvious stand-in, in their plots, including The Pope of Greenwich Village and Prince of the City. De Palma would spend many years developing Prince before it was taken away, to be directed eventually by Sidney Lumet.

In her interview on The Projection Booth, “Episode 140: Blow Out”, Nancy Allen would explain the connection between Prince, Blow Out, and the King Commission scene, fragment runs from 2:28:00 to 2:28:55:

MIKE WHITE
That flashback, with Travolta, to that moment where the cop got killed, just adds so much to our understanding of him.

NANCY ALLEN
Oh yeah. It really does. And that was Brian’s opportunity, that was his wink and nod to Prince of the City, which he was originally supposed to direct. So, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that story, Prince of the City? About the corrupt cop. Well, he spent a lot of time developing it, he spent a lot of time with that cop, so I think this was Brian’s way of saying, well, you took the movie away from me, but I’m going to put a little bit of it in here anyhow. So, it served a good purpose, it exorcised those feelings for him, but I also think it served the character very well.

3 The further twist to this suspicion is that Mackey was there when things went very wrong at the taping of the undercover cop. When they’re prepping him, Jack very clearly says, “Mackey, hand me the tape.” No doubt Jack always considers the possibility that the whole incident might have been a case of internal sabotage to destroy the commission.

4 From the lecture “Jorge Luis Borges – The Metaphor [Conference]“ (youtube link):

Since I spoke of “as old as time,” I must quote another verse, a verse that is perhaps bubbling up in your memory. I can’t recall the name of the author, I know it quoted in Kipling in a not too memorable book of his, From Sea to Sea. “A rose red city / Half as old as time”. Had the poet written “A rose red city / As old as time,” he would have written nothing at all. But half as old as time, gives it a kind of magic precision.

5 An article from the time when this tape was first released is “Tapes Show Nixon Ordering Theft of Files” (author unlisted):

Recently released audiotapes capture President Richard M. Nixon ordering his top aide, a year before the Watergate burglary, to break into the Brookings Institution and steal its files on Vietnam, The San Francisco Examiner reported today.

The newspaper quoted from a conversation between Nixon and his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, part of 201 hours of private tapes released this week by the National Archives.

During a conversation on June 30, 1971, in the Oval Office, Mr. Nixon asked Mr. Haldeman to take the institution’s files relating to the Vietnam War, the Examiner said.

According to a partial transcript provided by the newspaper, Mr. Nixon said to Mr. Haldeman: “The way I want that handled, Bob, is through another way. I want Brooking — just to break in. Break in and take it out! You understand?”

A transcript of a meeting from Stanley Kutler’s Abuse of Power, where breaking into the Institute was discussed:

JUNE 17, 1971, THE PRESIDENT, HALDEMAN, EHRLICHMAN, AND KISSINGER, 5:17-6:13 P.M., OVAL OFFICE

A few days after the publication of the Pentagon Papers, Nixon discusses how to exploit the situation to his advantage. He is interested in embarrassing the Johnson Administration on the bombing halt, for example. Here, he wants a break-in at the Brookings Institution, a centrist Washington think tank, to find classified documents that might be in the Brookings safe.

HALDEMAN
You maybe can blackmail [Lyndon B.] Johnson on this stuff [Pentagon Papers].

NIXON
What?

HALDEMAN
You can blackmail Johnson on this stuff and it might be worth doing…The bombing halt stuff is all in that same file or in some of the same hands…

NIXON
Do we have it? I’ve asked for it. You said you didn’t have it.

HALDEMAN
We can’t find it.

KISSINGER
We have nothing here, Mr. President.

NIXON
Well, damnit, I asked for that because I need it.

KISSINGER
But Bob and I have been trying to put the damn thing together.

HALDEMAN
We have a basic history in constructing our own, but there is a file on it.

NIXON
Where?

HALDEMAN
[Presidential aide Tom Charles] Huston swears to God there’s a file on it and it’s at Brookings [Institution, a centrist Washington "think tank"].

NIXON
…Bob? Bob? Now do you remember Huston’s plan [for White House-sponsored break-ins as part of domestic counter-intelligence operations]? Implement it.

KISSINGER
…Now Brookings has no right to have classified documents.

PRESIDENT NIXON
…I want it implemented…Goddamnit, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.

HALDEMAN
They may well have cleaned them by now, but this thing, you need to-

KISSINGER
I wouldn’t be surprised if Brookings had the files.

HALDEMAN
My point is Johnson knows that those files are around. He doesn’t know for sure that we don’t have them around.

6 The dialogue from the movie is my own transcript, as it is a little different from the script which can be found here. The speech by Waltzer is whole and uninterrupted in the screenplay, but the themes are the same:

SENATOR WALTZER

I’ll go you one further. I say the CIA and all its shadow organizations have become irrelevant at best and unconstitutional at worst. It’s time we throw a little light on the whole concept of the Pentagon’s “black budget.” These covert agency subgroups have confidential funding, they report to no one — who are these people?! We were living in a democracy the last time I checked.

7 A photo of McLaughlin and Nixon, taken from “John McLaughlin (host) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”:

From “Jesuitical Defense is given for Nixon” by Philip Nobile, an interview with McLaughlin from the time of Watergate:

Only one White House staffer would dare say that – compared with some ecclesiastical skeletons, Watergate is like the “peccadilloes of novice nuns.” He is the Rev. John McLaughlin, a Jesuit priest and presidential speechwriter. Although Father McLaughlin once ran for the U.S. Senate as a liberal Republican peace candidate, he now is a member of Richard Nixon’s church. The dictionary defines “Jesuitical” as “crafty, cunning, equivocal. Father McLaughlin is certainly all that in defense of the President. I have never heard a more benevolent explanation of the Watergate mess. Charity begins at home but McLaughlin abuses the virtue by whitewashing the entire affair.

Q. Aren’t you uncomfortable serving Richard Nixon in these times?

A. No. I believe the President is morally innocent in the developing events.

Q. You mean the President is without sin himself?

A. The most he can be charged with is holding too loose a rein on subordinates but the price of holding tighter would probably have meant forsaking singular and important initiatives, both foreign and domestic, which I would not have wanted to see him do.

Q. Why are you so convinced of Richard Nixon’s innocence? Despite everything that has been revealed so far, how can you still believe he has committed no wrong?

A. I know from the President’s demeanor, his habitual thinking regarding matters of ethical significance, his deference to people, his determination to leave lesser details to others and others to keep these details from him – the confluence of these factors leads me to that conclusion of the President’s innocence.

Q. If you were a betting man, would you wager that the President will serve out his term?

A. I certainly would.

McLaughlin also makes a brief, but memorable, appearance in Hunter S. Thompson’s The Great Shark Hunt:

At that point in time, most of Nixon’s traditional allies were beginning to hear the death shrieks of the banshee floating over the White House lawns at night, and even Billy Graham had deserted him. So Clawson [White House Communications Director Ken Clawson], in a stroke of cheap genius, put a sybaritic Jesuit priest and a mentally retarded rabbi on the payroll and sent them forth to do battle with the forces of Evil.

Father John McLaughlin, the Jesuit, wallowed joyfully in his role as “Nixon’s priest” for a month or so, but his star faded fast when it was learned he was pulling down more than $25,000 a year for his efforts and living in a luxury apartment at the Watergate. His superiors in the church were horrified, but McLaughlin gave them the back of his hand and, instead, merely cranked up his speechmaking act. In the end, however, not even Clawson could live with the insistent rumor that the Good Jesuit Father was planning to marry his girlfriend. This was too much, they say, for the rigid sensibilities of General Haig, the White House chief of staff, whose brother was a legitimate priest in Baltimore. McLaughlin disappeared very suddenly, after six giddy weeks on the national stage, and nothing has been heard of him since.

But Clawson was ready for that. No sooner had the priest been deep-sixed than he unveiled another, holy man — the Rabbi Baruch Korff, a genuine dingbat with barely enough sense to tie his own shoes, but who eagerly lent his name and his flaky presence to anything Clawson aimed him at. Under the banner of something called the “National Citizens’ Committee for Fairness to the President,” he “organized” rallies, dinner parties and press conferences all over the country. One of his main financial backers was Hamilton Fish Sr., a notorious fascist and the father of New York Congressman Hamilton Fish Jr., one of the Republican swing votes on the House Judiciary Committee who quietly voted for impeachment.

8 The excerpts from The Genius and The Goddess by Jeffrey Meyers:

The nude calendar that Mankiewicz mentioned originated in May 1949 when Marilyn was an obscure and occasionally impoverished model.Tom Kelley photographed her perfect body, a modern Venus, in several poses and paid her a modest $50. He sold the pictures for $500 to a company that put them on calendars, sold them throughout America and made a huge profit of $750,000. In the best photo Marilyn is shot sideways (to hide her pubic hair) and from a ladder ten feet above her. Her long wavy blond hair flows from her backtilted head and mingles with the blood-red waterfall of drapery beneath her.

It’s sadly ironic that Marilyn herself did not live to see the sexual revolution and suffered greatly for being its symbol. She’d experienced intense sexual pleasure with Jim Dougherty and with Fred Karger in the mid-1940s; but by the 1950s, under the stress of promiscuous sex and stardom, she’d become frigid. In the late 1940s, when she was modeling and trying to break into movies, she rarely had natural and spontaneous sex. Instead, she was a prostitute, in cars on shady side-streets, in return for small amounts of money to buy food. It’s astonishing – after all her acting lessons and her brief appearances in movies – that she would not only sell her body for the price of a meal, but would also risk humiliation and shame, predatory pimps and police, robbery and beating, sadism and sodomy, venereal disease and pregnancy.

Employing a metaphor that colleagues often used to describe the frequently remote, self-absorbed and almost somnambulistic Marilyn, the screenwriter and producer of the movie, Nunnally Johnson, said Marilyn “is generally something of a zombie. Talking to her is like talking to somebody underwater. She’s very honest and ambitious and is either studying her lines or her face during all of her working hours, and there is nothing whatever to be said against her, but she’s not material for warm friendship.” Johnson also felt she was as unresponsive as “a sloth.You stick a pin in her and eight days later she says ‘Ouch.’” Despite Marilyn’s difficulties, this first Cinemascope picture was a great success and grossed five times its lavish budget of $2.5 million.

9 The Fury and Dressed to Kill are discussed in greater depth on this site in “Brian De Palma’s The Fury, Or: Hollywoodland” and “Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill, Or: Two Women”. The Black Dahlia is discussed at very, very great length in a five part series of posts: one, two, three, four, five.

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Cultural Marxism, Jewish Conspiracies, Spring Break 83, and Penny Stocks

This post is a return to a past investigation, “Andrew Breitbart: Psychosis in a Political Mask Part One”, where I believe I provided substantial evidence that a chapter devoted to the Frankfurt School in Breitbart’s memoir, Righteous Indignation, took its material without credit or citation from “The New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and Political Correctness” by Michael Minnicino, which originally appeared in Fidelio, a magazine published by Lyndon LaRouche. It would also appear to borrow other related material from a later essay on the same subject, “Cultural Marxism” by William Lind. The plagiarism issue, that Breitbart wanted so badly to be seen as an intellectual that his nest carries other feathers, is incidental to the way a very ugly perspective, a classic and ancient conspiratorial perspective, of an all-powerful group of jews who destroy the christian by manipulating the darker races of the ghetto, is made mainstream1.

It is commonplace now to hear of the two flanks of the American conservative movement, the interventionist neo-conservatives and the isolationists. What is striking, and very instructive, is the way in which this specific conspiracy is shared by both flanks. Breitbart was a staunch supporter of the Iraq war, a man who felt that the failure of the democratic party was that it was not as hawkish as Joe Lieberman, a man who acutely feels an apartness from those around him in Los Angeles when they dare to protest the war with Iraq, a man who gives a public speech where he’s seized with mad enthusiasm about the idea of the American military annihilating the dissenting left2. Yet his Frankfurt School thesis originated with an essay published in a magazine of the isolationist LaRouche. The Frankfurt School thesis also shows up in Death of the West by Patrick Buchanan, isolationist and holocaust denier3.

While going through Breitbart’s book, I wondered at what possible sources he’d come across and used for this section. Minnicino and Lind, are most certainly there, without credit. However, there is a concept not in Minnicino or Lind, the idea that the Frankfurt School have set up something like a Democratic Media Complex. The lunatic idea that this small group of european exiles is able to exert its influence over the United States through mind control originates in Minnicino (the mind control is not figurative, in Minnicino’s essay it is literal); the theme of a “complex” does not. It is, of course, reminiscent of the matrix in which Neo is trapped, and there in one section of Indignation, Breitbart mixes the two up. There is, however, a movie currently available on youtube, “Cultural Marxism: The Corruption of America”, copyright 2010, a year before the publication of Breitbart’s Righteous Indignation. It deals with this same idea of cultural marxism, the Frankfurt School, the very same thesis that appears in Breitbart’s book, and though it makes no mention of a “complex”, it at one moment refers to being trapped like Neo, in a matrix created by the Frankfurt School.

A full transcript of “Cultural Marxism: The Corruption of America” follows the end of this post, after the footnotes; this excerpt and all others from the movie are taken from there:

NARRATOR
This time it seems Marx won. Today, post-Engle4 politically correct baby boomers are so completely immersed in the Frankfurt School’s cultural pessimism, they can’t see the forest for the trees. They’re fish in a bowl of muddy water. They’re Neo in the Matrix. They swim in it. They absorb it through every pore of their beings. Starting in the 1960s, cultural marxism has woven its values into every american’s very existence. Khrushchev was right when he said, “we will bury you.”

From Indignation, where Breitbart mixes up the matrix with the complex – Neo is trapped in the Matrix, figures out that the Matrix is a sham, yet here he figures out the Complex is a sham:

If you’ve got a big story, the Complex will do what it always does: attack you personally using the PC lexicon. You immediately become a racist, sexist, homophobic, jingoistic nativist. Don’t let them do it. The fact is this: if you refuse to buy into their lexicon, if you refuse to back down in the face of those intimidation tactics, they can’t harm you. You’re Neo in the hallway with Agent Smith after he figures out that the Complex is a sham — the spoon isn’t bending, he’s bending. Once it hits him that he’s not bound by the rules of the game, he can literally stop bullets. You can stop their bullets because their bullets aren’t real.

My focus in this post will be on this movie, “Cultural Marxism”, and treat as the center of a wheel with some very interesting spokes. There are two notes that I would like to make explicit and state in very obvious terms before continuing. The first is that the cultural marxism thesis is a very ugly one, an inherently ugly one, where a group of all-powerful jews who enslave and destroy America is very much a part of an ancient and vile conspiracy tradition. The jewishness of the Frankfurt School is an inherent part of Minnicino’s thesis. Minnicino would later leave LaRouche’s organization and disavow his work there5. “The New Dark Age” is very much consistent with the conspiracy thinking of the LaRouche group, which would hold a conference where Minnicino would present another paper on the artificiality of the jewish ethnic identity alongside “America’s ‘Young America’ movement: slaveholders and the B’nai B’rith” by Anton Chaitkin, a paper on how B’Nai B’rith, a jewish social organization, was the hidden hand behind the civil war6. The Frankfurt School thesis would show up, as already said, in Death of the West, a book by holocaust denier Pat Buchanan, and it would show up in the manifesto of Anders Breivik (PDF), the Norwegian mass murderer, though Breivik, unlike Breitbart, was good enough to give credit to Minnicino.

The second, and equally crucial point, is that this ugly racial appeal is able to exist through the larger co-operation of the press. The conservative can make an appeal to race, but it must be discreet, a dog whistle, allowing the press to ignore or downplay the appeal and present this politician or thinker as a great statesman or thinker. Where this has broken down recently, where we speak now of a “lunatic fringe” of the Republican party, is when politicians become so vulgar, so flagrant, so obvious that the press cannot disguise it. At the very beginning of Matt Taibbi’s Griftopia, he writes of his astonishment at the violently loud dog whistles she sounded – yet this was a speech that people declared as a victory, as a signal that she had the potential to be a serious political figure – I point to the most ridiculous example that comes to mind, Charles Lane’s “PostPartisan – Sandra Day O’Palin?” 7. That the press now makes no attempt to apologize for or explain her stupidity or her xenophobia is because she has lost all political usefulness and because her statements, about being a victim of blood libel or shucking and jiving, are so bluntly visible that they can no longer be dressed up. Occasionally, even after the cruel racial appeal is out in the open and very obvious, there is still an attempt to look away from the abattoir or force us to swallow the filth. There were the newsletters published by Ron Paul, which included one that explained how to kill black men and get away with it, that were treated by a few too many as if they were something that should be properly forgotten, a tiresome nuisance brought up by social lessers8. “The Tea Party’s Brain”, a profile of Paul by Joshua Green, only gives mention of the newsletters in parenthesis; Henry James would envy at how much is contained in those parentheses9. After the content of the newsletters broke again in the 2011 primaries, Robert Wright’s first blog post at The Atlantic was “The Greatness of Ron Paul”, giving barely any mention of the newsletters at all. Ross Douthat would write of Paul’s lengthy career of publishing such newsletters as a period of madness, a madness which helped him to become a better statesman. I lack Douthat’s genius, and so I am entirely ignorant on this cause and effect, how publishing instructions on effectively murdering the young men of your society and getting away with the deed makes one a better leader10. There were numerous attempts to shame those who were repulsed by the content of Paul’s newsletters, by among others, Andrew Sullivan, Conor Friedersdorf, and I’m sorry to say, Glenn Greenwald, and I thought then as I do now, that their efforts were a disgusting embarassment.

It would only be through the abetting of the press that Breitbart was able to get away with a campaign of destroying a voter rights service for the needy, ACORN, a campaign of persecution against Shirley Sherrod and Van Jones, an incessant questioning of whether Tea Party protesters had yelled out “nigger!” when John Lewis ascended the capitol steps, all of which was given the heady label of citizen journalism11. Breitbart did, after all, give out content which could fill the space for a few days, with questions on the accuracy and reliability of his work only coming after lives had been wrecked. That the first Anthony Weiner scandal may have been brought about by a rival congressman, or that Breitbart’s Frankfurt School thesis seems to have been a jewish conspiracy piece plagiarized from a far right fringe group were questions that weren’t brought up at all12. Some might see in this larger picture – the way he went after Sherrod, Jones, Lewis, coupled with a jewish conspiracy theory, as an attempt at the old racial appeal, but no, the press was happy to cover up the mess. Breitbart helped do his part, by advertising himself as a new kind of conservative, and where Minnicino stresses the jewishness of the Frankfurt School, Breitbart barely gives it mention, though occasionally hints of the old ugliness show through. He gives one parenthetical mention of the Frankfurt School being almost entirely jews – though perhaps one mention is enough. He also describes their philosophy as an anthrax, a weaponized bacteria, like that which might be carried by shipboard rats, and the jews of Europe were once spoken of as a pestilence that had to be eliminated13.

This all serves as necessary context before moving on to “Cultural Marxism: The Corruption of America”, directed by conservative film-maker James Jaeger. Where Breitbart joins his Frankfurt School with a pro-military neoconservative philosophy, Jaeger’s movie joins it with hardline isolationism and christian fundamentalism. It is because of the cultural marxists that there is an out of control security state, because of the cultural marxists that public schools are falling apart, cultural marxists and their european economic thinking are behind the federal reserve and the economic collapse. It is the cultural marxists who are behind the secularization of american society, the collapse of the american family, the making of men more like women and women more like men, the cultural marxists are behind the promotion of same sex marriage14. The movie is mostly narration over various illustrative images, intermixed with various talking heads. I do not think the arguments made are strong or substantial; my focus is on the varied ways the cultural marxist thesis is employed and the interesting connections of the film-maker, so I leave it to others to refute the film’s claims. The talking heads include: Ron Paul, the already mentioned publisher of vile newsletters; Pat Buchanan, isolationist and holocaust denier15; Ted Baeher, a religious fanatic who recently argued that those who back marriage equality should face trial and just punishment16; and Edwin Vieira, best known for declaring that supreme court justice Anthony Kennedy’s striking down of an anti-sodomy statute was an example of “Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law.” Though he was a harsh critic of cultural marxism, Vieira felt the best way of dealing with Kennedy came from Joseph Stalin: the tyrant had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: ‘no man, no problem’” – and Dana Milbank would be good enough to give the full quote to Washington Post readers: “Death solves all problems: no man, no problem.”17

Before I go further, I should note something which recurred again and again in my look into this subject – the eerie occurence of ideas or themes suddenly there in the opposite place you expect it to be, like an elaborate sex toy in a convent or a gleaming supercomputer in an amish farm. I tried to think of a proper metaphor and the only one I could come up with was the original movie of The Manchurian Candidate, where the hardline anti-communists are, in fact, part of a conspiracy with the communist Chinese. There is already the strange fact that the Frankfurt School thesis is employed by factions of the American right that are in supposed opposition, the neoconservatives and isolationists. There is the additional strange fact that the Breitbart news site is now headed by Ben Shapiro and Joel Pollak, two ardent pro-Israeli writers. These two men who are so militant in calling out what they see as anti-semitism, with Shapiro floating the discredited story of Hamas backing Chuck Hagel, write on a site whose founder presented as his guiding worldview a plagiarism of a jewish conspiracy theory18. Jonah Goldberg would assail Matthew Yglesias for statements that he felt were in the tradition of Charles Lindbergh, while at the same time claiming Andrew Breitbart as a close friend, a man whose worldview was a plagiarism of the kind of conspiracy so beloved of Lindbergh, with the cherry on top that Righteous Indignation appeared to borrow without citation from Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism as well19.

Similarly, “Cultural Marxism” is a movie for a far right audience, but it might be the one of the only documentarys I’ve seen – conservative or liberal – which refers to large multinationals, multiple times, as corporate fascists20. This movie is for the worker who sees work and wages being less and less, with companies acting ruthlessly and moving work overseas. This is a movie disgusted at government overreach, but views the lack of the support of national tariffs as an example of the overwhelming influence of cultural marxism21. The movie is designed to appeal to the audience that the Democratic Party abandoned in the 1990s, and who would afterwards vote according to cultural issues now that both parties were equally weak in fighting for worker rights, so eloquently described in Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? 22 This is the very same audience that Buchanan appealed to with great success, as did Ross Perot, and here we have another overlap with Breitbart – Perot was the last non-Republican voted for by Breitbart, who had great difficulty finding work with his terrible grades and ADD23.

There is the discordant moment of hearing a company described as a “corporate fascist” alongside an indictment of the malevolent influence of marxist thinking in the United States, and there is a strange discordancy between this and one of the men behind this movie. “Cultural Marxism” is a movie produced by the late William L. Van Alen, Jr. (he died in 2011). Van Alen was the founder of the Noah Fund, which invested according to christian principles24. That meant it avoided any involvement with anything that promoted birth control, pornography, alcohol, or gambling. It would also avoid any companies that had any policy permitting or promoting same sex marriage25. Any other worker concerns were of no consequence. The Noah Fund’s biggest investments were in Microsoft and Wal-Mart, a company notorious for the abysmal treatment and wages of their workers. Noah’s portfolio manager would explain their investment in both companies on the basis that they were de facto monopolies, allowing them full freedom in setting their prices. Another investment would be Fannie Mae, a government sponsored entity whose investment was explained on the basis that they would buy housing debt that no one else would26. So, here is this strange contradiction: a man who, guided by ethical christian principles, invested in companies which treated workers abysmally and a government backed entity, then made a movie about corporate fascists and the overreach of the federal government.

“Cultural Marxism” manages to be more discrete about the Frankfurt School than Breitbart, never mentioning that any of its members are jewish. Off-screen, James Jaeger, the director of “Marxism”, as well as “Molon Labe”, “Original Intent”, “Corporate Fascism” and “Fiat Empire”, is far more vocal. On his website, The Jaeger Institute, again and again the problems that a jewish cabal were causing the world were brought up27. You have a striking moment in a piece on the movie Crash, “Paul Haggis, Bigotry & CRASH” – an essay which is devoted almost entirely to the idea that the jews who control Hollywood are determined to make themselves look good and christians look bad – Jaeger makes the astonishing point that the jews incited the germans to the point of genocide. I bold that part:

On another level, Paul’s film exemplifies the same old tactics Hollywood films, and Hollywood apologists, use over and over: display plenty of diversity on-screen in the CAST (and at the Academy Awards), but make no mention of the LACK of diversity behind-the-scenes in the EXECUTIVE SUITES.(2) Why doesn’t Paul write a feature that is set in the executive suites of say Warner Bros. or Paramount where the dominating minority is properly and accurately acknowledged as Jewish? Then let’s see a bunch of Black, White, Latino, Iranian, Asian and Persian filmmakers CRASH into them with their movie projects. Let’s see how tolerant the Jewish studio executives are when a non-Jewish filmmaker wants to tell a story that’s not in alignment with the socio-political agenda of the dominating Jewish Hollywood minority. For instance, a story from a Palestinian filmmaker who wants $50 million to film her perspective on the conflict in Israel. Or a picture where an Asian writer get to tell his view of Pearl Harbor or Hiroshima? Or a German who gets to tell his story about what the Jews did to antagonize the German people to the point of genocidal insanity.

The venom was there as well in a piece on Mel Gibson’s The Passion, where he would argue that Gibson did not get studio backing for his movie for this very reason. From “Hollywood’s True Agenda”:

The specifics of the issue are this: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, an MPAA company, declined to finance and distribute THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.(1) Why? Was it because THE PASSION was a motion picture with an agenda different from the agenda of the control group that dominates Hollywood? If American pop culture is controlled, or significantly influenced, by a dominating minority of politically liberal, secular, Jewish males of European heritage, as extensive research conducted by entertainment-securities attorney, John W. Cones, confirms at the Film Industry Reform Movement (see http://www.homevideo.net/FIRM), could this be one of the reasons, or even THE reason, Mel Gibson got such a raw deal from Hollywood studios? Many industry observers and analysts imply it was.

When Mel Gibson originally went to FOX (a studio he had worked with on several successful projects), the initial “reasons” they gave him for refusing to finance or distribute THE PASSION were a) it wasn’t in English nor subtitled; and b) they felt religious movies, as exemplified by a number of recent flops such as THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, don’t generally do well at the box office.

Later on, mouthpieces for the Jewish Establishment(2), in particular Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (the ADL), came out and declared that “recent statements by Mel Gibson paint the portrait of an anti-Semite. . .”(3) and he was troubled that Mel’s movie would incite anti-Semitism — thus they advised the studios (who listen to the ADL’s advice), to decline to finance and distribute THE PASSION. Foxman later advised Mel Gibson to remove a line of dialog (Matthew 27:25) from the picture, which Mel did. Continuing to complain, Foxman then advised Mel to place a post script on the picture, which he opted to not do, because, as Mel stated in his Diane Sawyer interview, ‘it implied there was something wrong with my movie’.

Nevertheless, even though Mel DID add subtitles, taking away “reason a),” neither FOX, nor any of the MPAA studio/distributors — under the direct or indirect, overt or covert, suggestion or orders of the Jewish community, through their advocacy organization, the ADL — offered to finance or distribute THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. Thus, in effect, the GENERAL JEWISH COMMUNITY (AS REPRESENTED BY THE ADL) AND THE SO-CALLED ‘HOLLYWOOD JEWS’ COMBINED TO EFFECTIVELY SUPPRESS (SOME SAY CENSORED OR BOYCOTTED) THE FINANCING AND DISTRIBUTION OF A CHRISTIAN MOTION PICTURE THROUGH STANDARD HOLLYWOOD CHANNELS, i.e., through publicly-held, New York Stock Exchange-listed, MPAA-member studio/distributors. (4)

In the same piece we have Jaeger bringing up the theme usually implied in most such conspiracy theories, the all-powerful jew manipulating the darker races to the detriment of the white christian:

Hollywood studios also promote endless immigration of people that are believed to NOT be prone to anti-Semitic behavior so that the dominating Christian community in America (77% of Americans are Christians, 1.3% Jews and less than 1% Muslims) can be diluted.(18) This is why your European friends seem to have a more difficult time getting permanent visas than do your Asian, African or Hispanic friends. This is also why the United States is being flooded with more people than we can assimilate right now and why America is no longer a “melting pot.”

Jaeger makes explicit that the culture war is a religious war, saying it loud and clear, without code words or dog whistles:

Thus the main reason Christianity is often bashed by Hollywood movies is because of the obvious: It’s the dominant religious preference in the U.S. (something the control group sees as threatening), AND the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, is a JEW that was attempting, through a new testament, to lead Gentiles into a new pact with God. Since the Hollywood control group is dominated by Jews who generally disavowal any recognition that one of their own was the Messiah, it adds to their disdain for Christianity. Thus we are seeing subtle and overt attacks on various aspects of religion, with particular emphasis on Christianity, funneled and amplified by the MPAA studios/distributors and large chunks of the media, which they own. Among the subtle attacks are the constant use of the term “Happy Holidays.” Almost every film, TV show and radio program put out by Hollywood or influenced by the control group, promulgates this term instead of the of the more traditional, Christian term, “Merry Christmas” — the goal being to neuter Christmas from the birthday celebration of Jesus, to a secular, commercial holiday that incorporates the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Since Hanukkah is relevant to only 1.3% of the population and Christmas is relevant to 77% of the population, it is disrespectful for the dominating minority in the studios to attempt to dictate terms of religious celebration to the majority. But they are doing just that, using the power of film and media in the same way Adolph Hitler used it against them a half century ago.

In THE PASSION conflict, we are seeing a MICROCOSM of the CULTURE WAR that is being waged by traditionalists (and people like O’Reilly who is at least attempting to inject some balance into an otherwise blatantly liberal media led by the New York Times). The only difference is the fact that we at FIRM have the “gall” to include the J-word, that Hollywood Jews are a significant part of the demographic involved in the Culture War. It’s ironic, if not sad, that Bill O’Reilly constantly mentions the ACLU as a purveyor of the secular agenda he so renounces, yet he stops short at mention of the J-word even though the ACLU is “overwhelmingly Jewish in terms of membership and funding.”(20)

On the other hand, to his credit, William Donahue of the CATHOLIC LEAGUE (http://www.catholicleague.org) has the courage to tell it like it is. He is not afraid to use the J-word when it is the only honest and COMPLETE way to describe what’s going on and exactly who is involved. On MSNBC, Donohue said: “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It’s not a secret, okay? And I’m not afraid to say it. That’s why they hate this movie (THE PASSION). It’s about Jesus Christ, and it’s about truth. It’s about the messiah. Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost.”

Jaeger would start an organization called FIRM, the Film Industry Reform Movement, to deal with the discrimination which Jaeger faced as a non-jewish white male28. One example of discrimination took place in 2010, when another Jaeger movie, Original Intent, was not admitted into Sundance. Jaeger would get into an angry email exchange with Sundance program directors over this fact, an exchange which made me aware of the patience and fortitude of Sundance program directors, and which ends in a terminus that is very American and one of the funniest thing I’ve read this year: after asking Jaeger to stop bccing them on all his angry emails over not being part of the Sundance program (he blames the ADL), a Sundance representative signs off with “Shalom, Rosie Wong”29. FIRM would look into who has the power to determine which movies are produced and released, who gets to work on those movies in the key positions, who determines the themes and contents of screenplays for those movies, and how did such persons get and gain that power30. Jaeger would co-found FIRM in 1998 alongside lawyer John W. Cones, who had a similar perspective of a jewish cabal controlling the movie industry and imposing their views on the country, outlined in a long text at the FIRM reform website, “What’s Really Going on in Hollywood!” Cones would dedicate the text to all those who had been discriminated by Hollywood, such as native americans, african americans, asians, and arabs – though he added two groups that seemed a little incongruous, german americans and white southerners31. It also included among these victims a strange addition given the larger context – gays and lesbians. This was no doubt a valid indictment, that there was a history of vicious stereotypes, but you soon ended up in that strange mirror world where everything down was up: this accusation the mistreatment by Hollywood of gays and lesbians, was being made by someone who co-founded a group with a director who felt that America was being destroyed by the acceptance of gays and same sex marriage, a film funded by a man who refused to invest in any company that supported same sex marriage32.

Cones’ “What’s Really Going on in Hollywood!” is itself a dizzying document – it’s very long and I’ve only read a fraction of it – that adopts what is often seen as a progressive attitude toward Hollywood, arguing for more diversity in those who create movies and act in them. Though it shares this perspective with many progressive pieces, I’ve never come across any such a piece which gave anywhere near such emphasis, or any emphasis, on the jewish ethnicity of the studio owners. Nor have I ever seen in these pleas for greater diversity the complaint made in “What’s Really Going on in Hollywood!” that really stands out – that a disproportionate number of Hollywood movies feature the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis as villains33.

Cones was heavily involved in alternative film financing, and gave lectures on the subject throughout the country. However, his Businessweek profile includes a credit that leaves me, a simpleminded individual, more than a little confused. Cones is listed as a consultant for Spring Break 83 LLC, a limited liability company which produced the movie Spring Break ’83 – the trailer is on youtube: “Spring Break ’83 (2010) – Trailer” 34. This movie appears to be a nostalgic reprise of the unwatchable teen comedies of the early eighties, the usual uproarious mix of half naked women and college pranks, featuring cameos by Lee Majors and Erik Estrada. Here is what leaves me confused: this man who despises how Hollywood is run by a small cabal of jews and the movies they make which focus on a small strain of life, has helped finance a movie which is entirely an homage to movies made by Hollywood thirty years ago. In “What’s Really Going on in Hollywood!”, Cones bemoans what he sees as the racism and sexism perpetuated by a jewish cabal. Spring Break ’83 appears to have a cast that is almost entirely white, except for Estrada, Robert Davi, “Downtown” Julie Brown, and someone who is supposed to Ludacris – though he looks nothing like Luda. Cones takes to task a jewish cabal for Hollywood’s long use of asian stereotypes, but the only asian character in the Spring Break ’83 trailer is a martial artist named Sum Ting Wong. “What’s Really Going on in Hollywood!” was upset about the portrayal of women, but the only major female character in the Spring Break ’83 trailer was a horny college girl played by Sophie Monk. “You mind if she joins us?” a girl asks her boyfriend, before Monk’s character leaps into bed with them 35. You felt again like you were in the mirror maze of The Lady From Shanghai: Jaeger’s “Cultural Marxism” was upset at the degenerate culture destroying America, FIRM attacked the jewish cabal behind the degenerate culture, and Jaeger’s partner in FIRM, John W. Cones, helped finance this same degenerate culture.

Spring Break ’83 had more than a few problems. It was made in 2007, but it was expected to be released only in 2014 – then again, it took Kubrick the same amount of time to make Full Metal Jacket. It would have to shut down production after not paying its cast and crew36. A site was set up, Spring Break ’83: Unpaid Extras, by extras involved in the production who also went unpaid37. Spring Break 83 LLC would attempt to fund its production by selling unregistered securities in California, for which they received a desist and refrain. They would ignore the order, continue selling unregistered securities, and finally be barred from doing so and ordered to pay restitution to a group of investors38. It was the kind of behavior that might unfortunately further the stereotype of the white christian as a cheap deadbeat.

The soon to be in theaters Spring Break ’83 was the second production of Big Sky Motion Pictures, the other something starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. called What Love Is This movie apparently had a few issues as well. Spring Break ’83 had a few threads on the IMDb board devoted to complaints about non-payment of extras and crew, while What Love Is had a few threads from investors who felt they’d been defrauded39. Big Sky Motion Pictures shared the same phone and fax numbers, as well as a web developer with two other production companies, Vintage American Films and Abundance Entertainment40. Abundance Entertainment was developing a movie called Poker Junkies and this also had a few problems. Poker Junkies Productions and Abundance Entertainment would try to sell unregistered securities in Colorado, and just like in California they would be barred from further doing so. The companies would cold call potential investors in the state and promise the possibility of sitting next to Gene Hackman at a banquet dinner the night of the premiere. Hackman had retired from acting in 2007, and had nothing to do with Poker Junkies 41. On June 17th, 2013, a stipulation for consent order was filed against Vintage American Films for selling unregistered securities in Colorado. The other respondents were Greg Fellows and HTBAM Productions. Greg Fellows was an actor in Spring Break ’83 and had filmed the behind the scenes film which had been uploaded to youtube, “Greg Fellows behind the scenes of the upcoming movie “Spring Break ’83″”. On the notice filed with the SEC of an offering of securities made without registration, Fellows was listed as the company’s manager. HTBAM shared the same phone number, 323-871-4466, as Vintage Productions, Abundance Entertainment, and Big Sky Motion Pictures42. There was an additional connection between these projects: Mars Callahan. Callahan was a former child actor, and he wrote and directed What Love Is, co-directed Spring Break ’83, and was set to direct Poker Junkies. He had acting credits in What Love Is and Spring Break ’83; Poker Junkies was a sequel to Poolhall Junkies, a movie he wrote, directed, and starred in. Callahan was named alongside Spring Break LLC in the initial desist and refrain against selling unregistered securities in California43.

Here is where I must make a slight tangent before returning back to the next chapter of the funding of Poker Junkies and the end of this post. There is a site called The Daily Bell whose perspective was a hard-line libertarianism, one which interviewed James Jaeger several times about his documentaries, among them: “James Jaeger on His Documentaries, the Danger of Hollywood Blockbusters and the Reality of Snowden”, “James Jaeger on Gun Control, Nikola Tesla and the Inevitability of the Internet Reformation”, “James Jaeger on His Latest Film, MOLON LABE, and the Restoration of Militias”. As said, it was a site devoted to a hardline libertarianism, evidenced by some of the other interviews on the site, “Thomas DiLorenzo: More on the Myth of Lincoln, Secession and the ‘Civil War’”, “Brian Doherty on the Trouble With Governments and Benefits of Anarchism”, “George Gilder on His New Book, the Superiority of Ludwig Von Mises and the Necessity for a Regulatory Jubilee”, “Steve Forbes on the Future of the GOP, Obama’s Next Four Years and the Advent of a Gold Standard” and the talking heads of “Cultural Marxism”, “Pat Buchanan on His Latest Book, the Failure of Romney and What the GOP Has to Do Next”, “Edwin Vieira on His New Book, ‘The Sword and Sovereignty,’ and Where the US Went Wrong”, and “G. Edward Griffin on Quick Fixes, the Looming Great War and Loss of Elite Moral Authority” 44.

All the interviews on The Daily Bell were conducted by the site’s owner, Anthony Wile, a man with a lengthy career as an investor who’d received strong praise from Ron Paul45. There is at least one other connection between Jaeger and Wile, beyond the one interviewing the other for The Daily Bell: Wile was an executive producer of another Jaeger production, “Spoiler”, about the viability of a third party presidential candidate, as well as “”Corporate Fascism”46. There appeared to be an overall sensibility of straight talking, a kind of upright morality unknown to Wall Street, all of which demonstrated that businesspeople could be relied on to be upright, decent, and law abiding, without need of burdensome government regulation. So, it was a little surprising when you discovered that Wile was involved in a scam where stock in a company called Sedona Software Solutions would be bid up by various financial newsletters with the stock to be sold by Wile and a few conspirators at its peak price, after which it would crash, with the fish who’d been rigged in left with less than pennies – a classic example of a pump and dump. In the midst of the scheme, the conspirators were caught by the SEC, they were fined, and Wile was barred from any involvement in penny stock issues, small cap issues, for three years, and barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company for five47.

After going off on this tangent, it’s possible to return to the final point in this post, which converges with the funding adventures of Poker Junkies. However, before I go any further, there is something that should no doubt be obvious by now, but which I cannot overstress: I am a creature of a very simple mind. Many are exasperated by my cloddishness and slowmindedness, and I misunderstand simple things very, very easily. We have here something which is no doubt very simple, but that I have a great deal of difficulty comprehending. A company I came across called Media Mechanics LLC, was headquartered in Ontario, Canada, and incorporated in Nevada in 2011 – somewhat similar to the setup for Sedona which was headquartered in British Columbia, Canada, and incorporated in Nevada48. According to their quarterly report, they were a development-stage Company that offered search engine optimization49. It had two owners, Matthew Zipchen, who also worked with an Ontario company that sold solar power bonds, and Violetta Pioro, a yoga instructor who hosted a yoga instruction program on public television. The company would be sold on August 13th, 2013, to Scott Kettle, with Zipchen and Pioro retiring from the board50.

Kettle was an executive with a history that had two moments which stood out. He had been vice-president of operations at Thrifty Tel, a phone company that had been hacked by teenagers in order that they might use the calling services. The lawsuit over the hack would become a major part of computer case law, though there was one detail that stood out: Thrifty-Tel would discover the intrusion, then wait a month as the teenagers racked up illegal charges, before finally suing the hackers’ parents for tens of thousands of dollars over the intrusion and lost revenues51. Kettle had also been the president of Ewan 1 / AccessKey IP, Inc. from 2002 to 2006, a company which violated SEC rules by never filing a quarterly report. The SEC would finally suspend the stock in 2012, and then delist it the same year52. So, Kettle bought Media Mechanics Inc., which renamed itself Gawk Inc., and changed its focus, one that was now to “engage in the business of online distribution of all digital content including but not limited to full length feature films, television series, sports, documentaries, live events via our proprietary content distribution network (CDN).” 53 On November 14th, 2013, Gawk Inc. bought Poker Junkies LLC, the limited legal company that was to produce the movie, Poker Junkies. They took over the script and presumably, the future claims of the 177 investors in the movie listed in the filing. After purchasing the company, John Hermansen would join the board of Gawk54. There were two executives on Gawk: Scott Kettle (Chief Executive Officer, President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Director) and John Hermansen (Chief Content Officer, Secretary and Director). Hermansen was also an executive at Big Sky, and was named in the cease and desist enjoining Abundance Entertainment from trying to sell unregistered securities in Colorado55.

I think I’m able to follow all these events reasonably well. Here is the part that my simpleminded brain doesn’t understand. This company, whose only notable asset appears to be the script to Poker Junkies that it acquired in the purchase of Poker Junkies LLC, has a net income of negative 20K, total assets of a little over 100K. It has over three hundred million shares outstanding, that are currently valued at $3 a share, and this is the part I must be misunderstanding: this company appears to have a market capitalization of over two billion dollars56. Does that make sense to anyone?

What is taking place here I suppose I have to say I am uncertain, and my simple mind remains puzzled over. It would be one more strange moment in a series of strange moments in this plot. A movie which warned against government overreach and corporate fascists produced by a man who, by following his christian principles, invested in those same corporate fascists as well as a government sponsored entity, Freddie Mac. The movie’s director was partnered with another man in an effort to fight the corrupt degeneracy of Hollywood’s jewish cabal, this other man working hard to produce this same degeneracy, which was an homage to the degeneracy of Hollywood’s past. The ironic capper to everything was that Rand Paul, the libertarian once celebrated for his restrained foreign policy ideas, now published his opinion column on Breitbart, the site founded by the man who once saw such foreign policy restraint as a sign of liberal perfidy. Paul would join the site after it was discovered that many of his speeches and writings, some written with the help of a man who celebrated each year the murder of Abraham Lincoln, had been borrowed from other places57. It was a lunatic bell that sounded, and echoed and echoed and echoed without end.

POSTSCRIPT (added January 14th, 2014): On January 3rd, 2014, Gawk Inc. would, according to the 8-K form issued on that day, accept the resignation of Scott Kettle as CEO and appoint him as Chief Information Officer. Mars Callahan would be appointed CEO of Gawk Inc. It would also appoint Ryan Wyler, a veteran of American Express, as its Chief Technology Officer 58 The site MarketWired would post the following news release on January 10th, announcing the launch of the company’s site, gawk.com:

Gawk Incorporated Launches Successful Beta

Connecting Artists and Consumers Around the World

LOS ANGELES, CA–(Marketwired – Jan 10, 2014) – Gawk Incorporated (OTCQB: GAWK) today announced its successful beta launch of www.gawk.com. Built on a innovative global platform, Gawk is bringing self-service distribution to the world by instantaneously connecting artists and consumers.

The Company launched its beta website with a music video of a rising independent singer/songwriter known as Alex G. Consumers join Gawk for free and can purchase the Alex G video for a flat fee of $0.99. No subscriptions are required; fans can enjoy the video repeatedly and at their convenience.

Beta launch for week one resulted in www.gawk.com being viewed in 156 countries. The top 5 countries included United States, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom and France. With over 60% of the traffic beyond U.S. borders, the social capture demonstrates a recognized global presence.

“The world is ready to Gawk. Global innovation meets entertainment; creativity meets commerce. Consumers have been waiting for something new and inspiring in the entertainment industry. We are excited to deliver www.gawk.com to the world and are thrilled by the global success of our beta launch. Our vision reaches far beyond a traditional digital streaming company to create a global community of inspired and enlightened members. We passionately believe that the power of innovation, creativity and collaboration can change people’s attitudes, lives and ultimately the world,” stated Mars Callahan, CEO of Gawk, Inc.

The site, as of the morning of January 14th, 2014, features one song by Alex G, “It’s You I’ll Miss This Christmas” (teaser clip on youtube).

Alex G. announced her involvement with the site on December 19th:

As of the morning of January 14th, 2014, the share price of Gawk Inc. was $7.75, via Bloomberg.

POSTSCRIPT TWO (added January 23rd, 2014): On January 21st, Gawk would announce that it was a sponsor of the Slamdance Film Festival, the film festival that served as an alternative to the Sundance festival. From Bloomberg:

Gawk Sponsors Slamdance Film Festival

Exclusive Presenter of Slamdance TV 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA — (Marketwired) — 01/21/14 — Gawk Incorporated (OTCQB: GAWK) is pleased to announce that it is sponsoring the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival. The Slamdance Film Festival runs concurrently with the Sundance Film Festival, January 17-23, 2014 in Park City, Utah. In addition to sponsorship, Gawk will be the exclusive presenter of Slamdance TV content for the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival which will be featured on the http://www.gawk.com website.

The festival commenced on Friday, January 17th and the company is pleased to report that it has hosted hundreds of independent filmmakers daily in the Gawk Filmmakers’ Lounge. In addition to this event, Gawk will be the co-presenter of the Closing Night Party on January 23rd. Slamdance TV currently creates and produces all Slamdance’s festival coverage. Episodes run at around five minutes each and cover filmmaker interviews and film profiles. Former participants have included Neil Young, Jonathan Demme, Forest Whitaker, and Stan Lee in addition to new filmmakers. Slamdance has announced that http://www.gawk.com will be the exclusive presenter of Slamdance TV 2014.

“We are honored to be a part of the Slamdance Film Festival. This festival provides an unparalleled platform for independent artists, filmmakers and storytellers to showcase their art. Gawk’s mission is to provide a digital multimedia platform for these same artists to self-distribute their art to the world. We believe our goals and philosophies are aligned and are thankful to Slamdance for their support of our vision,” stated John Hermansen, Chief Content Officer of Gawk, Incorporated.

Gawk would begin carrying content from Slamdance as well. As of this moment, the only content on the site is “It’s You I’ll Miss This Christmas” by Alex G, as well as several Slamdance promotional and interview clips.

The About page of Gawk carried its contact inforrmation. The following is a screenshot from January 22nd:

Gawk Inc About

The listed address, 5300 Melrose Avenue Suite 42, is four doors down from the listed address of Vintage American Pictures, which is 5300 Melrose Avenue Suite 39. It was Vintage American Pictures that tried to sell unregistered securities in Colorado, with the promise of meeting Gene Hackman at the premiere banquet for Poker Junkies. The listed fax number, (323) 871-4467, is the same fax number as Big Sky Motion Pictures, Abundance Entertainment, and Vintage American Pictures.

(On December 5th some small edits and corrections were made for aesthetic purposes and coherence; nothing in the original meaning was changed. Links were fixed and some footnotes were made more substantial – for instance, to make clear that Van Alen of the Noah Fund is also the Van Alen who produced “Cultural Marxism”. The parts devoted to Jaeger’s essay on the movie Crash and the legal action against HTBAM Productions in Colorado was added on that day as well. On December 6th, a few additional aesthetic tweaks were made; for instance, the strange rhythm of “I am someone of a very simple mind, many are exasperated etc.” was slightly corrected by having the cleavage of a comma replaced with a period, and I am now a creature, not a someone. A faux quizzical “Does that make sense to anyone?” was added, redundantly, to one of the last paragraphs. That the Canadian investment advisor Anthony W. Wile of the Sedona scandal is the same Canadian investment advisor Anthony W. Wile of The Daily Bell and High Alert Capital Partners was given further confirmation in footnote #45 on the same date. On December 7th, footnote #15 was added on the contrast between Pat Buchanan’s strong present day adherence to the constitution versus his attitude during the Iran-contra scandal. The material on the William Lind sourcing and Buchanan’s Death of the West in footnote #3 was added on that same day, as was the additional material in footnote 53 featuring a link to and an excerpt from a letter by the SEC dealing with their concerns that Media Mechanics was a shell entity. On December 11th, the details and associated footnote on Mars Callahan and his connection to the movies of Big Sky Motion Pictures and those production companies sharing the same phone and fax numbers were added. In some places, What Love Is was referred to by its old title, What is Love? This was corrected on December 11th. Footnote #44 and the link to the story about Glen Hartford in footnote #41 were added on December 27th, 2013. The sentence mentioning that Anthony Wile executive produced one of Jaeger’s films, as well as the accompanying footnote #46, with the details involving Dan Happel and Elias Alias, was also added on December 27th. The information that Wile and Happel also executive produced Jaeger’s “Corporate Fascism” was added on December 28th.)

FOOTNOTES

1 I take the supporting material for this footnote wholely from “Andrew Breitbart: Psychosis in a Political Mask Part One Footnote #8″. The idea that jews manipulate black men and women to forment insurrection against white christians is an old trope of conspiracy literature, and is given mention in The New Hate by Arthur Goldwag:

Not long afterward, another viral quotation that laid bare a different, albeit not unrelated, facet of the Jewish conspiracy began making the rounds of the hate sheets. It was drawn from A Racial Program for the Twentieth Century, a book ostensibly authored in 1912 by a Marxist Zionist Englishman named Israel Cohen. In 1957, the Mississippi congressman Thomas G. Abernethy read it into the Congressional Record. “We must realize that our party’s most powerful weapon is racial tension,” it began.

By pounding into the consciousness of the dark races that for centuries they have been oppressed by the whites, we can mold them to the program of the Communist Party. In America we will aim for subtle victory. While inflaming the Negro minority against the whites, we will endeavor to instill in the whites a guilt complex for their exploitation of the Negroes. We will aid the Negroes to rise in prominence in every walk of life, in the professions and in the world of sports and entertainment. With this prestige, the Negroes will be able to intermarry with the whites and begin a process which will deliver America to our cause.

Cohen’s words confirmed an old conviction of the racist Right that’s already been referred to in these pages more than once: that the civil rights movement was entirely the creation of Jewish Communists; that without their promptings, American blacks would have had no reason to feel any discontent. As the poet Ezra Pound put it, “It is perfectly well know that the fuss a bout [sic] ‘de-segregation’ in the U.S. has been started by the jews. Plenty of americans have been getting on quite nicely with coloured people for nearly a century.” The only problem was that the Communist Party didn’t exist in 1912, in either England or the United States—it came into being after the Russian Revolution—and no book with the title A Racial Program for the Twentieth Century was ever published. An article that appeared in the Washington Star on February 18, 1958, traced the story back to Eustace Mullins, who claimed to have encountered the quotation in a book he found in the Library of Congress. Around the same time, Mullins was also promoting a rumor that Eisenhower’s mother was black.

2 From Indignation:

At the exact moment in my life when I was recognizing the strength of my antileftism, my anticommunism… at the exact point when I was seeing that my emotions and theories were unintentionally driving me toward an accidental “culture-warrior” status… at the exact juncture when I was realizing that the most brutal, evil force I could imagine wasn’t Al Qaeda or radical Islam (at least you know where they’re coming from, the brutality of their mission and their anti-Western, anticlassical, liberal hatred), but the Complex surrounding me 24/7 in the form of attractive people making millions of dollars whose moral relativism and historical revisionism and collective cultural nihilism were putting them in the same boat as the martyrs of radical Islam rather than red-state Americans…at the exact time when I was undergoing the fundamental recognition that my neighbors in West Los Angeles were acting to undermine national cohesion in a time of war, which put me in a perennial state of psychic dissonance…

I watched with increasing trepidation the ultimate attack on Bush that I had previously predicted to friends and family. I watched the collective effect of the Hollywood class’s reaction to 9/11, which consisted of splitting the country when we were united. And I decided to stop fighting behind coattails and to start fighting in my own name.

That’s why, in 2004, I wrote Hollywood, Interrupted with Mark Ebner, a no-holds-barred underground Hollywood journalist. I wrote it out of the pure outrage welling up in me as I saw the Hollywood left filling the void in the Democratic Party after 9/11, normalizing the most extreme scorched-earth measures against a wartime president. I wrote it because of Sean Penn, and Martin Sheen, and all these radicals who had clean haircuts and wore three-thousand-dollar suits and used the power of their image to legitimize the profoundly damaging metamorphosis the Democratic Party was undergoing—the transition from the party of Joe Lieberman to the party of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Howard Dean.

As part of this, they crafted a “dissent is patriotic” meme, an absurd slogan to begin with, that they intentionally misattributed to patriotic Founding Fathers like Benjamin Franklin (they would later be forced to attribute it to pseudoscholar Howard Zinn). Deconstructed, “Dissent is patriotic” is a self-negating slogan because its validity clearly depends on what kind of dissent you’re talking about. If you’re a member of the neo-Nazis in America, you’re dissenting, but nobody would call that dissent patriotic. But if you’re antiwar, dissent is automatically patriotic, according to David Geffen’s guest list (even if you’re a member of Al Qaeda, presumably, since they are antiwar, at least as far as the United States goes). The aphorism is nonsensical. But the left repeated it so many times and so often that it lost all meaning. They slapped it on every bumper sticker on every Prius at every Whole Foods. And it worked.

Hollywood dragged out its oldest lefties and its youngest lefties. Jann Wenner, a Baby Boomer who still force-feeds the relevance of Bruce Springsteen with repetitive front-page power picks, used this movement to promote Green Day and any other pop-cultural vessel that would create antiwar albums. MTV found selective youth, sexy youth, wearing antiwar T-shirts, and put them on TV every night. There was an urge in Hollywood from the old and the young to affirm the Baby Boomer Boss-lovers’ yearnings for the Age of Aquarius to be reborn in the Bush age.

These were the loudest people in the world. And the press was giving them free rein to say and do whatever they wanted, to incite political stunts reminiscent of the Merry Pranksters, to use media trickery to make points, to spawn a youth rebellion against the president of the United States during wartime. They were representing America abroad, and they were representing us as evil hayseeds bent on killing brown people—and the media were abetting this slander.

Between the war in Iraq, the introduction of “victims” of a manufactured “intolerance” toward dissent, the ire and tactics of the gay movement, and the unyielding propaganda of the Hollywood left, all the strands braided together to form a leftist rope of monumental strength—a rope made to hang George W. Bush from the highest turret.

Breitbart explains how he wants the American military to come in and destroy the left, “Breitbart bring it on”.

BRING THEM ON. I must say, in my non-strategic…because I’m under attack all the time, you see it on Twitter, they’re intolerant and call me gay…they’re vicious, there are death threats and everything…and so, there are times where I’m not thinking as clearly as I should…and in those unclear moments I always think to myself: fire the first shot. Bring it on. Because I know who’s on our side. And they know that. They can only win a rhetorical or propaganda war, they cannot win. We outnumber them in this country, and we have the guns. (crowd laughter) I’m not kidding. (crowd laughter) They talk a mean game, but they will not cross that line. Because they know what they’re dealing with. And I have people who come up to me in the military (makes a gesture that the person has officer stripes), major names in the military, who grab me and go “thank you for what you’re doing”, and we’ve got your back. So…(very loud crowd laughter) They understand that. These are the unspoken things. We know. They know. They know who’s on their side. They’ve got Janeane Garofolo. We are freaked out by that. (laughter) When push comes to shove, they know who’s on our side. They are the bullies on the playground. And they’re starting to realize, what if we were to fight back? What if we were to slap back? You know, these union thugs, these SEIU union thugs…I’m just waiting. Bring it on. I’m sick of it. I am sick of this Trumka guy [Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO], I am sick of this John Sweeney [former head of the AFL-CIO], I am sick of the SEIU. I’m sick of them going to people’s homes. Executives’ homes and showing up, and the media not…you don’t think they have a problem with that? KATIE COURIC. What if we went to Katie Couric’s house? What if the Tea Party showed up at Katie Couric’s house? And scared the living crap out of her teenage kids? And that’s what they do, because they know the mainstream media won’t cover it. And so…just a part of me that wants them to walk over that line.

3 A fragment of the “Four Who Made a Revolution” chapter from Death of the West on Google Books. I give excerpts from its opening chapter to provide some sense that what we are seeing is the same idea of the Frankfurt School as there is in the Jaeger documentary, as there in Breitbart, and in Minnicino, again:

The taproot of the revolution that captured the cultural institutions of the American republic goes beyond the 1960s to August 1914, the beginning of the Great War that historian Jaques Barzun calls the “blow that hurled the modern world on its course of self-destruction.”

Trotsky sought to make the Red Army the spear point of revolution. Invading Poland, he was hurled back at the Vistula by Polish patriots under Marshal Pilsudski. Nothing the Marxists had predicted had come to pass. Their hour had come and gone. The workers of the West, the mythical proletariat, had refused to play the role history had assigned them. How could Marx have been so wrong?

Two of Marx’s disciples now advanced an explanation. Yes, Marx had been wrong. Capitalism was not impoverishing the workers. Indeed, their lot was improving, and they had not risen in revolution because their souls had been saturated in two thousand years of Christianity, which blinded them to their true class interests. Unless and until Christianity and Western culture, the immune system of capitalism, were uprooted from the soul of Western Man, Marxism could not take root, and the revolution would be betrayed by the workers in whose name it was to be fought. In biblical terms, the word of Marx, seed of the revolution, had fallen on rock-hard Christian soil and died. Wagering everything on the working class, the Marxists had bet on the wrong horse.

The first dissenting disciple was the Hungarian George Lukacs, an agent of the Comintern, whose History and Class Consciousness had brought him recognition as a Marxist theorist to rival Marx himself. “I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution,” said Lukacs. “A worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries.” As deputy commissioner for culture in Bela Kun’s regime, Lukacs put his self-described “demonic” ideas into action in what came to be known as “cultural terrorism.”

As part of this terrorism he instituted a radcial sex education program in Hungarian schools. Children were instructed in free love, sexual intercourse, the archaic nature of middle-class family codes, the outdatedness of monogamy, and the irrelevance of religion, which deprives man of all pleasures. Women, too, were called to rebel against the sexual mores of the time.

Lukacs’s purpose in promoting licentiousness among women and children was to destroy the family, the core institution of Christianity and Western culture. Five decades after Lukacs fled Hungary, his ideas would be enthustiastically embraced by baby boomers in the “sexual revolution.”

The second disciple was Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Communist who has lately begun to receive deserved recognition as the greatest Marxist strategist of the twentieth century.

THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL COMES TO AMERICA

In 1923, Lukacs and members of the German Communist party set up, at Frankfurt Univeristy, an Institute for Marxism modeled on the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow. After some reflection, they settled on a less provocative name, the Institute for Social Research. It would soon come to be known as the Frankfurt School.

In 1930, a renegade Marxist and admirer of the Marquis de Sade, Max Horkheimer, became its director. Horkheimer, too, had concluded that Marx had got it wrong.

About this same time, music critic Theodor Adorno, psychologist Erich Fromm, and sociologist Wilhelm Reich joined the Frankfurt School. But, in 1933, history rudely intruded. Adolf Hitler ascended to power in Berlin, and as the leading lights of the Frankfurt School were Jewish and Marxist, they were not a good fit for the Third Reich. The Frankfurt School packed its ideology and fled to America.

Death of the West came out in 2002, whereas Minnicino’s “New Dark Age” came out in 1992. I believe, without a doubt, that it carries a strong influence of Minnicino’s work, suggesting that Buchanan was familiar with it. Buchanan gives no citation to Minnicino in the footnotes to “Four who made a revolution”. However, he does give two footnotes to William Lind, one of which is for “Origins of Political Correctness”, a 1998 essay from which Breitbart appears to have taken some material as well.

I give the two Lind footnotes and the associated material from “Four”:

21. William Lind, “Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop Out: A Cultural Conservative’s Strategy for the 21st Century,” Against the Grain, Free Congress Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1998.

But the importance of schools in conditioning the minds of the young was soon surpassed by that of the new media: TV and movies. As William Lind, director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congess Foundation, writes:

The entertainment industry…has wholly absorbed the ideology of cultural Marxism and preaches it endlessly not just in sermons but in parables: strong women beating up weak men, children wiser than their parents, corrupt clergymen thwarted by carping drifters, upper-class blacs confronting the violence of lower-class whites, amnly homosexuals who lead normal lives. It is all fable, an inversion of reality, but the entertainment media make it seem real, more so than the world that lies beyond the front door21.

24. William Lind, “Origins of Political Correctness,” Address to Accuracy in Academia’s Annual Summer Conference, George Washington University, July 10, 1998.

Past societies had been subverted by words and books, but Marcuse believed that sex and drugs were superior weapons. In Eros and Civilization, Marcuse urged a universal embrace of the Pleasure Principle. Reject the cultural order entirely, said MAruse (this was his “Great Refusal”), and we can create a world of “polymorphous perversity.”24

Whether or not Buchanan “dabbled” in Holocaust denial or denied the Holocaust, is to me something like being sortof pregnant, you either do or you don’t, and Buchanan did. “Why MSNBC Dumped Pat Buchanan: His 10 Most Outrageous Statements” by Adam Peck, includes this, “9. Dabbled in Holocaust denial”, in its list. Otheres were: “5. Asserted Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people including 69 teens in Norway, “may have been right.””, “6. Claimed that all great nations punish the gays.”, and “10. Argued Hitler was an individual of “great courage.””

4 I had no idea what was being said here – post-angle? post-Engels? – until I came across a piece on Jaeger’s site, “Cultural Marxism For Dummies”, with the following paragraph that made me understand. I bold the crucial part:

So, what the Cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School did was publish endless books throughout the 1960s and 1970s aimed at the impressionable, drugged-out BabyBoom Generation. And “critical theory” was not just used in books, it was used in ALL the cultural institutions: music, painting, photography, literature, TV shows, commercials, magazines, feature films, theater, rock concerts and even the clergy and institutions of higher learning. This is why the colleges are so liberal and why schools were able to be invaded by Engle v. Vitale which removed religious ethics from the school system.

5 From “Author Cited by Anders Behring Breivik Regrets Original Essay” by Chip Berlet:

The author of the LaRouche essay released the folowing statement:

The LaRouche organization is a cult completely dominated by the deeply paranoid and mean-spirited personality of Mr. LaRouche and by his ill-informed conspiracy theories about science, philosophy, and history.

There have been (and conceivably still are) members of that organization who would seek the truth. Unfortunately, actual free inquiry is impossible inside the organization: too many possible conclusions or lines of research must be consciously or unconsciously dismissed because of LaRouche’s prior “thoughts” on the matter.

The same is true with my Frankfurt School work while I was in the organization. I still like to think that some of my research was validly conducted and useful. However, I see very clearly that the whole enterprise – and especially the conclusions — was hopelessly deformed by self-censorship and the desire to in some way support Mr. LaRouche’s crack-brained world-view.

So, in that sense, I do not stand by what I wrote, and I find it unfortunate that it still remembered.

I might also note that over the years my published writings on culture have been cited, as well as shamelessly plagiarized, by a wide and weird group of authors, ranging from Communists dictators (Fidel Castro, himself!) to conspiraphiles from both the left and the right, and on to outright neo-Nazis. Breivik is the latest tragic addition. I get some solace from the fact that I, along with Jefferson and Gandhi, am only one of the hundreds of citations he used to support his monstrous thesis.

6 The crux of the essay where the author puts forth once again the classic idea of such conspiracy theories, a sinister jewish cabal that controls the world:

In the B’nai B’rith’s official, authorized history, it says: “B’nai B’rith’s relationship to the Civil War presents something of a mystery.” They say that the arrest of the B’nai B’rith’s leader in Washington as a Confederate spymaster was unfair. They say that no one can account for why the group was not pro-Union, whereas most Jews were pro-Union, and B’nai B’rith’s lodges were almost all located in the North. Indeed, Jewish soldiers in the Union Army were intensely proud, mostly German-speaking immigrant, anti-slavery Republicans.

To solve the mystery, we go back 20 years before the start of the American Civil War.

British Foreign Minister Palmerston launched Zionism in 1840. He wrote that the Jews desired to return to Palestine (Abba Eban points out that the Jews knew nothing about this); and a month later, the British landed troops in Palestine for the first time.

B’nai B’rith was started officially in 1843 by some obscure Freemasons in New York, as a secret society “like Freemasonry” for Jews. B’nai B’rith was to shape and lead a particular political faction, with a particular agenda, within the Jewish community.

The agenda for this project came out in a famous speech given two years later at South Carolina College. The speaker was Edwin DeLeon, from a Jewish family in South Carolina that was already notorious for its involvement in the slave trade and in Scottish Rite Freemasonry. DeLeon was later a leader of the Confederate Secret Service.

DeLeon said, “There is a ‘Young Germany,’ a ‘Young France,’ and a ‘Young England’—and why not a ‘Young America’?” He told the students: Any great civil convulsion comes from a source that is unexpected and obscure. In the French Revolution, the priests and nobles were only the flax with which the flame was kindled. But those who first applied the spark were the filthy, obscure savants of the Englightenment. DeLeon reminded the students that the actors in that drama were only its creatures, not its creators.

He then proposed revolutionary military action as the idea for his Young America, to spread what he called “freedom”—by force.

To start the Civil War, this pre-organized anti-Union terrorist force would strike for secession in the South. Those who stayed in the North during the War would be known as “Copperheads,” with headquarters in Ohio.

Before the war, Isaac Wise had two B’nai B’rith local leaders in Cleveland: Simon Wolf and Benjamin F. Peixotto. Wolf and Peixotto also worked as political agents for Democratic Party boss August Belmont, the U.S. representative of the Rothschild banks—chief moneybags of the British crown, and British puppets. Banker Belmont paid for the Knights of the Golden Circle and Young America projects, which he helped plan while he was U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands.

A listing of the papers offered at the conference, including Minnicino’s is at the beginning of “America’s ‘Young America’ movement: slaveholders and the B’nai B’rith”:

Solving the Paradox of Current World History – Nancy Spannaus, Panel Chair

Introduction—Webster Tarpley

The Venetian Takeover of England: A 200-Year Project—by Gerald Rose

How The Venetian Virus Infected and Took Over England—H. Graham Lowry

British Intelligence Subversion: Shelburne and Bentham—Jeffrey Steinberg

America’s ‘Young America’ movement: slaveholders and the B’nai B’rith—Anton Chaitkin

Palmerston launches Young Turks to permanently control Middle East—Joseph Brewda

Freud and the Frankfurt School—Michael Minnicino

Jim Crow, a cultural weapon in the hands of the Confederacy—Dennis Speed

Epilogue

7 From Taibbi’s Griftopia:

Just looking at Palin up on the podium doesn’t impress me. She looks like a chief flight attendant on a Piedmont flight from Winston-Salem to Cleveland, with only the bag of almonds and the polyester kerchief missing from the picture. With the Junior Anti-Sex League rimless glasses and a half updo with a Bumpit she comes across like she’s wearing a cheap Halloween getup McCain’s vice-presidential search party bought in a bag at Walgreens after midnight—four-piece costume, Pissed-Off White Suburban Female, $19.99 plus tax.

Just going by the crude sportswriter-think that can get any campaign journalist through a whole presidential race from start to finish if he feels like winging it, my initial conclusion here is that John McCain is desperate and he’s taking one last heave at the end zone by serving up this overmatched electoral gimmick in a ploy for… what? Women? Extra-horny older married men? Frequent Piedmont fliers?

I’m not sure what the endgame is, but just going by the McCain campaign’s hilariously maladroit strategic performance so far, it can’t be very sophisticated. So I figure I’ll catch a little of this cookie-cutter political stump act, snatch a few quotes for my magazine piece, then head to the exits and grab a cheesesteak on the way back to the hotel. But will my car still be there when I get out? That’s where my head is, as Sarah Palin begins her speech. Then I start listening. She starts off reading her credentials. She’s got the kid and nephew in uniform-check. Troop of milk-fed patriotic kiddies with Hallmark Channel names (a Bristol, a Willow, and a Piper, a rare Martin Mull-caliber whiteness trifecta)—check. Mute macho husband on a snow machine—check. This is all standard-issue campaign decoration so far, but then she starts in with this thing about Harry Truman:

My parents are here tonight, and I am so proud to be the daughter of Chuck and Sally Heath. Long ago, a young farmer and haberdasher from Missouri followed an unlikely path to the vice presidency.

A writer observed: “We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity.” I know just the kind of people that writer had in mind when he praised Harry Truman.

I grew up with those people.

They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food, run our factories, and fight our wars.

They love their country, in good times and bad, and they’re always proud of America. I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town.

I’m on the floor for the speech—stuck in the middle of a bunch of delegates from, I believe, Colorado—and at the line “They arethe ones who do some of the hardest work,” the section explodes in cheers.

I look back up at Palin and she has a bit of a confident grin on her face now. Not quite a smirk, that would be unfair to say, but she’s oozing confidence after delivering these loaded lines. From now through the end of her speech there will be a definite edge to her voice.

Before I have any chance of noticing it she’s moved beyond the speaking part of the program and is suddenly, effortlessly, deep into the signaling process, a place most politicians only reach with great effort, and clumsily, if at all. But Palin is the opposite of clumsy: she’s in the dog-whistle portion of the speech and doing triple lutzes and back-flips.

She starts talking about her experience as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska:

I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a “community organizer,” except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening. We tend to prefer candidates who don’t talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.

The TV talking heads here will surely focus on the insult to Barack Obama and will miss the far more important part of this speech—the fact that Palin has moved from talking about small-town folks as They a few seconds ago to We now — We don’t know what to make of this, We prefer this. It doesn’t take a whole lot of thought to figure out who this We is. Certainly, to those listening, if you’re part of this We, you know. If you’re not part of it, as I’m not, you know even more.

Sarah Palin’s We is a very unusual character to make an appearance in a national presidential campaign, where candidates almost to the last tend to scrupulously avoid any hint that they are not talking to all Americans. Inclusiveness, telegenic warmth, and inoffensiveness are the usual currency of national-campaign candidates. Say as little as possible, hope some of the undecideds like your teeth better than the other guy’s—that’s usually the way this business works.

But Palin, boldly, has tossed all that aside: she is making an impassioned bunker speech to a highly self-aware We that defines itself by the enemies surrounding it, enemies Palin is now haughtily rattling off one by one in this increasingly brazen and inspired address.

She’s already gone after the “experts” and “pollsters and pundits” who dismissed McCain, the “community organizer” Obama, even the city of San Francisco {We are more likely to live in Scranton), but the more important bit came with the line about how people in small towns are the ones who “do some of the hardest work.” The cheer at that line was one of recognition, because what Palin is clearly talking about there are the people this crowd thinks don’t do “the hardest work,” don’t fight our wars, don’t love our country.

And We know who They are.

8 This particular newsletter is brought up in “The Ron Paul Newsletter Story That I Found The Most Disturbing: “Blast ‘Em?””.

9 From “The Tea Party’s Brain” by Joshua Green:

He returned to medicine and to his true love, economics. In 1976 he had founded a nonprofit, the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, that published newsletters under his name, and after his defeat, he turned to them in earnest. The newsletters carried urgent titles like The Ron Paul Survival Report, and were generally devoted to the glories of the market and the menace of the Federal Reserve. They claimed more than 100,000 readers. (During the 2008 presidential campaign, The New Republic highlighted vile racism and homophobia that had appeared in their pages. Paul professed ignorance, but refused to say who had written the material.)

10 From “Pariahs and Prophets” by Ross Douthat:

There are two commonplace interpretations of Paul’s unusual trajectory. To his many sympathizers — libertarians, dissident conservatives and some left-wingers as well — the extremism in his past has nothing to do with the issues that he’s campaigning on today. The case for Paul, as The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf put it, is that “he alone, among viable candidates, favors reforming certain atrocious policies” — scaling back America’s overseas commitments, ending a failed war on drugs, curbing a runaway public sector and reducing the powers of an imperial presidency. The newsletters may reflect badly on his past, but in the current political landscape he’s a voice of reason rather than of madness.

But consider a third possibility. There’s often a fine line between a madman and a prophet. Perhaps Paul has emerged as a teller of some important truths precisely because in many ways he’s still as far out there as ever.

In this climate, it sometimes takes a fearless crank to expose realities that neither Republicans nor Democrats are particularly eager to acknowledge.

11 For example: “Sometimes it takes an outsider like Andrew Breitbart to show the press corps the way” by Jack Shafer and “How Andrew Breitbart Hacks the Media”. The best rebuttals to this, in my opinion, were “Andrew Breitbart: Big Deal, Big Coronary, Big Corpse” by Mobutu Sese Seko and General Rehavam ‘Gandhi’ Ze’evi and “On Making Yourself Right” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

12 As mentioned already, an in-depth comparison is made between Breitbart’s section in Righteous Indignation on the Frankfurt School, the work of Minnicino, and the work of Lind in “Andrew Breitbart: Psychosis in a Political Mask Part One”, while the first Anthony Weiner scandal is looked at in “Andrew Breitbart: Psychosis in a Political Mask Part Two”.

13 From Indignation:

Again, where am I going with all of this philosophical jabberwocky? Well, all of these boring and bleating philosophers might have faded into oblivion as so many Marxist theorists have, but the rise of Adolf Hitler prevented that. With Hitler’s rise, they had to flee (virtually all of them—Horkheimer, Marcuse, Adorno, Fromm—were of Jewish descent). And they had no place to go.

Except the United States.

The United States’ tradition of freedom and liberty, its openness to outside ideas, and our highest value, freedom of speech, ended up making all America vulnerable to those who would exploit those ideals. We welcomed the Frankfurt School. We accepted them with open arms. They took full advantage. They walked right into our cultural institutions, and as they started to put in place their leadership, their language, and their lexicon, too many chose to ignore them.

And so Marxism came stealthily to our shores, squatted here, planted its roots, and grew like a weed—all before we even noticed it. It happened at the university level and at the governmental level and at the media level. We didn’t notice because we couldn’t read the rhetorical garbage these jokers were spewing, and we didn’t think it was important—“Our Constitution survived a revolution and a Civil War and two World Wars. Why should we worry about a few German eggheads?” Especially since America was economically thriving under such “oppression.”

The foundations of the Complex had been built. But we still couldn’t see the Complex itself—the Complex was hidden under paragraphs of obscure text and in college curricula at places like Tulane University, under the unlikely auspices of “American Studies.” Talk about a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It all seemed so benign, and we figured that if college students went off and had sex and did drugs and engaged in teenage rebellious decadence, oh well, they’d eventually come back to the Constitution, just the way their parents had.

We slept while the other side armed, and while we snoozed they secretly stole away our defensive weaponry—our allegiance to the Constitution and to freedom of speech and opinion.

It was only when they fired the first shots over our bow that we noticed we were unarmed, and that they had weaponized the cloudy bacteria of their philosophy into full-bore ideological anthrax, ready to deploy on a moment’s notice.

14 From the transcript to “Cultural Marxism”:

NARRATOR
The nefarious genius of cultural marxist strategy is to destroy the family unit by promoting what’s known in the field of botany as androgyny. From the american college dictionary, androgyny means quote having staminate and pistilate flowers in the same inflorescence; being both male and female; hermaphroditic. Translated into cultural marxist strategy, this means making the father and mother of a family the same and/or reversing their roles. How is this done? Well, it starts with invalidation. As previously discussed, one of the key technologies of the Frankfurt School is critical theory. Recall the purpose of critical theory is to instill cultural pessimism. Thus, by endlessly portraying fathers as dominant, restrictive, depersonalized, and controlling, the cultural marxist is able to invalidate the male component of the family unit. Concomitant with this, by endlessly portraying mothers as schizophrenic, nagging, anxious, the cultural marxist is able to invalidate the female component of the family unit. This two-punch invalidation endlessly repeated in the general literature, movies, and media, gives rise to a pessimistic attitude towards the traditional family. After time, this pessimism becomes imbued into the culture. That’s why it’s said that the product of critical theory is cultural pessimism. The message of cultural pessimism: 1. Families are boring, stifling, and intrusive. 2. Mothers and fathers suck. 3. Divorce is therefore understandable and justified. With divorce made understandable and justified, even laughingly made easy by calling it “no fault”, one out of two nuclear families now disintegrate into chaos.

BAEHR
Same sex marriage does not give you the balance of having a mother and father so that you can learn different skills from them, you learn different personality types. By abolishing that, children are adrift.

NARRATOR
With the success of cultural marxism, hundreds of millions of nuclear families have been destroyed since 1965. This has contributed to, or caused, the decline of the middle class. Next will be the destruction of American capitalism, unless the effects of cultural marxism are recognized and handled.

15 In “Cultural Marxism”, as in public life now, Buchanan takes a strong position on adherence to the constitution, and critical of conceding too much power to the executive. Excerpts from the transcript of “Cultural Marxism”:

BUCHANAN
One of the great problems the country faces is the cowardice of the congress of the United States as an institution. It has allowed the president to usurp the war-making power.

NARRATOR
Where does congress get authority to delegate the responsibility to declare war to the president? It’s not in the constitution. This delegation sounds more like an evasion of responsibility for political expediency then the original intent of the founders.

BUCHANAN
It has resigned its authority, it is frightened of exercising its authority, it does not want responsibility, it does not want accountability.

This is an interesting contrast to Buchanan’s persepctive during the Iran-contra scandal, which was an venture conducted in violation of the constitution, in violation of congress where weapons were sold to a state, Iran, in order to fund weapons for a paramilitary group in Nicaragua, the contra, in direct violation of a congressional actions blocking such military aid.

Here is Buchanan at the height of the scandal, as reported at the time in “Buchanan claims he has support of President Reagan” by Bernard Weinraub:

On Monday night, Buchanan addressing a mostly Cuban-American audience of more than 3,000, said Reagan had asked him to come to Miami and speak to his “friends.” The rally’s organizers included Jorge Mascanosa, chairman of the Cuban-American National Foundation, and the Republican Party of Dade County.

Buchanan said it was a “disgrace” that some for whom the president had doen so much “are now hiding.” He was particularly critical of news organizations, saying: “All newsmen should remember that they’re Americans first and newsmen second. All who don’t feel that should tell us so. We will know which stations not to watch and which newspapers not to buy.”

Shouts of “Traitors!” were also heard when speaker after speaker attacked journalists who have written or spoken about the Iran crisis.

Buchanan said in Miami that the coverage of the White House crisis had been “frenzied, unbalanced and loaded with innuendoes,” representing a “windfall for the Soviets.”

He strongly defended North and Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, the former national security adviser, who were involved in the secret operation to divert proceeds from Iran arms sales to the Nicaraguan rebels known as contras.

“Admiral Poindexter and Colonel North put their careers on the lien to protect our country,” Buchanan told the audience. “If Colonel North broke any rules, he will stand up and take it as the Marine he is. But I say, if Colonel North ripped off the ayatollah and took some $30 million to give to the contras, God bless Colonel North.”

16 From “Ted Baehr: Gay Marriage Supporters Creating Tyranny and ‘Are Subject to Indictment, Trial and Just Punishment’” by Brian Tashman:

Adding to the list of off-the-wall reactions to the Supreme Court’s decisions on two same-sex marriage cases, Religious Right activist Ted Baehr of Movieguide released a statement demanding that all officials who back marriage equality be “subject to indictment, trial and just punishment.”

He claimed that same-sex marriage is part of a Marxist plan to “abolish marriage and the family” and may one day allow dictators like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin to rise to power in America.

“The Supreme Court’s decision today is absolutely criminal,” according to Baehr, arguing that neither the government nor voters “have the right to legalize same-sex marriage,” as it violates “God’s law” and the First Amendment’s protection of “the freedom to worship.”

17 From “And the Verdict on Justice Kennedy Is: Guilty” by Dana Milbank:

Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, “upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law.”

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his “bottom line” for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. “He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: ‘no man, no problem,’ ” Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don’t recognize it, is “Death solves all problems: no man, no problem.” Presumably, Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was not actually advocating violence. But then, these are scary times for the judiciary. An anti-judge furor may help confirm President Bush’s judicial nominees, but it also has the potential to turn ugly.

18 A discussion of Shapiro’s story on Hamas is “‘Friends Of Hamas’ Origin Story Exposes Fact That Some People Are Dumb Enough To Fall For Anything” by Jason Linkins. An article going into the fanaticism of Shapiro and Pollak is “Inside the Collapsing Media Empire of Deceased GOP Sleaze-Peddler Andrew Breitbartt”.

An excerpt on Pollak:

On campus, Pollak took on the role of ultra-Zionist enforcer, working closely with the pro-Israel super-lawyer and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to stamp out any iterations of Palestine solidarity activity. Pollak’s pro-Israel histrionics were on most vivid display in a class taught by Harvard law professor Duncan Kennedy, one of the most influential and renowned legal theorists of the past few decades.

Pollak and Dershowitz both loathed Duncan Kennedy’s politics, a loathing made clear by Pollak’s own personal blog rants at the time. Despite that hostility (and the waiting list) Prof. Kennedy made sure that Pollak was enrolled in his class, and he hired Pollak his research assistant. On his personal blog “Guide To The Perplexed,” [28] which still stands as a record of his strange college years, Pollak blogged critically, almost obsessively about Kennedy.

Fellow law students recalled how a class debate on whether armed resistance by a theoretical occupied population was permissible set off Pollak into one of his notorious fits of histrionics.

According to one classmate, “He came back to class a week later and slammed a hunk of metal on the table and started shouting, ‘This is what you people are justifying! You are supporters of terrorism! This is piece of a Qassam rocket that’s fallen near [the Israeli city of] Sderot!’ Basically his behavior was embarrassing even to the other Zionists in the course.”

An excerpt on Shapiro:

That’s the black comedy side of Ben Shapiro’s punditry. But there’s a darker side to Shapiro’s writing that reveals him as much worse than a mere silly nutcase. Ben Shapiro is on record advocating genocide against Palestinian Arabs in Greater Israel. Advocating genocide is considered a war crime — Nazi journalists were hung in Nuremberg for advocating genocide, and Hutu media personalities who advocated genocide in Rwanda have also been charged with genocide.

Yet that didn’t stop Harvard Law School’s Ben Shapiro from penning a column, “Transfer Is Not A Dirty Word,” calling for ethnic cleansing — which is legally classified as genocide [31] and a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

Here is Ben Shapiro, editor-at-large at Breitbart, advocating genocide [32]:

“Here is the bottom line: If you believe that the Jewish state has a right to exist, then you must allow Israel to transfer the Palestinians and the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel proper. It’s an ugly solution, but it is the only solution. Any time the Jews get wise and threaten mass expulsion of Arabs, the Arabs pull out their big stick, equating Nazism with Zionism… Their spokespeople cry ‘Genocide!’ And the Jews cower in fear that they could be equated with their parents’ murderers. The Jews don’t realize that expelling a hostile population is a commonly used and generally effective way of preventing violent entanglements. It’s time to stop being squeamish. Jews are not Nazis. Transfer is not genocide. And anything else isn’t a solution.”

Actually it is genocide. And it’s the reason why Ben Shapiro came to be known as “Genocide Ben.”

19 Goldberg’s attack on Yglesias where he compares him to Lindbergh can be found in “Progressive Lindberghs”, along with a follow-up “Yglesias & Lindbergh”. A discussion of the material borrowed from Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism in Righteous Indignation can be found in “Andrew Breitbart: Psychosis in a Political Mask Part One Footnote #3″. Goldberg’s closeness to Breitbart is obvious in his appearance on CNN just after hearing of his friend’s death, “Jonah Goldberg Cries During Emotional Interview on Fox – Andrew Breitbart – YouTube”.

20 From the “Cultural Marxism” transcript, I bold their mention:

NARRATOR
It seems the more a congressman is entrenched, the more he is able to build a social network, a network of cronies. Clearly, good relations with fellow congressmen serve many productive purposes. But such a network can also be abused. After all, it’s much easier to minimize the risks of vote swapping, a form of collusion, amongst cronies. It’s much easier to justify corporate campaign contributions, a form of bribery, amongst cronies. And it’s much easier to get away with earmarks, a form of fraud, amongst cronies. Thus, an entrenched congress, especially one cast into only two major parties would seem to be in the perfect position to imperceptibly usurp power from the people. And place it into the hands of the corporate fascists who’ve hijacked congress.

NARRATOR
Sounds to me, given the state of affairs we’re in today, well over ten trillion dollars in debt, immersed in perpetual wars, getting more secular and socialist by the minute, fascist multinationals dominating congress, that we have allowed serious corruption to seep into the american experiment. We may think we won our independence from Europe, defeated communism, and Nazi fascism, but did we?

NARRATOR
Citizens need to get familiar with the original intent of the founders. And realize that the forces of cultural marxism have been raping and pillaging the United States for decades. But to realize the dream, and keep this magnificent republic alive, all americans need to do is take three steps: 1) Disconnect from all sources of cultural Marxist propaganda, media and lifestyles. 2) Don’t patronize the largest Fed member banks and fascist multinational corporations. 3) Connect up with the original intent of the Founders and get active applying the U.S. Constitution. Americans, and history challenged baby boomers, should understand what it means to be a self-governing nation. They need to understand the constitution from a philosophical point of view, not just a mechanical point of view. Why were certain things emphasized and others not. Why is a well-regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state? Why is the term general welfare the only term that appears twice? What principles lay behind the constitution and why? If citizens better understood these things, they would be able to go about their lives with a greater appreciation of the rare opportunity they have been given to live in the american experiment. Instead of pessimism, they would have the realization that America has just begun. That the future will be even more incredible than anyone imagined. Take three steps and it will happen. Yes, the cultural marxists in the media and the universities will scream and dramatize. Yes, there will be a percentage of religious fanatics that attack the United States, or hate us, because we flourish and prosper. And yes, there will always be secular robots and iconoclasts that hate traditional values, and deny that America was populated by christians, or influenced by biblical principles. But the founders somehow knew all this. For they had studied thousands of years of history, and countless failed civilizations. From these lessons, they built the constitution of the United States. And this document has succeeded as no other. The blueprint for the longest standing republic in history is in your hands. Eventually, even the cultural marxists, the corporate fascists, the islamic terrorists, and our current special interest dominated congress, will see the light. And become part of the general welfare. In the meantime, don’t give liberty challenged members of society the power to enslave us all. Just because a relative few have so little faith in the original intent of the founders and the United States constitution.

21 From the “Cultural Marxism” transcript:

NARRATOR
Ever wonder why congressmen were so eager to sacrifice tariffs for NAFTA’s “free” trade? It’s because tariffs don’t amount to much when congress can print up all the fiat money it wants through the federal reserve system. Yes: monetizing endless fiat money was the answer opinion leader economist John Maynard Keynes suggested to Roosevelt in his 1933 open letter.

NARRATOR
So, how come the media seems oblivious to all this? The media that’s looking out for folks, never discusses fiat currency, cultural marxism, media consolidation, Keynesian economics, NAFTA, GATT, WTO, or multinational corporations, in any sort of critical way? How come the mainstream media downplays people who protest against free trade? The World Trade Organization? Or call for protective tariffs?

22 From What’s the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank:

While the Wichita Cons [the Wichita, Kansas conservatives] worked hard to build their movement, they would not have succeeded so extravagantly had it not been for the simultaneous suicide of the rival moveement, the one that traditionally spoke for working-class people. I am referring, of course, to the Clinton administration’s famous policy of triangulation, its grand effort to minimize the differences between Democrats and Republicans on economic issues. Among the nation’s pundit corps “triangulation” has always been considered a stroke of genius, signaling the end of liberalism’s old-fashioned “class warfare” and also of the Democrats’ faith in “big government.” Clinton’s New Democrats, it was thought, had brought the dawn of an era in which all parties agreed on the sanctity of the free market. As political strategy, though, Clinton’s move to accomodate the right was the purst folly. It simply pulled the rug out from under any possible organizing effort on the left. While the Cons were busily polarizing the electorate, the Dems were meekly seeking the center. In Wichita Republicanism appeared dynamic and confident; the Democrats looked dispirited, weak, spent.

However well it was received on Wall Street, Clinton’s strategy played right into the hands of Mark Gietzen [a local Republican candidate] and hundreds of other Christian conservative organizers like him around the country. If basic economic issues are removed from the table, Gietzen has written, only the social issues remain to distinguish the parties. And in such climagte, Democratic appeals to people of ordinary means can be easily neutralized. “Years ago, it was assumed that the Republican Party was ‘the party of the rich,’ and that the Democrats stood for working people,” Gietzen writes.

Plenty of Wichitans clearly came to beleive that it was. In the election fo 1994 they took their frustrations out on Democratic representative Dan Glickman, a staunch Clinton loyalist who supported NAFTA – a free-trade agreement originally drafted by Republicans – even though the labor unions back in Wichita that made up his electoral base adamantly opposed the trade accord. Says Dale Seenson, a union painter at Boeing (and a Republican state legilator): “When [Glickman] voted for NAFTA, I couldn’t any longer vote for him. I know a lot of union members were really mad at Glickman when he voted for NAFTA.” With Democrats and Republicans having merged on free trade, the issues that remained were abortion and guns. And, of course, government itself. Glickman was solidly pro-choice, and he had supported the adminstration’s measures to restrict assault weapons; he had also been involved in the House check-bouncing scandal, which seemed to confirm people’s worst suspicions about career politicians.

23 The way in which Breitbart’s difficulty finding work affected him is discussed in some depth in “Andrew Breitbart: Psychosis in a Political Mask Part Two”. That he voted for Perot is mentioned in Righteous Indignation:

I still had a natural disdain for the religious right, which had been the ultimate 1980s-era bogeyman, so I was looking for some neutral ground while I tried to figure things out. If you met me in 1992, for some odd reason, I would have told you I was a libertarian, and I voted for Ross Perot. The only awkward memory that haunts me more is my roller-disco period.

24 Van Alen’s producing credit is in the movie itself, and is there on the movie’s order page. Van Alen has a producer credit on many of Jaeger’s movies.

That this William Van Alen, Jr. is the same Van Alen who ran the Noah Fund is definitively proven by looking at Van Alen’s profile at Forbes. There, it tells us that Van Alen Jr. is the president of Cornerstone Entertainment:

William L. Van Alen, Jr., joined the Board of Directors of the Company in May 1993. Mr. Van Alen is President of Cornerstone Entertainment, Inc., an organization engaged in the production of feature films of which he was a founder in 1985. Since 1996 and until March 2006, Mr. Van Alen had been President and a Director of The Noah Fund, a publicly traded mutual fund. Prior to 1985, Mr. Van Alen practiced law in Pennsylvania for twenty-two years. Mr. Van Alen received his undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from Villanova Law School. William L. Van Alen, Jr., resigned as a director of the Company effective February 4, 2010.

Many of the movies made by Jaeger, including “Cultural Marxism” are a joint production of his company, Matrixx Entertainment, and Cornerstone Entertainment.

From Jaeger’s filmography off of his site:

FIAT EMPIRE, Telly Award-winning documentary, Cornerstone/Matrixx Entertainment, Devon, PA – 2006
ORIGINAL INTENT, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Cornerstone/Matrixx Entertainment, Devon, PA – 2007-09
THEY ASSUMED IT WAS DEAD, Bunker Jaeger, Ted Kautz, a James Jaeger Film, Matrixx Productions, Beverly Hills, CA – 2009
CULTURAL MARXISM, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Cornerstone/Matrixx Entertainment, Devon, PA – 2009
RADNOR HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Ted Pollard Matrixx Productions, Devon, PA – 2009
CORPORATE FASCISM, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Cornerstone/Matrixx Entertainment, Devon, PA – 2009-10

William Van Alen Jr.’s obituary is in The Palm Beach Post:

Bill Van Alen, a true original, champion athlete and devout Christian, died Wednesday at his home in Newtown Square, PA after a characteristically brave battle with brain cancer. William L. Van Alen, Jr. was born in Philadelphia, PA March 21, 1933, the son of William L. Van Alen and Elizabeth Kent Van Alen. He attended Haverford School in Haverford, PA and graduated from St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH. After three years at the U.S. Naval Academy, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and won a law degree from Villanova University. Bill clerked for Chief Justice Bell of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, practiced law and competed in many sports, winning championships in court tennis, lawn tennis and golf. He was a member of the Seminole, Pine Valley and Gulph Mills Golf Clubs and the State in Schuylkill. He founded and later sold a Christian principled mutual fund, the Noah Fund.

25 From an interview with Robert A. Gualtieri, vice-president of marketing for the Noah Fund, “General Investing Analysis: J. Geewax / R. Gualtieri”:

TWST: Tell us about the NOAH FUND, its philosophy and its investment criteria.

Mr. Gaultieri: The NOAH FUND is a socially responsible mutual fund that invests in accordance with Biblical principles. We are taking US companies and screening them for a number of things. The first thing we screen for is alcohol production, tobacco production and any type of gambling where a company would derive more than 50% of its total profits from gambling. This would include casinos, horse racing, dog racing and lotteries. Then we are screening for abortion, which includes companies that pay for abortions, collect fetal material from abortions, allow payment for abortion to be made through their companies (i.e., insurance) and contributions to Planned Parenthood. We also screen for pornography, which includes hotels that allow viewing of pornographic literature in the rooms, any production of X-rated material or anti- family entertainment material, including any TV stations that show pornography. The NOAH FUND is also now screening for non-traditional marriage lifestyles, those conditions that exist where the Coalition for Gay Rights has gone in and asked these companies to allow their same-sex partners to get health benefits and lifestyle benefits from them. Planned Parenthood and the non-traditional marriage lifestyles are new to us, but we feel that it’s very important and as a result we have started to screen them out.

26 From an interview with Noah’s portfolio manager, John Geewax, “General Investing Analysis: William Van Alen Jr. – Polestar management / John Geewax”. On investing in Microsoft:

But clearly we are in the growth area. So when you think of our firm, think Wal-Mart (WMT) and not Kmart. Kmart is a bankrupt company and Wal-Mart is a growth firm.

The reason you own a growth company and you’re willing to pay up for it is that, for some reason, a growth company, for all intents and purposes, is a monopoly because it has pricing leadership. Microsoft is a monopoly. Dell, because it delivers the lowest cost product, it, by definition, because it has captured a significant amount of market share, has monopolistic pricing, especially relative to its competitors. So if it’s no longer a growth company, I’m going to sell it. If its financial statements come out and its leverage ratios are looking bad or its cash flow coverage ratios are looking bad, I’m going to sell it. I come in about 5:30 and by 5:45 I’m depressed and I’m done with all this by about 7:30 or 8:00. So I have this new list of buys and if I own a company that is not on this list, I sell it.

On investing in Freddie Mac, “General Investing Analysis: J. Geewax / R. Gualtieri”:

TWST: Would problems with management be part of the screening?

Mr. Geewax: If there’s no restatement of earnings, there is no screening out. Once the rules have changed, we’ll pick it up immediately. The issue with Freddie really is the use of capital, the excess capital needed now, and from the point of view of return on usable equity, they’re much slower than Fannie Mae. So I wouldn’t have Freddie in any of my portfolios, but I do have Fannie. I think what Fannie offers is that it is a cheap stock, where the worst is already in the stock. And relative to the mortgage banking area, for lack of a better term, they always handle a downturn better than anybody else. And you’re going to see a lot of people starting to sell their mortgages, and there’s only one company that would buy it: Fannie. So they normally get the pick of the crop and are well positioned in this marketplace.

27 Among various examples, there are “Bernie Madoff And The Mpaa Studios”, “War Could Create Resentment Against Jews”, and “The Terrorist Attacks: Was 9/11 a False Flag Operation?” “Resentment” is the only one not written by Jaeger, but by Henry Makow Ph.D. The last is a 9/11 conspiracy theory. A fragment:

So, in essence, what the central planners of 9/11 HAD to do was create an image that superseded what everyone has endlessly seen in Hollywood movies. This means they had to supersede DIE HARD and even TOWERING INFERNO, a sky scraper that burned for the entire movie and didn’t collapse. So, in order to access the $2 trillion that was eventually available to the military-industrial complex and elements in the U.S. government and elsewhere, the 9/11 show had to be super dramatic AND spread over a wide area.

The way this was pulled off was i) it was planned over a long time; ii) very few people had to know very much and iii) the upside was “profit” potential was in the multi-trillions of dollars. Bear in mind, MANY more people were kept silent during the MANHATTAN PROJECT than the 9/11 FALSE FLAG OP. So just because a project involves deaths of thousands, doesn’t mean it can’t be kept quite secret. History shows that people are MUCH more loyal to MONEY than they are to LIVES and they will obey “authority figures” today even more than they did during the Milgram experiment of the 1950s.

So, as previously mentioned, not only was this a multi-trillion dollar op, it involved saving millions of lives by expending “only” hundreds of thousands of lives, not “just” the people in the buildings and jets, but all the innocent citizens our military adventures have killed in Iraq and Afghanistan as “collateral” damage. Remember, the Mossad was probably involved with the CIA. The Mossad wanted 9/11 to happen because they are desperate to protect their 8 million people in Israel. Israel is surrounded by over a billion hostile Arabs, many of which would love nothing more than to invade Israel, kill all the Jews there, and take back “their homeland” of Palestine. The only thing that’s standing between Israel and these hostile hoards is Israel’s nuclear arsenal and their good Christian buddies, the U.S. presidents goaded on by AIPAC. If the nukes are used however, they could contaminate the entire ME area, including the small tract of land Israel sits on. So nukes are not that good of an option and a last resort. The preferred option is to keep the U.S. military-industrial complex fired up and over in the Middle East fighting the “War of Terror.” And the only way THAT can be done is if the American people look the other way in connection with the 9/11 False Flag Op and keep printing up fiat currency. So you can bet there are millions of Genesis-reading American evangelicals that secretly like 9/11 because it gives them an excuse to trump the interests of Israel.(3)

And this is what was in it for Israel and its Mossad, enhanced American support and an enhanced level of “security” in the Middle East and the greater Israeli area. And this has all happened, as we can all see. In the name of “security” the U.S. received the anti-constitutional PATRIOT Act, legislation that was passed without even being read by Congress. This has now created a police state, not only in the United States, but the entire world, for the Republicans, with the sold exception of Ron Paul, think the US should be the policeman of the world more than ever. Thus every government on earth has benefited from the 9/11 False Flag Operation. When one considers this, it makes the 9/11 project MUCH bigger than just a $2 trillion project.

28 From “Why I Got Involved in FIRM” by James Jaeger:

I have been in the Hollywood-based U.S. motion picture industry since 1977 and 10 years prior to that working around the Philadelphia and Seattle areas. My bio is at http://www.mecfilms.com/jrjbio.htm. I try to evaluate situations from a number of views: 1) my personal experience, as tracked by my bio, 2) the experience of others, 3) by reading books and periodicals, 4) by watching TV media, 5) by debating in public on the NGs and Discussion Fora on the Internet. I have been a reasonable success in the movie business and have associated with many people that were very successful (such as Lee Garmes who was my mentor and who shot, produced and/or directed about 100 classic pictures, including GONE WITH THE WIND. Lee introduced me to a number of members in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. See his credits at http://www.mecfilms.com/leebio.htm).

Lee, at his dining room table, where we used to work, was probably the first person to say to me, in 1979, that the Hollywood-based U.S. motion picture industry was ‘controlled by a group of people that remained behind a veil.’ Lee never stated anything about their ethnic backgrounds, but he worked for many of the powers that ran the studios for many decades, starting with Thomas Ince. Lee, like others, was a paid employee for the studios and so he never “bit the hand that fed him” while working in the studio system, but by the time I met Lee, he had defected from that system and was an independent producer. Why did he defect?

After Lee died, I worked with Errol Flynn’s manager, Jackson B. Mahon (http://www.mecfilms.com/barry.htm), for about 10 years and got to meet and learn about the Feature AND TV industry from a reasonably high level. Barry was considered by many a genius in movie financing/completion bonding, as well as a pioneer for new methods of financing movies deals such as using Canadian public master limited partnerships to discount negative pickup deals instead of banks. Barry launched Doris Keating, a powerful CBS/Columbia producer, who produced many CBS MOWs (I worked with Barry at the executive level on about 5 of them, including an MOW on Errol’s life called MY WICKED WICKED WAYS). Prior to the movie business, Barry flew over 100 fighter pilot missions in WWII and was the only person to get shot down twice and escape twice from the Germans. The movie, THE GREAT ESCAPE is based upon Barry. I got to know Barry very well, as well as his entire family (Doris was his daughter) and over time I realized that Barry corroborated Lee’s views about control in the industry. But being young and idealistic I argued with Barry incessantly, telling him “You’re full of shit Barry, your problem is you didn’t go to college.” And he would say: “James you’re full of shit, your problem is you over analyze everything because you DID go to college.” We loved each other, but I still took his advice with a “grain of salt” — that is up until the industry passed on the STALIN and NITWITS projects. Why wouldn’t it have not financed these projects, especially when many of the executives knew who I had been working with and knew of my 20 years experience? I thought this was strange.

Then a Christian producer friend, Bill Van Alen, who is partners with Joe Pytka (the highest paid TV Commercial director in the world and director of SPACE JAM and LET IT RIDE) on a project called WHEN THE TRUMPET SOUNDS, recommended that I read a book that a friend had suggested to him. The book was called THE FEATURE FILM DISTRIBUTION DEAL by John W. Cones. The friend who recommended the book to Bill was George Jensen, also a Christian and the executive producer of the $30 million, Proctor & Gamble-financed, MOW called A.D. (which aired around 1985 on network TV as a multi-part special). All of these people had experienced similar problems in the Hollywood-based U.S. motion picture industry. Could it have been because they were Christians, I wondered? Even though I was a Christian-Scientologist for most of my years in Hollywood (1977 -1986), I began to wonder, could the industry be discriminating against people in various religions or with conservative political views?

29 From “ORIGINAL INTENT – Comments”:

To: John Cooper
Director, Sundance Film Festival

John,

I am surprised that your Festival would reject a patriotic film like ORIGINAL INTENT
that’s calling for this nation to get back to Constitutional principles and features
five major opinion leaders, such as RON PAUL and PAT BUCHANAN.

This reflects very poorly on not only the Sundance Institute, but Robert Redford himself, a man supposedly known for his independent thinking and a desire to foster new voices in American film.

Would you please reconsider? Having ORIGINAL INTENT accepted by Sundance would do much to get the important, non-partisan views expressed in the documentary out and into the mainstream where change is desperately needed.

Thanks,

James Jaeger,
Producer/Director
(212) 933-9375

From: Jaeger Research Institute [mailto:contact@mecfilms.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2009 7:59 PM
To: programming@sundance.org (External Utility Mailbox)
Subject: Re: 2010 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL NOTIFICATION

Hey Cooper, did any of you assholes at SUNDANCE even WATCH ORIGINAL INTENT before you REJECTED IT?

Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan are in this film. You think THEY have nothing to say?!

http://www.OriginalIntent.

From: Adam Montgomery
To: ‘Jaeger Research Institute’
Sent: Friday, December 04, 2009 2:24 AM
Subject: RE: 2010 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL NOTIFICATION

Yes, we assholes did watch it. All 3+ hours of it. We take the submissions process very seriously, and every film submitted is viewed in the same fashion. Out of 1,700 docs submitted, the vast majority have something to say, and usually it’s something at least relatively important. Unfortunately, we only have room for 35 docs at our Festival, so decisions have to be made. In my opinion, Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul are great Americans, and of course we do not believe that they have “nothing to say”, nor do we believe that your film has nothing to say. I watched your film and for me personally it was educational and informative– you are expressing a lot of ideas that I fully believe in myself on a personal level.

However, if you want this film to find an audience, you might consider cutting it down a bit. Just a suggestion, as films of this nature generally run less than two hours, and I am of the opinion that you could stand to cut an hour or so. I have no desire or authority to tell you what to do with your own movie, but since you felt the need to accuse us of not even viewing it, I feel as if the least I can do is offer some constructive criticism since I did watch it– it wasn’t a film that was simply dismissed. It was viewed by others and discussed. We assholes are nothing if not thorough, I assure you of that.

Best,

Adam Montgomery
Manager, Programming Department
Sundance Institute
8530 Wilshire Blvd., 3rd Floor
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

From: sio
To: ‘Jaeger Research Institute’ ; Adam Montgomery
Cc: John Cones ; JOHN LONGENECKER ; Johnny Davis
Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 7:34 PM
Subject: RE: Was ORIGINAL INTENT Nixed by SUNDANCE because of ADL Propaganda?

Hi,

Please stop bcc’ing the Sundance Industry Office on these emails
(sio@sundance.org).

Shalom,

Rosie

Rosie Wong
Senior Manager, Sundance Industry Office
8530 Wilshire Blvd., Third Floor
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
310.360.1981 tel
310.360.1969 fax
http://www.sundance.org

30 From “F.I.R.M. Mission Statement”:

CONDUCT RESEARCH

Work toward encouraging more thoughtful, critical and analytical research regarding aspects of the above general propositions as well as research relating to:

a. The true nature of feature films;
b. The impact of movies on individuals and society;
c. What people (and entities) have the power to determine which movies are produced and released;
d. Who gets to work on those movies in the key positions;
e. Who determines the themes and contents of screenplays for those movies; and
f. How did such persons (and entities) gain that power.

31 From the dedication to “What’s Really Going On In Hollywood!”:

DEDICATION

This book is dedicated to all of the African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, German Americans, Italian Americans, women, gays/lesbians, Christians, Muslims, Arabs and Arab-Americans, White Southerners and others who have been victimized by Hollywood employment discrimination and patterns of bias on the screen for some 100 years.

32 From “What’s Really Going On In Hollywood!”:

Gay/Lesbians–Gays and lesbians have also been victimized by consistent negative and stereotypical portrayals in American films. In 1987, Vito Russo points out in his book about homosexuality in American movies (The Celluloid Closet), nothing is “. . . more imbedded in industry culture than a belief that the public would never accept a gay hero. “For most of its history, therefore, the screen entertainment industry pretended homosexuals did not exist; when they did appear, they were portrayed as harmless buffoons or as murderers, murder victims, or suicides.”

It then safe to say that, as a general rule, movies mirror the values, interests, cultural perspectives and prejudices of their makers. The prejudices of the Hollywood filmmakers, as a rule, view gays as bitchy, lonely, jealous, murderous, angry and gloomy. They are also sometimes presented as effeminate and harmless buffoons, but also as child molesters, murder victims, suicides, potentially homicidal and villains. Lesbians have been portrayed in a similar stereotypical manner, except for the substitution of masculine for effeminate, while in still other movies they have been delesbianized altogether.

Until the Hollywood establishment stops systematically excluding gays and lesbians from positions of authority in the Hollywood power structure, and more gays and lesbians are allowed to green-light production financing and determine which films are to be released, we are not likely to see any significant change in the number of films that provide more accurate and positive portrayals of such persons. In addition, until such developments occur, movie audiences are not likely to see more overall balance in the portrayals of gays and lesbians in mainstream cinema. These same observations are also true with respect to the consistent Hollywood bias towards women.

33 From “What’s Really Going On In Hollywood!”:

The Overly Popular Nazi Villain–There is also no question that the all-time champion villain for American movies since the ’30s is the Nazi, and this alone tells us a great deal about who controls Hollywood. American films dealing with the Nazi threat during the years from 1934 through 1941 (prior to the U.S. entry into World War II) are considered in the chapter “Favored Themes and Motion Picture Propaganda”. Some 33 anti-Nazi films are considered there. Another 241 anti-Nazi movies were identified by this study, having been released from 1942 through 1994. On average, Hollywood released nearly 5 anti-Nazi films a year during this latter 52 year period. Although, this study did not go so far as to quantify the results, it would appear that more Hollywood films have featured the Nazis as villains more than all other films focusing on other World War II enemies of the U.S., considered together. The appearances of Nazis as villains in American-made motion pictures seem to far outdistance the appearances of any other consistently negatively portrayed human population. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, Michael Medved made little or no comment regarding this clear Hollywood bias, which has, over the years, risen to the level of movie propaganda.

Even though we might all agree that Nazis are appropriate movie villains, the concern expressed here centers on the fact that if a narrowly defined interest group that happens to control Hollywood is allowed to obsessively portray its most despicable enemies through a disproportionate number of movies showing them as villains, then all other groups that have any interest in portraying someone else as a movie villain are arbitrarily prevented from doing so. Thus, the proliferation of Nazi villains in Hollywood films, not only confirms the priorities and biases of the Hollywood film community, it precludes others from telling their important stories through films that are available to be seen by large segments of the American and world publics.

The Continuing Attack: Neo-Nazi/Fascists, White Supremacists and the Klan–In addition to the long series of anti-Nazi and anti-fascist motion pictures, the Hollywood-based U.S. film industry also routinely churns out films that negatively portray neo-Nazis, neo-fascists, white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan.

Once again, this reported conclusion based on an analysis of Hollywood films and pointing out that such movies commonly use white supremacists as villains is not included as any form of argument that they should not be cast as villains, only that if they are used as villains, so should extremists of all other religious, cultural, ethnic and racial groups. If the Hollywood-based U.S. movie industry takes the position that only the white race has extremists on its fringe, then that movie industry itself is racist.

Part of the danger of the anti-Nazi, anti-Fascist and anti-White Supremacist movies that is of concern is that the underlying prejudice against such hate mongering can so easily and appears to have in fact, evolved into a broader anti-neo-Nazi, anti-German, anti White Supremacist, anti-Ku Klux Klan, anti-redneck and finally, anti-Southern mentality in the movie industry (see discussion of movies about the South below), all of which tends to stir prejudice based on stereotypes in our contemporary society and lay the groundwork for a form of regional discrimination in the U.S. that is encouraged by the powerful communications medium, the Hollywood motion picture. It would appear, in fact, that the people who are making these movies are more prejudice than most of the people portrayed. Interestingly enough, the Ku Klux Klan has had chapters in states other than in the American South (e.g., Kansas, California, Oregon, Ohio, Indiana, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), while the vast majority of Hollywood films portraying the Klan are centered in the Southern states.

34 From “John Cones: Executive Profile & Biography – Businessweek”:

John W. Cones serves as Consultant of Big Sky Motion Pictures – manager at Spring Break ’83 Production, LLC. Mr. Cones is a securities/entertainment attorney licensed to practice in the states of California and Texas. His primary area of expertise is federal and state securities compliance for entertainment oriented business plans, limited partnership, limited liability and corporate stock offerings providing financing for feature films, Internet companies, television pilots, live stage plays, documentaries and infomercials. Mr. Cones worked in that area of the law for 18 years in Houston and Los Angeles and participated in the production of the required disclosure documents for more than 200 securities offerings. Some 35 independently produced feature and documentary films have been produced as a result of those investor offerings. In addition, he has incorporated, licensed and counseled regarding compliance matters, a half dozen securities broker/dealer firms engaged in such offerings. Mr. Cones lectured on film finance topics for the past 18 years throughout the United States. He has authored four books Film Finance and Distribution–A Dictionary of Terms (Silman-James Press, 1992), Film Industry Contracts (1993) and 43 Ways to Finance Your Feature Film (Southern Illinois University Press-Summer of 1994). The fourth book, The Feature Film Distribution Deal–A Critical Analysis of the Single Most Important Film Industry Agreement was released in December of 1996. Mr. Cones is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with Bachelor of Science in Communications in 1967 and Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1974.

That this John W. Cones is the same John W. Cones who wrote “What’s Really Going On In Hollywood!” can be confirmed by going to the description below “About the Author”, which lists the same bibliography:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John W. Cones is a securities and entertainment attorney based in Los Angeles, where he maintains a private solo practice advising independent feature film, video, television and theatrical producer clients.

A frequent lecturer on film finance and distribution, his lectures on “Investor Financing of Entertainment Projects” have been presented in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, Boise, Sacramento, Portland, San Francisco, Nashville, Charleston and Washington, D.C. and have been sponsored by the American Film Institute, IFP/West, state film commissions, independent producer organizations and American University. He has also lectured for the USC Cinema-TV School, the UCLA (graduate level) Producer’s Program, UCLA Extension and the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management.

His previous publications include Film Finance and Distribution–A Dictionary of Terms, Film Industry Contracts (a collection of 100 sample film industry agreements, available in hard-copy form or on computer diskettes), 43 Ways to Finance Your Feature Film, The Feature Film Distribution Deal–A Critical Analysis of the Single Most Important Film Industry Agreement, and numerous magazine and journal articles on related topics.

35 From the trailer:

CHARLI
I’m sorry Billy, but I’m just a good time Charli, and I wouldn’t be me if I was here for the good time.

GIRL ON BED
She’s cute…you mind if she joins us?

GUY ON BED
You slut!

GIRL ON BED motions to CHARLI, who jumps onto GUY ON BED.

Let me just take the time here to quote from John W. Cones in his “What’s Really Going On In Hollywood!”:

Women–Women have not fared much better than other minorities in the male dominated U.S. film industry. According to novelist Meg Wolitzer, “[m]ovies that address the complex emotional lives of girls are rare…” In actress Michelle Pfeiffer’s speech at the Women in Film awards ceremony (1993) she “…took aim at Hollywood for movies in which women were ‘sold’ to men, like Pretty Woman (1990), Mad Dog and Glory (1993), and Indecent Proposal (1993)”.

Academic Elisabeth Joyce, in her study of violent women in recent movies concludes that such examples underline a depressing paradox: “…that women of violence may appear in films and may on first look seem to be harbingers of a new social order which accepts women as equals in the power game, or which in fact presents the patriarchy as giving way to female power, but which in reality only reaffirm the patriarchy and put women in their secondary place in the social order, a place which is in further reintrenchment.”

Thus, with all of the progress for women in the rest of U.S. society, Hollywood still seems to be well behind the curve. Hollywood portrayals of women in recent years have included the silent, submissive and untrustworthy females. In addition, women have been portrayed as being on the sidelines, for sale and as the sexual harasser.

Well, thank god we now have John W. Cones and his Spring Break ’83 speaking truth to power.

36 From “Union shuts down movie” by Brennan David:

The Screen Actors Guild and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees shut down filming of “Spring Break ’83” Friday evening.

Mike McHugh, IATSE business agent, said Big Sky Motion Pictures committed a breach of contract when it discovered the movie barely had a week’s worth of payroll in its account. IATSE requires two weeks’ worth of payroll to be in deposit.

The union learned of the breach of contract after several complaints from crew members and extras not being paid. When SAG shut down filming Friday evening, “we followed suit and did the same,” McHugh said.

“We told the crew we couldn’t guarantee any payment past Thursday,” McHugh said.

Springfield resident Treyson Thedy said he has not been paid for 19 days of work. The young extra said he has worked in several films and television shows before and has always been paid within two weeks. As of Monday, Thedy has been waiting a month for his first week’s payment of work.

“I call all the time and always get a different story,” Thedy said. “They said it’s something to do with their accountant, but it’s always a different story.”

Thedy said his two brothers and several friends have not been paid either.

Archie Trahan, production assistant, said he has not been paid one penny for two weeks of work. He said he should have known something was wrong when the film refused to give him a copy of his time sheet.

He thinks somewhere around 700 people are waiting for payment.

37 A sample from Spring Break ’83: Unpaid Extras.

The post “For Investors”:

SB83 investors,
We do not have any information for you. We are only the extras trying to obtain the money we are owed. Several investors have contacted us through unpaidextras@gmail.com, but we are unable to help you in any way. As it was an investment, we have no idea how or even IF you can recoup any of your money.

For potential investors, all you have to do is go to IMDb to see what miserable failure Big Sky Motion Pictures’ previous film “What Love Is” was. We don’t know much about investing, but we do know that Big Sky has a history of not being honest. Beware. They are not a company you can trust.

From “affidavit, please”:

Because we anticipate that we will not get paid, we are gathering affidavits of detailed accounts of pertinent information for the lawyer who is signing on to the case. PLEASE SEND YOURS IMMEDIATELY to unpaidextras@gmail.com. The lawyer needs them TODAY. Here are two very long examples. Names have been removed.

EXAMPLE ONE:

My name is [name withheld], and I worked as a featured extra on the film “Spring Break ’83″ on November 3 and 4, 2007. I was initially contracted to be paid $200.00 per day, which included travel days to and from Houston, Texas on November 2 and 5, 2007. I later agreed to a lower payment of $600.00 for these four days because Tina Kerr, the casting assistant from Texas, informed me via email that “we had to be paid the same rate as the Louisiana extras”.

I have several complaints about the way the production was run and the way the extras were treated on set. Extras were yelled at in close range via megaphones. Crew members were taking cell phone pictures of unsuspecting female extras who were in their bikinis. Production assistants embarrassed and belittled a number of extras in front of the larger group in order to intimidate them.

It all came to a head on the evening of November 4, 2007, when producer Joy Czerwonky met with the Texas extras at our hotel and informed us that we would be needed for an additional day of shooting on November 5. This was simply not acceptable to me as we were told that November 5th would only be used as a shooting day if we were unable to shoot on either November 3 and 4 for rain or other weather problems. In addition to the horrible treatment of the extras on set, to add to my concern, I was told by several people working on set that they had not been paid since October 19. This includes one wardrobe assistant, the manager of the catering company doing craft services, three Louisiana extras, one contracted break dancer, and one principal actor. As a SAGe actress, I became aware that “Spring Break ’83″ and Big Sky Motion Pictures were committing serious offenses to their SAG contract. Simply put, I no longer trusted their word, and I wanted to go home immediately.

I personally told Czerwonky that I would concede if we were all paid an additional $150.00 and would be back in Austin, Texas in time for a 7 a.m. shoot on a different production on November 6. At that time, she would not agree to those terms and she proceeded to insult my friends and co-workers by telling us that our reasons for wanting to go home were invalid and that working on this film would be “our only chance to make it big in Hollywood” because we were all “way too old”.

As no agreement could be met, 20 of us refused to go on set on November 5. After threatening to call the police for false imprisonment, the production company begrudgingly hired a limo and a charter van to take us back to Houston. We were told that we would leave by 8 a.m., but we did not leave until 11:00. In the meantime, two people went back to set.

Thirty minutes outside of Houston, our drivers pulled over to a gas station. My friend, [name withheld], called my cell phone and told me to let the others know that our drivers were planning to leave us at the gas station because a certain female passenger was on board who apparently had gotten in to a fight with the owner of the charter bus company the previous day (i.e. she was allegedly banned from riding on any vehicle owned by the company). I quietly spread the word so that the majority of us would not leave the van or limo. Because I wanted us all to get home safe and sound, I further felt forced to lie to the limo driver that that certain passenger was not on board.

When we arrived at the Wal-Mart parking lot where we had left our vehicles, the limo driver and the banned passenger engaged in a physical altercation. The passenger pulled out a tazer, and the limo driver was yelling for me. I had to hide behind a SUV because I was scared for my physical well being. The limo driver started to drive a way, but the extras had not yet unloaded all of their baggage. As the trunk was still open, the other extras had to scramble to get their
bags out.

My friend [name withheld] and I got in to her car, and we left for Austin. To this day, I regret working on this film, and to date, I have not been paid.

I attest the above to be true on this 25th day of February, 2008

From “WARNING: do not sign the new release forms… yet”:

From a shafted SB83 extra via Myspace today:
“I was called about signing a release by BigSky… they said it was the last step before getting paid.

Sign it if you want… but give me a couple days to figure this out… my husband is an attorney and says that it is written as though we have ALREADY been paid… and if you sign it, you may inadvertently be signing away your right to be paid because of how it is worded.

This is what he has to say about it….

“It says good and valuable consideration, receipt of which is hereby acknowledged… Consideration is the quid you receive for the quo you give. You have not yet received any consideration, i.e., payment, so that part of the release is not true. The release they have sent to you is written as if you have already been paid. Looks like they have the cart before the horse.”

Let me check into this.

I do not trust them… and they have not given us any reason TO trust them… so I’ll get back with you.”

————
Please stay tuned for more developments. We MUST stick together on this issue!

ALSO a certified letter will be sent to Big Sky Motion pictures on 2/22 stating our intention of proceeding with legal action. If you sent your info to unpaidextras@gmail.com your name and monies owed will be included in the letter. If you have not sent your information, please do so immediately. Thank you.

We are the unpaid extras from “Spring Break ’83″.
We are tired of the excuses.
We just want to be paid.

38 From the “Desist and Refrain order (For violations of section 25110 of the Corporations Code)”:

Pursuant to Section 25532 of the California Corporations Code, Big Sky Motion Pictures, L.L.C., Spring Break ’83 Production, L.L.C., Spring Break ’83 Distribution, L.L.C., Spring Break ’83, Rand Jay Chortkoff aka Gregory Martin, and Mars Callahan are hereby ordered to desist and refrain from the further offer or sale in the State of California of securities, including, but not limited to limited liability company interests in Spring Break ’83 Production L.L.C, Spring Break ’83 Distribution, L.L.C., or Big Sky Motion Pictures, L.L.C., unless and until qualification has been made under said law or unless exempt.

From “California Department of Corporations-Stipulation to Entry of Final Judgment”:

H. Plaintiff issued a Desist and Refrain Order on March 28, 2008 against DEFENDANT for violations of the CSL, pursuant to California Corporations Code section 25532, mandating DEFENDANT to cease from the offer and sale of unqualified, non-exempt securities to members of the public (“Order”). DEFENDANTS were personally served with the Order on or about April 14, 2008. DEFENDANTS did not request an administrative hearing on the merits of the Order. Therefore, the Order is now final.

I. Notwithstanding the Order, DEFENDANTS continued to offer and sell securities to California residents without disclosing the existence of the Desist and Refrain Order from at least April 2008 to 2010.

9. DEFENDANTS neither admit nor deny the foregoing allegations.

From “California Department of Corporations-Amended Final Judgment”:

3. DEFENDANTS Big Sky Motion Pictures, L.L.C., Spring Break ’83 Production, L.L.C., Spring Break ’83 Distribution, L.L.C., Spring Break ’83, Rand Jay Chortkoff and each of them, and their officers, directors, successors in interest, agents, employees, attorneys in fact, and all persons acting in concert or participating with them, shall be and are hereby ordered to rescind each and all of the unlawful transactions alleged in this Complaint and pay full restitution to each person determined to have been subject to acts, practices, or transactions which constitute violations of the Corporate Securities Law of 1968, in the total amount of $180,000.00 to six (6) California investors within one hundred twenty (120) calendar days after the Court’s entry of Final Judgment.

39 From the IMDb board for What Love Is, the thread “Investing?”:

User natasha cubbage (link):

Does anyone know anything about phone calls asking for investors in this movie?
I just received a phone call asking for a min. investment of $5000. Scam? real? anyone know?

User gypsy7-1 (link):

Yes, I have received these calls, as well. They started even before the picture was in production. Issue was that they didn’t want “big time” investors who would prevent Mars Callahan from having full creative control, so they wanted a lot of smaller investors. Mars supposedly has the next picture in progress and will want to go back to investors for support. He also “wants to develop the next Miramax production company.”

Some things to consider:
1.I couldn’t verify that the company calling supposedly representing “Big Sky Motion Pictures” was even affiliated with that organization. Checks were to go to them, not the third party bank, which was kinda freaky;

2. I actually read the documents they sent and was concerned about distribution of the “profits.” Caller’s response was, “You didn’t actually read it did you?” or something to that effect. Unfortunately, I’ve spent nearly a lifetime reading contracts. Also, the contract has no value if the company doesn’t honor it (or even exist – they may have had no connection with the production company at all);

3. I referred the caller to my financial advisor who asked some pertinent questions and they wouldn’t send him any information;

4. Shortly after that, I got the “closing call” that said they had just been invited to the Sundance festival and I only had two more days to get the check to them;

5. I checked the Sundance festival site and found no reference to the movie.

6. Financial advisor said that the time is very good for “scam artists” who take your money and run. Other examples are Oil/Gas investments, Forex (foreign financial exchange), etc. (Check out the video “Glengarry Glen Ross”) Such scams seem to run in cycles and we are in one now, so…. let the buyer beware. The test is, close your eyes, imagine that you have sent in the amount of money requested to someone you don’t know and imagine losing it all. If that doesn’t bother you, then perhaps you are ready (and financially capable) to “invest” in such things.
Nomad

User seewead57 (link):

I RECEIVED THE SAME CALL,BUT THEY ASKED FOR THIRTY THOUSAND NOT FIVE. I RECIEVED THE (KIT)THEY SENT AT FOUR P.M. THREE HOURS LATER I GOT A CALL TO GO OVER IT AND FILL OUT THE AGREEMENT AND SEND THE CHECK. WAS TOLD I HAD TO DO THIS NOW OR A CHANCE OF A LIFETIME WOULD PASS ME BY. I PUT THEM OFF WITH DIFFERENT EXCUSES FOR TWO WEEKS.I GOT ANOTHER CALL TODAY SAID I COULD LOWER MY (PARTNERSHIP)TO FIFTEEN THOU. ADVICE…….IF SOMETHING SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT MORE THAN LIKELY IS……….I AM NOT SAYING IT COULD NOT HAPPEN BUT BY THE NUMBERS I WAS TOLD THE MOVIE WOULD MAKE I WOULD MAKE AS MUCH AS NINE MILLION OFF OF THIRTY THOUSAND. WHO WOULD GIVE THAT MUCH MONEY BACK TO INVESTORS.

User mlints (link):

I am in investor in What Love Is, and my experience is pretty much in line with your description, at least regarding the financial arrangements. I invested in November 2005, and some of the details of the movie itself have not turned out as described at the time.

The cast that I was “sold” included Val Kilmer, Ben Affleck, Christian Slater, Anne Heche, and (maybe) Angelina Jolie, and the movie was going to be released on Valentines Day 2006. Obviously, there were some changes along the way. I was nervous about some of the changes, especially the schedule delay, but the company has been reasonably good about keeping me informed about significant changes as they occurred.

The jury is still out as to whether or not this was a good investment. I haven’t seen the movie, but the few comments I’ve read about it are encouraging, and I’m looking forward to its release.

From the IMDb “What Love Is (2007)” board, the “I feel sorry for any investor, WLI drop…” thread:

User bigboy37 (link):

the 1st week of release it made 11,000, 67th out of all movies out, right behind Galapagos, which has been out for 7-8 years i think,
this week I look on the box office gross, I dont even see WLI in the top 97 movies,
MEANING!!! this move probably only made about 12-13,000 theater release!!! and will now be dumped from the theaters and go to DVD
what a shame , you put all those “name” actors together, raise money from investors and put up the hype,
and it comes out in 42, 42!!! theaters and makes 12-13,
why even make a movie if you arent going to promote it, distribute it, and then let it crash,
my guess….. after BIG LIE comes out with their spring break movie,,,
I give them 5 years before they go out of business, no way people will invest in them again
WTF?? anybody care to expand on this…..

User privateinvestigator (link):

Yes you should !! I have never seen a dime from my investment. Yet they keep calling for me to invest in SB ’83. Thats bold but these guys have no shame. There is a sucker born every day but I will not be screwed twice.

User storyteller1957 (link):

Ditto on that. Not one dime. They’ve promised money for six months (well, no they actually have promised release and money for well over a year) always followed with a sales pitch. Then it turns out that one of the “top people in the business” that they have hired for this promotion or that deal somehow has a misunderstanding or mistake that represents a delay. Of course the limited written updates do not sync with what they pitch on the phone.

The movie may or may not be a masterpiece but it is different and stimulating, has a great cast, and a subset of people are going to love it if they get the chance.

In my neck of the woods no one would get the chance to know that since it never came to a theatre and has not been released on DVD. (The tales of DVD release dates and why that has not happened yet are a whole ‘nother story.)

A horribly, horribly mis-managed project that only lends credence to the claim that they are in the business of raising money not distributing movies.

User privateinvestigator (link):

No K-1! No communication! Crooks!

User privateinvestigator (link):

I at least got my K-1s this year. No income. No explanation of why I hear of it playing here and there but none of that money is coming to the bottom line.

User gotmyorangecrush (link):

I hate to rain on everyone’s What Is Love Doomsday predictions but the bottom line is that the Home Theater market has become a monster that takes in literally 3 times as much as theaters do these days. The Home Theater market took in 27 Billion in 2007. Those are just HUGE numbers so the bottom line is you simply cannot say a movie failed until after it has been released on the home market. In all likeliness a film with this kind of budget will gon on to become very profitable on the home market even it it only made a single penny at the theaters.

Even bashing this film in its performance in the theatres is a joke because it was only released in 42 theaters according to Box Office Mojo. Dont get me wrong if you guys want to bash this film the go ahead and do it but to bash this film in regards to its investors or in regards to how successful this film is ultimately going to be in that regard is nothing short of ridiculous. The home theatre is considered the 2nd box office and judging a films success before it hits the home market is simply not a very smart thing to do.

Given the star power this film has this film should easily make its budget plus at least 5- 10 million on the home market and if you guys really consider that to be the overwheming failure that your making it out to be then I would hate to see what you guys would say about the films that actually fail to make money.

10 years ago you could have made a post like this and there would have been nothing wrong with it but you simply cannot do that today. The SD DVD market is a money powerhouse that has the power to turn even the most utter box office failures into bags of money. The ironic thing is that its films like these that have such low budgets that ultimately make the most in terms of percentage of profit. The big powerhouse blockbusters that have 200 million budgets are the films that Need to have huge theatrical performances on top of huge home theater performances to make any serious money in return. Films like these that have small budgets can go on to make loads of cash on the home market thus judging a films ultimate performance in regards to profits before it hits the home market is again a foolish thing to do.

User storyteller1957 (link):

I completely agree on the financial potential. Poorly positioned in the theatres does not speak to how people (not necessarily critics who had mixed reviews) will feel about it. I think it will have a good audience in the DVD world.

It does not change that by the terms of the investors’ agreement we should have seen some check, albeit a small one, last year and I am still waiting for first distributions. As an investor I don’t really have anything good to say about the production company at this point. But I will be happy to see the movie released on DVD and have some fresh input on a movie that most people have not yet had even the option to see.

User smatthew-5 (link):

Hello Storyteller,

I am considering investing in Spring Break 83 and wish to know how much of a return you have received on What Love Is to date. As of your last post, it appeared that you planned to check the mail for a check. Did this or any other checks come in? I need to know if there are any red flags with this investment still, or if the money just took longer than expected. Any input you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

User storyteller1957 (link):

It has now been five full quarters since WLI went in to the theatres. We never received a check for the small amount of theatre revenue. I was told (while I was being solicited for SB83) that they had sold foreign rights and that money was imminent. Over a year ago and never happened. Our first check was the one referenced above. It amounted to 3 pennies back on each dollar sent (dollars were NOT returned). The second quarter has come and gone since without a peep.

I can not stress strongly enough, this was a huge rip off. Not just bad luck but either horrible performance or outright lies. Or both.

You would be a gullible fool to give them any money. And I know- I have walked that walk. I know it sounds good but just say ‘No’. It’s mildly fun to think you are part of something. I know it sounds good. Porky’s, Nerds and all the others, how could they not make money.

Look at the cast list for WLI and tell me how you would think you would lose 97% of your money on a movie with those players.

Really, write to me privately if you like. Unlike some people here I do not trash WLI, the movie, but those are the financial facts.

I now have three pennies to show for every dollar that I sent to these guys in 2005.

User Typhoon-ista (link):

Got My Orange Crush,

Nice try but what you are completely missing in that overly optimistic post were the outrageous claims made to investors through sales pitches and disclosure documents.

It is all well and good to now say “Oh yeah, it was never going to do well in the theatre but the target market was DVD revenue” but this is simply not what was delivered in the sales process to investors. With all due respect I have to question your motives in making the above post and whether you have an association with BS.

The facts are movie investments are high risk with the possibility of high returns. Potentially Mars and the guys did a very good job like with Pool Hall Junkies and Zigs. The HUGE problem is with the sales pitch and disclosure docuemtns. They were high pressure sales and were disgraceful which simply did not reflect the risks associated with the investment. Sorry to hear that those investors have lost money but try not to get caught twice.

User moviedude1-1 (link):

No the HUGE problem is all the pathetic lies Big SKy told the investors! I personally know people who lost thousands to these scam artists! Someone need to put these thieves out of business!

User moviedude1-1 (link):

So lets see as you can read in the above posts Big Sky productions LIED to the investors about What love is and the way it was going to be distributed, Then they LIED to the Extras on SB83 and told them “The check is in the mail” Does it ever end? Why anyone would do business with this company after reading all the horror stories is beyond me, Big Sky are scam artists nothing more.

User smatthew-5 (link):

I am considering investing in Big Sky Productions Spring Break 83, but saw your posts. I also saw some that said they did get paid. I am posting this several months after the last post on this, so am wondering if your friends who lost money have received any checks since then and to what extent. Obviously, your posts are concerning, but just wondering what the current status is.

Please let me know.

Thanks.

User TheQuietStorm (link):

I heard about this whole situation. It’s a sad thing, especially for honest and talented producers, writers and directors out there looking for investors on great projects.

From the IMDb “What Love Is (2007)” board, “Investors Only” thread:

User privateinvestigator (link):

I think we should get together and start a class axtion. I know I was lied to many times by the phone promoters.

Here are a few examples:

1) The investors in Pool Hall Junkies made 4 to 1 and soon it would be much more even 10 or 20 to one.

2) The movie would be out on Valentines day (2005)

3) Philip Morris angency would be handling a vast promotional effort.

4) They had a deal with See’s Candy to promote the film.

5) It would be the perfect Valentines movie for me to bring my wife to on the opening night.
6) We should expect a return of 10,20 or even 30 to 1.
7) No chance of faliure with multiple streams of income.

I have not seen a check yet. I was told we would have quartely distributions. There is no doubt in my mind that I am a victim of fraud. I would like to participate in a class action. Are there ant others out there that were lied to.

User carlk-3 (link):

Um, maybe you’d do better with your investments if you knew how to spell your own screen name properly.
And furthermore, if you had just Googled “Poolhall Junkies,” you would have seen it was a miserable failure.

User Ravkill (link):

phillip morris markets movies now?

User privateinvestigator (link):

OK smart ass. Yes I should have checked out poll hall junkies. My screen name is a play on words. Investor=Investo get it? Yes I was Duped. Yes I was screwed. Yes I was stupid. Yes I lost a lot of money. Yes I am pissed. The people should be jailed.

From the IMDb “What Love Is (2007)” board, “Big Sky Productions Ripped of my friend” thread:

User moviedude1-1 (link):

My friend was an extra in SB83 and worked long hard days. He still hasent received a dime from Big Sky productions, This has got to be the worst production company I have ever come across.

User storyteller1957 (link):

Good friends don’t let friends work for rip off companies. You knew about Big Sky long before SB83 started filming and told everyone here about it. Surely you should have told your own friends as well.

User moviedude1-1 (link):

Considering I live in a different state than he does and he doesnt consult with me with his every move then I couldnt help him, I just think its sad that people had to fight this scam company to get paid!

User moviedude1-1 (link):

Looks Like One of their own investors with Big SKy dont even like them! Read the last line of Storytellers post I think that says alot!

by storyteller1957 (Mon Dec 3 2007 21:21:14) Ignore this User | Report Abuse

——————————————————————————–

Ditto on that. Not one dime. They’ve promised money for six months (well, no they actually have promised release and money for well over a year) always followed with a sales pitch. Then it turns out that one of the “top people in the business” that they have hired for this promotion or that deal somehow has a misunderstanding or mistake that represents a delay. Of course the limited written updates do not sync with what they pitch on the phone.

The movie may or may not be a masterpiece but it is different and stimulating, has a great cast, and a subset of people are going to love it if they get the chance.

In my neck of the woods no one would get the chance to know that since it never came to a theatre and has not been released on DVD. (The tales of DVD release dates and why that has not happened yet are a whole ‘nother story.)

A horribly, horribly mis-managed project that only lends credence to the claim that they are in the business of raising money not distributing movies.

From the IMDb “Spring Break ’83 (2014)” board, the “No…all the extras have not been paid …”:

User miss-jackson-if-ur-nasty (link):

I notice that some of the Big Sky employees have been posting here under fake names trying to build back Big Lies reputation…But it wont work EVERYONE on the west coast knows what a bunch of thieves these guys are. By the way,….The tariler for this film sucked big time.

From the IMDb “Spring Break ’83 (2014)” board, the “please just pay your bills” thread:

you stel need to pay johnny martin $47,017.89 how can you sleep at night if i olde grips i would pay them so i would not have to keep looking over my back.

From the IMDb Spring Break ’83 (2014) board, the “When will this be released?” thread:

User fishermansfriend (link):

I don’t care if it sucks, it’s got Aviva in a bikini so I want to see it.

User twin-11 (link):

PLEASE can you give us an updated release date?

maybe no more money, is why!

but the Public is Clamoring!
i mean fishermansfriend wants to see Aviva in a bikini, close enough …

User lor_ (link):

2 Fake Items here:

Ever-rolling release date, 2008, 2009, 2010 now, next??

$18,000,000 budget listed in IMDb. SURE, I believe that! Gotta peddle a lot of Blu-Rays to earn that kind of money, and remember 3 years (and counting) of interest on that borrowed investment is pretty significant too.

User storyteller1957 (link):

There is no interest if you don’t borrow money but get victims to “invest”.

And apparently no interest extends to the interest in finishing a film when the main people get paid up front from investor funds.

At least that is my opinion.

User storyteller1957 (link):

Haha, if they had filmed it live in ’83 they probably wouldn’t have been able to get it out by now.

Gosh, I hope they are not out telling people they have this movie that is already filmed and almost done. And once they raise a little advertising money….. So really very little risk if you invest now. We’ll release it and the money will be rolling in. And then we will start working on this new project we are doing with Tom Hanks (really they did claim that)and we will give preference to our current partners for that one. Well except for when they say they want to broaden the investor base so they aren’t sure if you will be able to get in on the new one, but if you really want to I will see what I can do…..

There are some fund raising advantages to having it on the verge of release and full of potential rather than flopping around like a dying fish with investors posting that their returns were 3 percent of what they invested.

User swampgypsy (link):

I really really wish they would release it. My very best friend in the woorld and I were extras in it. He passed away very shortly after and I would really like to see the footage we are in together…I miss him so :(

User storyteller1957 (link):

I am very sorry for your loss SwampGypsy.

User lightkeeper-1 (link):

Release the movie and let us help pay the bills off.

40 The contact information for Big Sky Motion Pictures can be found on their contact page:

BIG SKY MOTION PICTURES
Raleigh Studios Office
650 N. Bronson Ave. Suite B-128
Los Angeles, CA, 90004
Phone: (323) 871 – 4466
Fax: (323) 871 – 4467

BIG SKY MOTION PCITURES
New Orleans Office
607 St. Charles Avenue Suite 300
New Orleans, LA. 70119

The contact information for Abundance Entertainment can be found on their contact page:

Raleigh Studios Office
650 N. Bronson Ave. Suite B-128
Los Angeles, CA, 90004
Phone: (323) 871 – 4466
Fax: (323) 871 – 4467
Email: info@abundanceentertainment.com

The contact information for Vintage American Films can be found on their contact page:

Raleigh Studios Office
5300 Melrose, Suite 39
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Phone: (323) 871 – 4466
Fax: (323) 871 – 4467

The web developer for all three sites is Joshua Temkin, and he lists the three in the Client/Projects sidebar of the “About” page of his site.

41 From Poker Junkies: Cease and desist order for movie producers/Gene Hackman name-droppers” by Michael Roberts:

Poker Junkies may eventually come to a theater near you — but it could take longer than hoped thanks to action by the Division of Securities at Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). Officials there have issued a cease and desist order against producers for failing to register security offerings with the state before cold-calling potential investors with, among other things, promises of a premiere-night dinner with Gene Hackman.

The companies involved include Poker Junkies Productions and Abundance Entertainment. According to DORA, reps of the firms were attempting to raise $15 million to make their dream project a reality, with one potential investor being told by a pitchman that by ponying up, he’d receive “red carpet treatment. You will get to go to the Hollywood premiere. You get to have dinner and sit next to Gene Hackman at the dinner banquet, passing him the salt. When the credits roll, BOOM, you’re PF Enterprises executive producer. You are treated right.”

By the way, the online material touting Poker Junkies makes no mention of Gene Hackman being involved in the film, which makes sense given that he’s retired from acting. The Wikipedia page linked above notes that Hackman made this announcement in 2008, four years after the arrival of what would become his final flick, Welcome to Mooseport — a movie capable of making any Oscar winner consider calling it a career.

Look below to read the DORA release, see the cease and desist order and eyeball the Abundance Entertainment description of the movie.

DORA press release:

The Staff of the Division of Securities (the “Staff”) alleged that Abundance Entertainment cold called Colorado investors to invest in the production of a movie to be called Poker Junkies. According to the Staff, Abundance told investors that they were raising $15 million dollars from investors to fund the production of the movie. Investors were provided glossy advertising materials that promised investors 110% of their initial investment out of the first 80% of proceeds from the production of the film. One investor was told by a salesman that if you buy “10 or 20 units” that you will get the “red carpet treatment. You will get to go to the Hollywood premiere. You get to have dinner and sit next to Gene Hackman at the dinner banquet, passing him the salt. When the credits roll, BOOM, you’re PF Enterprises executive producer. You are treated right.”

The Staff alleged that the Respondents failed to register either security offering and, by offering the investment opportunity to the public at large through the use of cold calling prospective investors, Respondents were unable to take advantage of any private offering exemption under the Act. “Cold calling investors for private offerings of securities is a violation of the law when those securities have not been registered,” said Commissioner Joseph. “Investors should always be wary of stock offerings promoted through the use of cold calling. Contact our office to verify that securities have been properly registered before purchasing any security after a cold call.”

Another example of cold calling to raise money for a film is the excellent piece of reporting, “Glen Hartford’s Hollywood Dream and How It Came to Ruin” by Gene Maddaus, an account of film financing gone awry that resulted in jail time and two suicides. An excerpt:

Academy Award–winning screenwriter William Goldman once wrote about a producer who rattled off exaggerated grosses and casting choices, then put his hand over the phone and asked, “Which lie did I tell?” — all without a trace of shame.

Glen Hartford was like that — a hustler in the fine Hollywood tradition. He told a good story. He hooked investors with predictions of riches, or access to the elite, or the chance to be a power player.

But he took it too far. Instead of wooing them carefully, one by one, over lunch at the Palm, he raised money on a mass scale. He set up boiler rooms. In each one was a row of phones. Each phone was attached to a salesman, who spent all day calling housewives and small businessmen, trying to lure them to invest in a Hollywood fairy tale. The operation, the FBI alleged, was “permeated by fraud.”

A telemarketer offering a movie investment has no incentive to tell the truth, because the truth is that maybe the movie will get made and maybe it won’t. Either way, the producers will get paid and the investors will lose everything.

On one recording, Hartford tried to raise money from an undercover agent. “There’s no risk,” he said. “All of our films are profitable.” With lies like that, he raised $20 million.

Such scams “have always been around, but definitely in the last couple years we saw an increase,” FBI agent Steven Goldman tells L.A. Weekly. “We’ve started to get a lot more complaints from investors.”

So the feds have been cracking down, going after more than a dozen producers. Some are heading to prison. Hartford was not the only one to choose suicide.

Hartford, however, was not merely a con artist, because the dream he was selling was his dream, too. He had a gift for making others share in his delusions. In Hollywood that’s an essential skill, provided you’re slick enough to avoid being caught.

42 From “Case No. XY 13-CD-10 Stipulation for consent order concerning HTBAM Productions LLC, Vintage American Films LLC, and Greg Fellows”:

1. On May 31, 2013, the Staff filed its Verified Petition for Order to Show Cause(“Verified Petition”). The Staff alleged that Respondents offered or sold unregistered securities in and from the State of Colorado. The Staff did not allege that the Respondents had engaged in fraudulent behavior.

43 Mars Callahan’s credits can be found on his IMDb page. From Callahan’s LinkedIn page on Poker Junkies:

Writer, director, and star of the hit film Poolhall Junkies, Mars Callahan is currently in preproduction for the movie’s sequel, Poker Junkies. Inspired by the sweeping popularity of Texas Hold’em tournaments and the ever growing World Series of Poker, held in Las Vegas each year, Mars Callahan tells the story of an unknown card player who wants to take on the biggest names in the poker world. Struggling to raise the WSOP tournament buy-in fee of $10,000, Mars Callahan’s characters are taken on a tour of high stakes games from the top clubs to the back room.

The only profile of Callahan that I found was “‘Love’ is controlling destiny of your own films.” by Martin A. Grove. The desist and refrain is “Desist and Refrain order (For violations of section 25110 of the Corporations Code)”:

Pursuant to Section 25532 of the California Corporations Code, Big Sky Motion Pictures, L.L.C., Spring Break ’83 Production, L.L.C., Spring Break ’83 Distribution, L.L.C., Spring Break ’83, Rand Jay Chortkoff aka Gregory Martin, and Mars Callahan are hereby ordered to desist and refrain from the further offer or sale in the State of California of securities, including, but not limited to limited liability company interests in Spring Break ’83 Production L.L.C, Spring Break ’83 Distribution, L.L.C., or Big Sky Motion Pictures, L.L.C., unless and until qualification has been made under said law or unless exempt.

44 Among those featured briefly in the movie, though not talking heads, there are a number of interest. For instance, a man named Walter Reddy briefly shows up as a speaker at an event:

NARRATOR
Also, never forget the instrument that literally authorized the U.S. constitution and freed all Americans from oppressive European rule was the declaration of independence. This sister document states whenever any form of government becomes destructive of certain ends, such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it is the duty of the people to alter or abolish it. Alter it means to vote out those who aren’t following the constitution. If such politicians over time or unbeknownst to the people, reconfigure their government in such a way to usurp the rights of the people, then the only choice left is to abolish the government.

WALTER REDDY (Founder, commissioner of Public Safety)
So, they were acting within the law when they stood on that green, General Gage was outside the law, he was an outlaw, that regular army. And that’s why they didn’t throw down their arms that day. They opened fire on them.

Reddy gets mentioned in “Police stop pro-gun rally from reaching Lexington Battle Green” by Brock Parker, an account of a pro-gun rally held within days of the Boston bombings:

Dozens of people attempted to attend a pro-gun rally in Lexington Friday morning despite an emergency moratorium the town placed on gatherings on the Battle Green after the Boston Marathon bombings this week.

Lexington Police Chief Mark Corr said several groups, ranging in size from eight to 10, to as many as 80 people, came to the town Friday morning beginning around 9:30 for a Second Amendment rally that had at one time been permitted for the Battle Green.

Several people who came for the rally were still lingering near the Battle Green shortly after noon Friday.

Walter Reddy, 61, of Weston, Conn., wore a tri-corner hat and other Colonial-era attire to attend the rally in support of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, he said. Reddy said he thinks the militias need to be revitalized and restored in several states.

Will Harvey, 40, of Andover, said he came to Lexington to rally support for the Constitution, argue that the country needs to get back to its original values, and to urge people to turn off their televisions and care for the people in their communities.

Speaking together to a reporter, Reddy said there is no excuse for the attack in Boston Monday, but Harvey said that does not mean that the rally in Lexington should be canceled.

“When there is some sort of event, are we supposed to put our lives on hold?” Harvey said.

Reddy also gets a mention in “Revenge of Ron Paul’s Army” by Dana Goldstein, on some of Ron Paul’s who make their fanatical lunacy obvious:

“With the collapsing of the economy and this rush for more government medical care, the people are much more alarmed and concerned and outspoken than I ever dreamed of,” Ron Paul said.

This sounds like reasonable opposition. But the fact is many of Paul’s most ardent supporters aren’t listening carefully to their leader. In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on August 11, television networks captured William Kostric, a native Arizonan, standing outside a presidential town-hall meeting wearing a 9-mm handgun strapped to his belt. He held a sign referencing the Thomas Jefferson quote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots.” Kostric’s MySpace profile lists Paul as his “hero” and someone he’d “like to meet.” The page also includes lyrics to a pro-Ron Paul rap song.

Eight days later in Phoenix, about a dozen men showed up with guns at another Obama town-hall meeting.

One of the Phoenix protesters, Chris Broughton, a former Paul campaign volunteer, carried an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. “This government is the most corrupt Mafioso on the face of the earth,” Broughton later told the Arizona Republic. Broughton attends a church led by Pastor Steven Anderson, who delivered a sermon the day before the event praying for Obama’s death and calling him a “socialist devil.”

What more typical conservatives might not realize is that armed protesters like Broughton and Kostric represent an ideology far more complex and radical than simply opposing “socialized” medicine or increased government spending. Their worldview is pro-life, anti-tax, and hawkish on immigration, which they call an “invasion”—but also passionately anti-war and anti-authoritarian.

Indeed, Broughton and Kostric are both “team members” in an effort organized by the We the People Foundation to host a “continental congress” from November 9-22 at a lush spa and resort in St. Charles, Illinois. Their movement is motivated by a deep-seated belief that the current federal government is as illegitimate as 18th-century British rule over colonial America, and ought to be subject to “economic sanctions.” According to We the People founder and chairman Bob Schulz, a birther, the purpose of the event is “petitioning Congress for redress of grievances regarding the Second Amendment, privacy, property, money policy, and war powers.” Delegates will be elected in each state on October 10.

Schulz has ties to the legitimate Paul political apparatus. In December, he spoke at a libertarian “Boston Tea Party” alongside Rand Paul, the congressman’s son and a competitive candidate for a Kentucky Senate seat. The event was organized by Walter Reddy, the Connecticut precinct leader for Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty.

Most interestingly, Reddy shows up in the Clinton library files documenting the militia movements at the time of his presidency. From “NLWJC – Kagan Counsel – Box 032 – Folder 009″, which is “Beyond the Bombing: The Militia Menace Grows” by the Anti-Defamation League, specific page 31:

Militias have also organized in nearby Tioga, Steuben, Schuyler, Chenango, Cortland and Broome Counties. In Chenango County, militiaman Francis Catlin, who uses the code name “Moonshiner,” has said that outrage over the Waco conflagration fueled the militia movement in upstate New York. “We figure this country is in real bad shape,” he has commented, adding that “Jewish people” are responsible for the financial difficulties faced by grain farmers.

Near New York City, militias were formed in November 1994 in Dutchess and Orange Counties. The Orange County Militia, which has more recently been known as the Committee of Correspondence, has distributed literature incorporating conspiracy theories from political extremist Lyndon LaRouche. Founder Walter Reddy, while reportedly distancing himself from the group, has also expressed the suspicion that the federal government was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing. Reddy stated, “It was CIA-orchestrated, from the information I have.”

45 From the profile of Wile at his firm, High Alert Capital Partners:

Anthony Wile is an active investor, business strategist and consultant, financial markets commentator, publisher and author. Having lived and worked in several leading financial centers around the world, Wile has established an international network of asset managers, banks, family offices, financial analysts, institutional investors and securities firms. Wile is Chairman and CEO of Toronto-based High Alert Capital Partners Inc., which provides direct financing and strategic consulting services to early-stage, privately-held growth companies.

Anthony is a pioneer of the alternative media, having founded two major websites that have presented many of the top free-market thinkers working today. Many serious commentators have adopted his insights regarding society’s Dominant Social Themes and the Internet Reformation; his personal writing and editorials have been reprinted at numerous sites and read by millions. His insights and perspectives have helped shape the conversation on the Internet when it comes to analysis of the world today and how its sociopolitical and economic trends are evolving.

Wile’s contributions continue to expand. Now chief editor of The High Alert Trends & Sector Report as well as TheDailyBell.com, Wile has recently written two new books, Freedom Investing (2013) that brings together his sociopolitical insights with economic analysis and The Best of Anthony Wile: Select Editorials and Interviews (2013), a compilation of material first published at TheDailyBell.com from 2010 – 2013. In 2003, Wile published his first book, The Liberation of Flockhead, under the pseudonym Yang. The fourth edition of Wile’s well-received book, High Alert, originally released in the summer of 2007, was published in early 2013 to a favorable reception.

Congressman Ron Paul said, “High Alert should be read by everyone who wishes to educate themselves about the dangers fiat money poses to American liberty and prosperity. I wish I could get every member of Congress to read this book.” Wile has assisted with the completion of over a dozen additional free-market oriented books, working as a collaborative editor to several leading free-market thinkers.

46 The Anthony Wile credit from “Spoiler”:

The names of the associate producers of this movie are of interest as well.

Dan Happel is a Madison County Commissioner who is given mention in a local paper for bringing up Agenda 21 at a council meeting, “Planning Board hears about Agenda 21″ by Michael Howell:

Madison County Commissioner Dan Happel said he was involved in the liberty movement most of his life and was well informed about Agenda 21.

“A lot of people have never heard of Agenda 21,” said Happel, “but it drives 90 percent of federal legislation.” He said it is an agenda, a blueprint for the 21st Century, that involves creating a one-world government, socialist in structure and communist at heart, that will destroy our constitution and destroy the middle class, transferring America’s wealth to the Third World.

He traces the beginning of the agenda to a meeting of 35 to 40 international bankers and world leaders called the Club of Rome which met in 1968. It was here that the decision was made to use “environmentalism” as the tool to unite people worldwide and subsequently bring them under one government.

“They decided to use environmentalism as a tool to promote political ideas and agendas which otherwise would be so wildly unpopular that they would have no chance of being implemented,” said Happel.

The agenda began to be implemented through ideas of Smart Growth, zoning regulations, wilderness bills, wildlands and endangered species initiatives.

“In this way private property can be increasingly controlled and ultimately eliminated,” said Happel. He said that government agencies, especially federal government agencies, have been co-opted by the oligarchic elite that designed the agenda and are implementing it with the use of facilitators in the “public process,” a method he said was invented in Stalin’s Russia to control the people with a semblance of participation.

The agenda calls for the establishment of wilderness zones with corridors that would involve relocating most Montanans to some large city, like Seattle, where they would be housed like sardines in compact housing developments, deprived of automobiles, and basically held hostage to some job in the city. Meanwhile vast areas of land would be reclaimed for wilderness to be used by the rich oligarchy.

Happel claims the bulk of environmental legislation is a result of this agenda, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, Natural Grasslands Act and the Endangered Species Act. He said they are part of a plot to create wilderness corridors from the Yucatan to the Yukon, “and it all involves taking property and taking the rights away from anybody left with any property.”

Happel said it came down to whether you believe in the United Nations Charter or the Declaration of Independence. “Which side are you on?” he asked.

Happel then launched into politics, stating that RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and turncoats had taken over the Republican Party.

“At the national level we don’t have a prayer,” he said. “At the local level we can do it. I did it.”

He is also described in a media briefing paper by the Montana Human Rights Network:

Materials by the Bozeman Tea Party describe Commissioner Dan Happel as being “deeply concerned about Sound Money.” He is scheduled to present on how “metal based currency” will help Tea Partiers make it through “tough times that they may soon face.” The term “sound money” is generally used to indicate that a “patriot” believes in the conspiracy theory regarding currency which was described above.

Happel has promoted the Oath Keepers and has been featured at the groupes events. During his 2010 campaign, he distributed business cards for Oath Keepers at table displays. Happel was also listed as a featured speaker for the December 2010 event convened by the Montana Oath Keepers in Helena. This was the same event attended by the Bozeman Tea Partyes Henry Kriegel.

Like Paul Stramer, Happel has been a vocal supporter of US Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). On Ron Paul’s “Campaign for Liberty” website, he posted a comment regarding an upcoming meeting in January 2009. He said he looked forward to meeting the other local members of the group. He mentioned how proud he was that Madison County had voted heavily for Ron Paul in 2008, and that he was from an area of the state that could be described as “Constitutional Republican conservative.”

Also like Stramer, he promotes “patriot” beliefs that gold and silver are the only legitimate currency. He has testified for bills promoting these ideas at the Montana Legislature. While testifying on a bill that would have required the State of Montana to back transactions with gold and silver coin, he told legislators that the proposal was the “most important bill” of the session. Identifying himself as a Madison County Commissioner, Happel said he predicted 3.5 years ago the current state of “financial Armageddon.”

Happel has also testified in support of legislation euphemistically supporting “states’ rights” that declared the federal government was acting unconstitutionally. These bills included language about secession and declared the income tax unconstitutional. These bills also implied that Montana would not have to follow federal court decisions that it deemed unconstitutional. Happel has stated that he believes America is ”a constitutional republic and not a liberal democracy.” This refers to the ”patriot” belief that Americaes current democratic form of government is illegitimate. Instead, “patriots” believe that the individual state is supreme and exists outside the federal government’s jurisdiction.

Happel hopes to keep extreme right-wing values in the Montana Republican Party’s platform. In a report on the 2010 platform convention, he commended participants for putting together a “very conservative Republican platform” As proof, he referenced planks to repeal the 16th Amendment; to remove the US from the United Nations and kick the organization out of the country; and in support of “Birther” concerns regarding President Obamaes citizenship. From ”sound money” to ”Birther” beliefs, Happel is another “Keeping the Flame Alive” speaker bringing ”patriot” perspectives to the event.

Elias Alias is a member of the Oath Keepers, a group of active military members and veterans who believe they do not have to follow presidential orders if they consider them unconstitutional. Alias shows up in this piece, “Militia-forming police chief lashes out at critics” by Alex Seitz-Wald:

Hemorrhaging allies and local goodwill, Gilberton, Pennsylvania police chief Mark Kessler says he expects to lose his job over a profanity-laced YouTube video in which he discusses shooting “libtards.” “I’ll probably be out of a job by the time I get home,” Kessler told NBC News while on vacation in Texas. Since we first wrote about Kessler last week, dubbing him “America’s scariest police chief,” the lawman has received national attention for his antics, which include forming a right-wing paramilitary organization called the Constitution Security Force.

Meanwhile, a group of pro-gun law enforcement and military officials with whom Kessler has aligned himself say they want nothing to do with the chief. “Chief Kessler is not working with Oath Keepers, nor is Oath Keepers working with him,” Elias Alias, who sits on the Oath Keeper’s board of directors, said in an email to Salon.

The Oath Keeper movement is described in-depth in “Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason” by Justine Sharrock.

Diana Zoppa, the third name, is Director of Business Development for High Alert Capital Partners, Anthony Wile’s company.

Here is Wile, credited along with Dan Happel, as an executive producer on “Corporate Fascism”:

47 From “SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION v. BRIAN N LINES; SCOTT G. LINES; LOM (HOLDINGS) LTD.; LINES OVERSEAS MANAGEMENT LTD.; LOM CAPITAL LTD.; LOM SECURITIES (BERMUDA) LTD.; LOM SECURITIES (CAYMAN) LTD.; LOM SECURITIES (BAHAMAS) LTD.; ANTHONY W. WILE; WAYNE E. WILE; ROBERT J. CHAPMAN; WILLIAM TODD PEEVER; PHILLIP JAMES CURTIS; AND RYAN G. LEEDS”:

SUMMARY OF ALLEGATIONS

1. This action concerns two separate, but similar, fraudulent schemes to manipulate the stock prices of two microcap companies, Sedona Software Solutions, Inc. (“Sedona”) and SHEP Technologies, Inc. (“SHEP”). During the relevant periods, Sedona and SHEP shares were quoted and traded on the Over-the Counter Bulletin Board (“OTCBB”). The schemes took place in 2002 and 2003, and involved the substantial participation of a Bermuda-based securities firm, defendant LOM (Holdings) Ltd. (“LOM Holdings”), two of its managing principals, defendants Brian N. Lines and Scott G. Lines, and several of its subsidiaries: Lines Overseas Management Ltd. (“LOM Ltd.”), LOM Capital Ltd. (“LOM Capital”), LOM Securities (Bermuda) Ltd. (“LOM Bermuda”), LOM Securities (Bahamas) Ltd. (“LOM Bahamas”), and LOM Securities (Cayman) Ltd. (“LOM Cayman”) (collectively referenced herein as “LOM” or the “LOM Entities”).

2. Both the Sedona and SHEP fraudulent schemes involved the undisclosed acquisition of publicly-traded shell companies, the use of LOM-controlled nominees to conceal beneficial ownership and control over Sedona and SHEP, the use of paid touters to promote Sedona and SHEP stock, and significant trading through the U.S. market in those stocks by defendants Brian Lines and Scott Lines, who are brothers. In the Sedona scheme, the Lines brothers’ trading yielded approximately $1.5 million in illegal proceeds. In the SHEP scheme, trading by the Lines brothers and two of their customers, defendants W. Todd Peever and P. James Curtis, yielded approximately $4.3 million in illegal proceeds.

3. In the Sedona fraudulent scheme, defendant Anthony W. Wile (“Wile” or “Tony “Wile”), a Canadian stock promoter, issued deceptive press releases and other promotional materials in early 2003 to create the misleading impression that his newly-formed private company, Renaissance Mining Corporation, Inc. (“Renaissance”), had acquired certain Central American gold mines and was a leading gold producer. At the same time, as part of the scheme, defendants Brian and Scott Lines had secretly acquired over ninety-nine percent of Sedona’s outstanding shares through offshore nominees in order to merge the publicly-traded Sedona shell with Renaisance. Defendants Brian and Scott Lines also agreed to raise $6 million for Renaissance through a private placement of Renaissance stock through LOM’s investment banking arm to enable Renaissance to acquire the mines that it publicly claimed it already owned.

4. Defendant Wile then primed the market for Renaissance and Sedona shares by disseminating materially false and misleading information and orchestrating touting by defendant Robert J. Chapman, a newsletter writer who also secretly owned Renaissance shares. Between January 17 and January 21, 2003, at Wile’s direction, Renaissance issued press releases announcing a merger of the two companies, when no such merger had taken place. During the same period, defendant Wile coordinated the issueance of reports by various newsletter wrtiers touting the merger and telling the public that shares of Sedona would open $10 per share on January 21. The purpose of this materially false and misleading information was to convince potential investors that Renaissance had already acquired the Central American mines, that the mines were fully operational, and that a lucrative investment in Renaissance could be made by purchasing Sedona‘s shares on the OTCBB – even though Renaissance was not an operating mining company, owned no mines, and no merger with Sedona had taken place.

5. On the morning of January 21, defendants Brian Lines, Scott Lines, Tony Wile, and defendant Wayne E. Wile (“Wayne Wile,” Tony Wile’s uncle) orchestrated a manipulative stock transaction over the OTCBB in which defendants Brian and Scott Lines sold, and defendant Wayne Wile purchased, 5,000 Sedona shares at $8.25 per share. At the time these orders were placed, Sedona stock had last traded at $0.03 per share seven months earlier, in May 2002.

6. Between January 21 and January 27, 2003, defendants Brian and Scott Lines sold or caused the sale of 159,300 shares of Sedona on the open market at between approximately $9 and $10 per share, yielding $1.5 million in illegal proceeds. These sales were made without a registration statement in effect, and with no valid exemptions from registration.

7. Defendant Ryan Leeds was the broker on the LOM Ltd. account at the U.S. broker-dealer through which defendants Brian Lines, Scott Lines, and LOM sold Sedona stock unlawfully into the U.S. market. Despite the existence of several red flags, Leeds failed to conduct a reasonable inquiry to determine whether LOM and the Lines brothers were engaged in an illegal distribution of Sedona stock.

8. The Sedona scheme collapsed on January 29, 2003 when the Commission suspended trading in Sedona securities.

The judgement against Wile, from “Litigation Release No. 21696 / October 15, 2010″:

(vi) Anthony Wile is permanently enjoined from violating the antifraud and securities offering registration provisions, Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 5 and 17(a) of the Securities Act; (2) ordered to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $35,000; (3) barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company for a period of five years; and (4) barred from participating in an offering of penny stock for a period of three years;

That the Anthony Wile named in the complaint and judgement are the same Wile who runs The Daily Bell can be found in “Bill Black: Best Satire of Faux Austrian Economics Ever”. I bold the key section:

Someone has created a fabulous, richly detailed parody of Austrian economics. They call it The Daily Bell and claim that its perspective reflects Austrian economics. In reality, it satirizes faux Austrian economics’ sycophancy toward elite white-collar criminals.

I was delighted to learn that they used my recent column: The Virgin Crisis: Systematically Ignoring Fraud as a Systemic Risk as the vehicle for their send-up.

The send-up captures precisely faux Austrian economists’ disdainful response to adverse data – they ignore it.

The article hits its peak in capturing the servile apologies that Austrian economists offer in defense of the elite white-collar criminals who make a mockery of Austrian claims of “free markets.” The satirist emphasizes the Austrians’ hypocrisy (they love police enforcing a “rule of law” and “property rights” against blue-collar folks), by calling the FBI the “Stasi” (the East German’s secret police) when they enforce the rule of law and property rights against elite white-collar criminals. The satirist then mocks the Austrians by picturing them as eager to prevent the imprisonment of elite white-collar felons. Faux Austrian economists’ heroes have always been elite felons. The author of the satire ridicules the Justice Department’s (DOJ) abject failure to investigate, much less prosecute, the elite felons of finance that drove our ongoing crisis. He skewers DOJ for going AWOL during this crisis by employing over-the-top mockery. The author states that DOJ is so effective in prosecuting the elite white-collar criminals that drove this crisis and sanctions them so viciously that they have created an “ever-expanding gulag of slave-laborers.” One man’s “Club Fed” is a faux Austrian’s “gulag.” The reality, of course, is that no Wall Street bankster inhabits this non-existent white-collar gulag. That gap between reality and the hysterical claims of tortured banksters is what makes the passage hilarious.

The author of the satire of Austrian economics uses the nom de plume of Anthony Wile, which is a fabulous insider joke. The real Anthony Wile was the infamous subject of an SEC action for securities fraud. What a brilliant conceit – assuming the name of a man identified by the SEC as one of the perpetrators of a crude white-collar fraud to advance the proposition that only fascists would prosecute elite white-collar frauds. Here are the lowlights of what the SEC investigation of the real Anthony Wile and his colleagues found:

(what follows is a portion of the judgement quoted above)

The faux Austrian satirical web site uses this pathetic episode as another opportunity for humor when it presents a faux bio of the not-as-wily-as-he-thought Wile:

He has put this knowledge to good use, working with top mining executives and venture entrepreneurs to generate some of the most successful business efforts of the 2000s.

There is a similar gem prominently featured on the web site: the admonition that the key to a successful society is “personal accountability.” What a perfect accompaniment to an article demanding that the elites who grew wealthy through fraud not be prosecuted. The satirist has a great gift for irony.

Prior variants of Wile’s website contained this defense of Wile.

http://thedailybell.com/2012/Anthony-Wile

(accessed 11/13/2011)

In 2000, Wile experienced a brief role as the CEO of a start-up junior mining company that became the subject of a civil attack by the SEC. Wile and others fought for more than seven years at great personal and financial expense before eventually settling the case without admitting any wrongdoing. The assets of the company in question were subsequently purchased by a New York Stock Exchange listed company and the properties have now produced more gold than was initially suggested. Hundreds of investors lost literally tens of millions in deserved future profits because the SEC accused the company of over-promising a merger that was actually taking place. Perhaps this experience adds to Wile’s fervor to expose the power elite and their societal manipulations.

[Perhaps? This is supposed to be Wile’s web site. Why is Wile guessing at the source of Wile’s “fervor?” For that matter, why is Wile referring to himself as “Wile” rather than “I?” Why aren’t Wile’s actions (as found by the SEC staff’s investigation) nasty “societal manipulations?” Why isn’t Wile part of the “power elite?” Note that the SEC’s characteristic failure to actually litigate its cases or get admissions of the facts means that Wile gets to pose as the victim of some kind of evil conspiracy. The Department of Justice, equally characteristically, failed to prosecute despite SEC staff investigation findings that should have led to felony charges. Some gulag!]

Information similiar to this now deleted paragraph is still part of Wile’s bio at Zoom Info, “Anthony Wile High Alert Capital Partners” (retrieved December 6th, 2013):

Personal Notes

Anthony Wile was born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1968. Wile graduated from Saint Mary’s University (SMU) with a degree in business in 1991 and worked in the Canadian investment industry with Scotia McLeod (Bank of Nova Scotia) and Nesbitt Burns (Bank of Montreal). In 1994 Anthony Wile was made a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute, which is a designation awarded to financial services professionals who attain advanced education and experience in the Canadian securities industry.

Anthony has visited every state in the US and every province and territory in Canada. Additionally, he has lived in a number of countries on several continents over the past three decades and has visited or done business in more than 60 countries. He currently resides in Toronto, Canada with his wife, Hillary, and their three children, Gabrielle, Jesse and Julian.

In 2000, Wile experienced a brief role as the CEO of a start-up junior mining company that became the subject of a civil attack by the SEC. Wile and others fought the charges for more than seven years at great personal and financial expense before eventually settling the case without admitting any wrongdoing.

The assets of the company in question were subsequently purchased by a New York Stock Exchange listed company and the properties have now produced more gold than was initially suggested. Hundreds of investors lost tens of millions in future profits because the SEC accused the company of over-promising a merger that was in fact taking place. To read more about this case, click here.

The personal details from Wile’s profile at The Daily Bell:

Anthony was born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1968. Wile graduated from Saint Mary’s University (SMU) with a degree in business in 1991 and worked in the Canadian investment industry with Scotia McLeod (Bank of Nova Scotia) and Nesbitt Burns (Bank of Montreal). In 1994 Anthony Wile was made a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute, which is a designation awarded to financial services professionals who attain advanced education and experience in the Canadian securities industry.

Anthony has visited every state in the US and every province and territory in Canada. Additionally, he has lived in a number of countries on several continents over the past three decades and has visited or done business in more than 60 countries. He currently resides in Toronto, Canada with his wife, Hillary, and their three children, Gabrielle, Jesse and Julian.

48 From the “FORM 10-Q for the quarterly period ended July 31, 2012″:

Media Mechanics, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Nevada
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

100 Western Battery Rd., Suite 160
Toronto, ON, Canada

(Address of principal executive offices)

49 From the “FORM 10-Q for the quarterly period ended July 31, 2012″:

Overview

We were incorporated in the State of Nevada as a for-profit Company on January 6, 2011 and established a fiscal year end of January 31. We are a development-stage Company that offers search engine optimization (“SEO”) services for Internet websites. Our URL is theseomechanic.com. We offer consulting services in the area of SEO as part of a comprehensive strategy designed to maximize a website’s ranking in Internet search engines.

As part of our SEO services, we offer customized packages tailored to the specific needs of individual clients, which include auditing a client’s website and developing a plan to maximize the website’s ranking in Internet search engines and some combination of: changes to the way the website is structured; modification of the website’s content; search engine registration strategies; development of additional content and increasing the number of back links to the website. We also provide content building services include: consulting on how to modify any existing content on a website, which may include modifications to the website architecture, product descriptions, category pages (in the case of online retailers), site policies, the method by which customer service e-mails are handled, shopping guides, landing pages, promotions and other supporting content on the website. Finally, we assist in the production of content regarding clients’ websites to be posted on other sites.

The Company competes with other optimization services on the Internet today, but aims to develop software which will allow it to become more user-friendly and comprehensive. We aim to provide our services on a web-based interface for a monthly fee, which we believe will provide both the client and our company several advantages including a closer, ongoing relationship with the client, the immediate availability of updates to our software and services to the clients, the ability to upsell clients on other services we plan to offer, as well as various other advantages of a more direct and continued relationship between the client and SEO service provider.

50 I take this information from the company’s 10-Q filing, “GAWK, INC. Form 10-Q Filed 09/20/13 for the Period Ending 07/31/13″:

3. Common Stock

a) On June 13, 2011, the Company issued 6,000,000 common shares at $0.01 per share for proceeds of $60,000.
b) On December 15, 2011, the Company issued 1,500,000 shares of common stock at $0.01 per share for proceeds of $15,000.
c) On January 19, 2013, the Company issued 2,500,000 shares of common stock at $0.02 per share for proceeds of $50,000.

4. Subsequent Event

On August 22, 2013, the Company affected a forward split of 30 shares for each one share outstanding as of August 22, 2013, where each
stockholder will receive 30 additional shares for each share owned as of the record date. All share amounts in this report have been adjusted to reflect this forward split.

On August 13, 2013, Media Mechanics, Inc. (the “Company”), Scott Kettle (the “Purchaser”), Matthew Zipchen and Violetta Pioro (together with Matthew Zipchen, the “Sellers”) closed on a stock purchase agreement, dated July 31, 2013 (the “Stock Purchase Agreement”), whereby the Purchaser purchased from the Sellers, 7,500,000 shares of common stock, par value $0.001 per share, of the Company (the “Shares”), representing approximately 75% of the issued and outstanding shares of the Company, for an aggregate purchase price of $250,000 (the “Purchase Price”) (the “Stock Purchase”). Prior to the closing of the Stock Purchase Agreement, the Sellers were our majority shareholders, Matthew Zipchen was our President, Chief Executive Officer, Secretary, Treasurer, Chief Financial Officer, and member of the board of directors of the Company (the “Board”), and Violetta Pioro was our Vice President and member of the Board.

In connection with the Stock Purchase, the company has changed its focus to engage in the business of online distribution of all digital content including but not limited to full length feature films, television series, sports, documentaries, live events via our proprietary content distribution network (CDN).

In connection with the Stock Purchase Agreement, on July 31, 2012, Matthew Zipchen submitted to the Company a resignation letter pursuant to which he resigned from her positions as President, Chief Executive Officer, Secretary, Treasurer, Chief Financial Officer, and member of the Board upon closing of the Stock Purchase. Mr. Zipchen’s resignation was not a result of any disagreements relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.

On the same day, Violetta Pioro submitted to the Company a resignation letter pursuant to which she resigned from her position as Vice President and member of the Board upon closing of the Stock Purchase. Ms. Pioro’s resignation was not a result of any disagreements relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.

The information on Pioro is taken from her Businessweek profile, “Violetta Pioro: Executive Profile & Biography”:

Ms. Violetta Pioro served as a Vice President of Media Mechanics, Inc. until August 13, 2013. From May 2009 to November 2010, Ms. Pioro worked for the YYOGA studios in Vancouver as a yoga instructor and at Shaw TV Channel 4 as a community television host. As a yoga instructor her responsibilities included guiding members through invigorating and encouraging yoga practices, handling and resolving guest issues and complaints, providing fitness and nutritional counselling, managing guests package purchases and keeping accurate records for studio’s budget purposes. At Shaw TV, Ms. Pioro’s duties included writing web content, press releases and promotional scripts. She was also developing, writing and implementing on-air community events stories and weather reports as well as interviewing local experts and representing Shaw TV as a spokesperson. Finally, after moving to Toronto in 2010, Ms. Pioro started working for PUSHmodels Canada as the National Booking Manager and Representative. Her duties include overseeing and organizing staff for Trade Shows/Corporate Events all over Canada, human resource hiring staff/Brand Ambassadors, interviewing, managing of banking functions and payrolls. Since January 2010 Ms. Pioro hosts a weekend show for Rogers TV in Durham Region and runs her private yoga instruction business called Flowing Vitality. Ms. Pioro’s duties at Rogers TV include story writing, editing, community reports, and in studio floor directing. As for Flowing Vitality she teaches classes, is in charge of scheduling, promotions, inventory and cash management. She served as a Director of Media Mechanics, Inc. until August 13, 2013. Ms. Pioro obtained a BA in Communications and Journalism in 2006. She studied at both Carleton University and University of Ottawa. She later obtained a Broadcast Radio Diploma from British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver by 2009. Same year she has also completed her RYT Yoga Instructor and Nutritional Consultant Certification.

The information on Matthew Zipchen, including his involvement with the TREC Renewable Energy Co-operative can be found at his LinkedIn profile.

51 Scott Kettle’s career can be found in his LinkedIn profile.

From “THRIFTY-TEL, INC. v. BEZENEK”:

A friend of the Bezeneks’ children knew a confidential Thrifty-Tel access code. During a three-day period in November 1991, Ryan, Gerry and some friends, using the Bezeneks’ home computer and modem, gained entry into Thrifty-Tel’s system with the code and conducted manual random searches for a six-digit authorization code. They made approximately 90 calls, consuming roughly 24 minutes of telephone time during the first 2 days. On the following day, Ryan and Gerry continued the search alone, making 72 manual attempts to identify an authorization code over an almost 16-minute period.

Through its internal security system, Thrifty-Tel learned of the computer hacking almost immediately. And by late November, the carrier identified the Bezeneks’ home as the source. Although Thrifty-Tel had the Bezeneks’ address and telephone numbers, it failed to contact them concerning the matter.

After a three-month hiatus, the Bezenek children resumed manual searches for an authorization code. After several days and apparently some frustration with the slow pace, Ryan acquired computer software to expedite the quest. On February 18, 1992, he used the program to access Thrifty-Tel’s system and conducted rapid-fire random number searches. He ran the program between six and seven hours, generating over one thousand three-hundred calls. Because Thrifty-Tel is a small carrier with relatively few telephone lines, Ryan’s automated calling overburdened the system, denying some subscribers access to phones lines.

Still, Thrifty-Tel did not contact or complain to the Bezeneks. Instead, it filed this action on April 1, 1992, seeking damages for conversion, fraud, and reasonable value of services. The April Fools’ Day lawsuit provided the Bezeneks’ first notice of their sons’ computer hijinks. In a trial to the court, defendants unsuccessfully sought judgment on the conversion and fraud causes of action, arguing those remedies were not available on these facts. (Code Civ. Proc., § 631.8.)

Thrifty-Tel offered no explanation for its failure to complain to the Bezeneks after the November 1991 hacking episode. It presented no evidence of any actual losses, either. Rather, plaintiff simply relied on the “unauthorized usage” tariff in its PUC-approved rate schedule to establish damages. That tariff, in effect, liquidates Thrifty-Tel’s damages for computer hacking by imposing a $2,880 per day surcharge, a $3,000 “set up fee,” and a $200 per hour labor fee. It also provides for attorney fees and costs incurred to collect the tariff.3 Based upon this tariff, the trial court awarded plaintiff $33,720 in damages and nearly $14,000 in attorney fees and costs.

The larger legal importance of Thrifty-Tel, Inc. V. Bezenek could be found in The Sex.com Chronicles: How a White Hat Lawyer Traveled to the Dark Side of the Internet by Charles Carreon. The relevant excerpt is at google books, page 21:

I hit the books hard for days on end, digging through case law for rulings that would help us out. I found a few. In addition to Yuba River establishing a property interest in being the first to register a water right, there was Kalitta Flying Services, that determined engineering drawings were property subject to conversion. And there was Thrify-Tel v. Bezenek, a case the judges grappled with the interface of technology and law in a case that could only come out of California.

Thrify-Tel was a phone company that sued two kids who had tried to gain free long-distance access by staging a brute force attack – firing huge numbers of random passwords – at Thrifty-Tel’s computer. The clumsy hack slowed the long distance system down considerably, which Thrifty-Tel alleged as damages in a suit for trespass. On appeal, a verdict for Thrifty-Tell [sic] on conversion was upheld, and the court explained that the cyverattack was a “trespass to chattels,” for which damages could be awarded. The kids had trespassed because each random number was a physical thing, an electron packet, trespassing on Thrifty-Tel’s computer. Since the computer was an item of personal property, not a parcel of real estate, what had happened was actually a “trespass to chattels.” The last time I heard about chattels was in the Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare, when the husband tells his unruly wife that she is but a chattel. A more concrete example of trespass to chattels would be someone borrowing and returning a delivery-man’s bicycle. But here was the California appellate court, exhuming this ancient cause of action out of dusty books that no one had opened in a long time.

The court had gone back to the future to find a cybertort to fit the need of the day. Further research showed that trespass to chattels had turned out to be a handy cybertort. Intel deployed it successfully to prevent a disgruntled former employee from spamming Intel workers with negative information about the company. Judge Whyte in the San Jose courthouse had ruled in Intel’s favor in that case.

52 The suspension of Ewan 1 is described in “Release No. 69412 / April 19, 2013″:

SEC SUSPENDS TRADING IN SECURITIES OF EWAN 1, INC. n/k/a ACCESSKEY IP, INC.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) announced the temporary suspension, pursuant to Section 12(k) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), of trading in the securities of Ewan 1, Inc. n/k/a AccessKey IP, Inc. (“AccessKey”), of Santa Ana, CA commencing at 9:30 a.m. EST on April 19, 2013, and terminating at 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 2, 2013.

The Commission temporarily suspended trading in the securities of AccessKey because of questions that have been raised about the accuracy and adequacy of publicly available information about AccessKey because it has not filed a periodic report since filing its Exchange Act registration on August 21, 2002.

Its delisting is described in “Release No. 69567/May 14, 2013 ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDING File No. 3-15291 In the Matter of EWAN 1, INC., n/k/a ACCESSKEY IP, INC.”:

This Order revokes the registration of the registered securities of Ewan 1, Inc., n/k/a AccessKey IP, Inc. (Respondent). The revocation is based on Respondent’s repeated failure to file required periodic reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (Commission).

53 I take this information from the company’s 10-Q filing, “GAWK, INC. Form 10-Q Filed 09/20/13 for the Period Ending 07/31/13″:

In connection with the Stock Purchase, the Company has changed its focus to engage in the business of online distribution of all digital content including but not limited to full length feature films, television series, sports, documentaries, live events via our proprietary content distribution network (CDN).

To reflect the change in business strategy of the company, on August 22, 2013, the Board of Directors unanimously approved a change in the Company’s name from Media Mechanics, Inc. to Gawk Incorporated.

Also on August 22, 2013, the Company affected a 30-for-1 forward split of our Common Stock, where each stockholder will receive 30
additional shares for each share owned as of the record date. All share amounts in this report have been adjusted to reflect this forward split.

54 This is all taken from the asset purchase agreement, “Gawk Inc. – FORM 8-K – EX-10.1 – ASSET PURCHASE AGREEMENT, DATED NOVEMBER 14, 2013, BETWEEN GAWK INCORPORATED AND POKER JUNKIES – November 20, 2013″:

ASSET PURCHASE AGREEMENT

THIS ASSET PURCHASE AGREEMENT (“Agreement”), dated as of November 14, 2013 (the “Effective Date”), is made by and between GAWK INCORPORATED, a corporation organized under the laws of Nevada (the “Purchaser”), and POKER JUNKIES PRODUCTION, LLC, a Louisiana Limited Liability Company (the “Seller”, and together with Purchaser, each a collectively, the “Parties”, and each a “Party”)

RECITALS:

A.

The Seller desires to transfer to the Purchaser, and the Purchaser desires to acquire from Seller, the properties, rights and assets owned by Seller, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, of every type and description, real, personal or mixed, tangible and intangible, wherever located and whether or not reflected on the books of Seller (the “Acquired Assets”), including, without limitation, all rights, title and interest in and to the motion picture currently entitled “Poker Junkies” (by whatever title such motion picture may now or may hereafter become known, the “Film”), based on the screenplay written by Mars Callahan entitled “[Poker Junkies]” (the “Screenplay”), together with all other literary material and other intellectual property relating to the foregoing, all rights to exploit, distribute, and derive revenue from the foregoing and any materials or media relating to the foregoing as further described on Schedule I (the “Essential Elements”), in exchange for the Purchaser’s issuance to the Seller of 20 Series C Preferred Shares representing $20,000,000 worth of the Company’s Common Stock upon conversion in accordance with the Company’s Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation and its Certificate of Designation of Rights, Privileges, Preferences and Restrictions of Series C Convertible Preferred Stock (the “Issued Shares”) (as defined in Section 1.1), and a Warrant to purchase 8,000,000 of the Company’s Series B Preferred Shares (the “Warrant Shares”) in accordance with the terms and conditions of this Agreement and with the attached Warrant of the same date;

B.

Each of the Persons identified on Schedule II, constituting the entirety of the members of, and owners of 100% of the interests in, the Seller (the “Seller Members”, and each a “Seller Member”), have acknowledged their receipt and review of this Agreement and its Exhibits.

The appointment of Hermansen is from the “Gawk Inc. – FORM 8-K – November 20, 2013″:

Item 5.02 Departure of Directors or Certain Directors; Election of Directors; Appointment of Certain Officers

Election of Director and Secretary

On November 19, 2013, the Board of Gawk Incorporated (the “Company”), appointed Mr. John Hermansen as a member of the Board of Directors, Chief Content Officer, and the Company’s Secretary.

John Hermansen, age 43, has produced over 250 episodes of television and five feature length motion pictures. He began working in production and as an assistant director on such notable studio films as Con Air, The Crucible, Almost Heroes, Waiting for Guffman, Home for the Holidays, as well as working with directors Tim Burton, Jodi Foster, Peter Yates, Barry Levinson, Christopher Guest, and James Cameron, leading to him becoming one of the youngest members to be accepted into the Director’s Guild of America.

In 1999, Mr. Hermansen went on to Executive Produce, among others, MTV’s #1 hit show Taildaters (over 130 episodes), MTV’s Burned, GSN’s Vegas Weddings Unveiled, The Style Networks’ Ultimatum, and VH1′s Love Songs.

He then went on to produce such notable feature films such as Poolhall Junkies, starring Christopher Walken, Chazz Palminteri and Rod Steiger, Kickin’ It Old Skool, starring Jamie Kennedy, Gray Matters starring Heather Graham, Bridget Moynahan, Tom Cavanaugh, and Sissy Spacek and What Love Is starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Matthew Lillard, Gina Gershon, Anne Heche and Sean Astin. In 2008, Mr. Hermansen produced the feature film Revenge of the Zeroes starring John Goodman and Jamie Kennedy.

Mr. Hermansen currently resides in Los Angeles, Ca. with his wife and two children.

Because Mr. Hermansen was the Managing Member of Poker Junkies Production, LLC at the time of the Asset Purchase Agreement, and because he presently remains in that position, the Company’s Asset Purchase Agreement with Poker Junkies Production, LLC on November 14, 2013 is regarded as related party transaction.

Mr. Hermansen is not a director of any other publicly registered company.

55 The executive listing can be found in the GAWK profile at Yahoo! Finance.

Hermansen is named on the cease and desist order, “Case No. XY 11-CD-008″, along with Poker Junkies, LLC, and Abundance Entertainment, LLC.

56 This information is all taken from a 9W Search of GAWK. I give the full results from the entry. I make the additional point that these results were obtained on December 4th, 2013:

Company Name: GAWK INC.

Symbol: GAWK
Exchange: OTCBB

Address: 100 WESTERN BATTERY ROADSUITE 160
City: TORONTO

State:
Zip: M6K3S2

Country: CANADA
Phone: 732-509-1212

Website Address:
State of Incorporation: Nevada

Tax ID: 331220317
SIC: 7370

CIK: 1546392
Industry:

Sector:

Total Shares Outstanding: 300,000,000

Total Shares Outstanding Date: 2013-09-19
Last Annual EPS: $0

Last Annual Net Income: $-28,454
Last Annual Revenue: $22,684

Last Annual Total Assets: $109,268
Number of Employees: 0

Fiscal Year: 01-31
Market Capitalization: $2,250,000,000

The share price of GAWK on December 4th was taken from the Edgar/Yahoo! page, “EDGAR ONLINE – GAWK INC. – 8-K – 8/19/2013″, which carries a graph of the share performance and the share price of the last trade.

I am not the only one to be a little puzzled by the Media Mechanics/Gawk Inc. entity. On June 20, 2012, the SEC would send Matthew Zipchen a letter containing several questions they had about the registration statement filed for Media Mechanics. One that stood out for me was their concern that Media Mechanics was a shell corporation. From “Re: Media Mechanics, Inc. Amendment No. 1 to Registration Statement on Form S-1 SEC Accession No. 0000000000-12-032331″:

We note your response to prior comment 11, in which you advise that you do not believe you are a shell company as defined in Securities Act Rule 405. Please provide us with a detailed analysis in support of this belief. In particular, please explain to us how you apparently concluded that you have greater than \nominal operations. within the meaning of paragraph (1) of the Rule 405 definition. Your response should address your financial results as reported in your statement of operations for fiscal 2012 and the fact that your two part-time employees have other full-time jobs and as such, are able to dedicate only a portion of their time to your company.

57 The details on Paul aide the “Southern Avenger” Jack Hunter can be found in “Rebel Yell” by Alana Goodman and “Rand Paul Stands By His ‘Southern Avenger’” by Howard Fineman. The move to Breitbart was reported in many places, among them, “Post-Plagiarism Restructuring, Rand Paul’s Opinion Column Moves To Breitbart” by Catherine Thompson.

58 The relevant information from Gawk Incoporated 8-K form for January 3rd, 2014:

Item 5.02 Departure of Directors or Certain Directors; Election of Directors; Appointment of Certain Officers

Departure of Officer and Director; Election of New Officer and Director

On December 31, 2013, the Board of Gawk Incorporated (the “Company”), accepted the resignation of Scott Kettle as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”), President, and Director, and appointed Mr. Kettle to serve the Company as Chief Information Officer (“CIO”). On the same date the Board appointed Mr. Mars Callahan as the Company’s new CEO, President and Director. On the same date, the Board appointed Mr. Ryan Wyler as the Company’s Chief Technology Officer. John Hermansen, the Company’s Chief Content Officer, continues to serve in that capacity, and he remains a member of the Board.

The foregoing description of the terms of the Action By Written Consent of the Board of Directors of Gawk Incorporated dated December 31, 2013 (“Board Consent”) is qualified in its entirety by reference to the provisions of the Board Consent filed as Exhibit 10.3 to this report, which is incorporated by reference herein.

The profile of Ryan Wyler, again from the 8-K:

Ryan Wyler – Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

Ryan Wyler, age 38, was born in Long Beach, California. Exposed early to the world of entertainment & business his parents were directors for the Miss USA Pageant, several touring youth performing groups, and owners of video stores across the Western United States.

In 1987 (at age 12) Ryan was already programming in C and a Sys-Op (system operator) of several BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. By age 17, Ryan had developed and integrated several network focused on business solutions for regional establishments. In 1997, Ryan joined Arizona based GoodNet, the leading Internet & backbone provider that was later acquired by WinStar Communications. With the Y2K digital pandemic, Ryan lead several solutions and deployments to insure the readiness to Motorola’s SATCOM division which was created and maintains the global wireless Iridium satellite cluster.

In 2001, Ryan created several automated deployment strategies for American Express. Ryan’s strategies enabled a 3000% growth to the core web enabled service infrastructure at American Express by supporting the booming demand for Internet enabled services. In 2004, American Express outsourced their technologies department to IBM Global Services. Impressed with Ryan’s work at Amex, IBM then commissioned Wyler to further develop technologies called “VSA” (Virtual Systems Admin) to manage and automate the key infrastructure of many of its customers including Nissan, Honeywell, Johnson & Johnson, American Express, and many more.

Advancements and recognition within IBM allowed for Ryan’s mobility and access within senior leadership at the company. This recognition led to a very special project involving IBM’s CEO, Sam Palmisano and Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs. The project improved and brought Apple systems into the IBM infrastructure. As a result of his work within the two companies, Ryan earned a direct iTunes Distribution agreement, making him one of the very first independent distributors on the iTunes platform. The distribution agreement, led to Ryan launching his own company, which he called, BridgeTone. Established in 2004, BridgeTone immediately became a destination for independent artists to thrive. In addition to utilizing its direct iTunes distribution agreement the company became a production company for music videos, festivals and worldwide tours. Several of the artists have reached gold record status on the iTunes platform and on labels all over the world. In addition to the iTunes success with music artists Ryan has led several viral campaigns that have resulted in over 500 million views on YouTube.

Returning to American Express in 2011 as a lead technical architect, Wyler created the development and deployment of the massive Big Data cluster, comprised of over 2,000 nodes consisting of over 32 Petabytes of raw storage, migration of the data warehouse from Sybase IQ to Teradata Systems, and deployment of High Availability storage appliances, saving American Express tens of millions of dollars per year.

With the continued progression of technology, Ryan’s experiences over the last 20 years have been the ultimate training ground for him to become the Chief Technology Officer of Gawk. Art, commerce, technology, and his ability to create sophisticated, elegant and scalable solutions for the on-line distribution of content is why Ryan Wyler’s career thus-far, has been the perfect precursor to his assignment at Gawk.

CULTURAL MARXISM TRANSCRIPT

NARRATOR
Upon what criterion could citizens agree that it was necessary to go to war? Surely a nation full of citizens with no common values would be confused. They may be totally free, but their confusion will make them short-lived, if not barbaric, and maybe civilizations prior to the United States were barbaric. That’s why the American experiment is so important. That’s why the rudiments that made America happen must be preserved. Thus, applying and defending the values implied in the Constitution are, in essence, a matter of survival. For if these factors are dropped out, you get a cruel, chaotic, revengeful society. Such a society will eventually occupy its time with pleasure seeking hedonism, material acquisition, and violence oriented pastimes. Hey, welcome to today’s United States. No surprise the baby boomers are in charge now.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS also known as CULTURAL MARXISM

PAT BUCHANAN
The United States has undergone a cultural, moral, and religious revolution. And a militant secularism has arisen in this country, it has always had a hold on the intellectual and academic elites. But in the 1960s, it captured the young in the universities and the colleges, and we had this great battle, cultural war begin then, nationally. And since then, if you will, secularism has really achieved dominance in the academic community and the intellectual community, and the entertainment community, and Hollywood. Among a part of the political community, but not the nation as a whole. However, it is much stronger than it was, and this is the basis for the great cultural war we’re undergoing, right now. And this militant, it is an anti-christian, anti-god, anti-traditionalist revolution, the sexual revolution has a lot to do with it, and how people live. And so, we are two countries now. We are two countries morally, and socially, and culturally, and theologically. And culture wars do not lend themselves to peaceful co-existence. One side prevails, or the other side prevails, and the truth is, while the conservatives in my judgement, we won the cold war with political and economic communism, we’ve lost the cultural war with cultural marxism, which I think has prevailed pretty much in the United States or is now the dominant culture whereas those of us who are traditionalists are, if you will, the counterculture.

NARRATOR
What exactly is cultural marxism, the dominant culture of today? How did the founders of communism figure out a way to take over our country, not with guns and weapons, but with values and ideas? Let’s take a closer look at this, and see exactly how it happened. There was a man named Karl Marx. Marx got an idea. His idea was, that the workers of the world should unite and rise up to counter an evil foe. That foe being capitalism. Capitalism, the idea that people and private companies should be able to own the means of production and be free to earn and have as much as they wished, was anathema to Marx. Marx felt the state should own the means of production, as well as products produced. And then the state should distribute a fair share of all such products to each and every worker. Thus, in his book, The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx thundered, “Workers of the world, unite!” Sure that he had a principle to unify all workers in every country, Marx looked forward to eventually taking over the world.

TED BAEHR
Karl Marx believed that you would have a rebellion by the workers, against the capitalist system, which would then create a Marxist/Communist society, where you would have dictatorship of the proletariat.

NARRATOR
Unfortunately, when World War I broke out, the workers of the world did not unite. In fact, the workers united with their respective countries and fought each other.

PAT BUCHANAN
What happened is that the Marxists had an enormous disillusionment when the French and the Germans and the British workers all rose up for the fatherland and went to war happily fighting one another.

NARRATOR
Marx’s idea was a total failure. Workers were more loyal to their respective countries, churches, and cultural values than they were to their counterparts in other countries.

BAEHR
They did not want to give up their houses, their cars, their stoves, their products. They did not want to have a classless society. They did not vote and they did not even have an overthrow.

NARRATOR
Some years after Marx failed, several of his disciples got a new idea, on how to take over the world. One of his disciples, Antonio Gramsci, while – where else, but in prison – wrote up a series of plans now known as The Prison Notebooks. In this plan, Gramsci announced the workers of the world will unite only after the long march is over. The long march?

BUCHANAN
In other words, they had to get into the culture, and change the way of people’s thinking. And if people were thinking about patriotism and nation and god and country, that was a mechanism that was too resistant to Marxism, it could never take hold. You had to erode and destroy that. In the individuals. That began what’s called the long march through the institutions. Through the seminaries, through the churches. Through the media, through Hollywood. And all the rest of it, to create an anti-Christian culture which would destroy the Christian beliefs and convictions and the vast majority of the people, so they would embrace the ideas of Marxism and they would embrace the ideas that they had rejected, and be open to a takeover, basically, by marxists. Not political marxists, but cultural marxists.

NARRATOR
Rather than workers uniting, and marching into battle, thus seizing power through force, they would make a long march through the institutions. Institutions like the arts, cinema, theater, literature, schools, college, seminaries, newspapers, magazines, and what is now known as radio, TV, and the mass media. Once this march is over, all the barriers to the acceptance of marxism will have been quietly and systematically removed.

BAEHR
To get to that point, they said we have to destroy the culture, and what they were talking about was the Christian culture. What we used to call Christendom, or western civilization.

G. EDWARD GRIFFIN
If you can break people away from religious affinities, for example, where they would turn to their religious community, for support and help, or they would turn to scripture for answers to certain perplexing questions. If they have an affinity to their religion, they might say “we’re not going to go along with government because it’s contrary to my religion.” So, cultural marxism would attack religion of all kinds. Doesn’t make any difference. There was another place where people would go, other than the government, for support and for answers.

NARRATOR
We the people will thus have been indoctrinated. Or brainwashed into seeing the wisdom of Marxism and the folly of capitalism. Thus, the door to socialism and communism will be opened. And the door to a constitutional republic, closed. Because the success of cultural marxism means the demise of the U.S. constitution.

EDWIN VIEIRA
Constitution’s a set of principles. It’s based ultimately on a moral code, because if you go back to the Declaration of Independence, what was the basis for the declaration of independence? Law of nature and nature’s god, the ultimate moral code. But if you don’t follow those principles, if you try to shave a point off here and there, to make a buck, or be re-elected, or to get your special interest group some kind of government subsidy, then the consequences are going to be deleterious to society as a whole. And there’s the difficulty, there are too many people who are thinking in the short term and not applying these principles, which are designed to give us a long term stability to the system.

THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL

NARRATOR
Let’s back up a minute. How did cultural marxism get into the United States? Some brief history. In 1923, members of the Marxist Communist party set up an institute at Frankfurt University in Germany. This institute was named The Institute for Social Research. Later, it would become known simply as The Frankfurt School. These new Marxists under the direction of Marx Horkheimer had seen the old Lenin Marxists fail. The workers of the world did not unite in World War I. Further, they realized why. Antonio Gramsci, the disciple who wrote The Prison Notebooks had it right. Marxism could only flourish after a long march through the cultural institutions. Now, the mantra would be change Western culture, and then the workers will unite.

GRIFFIN
After Marx, there were a group of Marxists who wisely decided that you could bring this collectivist society to a nation through culture as well. By introducing certain values and concepts that would break down the family, for example. If you could somehow break down the family unit, so that it was no longer self-sustaining, and no longer valued in a society, then that would lead the individual members who formerly could turn to the family in times of need, would now be cut loose. They would be without a place to go in times of need, so now they had to turn to the government.

NARRATOR
But just as the march through the institutions was about to begin, an anti-marxist, anti-semitic Adolf Hitler ascended to power, and World War II began. Since the leading lights of the Frankfurt Schools were marxist, the School packed up its ideology and fled to America, settling down in New York City with the support of Columbia University. But what exactly is the march? And who, was marching? What values has the long march through the institutions rolled over? Let’s hear it through some of the Frankfurt School graduates themselves. Like George Lukas, Antonio Gramsci, Charles Reich, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Erich Fromm, Wilhelm Reich, and Max Horkheimer.

HORKHEIMER (unbelievably bad accent #1)
Marx got it all wrong. The workers are not up to being the vanguard of the communist revolution. Let’s translate marxism into cultural terms.

NARRATOR
And Herbert Marcuse.

MARCUSE (unbelievably bad accent #2)
The west is guilty of genocidal crimes against every civilization and culture it has encountered. America and western civilization are the world’s greatest repositories of racism, sexism, nativism, xenophobia, anti-semitism, fascism, and nazism. American society is oppressive, evil, and undeserving of loyalty.

INTERVIEWER
Have you ever heard of cultural marxism, if so, what is it?

INTERVIEWEE #1
I’m not familiar completely with…marxism.

INTERVIEWEE #2
I have not heard of cultural marxism.

INTERVIEWEE #3
Cultural marxism, um, no I don’t think I even- that kind of talk is gibberish to me.

INTERVIEWEE #4
It’s used in some terms I think as sortof the thing that is…almost politically correct from a marxist standpoint. In other words, from a socialist or communist standpoint.

NARRATOR
George Lukas.

LUKAS (unbelievably bad accent #3)
I see the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution. A worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values, the creation of the new ones, by the revolution.

NARRATOR
Lukas’s gift to America later became known as cultural terrorism. Gifts, such as radical sex education in public schools covering such subjects as free love, outdatedness of monogamy, irrelevance of religion, and the archaic nature of the middle class family. Women were called upon to rebel against the sexual morays of the day. Such being the core values of christianity and western culture. His ideas later became the basis for the sexual revolution. Embraced by a generation of drug-challenged baby boomers.

BUCHANAN
When you hear people say, as I did on the campaign, “Pat, what happened to the country we grew up in?”, physically it’s the same country. But they’re right, we’re in another country now. And this is why I think the cultural marxists have prevailed and are prevailing. They have captured the young. What was the saying of Abbie Hoffman? We’re gonna capture your children. In a lot of ways they did.

NARRATOR
Although Gramsci died in 1937, his prison notebooks lived on as the blueprint to de-christianize the west.

GRAMSCI (unbelievably bad accent #4)
The civilized world has been thoroughly saturated with christianity for two thousand years. Any country grounded in judeo-christian values cannot, therefore, be overthrown until those roots are cut. But to cut the roots, to change culture, a long march through the institutions is necessary. Only then will power fall into our laps, like ripened fruit.

NARRATOR
And the new generation of freedom loving, authority challenged baby boomers were quite willing to accept the bait, and take a toke.

TIMOTHY LEARY
Turn on, tune in, drop out.

NARRATOR
Yes, our prison planner Antonio Gramsci had quite a dream. The only way the marxist revolution could be successful was if the heat shield of capitalism, christianity, were first destroyed. Charles Reich.

REICH (unbelievably bad accent #5)
There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual culture, and it will change the political structure only as its final act.

NARRATOR
Reich, thus helped shape the minds of the american sixties youth with his runaway best-selling book, The Greening of America. Gramsci and Marx were now reaching their target audience, and the long march was in progress.

BAEHR
In the 1960s, the church pulled back from the culture. You had the first sex and satanism film, you had the first X-Rated film, where the pastor takes the boy up through his room in Broadway, to get on his knees, but not to pray. You had all the perversion, you went from 100% broad audience films that anyone can see, to 82% R rated movies, restricted. You had a tremendous loss of viewership at the movie theaters, even though television had been around twenty years, you had 24 million weekly attendance to 7 million weekly attendance. So, basically what happened, the church gave up mid-sixties. It gave up on prayer in schools, it gave up being a force in society, Johnson shackled the church when he said, when he used the 501c3 to say churches couldn’t talk about politics, and the church just buckled under. Prayer was taken out of school, the church just buckled under. The church collapsed from Hollywood, buckled under. So, it was the church’s internal collapse, and that has happened before in history, and unless people get revival, reformation, renewal, we will never reclaim the culture.

GRIFFIN
So, cultural marxism would be that type of activity in any society breaks down the culture in such a way that people instinctively turn to government as an alternative for the support that they would otherwise have. This is done through art, through music, through literature, through motion pictures, and that kind of thing. The implanting of certain ideas and concepts which make them very ripe, for the philosophy of collectivism. And makes them very ripe for turning to government as the big daddy, the big solver, of all problems.

NARRATOR
As Hudson Institute scholar John Fonte wrote, “Max Horkheimer and Gramsci believe there are no absolute moral standards that are universally true for all human beings outside a particular historical context.” In other words, to the Frankfurt School, values come from society. Or the state collective.

CHARLES MANSON
Insane? It’s relative.

GRIFFIN
Collectivism implies that something is important enough, then the state should step in, and make sure that everyone conforms, whether they want to or not. The essence of collectivism in a political sense is that it employs the use of coercion to require people to work together. And once coercion enters, then you are actually participating in a negative social conduct, in many cases worse, then the social condition that you’re trying to overcome by the collective action. People are not given free will. They’re required to do this and that because the majority has decided this is for the greater good of the greater number and so forth. Whereas individualism works towards the same goals, but they do so in the environment of freedom. So, it’s the difference between freedom and coercion.

NARRATOR
Not to be outdone by Karl Marx, a brilliant mind or two at the Frankfurt School soon came up with several of their own ideas. The foremost known as critical theory. The idea behind critical theory is to challenge all previously accepted standards in every aspect of life from a Marxist perspective. Standards such as Abe Lincoln was honest. Home is where the heart is. Democracy and capitalism are good. The founders believed in freedom. In doing this, every negative thing one could possibly say about America was dredged up. Circulated in books, movies, TV, schools, colleges, and even the clergy. So that the youth would be endlessly indoctrinated. Things like white men killed the indians. Fathers were repressive. God is dead. The founders had slaves.

VIEIRA
They did have a problem, in that although slavery was technically legal throughout all the colonies, only some of the colonies really had slave based economies. Southern states, Maryland, south, essentially. And therefore, they had to deal with the practical problem of how could you integrate these states with the Northern and middle colonies? Middle states, and northern states in a way that would, as much as possible, unify them. So they had to make some kind of initial political compromise with the social institutions that existed in the southern states. But there was a mindset at the time that slavery would essentially wither away because it was not a practical economic concern in the long run. But it certainly wasn’t a matter that could be criticized of the point of view of principle. You know the first principle in the preamble is to create a more perfect union. That was their first goal.

NARRATOR
But when the consciousness challenged baby boomers repeatedly heard that the establishment, as they came to refer to it, was a bunch of racist, overly religious, sexually deprived sexists who were xenophobic indian killers and anti-semite [sic], they internalized the criticisms. Soon their movies and songs began to reflect these “values”, spreading them throughout the nation’s youth culture. Critical theory was doing its job. Especially on people like Charles Manson. And John Lennon. Even though the reality challenged baby boomers of the 1960s were the most free, the most affluent and most privileged of any youth in any age, they were bored with their lives. And swallowed the Frankfurt School’s propaganda like a hit of…California sunshine. Books like: The Death of the Family; Escape from Freedom; The Mass Psychology of Fascism; Sexual Revolution; The Joy of Sex; and The Authoritarian Personality flew off the shelves. Counterculture drug movies like The Trip, Easy Rider, The Wild Angels, The Wild Bunch, and Born Losers played in theaters endlessly. Books like The Authoritarian Personality were particular hits because they attacked the patriarchal family unit. A deeply christian institution. So along came movies depicting the family unit as sexually repressed and dysfunctional. Movies like Battle of the Sexes, How to Handle Your Wife [How to Murder Your Wife], Harold and Maude, The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, Carnal Knowledge, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Boys in the Band, The Godfather, and Kramer vs Kramer instilled cultural pessimism about families.

BAEHR
Basic unit of the family is where male, as a sex, joins with a female, as a sex, and they’re able to work together to help each other, and by being able to work together to help each other they perfect each other, they love each other, they care for each other, and in the process they learn to love and perfect others within the society, to become good citizens because they’re good citizens within their own home, and that produces a society that loves each other. It’s a…marriage is a particularly judeo-christian institution. It was Jesus who instituted one man and one wife there should forever become one flesh.

NARRATOR
By targeting the family unit, the cultural marxists knew they could eventually destroy the middle class of the United States. Why? Because the family unit is the basic building block of the middle class. Destroy the middle class and you eventually destroy the economic engine of the United States. Destroy the economic engine of the U.S. and its political structure built on capitalism and the constitution crumbles.

INTERVIEWEE
I just recently had some shares stolen from me on the stock market. By our government. Who seized eighty percent of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shares. Like, how could this happen? That they seized private property.

BAEHR
The whole point of socialistic society is to do four things. Marx talks about destroying the family. Two, destroying property. Three, destroying religion. Four, destroying the nation. And what you end up with is the gulag. Where the whole country becomes the Soviet Union.

NARRATOR
Yes, critical theory is diabolical genius. The cultural marxist could accomplish what Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin only dreamed of accomplishing. Whereas Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin took Marx’s ideas and delivered the brutal Soviet Union to the world, Gramsci, Lukas, and Marcuse took Marx’s ideas and delivered user friendly cultural Marxism to America.

BUCHANAN
The Supreme Court has been converted into a fighting ally of secularism in the wars against traditionalism in the United States. The Supreme Court has perverted the constitution. It has usurped power that belongs to the states and imposed secular views and values on the states, on the communities, making decisions that used to be made democratically at the local level.

NARRATOR
This time it seems Marx won. Today, post-Engle politically correct baby boomers are so completely immersed in the Frankfurt School’s cultural pessimism, they can’t see the forest for the trees. They’re fish in a bowl of muddy water. They’re Neo in the Matrix. They swim in it. They absorb it through every pore of their beings. Starting in the 1960s, cultural marxism has woven its values into every american’s very existence. Khrushchev was right when he said, “we will bury you.”

SOCIALISM

NARRATOR
To understand what socialism is, one must first understand what communism is. Communism is an economic system whereby the state owns the means of production. Means of production meaning capitalism. Capital meaning money, machinery, labor, land, and resources. Socialism is an economic system whereby the state owns the fruits of production. Fruits of production meaning revenues generated by the means. “Revenues generated by the means” is another way of saying taxes.

RON PAUL
Extreme of socialism was the Soviet system, communism. So there was no pricing structure and it’s a failed system, it can’t work. Because prices are so important.

NARRATOR
So, communism owns and confiscates the means and fruits of productions. Whereas socialism confiscates just the fruits of production in the form of excessive taxes. Socialist states in Europe, for instance, confiscate as much as fifty percent of money citizens pay for retail products and services. This is the outrageous sales tax a socialist state demands.

PAUL
We interfere a lot, but we allow prices to adjust for the most part, but when it comes to interest rates, federal reserve is always deciding the central plan through the control of money, and interest rates, how much money we should have in circulation, should we shrink the money supply, expand the money supply, that’s a form of socialism but it’s only half of socialism, controlling only half of the transaction, and that’s money. But it’s very dangerous and leads to an authoritarian approach because it eventually breaks down and I think that is what we are witnessing today.

NARRATOR
Thus, the socialist state rapes the people, mainly through excessive taxes. A fascist state rapes the people mainly through excessive debt. Both ultimately rape the people through taxes, because debt causes inflation, a hidden tax. Debt causes inflation because the federal reserve system facilitates the conversion of government bonds, government IOUs, into federal reserve notes. What we use as a currency.

BAEHR
Well, the federal reserve, in its very nature is contrary to a free market. The federal reserve is not only regulating, but it’s manipulating the marketplace, against the will of the people who are conducting the marketplace.

NARRATOR
When this is done, the money supply is inflated. When the money supply is inflated, it becomes watered down, or diluted. Just like stock when a corporation authorizes and issues more stock, existing shareholders are diluted. When money is diluted, it has less purchasing power. When it has less purchasing power, prices rises. Because it takes more federal reserve notes to purchase a given product. When prices rise, it has the effect of a tax. Inflation is therefore a hidden tax.

VIEIRA
If the government can create new money then it doesn’t have to tax for it. Especially if it can put off the ultimate payment of this into the future through the use of long term bonds, backing for the fiat currency, then we have a government that is essentially out of control to some degree. It can make decisions that are not immediately going to subject the people to pressure.

NARRATOR
Unfortunately, the constitutional republic envisioned by the founders is being undermined by cultural marxism, and destroying the republic envisioned by the founders.

GENERAL WELFARE

NARRATOR
As we have seen, the constitution gives congress the power and the responsibility to provide for the general welfare of the nation. So important is the idea of general welfare, this is the only term that is stated twice in the constitution. Once in the preamble, and again in Article I. Unfortunately, a lot of people interpret this term to be a green light for massive social security. The so-called nanny state which pays for everything. And then demands the right to regulate everything.

PAUL
Well, the constitution was written to limit the size and scope of government. It was to recognize that government was there to protect our liberties. It does not endorse the welfare system at all. If we would just follow the constitution, the government would be very much smaller, maybe eighty percent smaller.

NARRATOR
This may be the cultural marxists’ dream of a socialist state, but as a result we now have minimum wage laws, child labor laws, federal disability laws, medicaid laws, public housing laws, rent laws, entitlement laws, food stamp laws, and even extensive pet laws. Over twenty five thousand laws are enacted every year. Many by congressmen who have been bought and paid for by multinational corporations, all non-people entities.

INTERVIEWEE
What comes to mind is big corporations that put their view of the world out there for everyone, take over small businesses, take over choices people might have, different kinds of products, where everything becomes much more generic, just based on cost as opposed to quality and workmanship.

NARRATOR
Because term limits have not been established for the congress, most congressmen have been able to stay in office for decades.

BUCHANAN
Again, this is the supreme court. States were enacting and imposing term limits on their members of congress in something like half the american states, and the supreme court overthrew it. And took the right away from the states to impose term limits on their own members of congress. And what did congress do? They said, that’s fine with us. Because we’ll stay in power.

NARRATOR
It seems the more a congressman is entrenched, the more he is able to build a social network, a network of cronies. Clearly, good relations with fellow congressmen serve many productive purposes. But such a network can also be abused. After all, it’s much easier to minimize the risks of vote swapping, a form of collusion, amongst cronies. It’s much easier to justify corporate campaign contributions, a form of bribery, amongst cronies. And it’s much easier to get away with earmarks, a form of fraud, amongst cronies. Thus, an entrenched congress, especially one cast into only two major parties would seem to be in the perfect position to imperceptibly usurp power from the people. And place it into the hands of the corporate fascists who’ve hijacked congress.

GRIFFIN
The right place to look for the solution to the problem of corrupt politicians is at the voter: their perception of who they’re voting for, and what the political principles of their candidates are.

NARRATOR
You can bet collusion, bribery, and fraud are not practices the founders envisioned for a more perfect union.

So, unless I have this view that I need to participate in this system as a self-governing citizen to maintain the integrity of the system, the system will eventually be dominated from the top down by the people who can actually make something from “gaming it” is the expression. So, this is the founding fathers point, it depends upon having a virtuous citizenry that is willing to shoulder the burdens of maintaining a self-governmental structure.

NARRATOR
Again, general welfare includes everyone. Especially the vast majority of average citizens who fall within the middle of the social spectrum. In statistical terms, the average or mean, is represented at the top, or crest of what’s known as a bell shaped curve. It’s the middle of the bell shaped curve. So, it’s fair to say that the original intent of the constitution is to define a government that serves the general population. The middle of the bell shaped curve. Now known as the middle class.

INTERVIEWER
Do you sense a dwindling middle class, or a wealth disparity?

INTERVIEWEE
Well, I think things are changing right now. I think the last eight years have been increasing in wealth disparity, but I think some of the excesses of those days may be over.

NARRATOR
The terms “spreading the wealth”, “redistribution”, and “wealth disparity” are meaningless in an America that truly responds [sic] to the original intent of the constitution.

GRIFFIN
The proper function of government is not to provide, but to protect. Because if you’re gonna provide for some, you must have the authority and power to take from others. And once you’re in that business of taking from some and giving to others, now you’re in the business of redividing the wealth. And that gives you tremendous power over the citizenry. And it always leads to abuse of power and eventually to totalitarian regimes.

NARRATOR
Many have commented that we now have a monstrous tax system. The system that taxes its citizens far more than citizens of the Boston tea party era.

LARKEN ROSE
If two to three percent taxation justified a resolution, in 1776, why doesn’t fifty percent and growing justify a revolution? If a few little excise taxes on pieces of paper and tea justify open lawlessness from these rebels that we’re all celebrating, why don’t the myriad of incomprehensible, unavoidable, crushing taxes – state, local, and federal – why don’t they justify a revolution today?

NARRATOR
Our government not only taxes us at every transaction, it’s in our faces at every turn. Endlessly regulating what we can and cannot do. All these regulating laws and their expensive enforcement programs are turning us into a police state.

PAUL
We’re the policeman of the world, so instead of a government now that occupies so many other countries and we have seven hundred bases overseas, that wouldn’t happen if we had a proper sized government.

NARRATOR
Over fifty percent of U.S. citizens now work the government at either the federal, state, or local level.

ANDROGYNY

NARRATOR
The nefarious genius of cultural marxist strategy is to destroy the family unit by promoting what’s known in the field of botany as androgyny. From the american college dictionary, androgyny means quote having staminate and pistilate flowers in the same inflorescence; being both male and female; hermaphroditic. Translated into cultural marxist strategy, this means making the father and mother of a family the same and/or reversing their roles. How is this done? Well, it starts with invalidation. As previously discussed, one of the key technologies of the Frankfurt School is critical theory. Recall the purpose of critical theory is to instill cultural pessimism. Thus, by endlessly portraying fathers as dominant, restrictive, depersonalized, and controlling, the cultural marxist is able to invalidate the male component of the family unit. Concomitant with this, by endlessly portraying mothers as schizophrenic, nagging, anxious, the cultural marxist is able to invalidate the female component of the family unit. This two-punch invalidation endlessly repeated in the general literature, movies, and media, gives rise to a pessimistic attitude towards the traditional family. After time, this pessimism becomes imbued into the culture. That’s why it’s said that the product of critical theory is cultural pessimism. The message of cultural pessimism: 1. Families are boring, stifling, and intrusive. 2. Mothers and fathers suck. 3. Divorce is therefore understandable and justified. With divorce made understandable and justified, even laughingly made easy by calling it “no fault”, one out of two nuclear families now disintegrate into chaos.

BAEHR
Most contracts, the court system tries to sustain the contract. If you and I are doing business together, and they’re trying to protect that contract because the contract was entered into in good faith for good principles. However, although the marriage might have been entered into in good faith by breaking that they can put a lot of people to work, not only the marital courts can go to work, also the social workers can go to work, also a whole team of people including the IRS who prey off of them. And one court in Massachusetts said we’re gonna bring this father to his knees and take all his money from him. So, there’s a whole movement in the courts to make money off the dissolution of marriage.

NARRATOR
After the mother and the father are finally done arguing or negotiating over custody of the children and possession of the assets, two new family homes are usually established. He lives here and she lives there. Each new household economy now has to have a redundant otherwise superfluous set of rent or mortgage payments, energy and utility demands, and household furnishings and accoutrements. Extensive and complex scheduling of child visitation then must be established. If the divorce was acrimonious and/or the children were traumatized by it, and most are, both parents vie for the children’s attention and visitation. As they do this, knowingly or unknowingly, they spoil the children with unending material gifts. Junk food. Sugar. Unearned validation and parental supervision so lenient it borders on gross negligence.

BAEHR
Divorce is dreadful for children. Now you have some families, the poorest and the weakest, mostly black families, are now over fifty and even sixty percent divorce, which is critical for children.

NARRATOR
But worst of all, children are usually shipped off to daycare centers and/or public schools where they are then “handled” like animals in captivity.

GRIFFIN
Now we’re talking about a school system that’s teaching values determined not by the parents, not even by the teachers, but by the political, uh, groups that provide the funding, the politicians, the bureaucrats, the think tanks, all these invisible structures above. Those are the people who are determining the values that are being taught in our schools.

NARRATOR
The profligate cultural marxist society that causes and tolerates this then imposes pharmaceutical drugs on these children.

BAEHR
Certainly the arts have always had a tendency to promote license instead of liberty. The difference, license means I can do anything even if it’s destructive of other people, and myself, I can take drugs till I OD and hurt other people, and hurt their children and families. License is something that is selfishness rules. With liberty, what rules is the freedom to be responsible, the freedom to live a decent life, the freedom to love others, the freedom to give, it’s like the difference between love and lust. And unfortunately, often the principle of love is replaced in the media with the principle of lust. And the lust principle produces media that’s constantly pushing the envelope.

NARRATOR
Almost every movie that Hollywood puts out today must depict characters with at least one of the following attributes: 1. The protagonist and/or the antagonist are divorced.

2. The female is portrayed as dominant, controlling, violent, and/or one up on men.

3. The male is portrayed as aloof, feminine, overly sensitive and/or cheating.

4. Somewhere in the family at least one of its immediate members must be a lesbian, gay, bisexual or a women’s libber.

Often attributes are mixed in various proportions and even mixed with a touch of schizophrenia, as males and females swap roles in fluorescence.

BAEHR
Same sex marriage does not give you the balance of having a mother and father so that you can learn different skills from them, you learn different personality types. By abolishing that, children are adrift.

NARRATOR
Through endless repetition and media dissemination, androgynous elements are institutionalized as legitimate. And eventually, normal. Cultural pessimism has been taken to a whole new level. Complete tolerance for dysfunctional social structures and inefficient economic units. Proof that christian values do not work.

GRIFFIN
Schools should be completely operated by parents. They should be in control and therefore the parents can determine what values are taught to the students. If the school doesn’t teach the values that that parent wants taught to their children, then they can take that child out of that school and put them in another school which does teach those values.

BUCHANAN
The supreme court has been converted into a fighting ally of secularism in the wars against traditionalism in the United States.

NARRATOR
With the success of cultural marxism, hundreds of millions of nuclear families have been destroyed since 1965. This has contributed to, or caused, the decline of the middle class. Next will be the destruction of American capitalism, unless the effects of cultural marxism are recognized and handled.

HORKHEIMER (return to unbelievably bad accent #1)
The revolution is coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual and culture. And it will change the political structure only as its final act.

PANEM AND CIRCENSES

NARRATOR
Before the Romans crashed and burned, they had gone down the same road. Only they called their social security bread and circuses. Bread and circuses will eventually crash the U.S. empire as well, if we interpret the term “general welfare” in the constitution as an invitation for social security.

VIEIRA
General is the problem.

GRIFFIN
What did the founding fathers intend when they wrote those words?

BAEHR
General welfare has been debated since the constitution itself. Many of the founders were concerned general welfare would be taken in the wrong sense, would be used to apply for, as we apply it today, as Hamilton wanted us to do it, to give the government license to do whatever it wanted, and just grab power.

NARRATOR
The founders knew that Rome, and every society since the beginning of time, had poor, sick, and unfortunates. And many of these societies tried to help. For instance, in 1597, England had the Elizabethan poor laws enacted, to provide what were known as the seven corporeal works of mercy. These works were to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, attend the sick, visit the prisoner, and bury the dead. But is this how you really promote the general welfare, the founders asked?

STEFAN MOLYNEUX
You’re talking to someone about a free society. And they say to you, as they always do, “what about the poor?” “Oh, the poor, what are we going to do with the poor when there’s no welfare state.” The poor dying in the streets and that. A perfectly valid objection and we all, generally, have this tendency, what do we do? We run out and we research, and we go, and we become the human wikipedia talking point planet of infinite facts and we try and give everybody statistics and we give everybody historical examples, well, there were these friendly societies in the 1920s, the fact that I find useful is the number of poor people after the second world war was declining one percent a year, because of the free market, when the welfare state came in, it stopped declining and stayed steady, which is exactly what you’d expect. If you subsidize something, you increase its prevalence, and you subsidize poverty, you get more.

NARRATOR
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for life. The founders were teachers. Their original intent was to set up a system that created fishermen.

GRIFFIN
The constitution means what the founders intended it to mean. Otherwise it means nothing. If you want to have the constitution mean what modern politicians think it should mean, then you don’t need a constitution. In fact, you’re better off without one. And just say: what do the modern politicians want us to do today?

NARRATOR
What would happen if you created a society that could actually rise above problems? A society where the government gently facilitated a free and prosperous citizenry? A citizenry so successful there were no hungry. There were no sick or poor. There were no criminals.

BUCHANAN
You could take the Department of Education, the Department of Housing, and any number of these national departments and defund them to zero, and send out the funds to the states in block grants which would eventually go down to zero, and get rid of most of the federal government. The federal government still has responsibility of national defense, the justice department is needed, the state department is needed, the treasury department are needed, but many of those other departments should be defunded rather than have the politics of the federal government imposed on the nation.

NARRATOR
The founders wanted to set people free from the system, or the matrix. That’s what liberty is all about. They wanted general welfare to be the result of a self-governing productive society. They wanted general welfare. Not welfare in general.

OUT OF THIN AIR

NARRATOR
Today, the U.S. currency is backed by nothing but debt in the form of U.S. bonds. This is known as monetizing debt. The act of converting debt into money. Debt causes inflation because the federal reserve system facilitates the conversion of government bonds, government IOUs, into federal reserve notes. What we use as a currency. When this is done, the money supply is inflated. When the money supply is inflated, it becomes watered down. Or diluted. Just like stock when a corporation authorizes issues of more stock, existing shareholders are diluted. When money is diluted, it has less purchasing power. When it has less purchasing power, prices rise. Because it takes more federal reserve notes to purchase a given product. When prices rise, it has the effect of a tax. Inflation is therefore a hidden tax.

PAUL
If you can delay the payment and hide the payment, that is, borrow money or print money, those who pay the price are hard to find, are usually the poor people and the middle class. So, it’s a very specific plan to have a central bank to destroy money, it’s been done for thousands of years, they used to dilute the metals, clip the coins, or even in the old days they tried printing money. Today we do it with a computer.

NARRATOR
Thus, cultural marxism uses debt which generates the hidden tax of inflation and endless taxes to fund its socialist operations and expansion.

VIEIRA
As far as fractional reserve banking is concerned, that’s a problem of fraud. That is, fractional reserve banking is where the bank generates more paper currency than it has the gold and silver reserves of, a specie standard. And it can really generate as much paper currency as the market is willing to bear, as long as the market has some credence that the bank will pay. And what tends to happen is the bank will overexpand. They play too many of those cards, and at a certain stage, the market says no, there’s too much money out here in terms of real resources. And you get what’s called a bank run. People come back to the bank and say, make good on these promises, and the banks can’t do it, you have recession, depression, what have you, the whole credit structure drops. Now, if that kind of system were fully disclosed and everyone knew how it was working, my anticipation is that there were very few fractional reserve banks.

NARRATOR
The framers of the constitution were quite aware of the liabilities of bills of credit and fractional reserve banking. And this is why Article I states no state shall make any thing but gold and silver a tender in the payment of debts. And, quote: “No state shall emit bills of credit.”

PAUL
The federal reserve system should be abolished. It was not authorized in the constitution, and therefore, we shouldn’t have it. But I’ve taken a sort of a moderate approach to doing it, because there’s a lot of people who depend on the system today and close it down in one day, but I would legalize competition and allow gold and silver to circulate as money, take taxes off gold and silver, so you didn’t have to pay sales tax or capital gains taxes, went to people to transition over to gold and silver. In 1976, we weren’t even allowed to own gold and then later on, we got the American eagle. So, we’re moving in that direction, but we need to go a little bit further to legalize contracts in gold. The real culprit is the ability of the fed to monetize debt. Members of congress spend money for war and welfare, they can’t borrow enough, and they can’t tax enough, so they literally create treasury bills out of thin air and the federal reserve creates money out of thin air and buys the treasury bills. And that has to eventually destroy the value of the dollar.

GRIFFIN
If we were to abolish the federal reserve system, tomorrow, and get the banks out of it, completely, turn the entire function as it now operates over to the treasury, nothing would change. The same people would still dominate the system from behind the scenes. To this question of ownership, receives too much attention, because where that idea goes is, well, if we could just find out who owns these banks, and if we don’t like who they are, then we can support a move to abolish the federal reserve and turn that system over to the treasury, exactly as it’s now operating. So, the focus should not be on who owns the banks, but what the banks are doing.

NARRATOR
If the public better understood how fiat money can be abused by Congress, it would impeach almost every member. And abolish the central federal reserve bank, as it has done twice in the nation’s history.

THE APPLICATION OF FORCE

NARRATOR
Like the federal reserve system, the congress has been further distorting the letter of its constitutional responsibilities by delegating its power to declare war to another entity, in this case, the president.

BUCHANAN
One of the great problems the country faces is the cowardice of the congress of the United States as an institution. It has allowed the president to usurp the war-making power.

NARRATOR
Where does congress get authority to delegate the responsibility to declare war to the president? It’s not in the constitution. This delegation sounds more like an evasion of responsibility for political expediency then the original intent of the founders.

BUCHANAN
It has resigned its authority, it is frightened of exercising its authority, it does not want responsibility, it does not want accountability.

NARRATOR
Article I, Section 8, clearly states that Congress shall have the power to declare war, to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy, to provide for calling forth the militia.

VIEIRA
People such as George Washington, or Samuel Greene, leaders of the army, didn’t think much of the militia. The militia came in 1690 for 180 days, and when the enlistment time ran out, they went home. They never stayed. They came with a sort of an oddment of firearms, typically they were firearms that didn’t entirely fit the army pattern, they had different calibres and logistics, problems arose. The men were clearly not as well trained as the regular soldiers, they had a tendency to break, the British charged them with bayonets, for instance. So, people like Washington, who was obviously very influential at the time, didn’t have a particularly good word to say about the militia. One would have thought, when the constitution was drafted, the founding fathers would have left the militia out. We don’t need this. Hadn’t proven to be that effective, or they might have said: congress or the states can set up a militia if they want to, but it’s discretionary. Depends on circumstances. They did the exact opposite. They recognized the existence of what they call the militia of the several states, at the time; constitutionally recognized. And the second amendment comes along and says it’s necessary for the security of a free state. So, I would say the constitution makes it absolutely clear that those entities because it’s not one entity, it should be one in every one of the states, is a key structural element in the constitution. And why? Well, because ultimately who is the militia? It’s the people.

NARRATOR
With every shooting on a college campus, the cultural marxist indoctrinating mainstream media never mentions the true source of the problem: the disintegration of the family unit. Instead, the media pushes the socialistic agenda of removing citizen’s second amendment rights.

VIEIRA
Let’s go to the second amendment. Which says a well regulated militia will be necessary to the security of a free state. The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed. Take the first clause. A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state – stop right there. That’s the only place in the constitution where the constitution says that anything is necessary for any reason. Constitution doesn’t say congress is necessary, or the president is necessary, doesn’t even say the state is necessary, it says a well regulated militia is necessary to what? To the security. Not just any kind of security, but the security of a free state. And that’s the sole purpose of the constitution in toto.

GRIFFIN
The way that the United States was set up originally was that the defense of the nation was to be primarily the responsibility of the states. They were to create militia and draw upon able bodied American citizens within the state, and they were to provide their weapons and their training and their leaders; they were to form into a national fighting force and they would defend the borders of the United States against foreign enemies. But the primary foundation, the element of that was the militia.

NARRATOR
Never stated in movies like Bowling for Columbine, movies funded by cultural marxist infiltrated Hollywood studios is the original intent of the founders that all citizens retain the keep and bear arms. More accurately, the obligation to keep and bear arms as part of the militia.

VIEIRA
As the constitution tells us, a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state. Now, some people may disagree with that; and my response is well, that’s a personal opinion, the law is otherwise. The law tells us this is the principal by which we are supposed to be operating. You don’t like that, amend it. If it’s there, enforce it. If you don’t enforce it, there will be some consequences. Because the constitution is, how shall I put this, it’s an integrated document in that all of the parts were designed to function with all of the others simultaneously. And if you look at it, there are several pillars to it, of course, the federal government, the congress, supreme court, the states. There are the people; as electors. And then there is this group of entities called the militia. And read the constitution through and you’ll see they’re all on an equal plane. They all fit into this structure. Well, if an architect designs a building, with five support columns, it’s probably because he believes every one of those is necessary. You knock one of those out, or you allow it to decay, and you can pretty much expect that building is not going to be stable over the long term. Certain kinds of shocks affect it, it’s going to come down. Same with a governmental structure. Governmental structure was designed in such a way that the people were supposed to play an important role in maintaining political power over military force.

NARRATOR
Instead, the Frankfurt School’s agenda of injecting cultural pessimism into society continues. Robberies, murder, fires, and now escalating school shootings, all contribute to the cultural pessimism. And the misguided justification of disarming the citizens. But if citizens ever allow cultural marxists such as the Michael Moores of the world to ban ownership of guns, they will make a grave mistake.

GRIFFIN
These guys who created the American constitution, the American republic, were looking into the future, and they were concerned about our own government becoming despotic. They could see that, they talked about the possibility of that. How do we prevent that from happening was a major issue of discussion. And they said one of the ways is to make sure we don’t give them a standing army and the other way is to make sure the local population was armed. (laughs) Because if you got every man, able-bodied man in the country, women too, armed and knowing how to use a weapon and under training with their local squad leaders and so forth, their own commanders. There’s no government in the United States that’s going to turn against them. So, they were very wise. Today, people laugh at that concept, but now that they’re losing their liberties, I think the laughter is dying down, pretty rapidly.

NARRATOR
Observing thousands of years of earlier governments, the founders knew that the only thing that ultimately stands between a tyrannical government and the people, are weapons.

VIEIRA
According to Mao Tse Tung, who in this case agrees with the second amendment, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Where the source of political power is to be, is where the gun is. Ultimately, that’s the bottom line, the force of government. That’s what government is, the application of force. If the application of force is given to some elite group, they’re in control. If the act of force is given to the people, they’re in control. If you want a free state, a self-governing state, where we the people are ordaining and establishing, who has to control the ultimate body of force? It’s we the people themselves. And that’s not a professional army. That’s not a standing army. The founding fathers were very much concerned about that. They didn’t want a standing army.

GRIFFIN
They thought that a standing army was perhaps one of the most dangerous things you can imagine. Because if Washington, D.C., they thought had a standing army, you know what they’re gonna do with it? They’re gonna use it for something. Get a bunch of soldiers sitting around training, they’re gonna use them for something. And they didn’t want that. Except in the defensive mode.

SPEAKER (unidentified)
If people read the constitution, that if not in a time of war, to have a standing army, when there’s no war, you have to abolish the standing army within eighteen months, so you have a navy, but no standing army.

NARRATOR
Also, never forget the instrument that literally authorized the U.S. constitution and freed all Americans from oppressive European rule was the declaration of independence. This sister document states whenever any form of government becomes destructive of certain ends, such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it is the duty of the people to alter or abolish it. Alter it means to vote out those who aren’t following the constitution. If such politicians over time or unbeknownst to the people, reconfigure their government in such a way to usurp the rights of the people, then the only choice left is to abolish the government.

WALTER REDDY (Founder, commissioner of Public Safety)
So, they were acting within the law when they stood on that green, General Gage was outside the law, he was an outlaw, that regular army. And that’s why they didn’t throw down their arms that day. They opened fire on them.

VIEIRA
Now, one doesn’t like to think of that as something you want to face in this country. But there are many problems prior to that, that the militia would deal with, and a large militia structure would have a terrific deterrent effect. On any people in political life or aspirations to become usurpers or tyrants. It’s pretty hard to overcome a country when sixty or seventy percent of the people are organized army trained.

NARRATOR
The second amendment states the people, as and through their militia, have the right to keep and bear arms, and this right shall not be infringed.

MICHAEL BADNARIK
As individuals, we have rights. And we grant the government privileges, those privileges are listed in Article I, Section 1, of the constitution. And any time we have a justifiable reason in the current tradition, we can revoke those rights or take those privileges away from the government.

NARRATOR
This means that a well regulated militia consisting of the people, not some distant bunch of federal professionals has the right to keep and bear, and own, and keep on their person, guns and arms. Short for armaments. These armaments are for their use, should the people, through their constitutional militia, find it necessary to abolish a tyrannical and suppressive government. And replace it with a serving government that promotes the general welfare. And secures the blessings of liberty.

NEGATIVE INFLUENCES

NARRATOR
Unfortunately, negative influences have crept in. Not only has the cultural pessimism, and the parade through the institutions attacked America’s culture, but our banking system has been hit as well. The federal reserve, set up by banking architect Paul Warburg, is a European-style central bank. Complete with all the inherent problems of the old world. Banking principles diametrically opposed by the founders. Alien concepts such as backing money by debt, instead of gold. Lending out more money than you have in the vault. Printing up money so banks can stimulate their economy they just crashed. All this so bankers can charge more for interest and snap up assets with straw buyers in recession markets. Thanks to the fed, congress can bypass the public’s representatives and wage war with money that has been literally created out of thin air. Are any of these american ways? Did the founders set up the constitution so Antonio Gramsci, a cultural marxist from the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, and John Maynard Keynes, an economist indoctrinated in the environment of our former enemy, should stamp their war-torn European philosophies into the very soul of our nation? Something isn’t right here.

PAUL
In Keynesian economics, they endorse the federal reserve system. And, to print money out of thin air is really fraud, because they’re stealing from people, stealing the value from some people, so they’re completely different. But Keynesianism is not socialism, but it leads to socialism. Socialism is where the government controls supply and demand and prices and the whole works. But Keynesianism allows the market to function to a degree with a lot of intervention. A lot of regulations, a lot of taxes, planning, a lot of inflation.

NARRATOR
How can the original intent of the founders shine through, when our entire economic system and cultural institutions have been perverted by ideologies of a world we worked so desperately to get away from.

GRIFFIN
The new deal, like the great society and like the universal peace proposals advanced by president Wilson, all of these presidential programs that have expanded the power of the government have been the implementation of collectivism in America. Starting about the time of Woodrow Wilson, the country at that point was pretty much an individualistic country, based on the principle of the individual being supreme and government being servant of the people. Starting with World War I, starting with Woodrow Wilson, on down through World War II, on down through Viet Nam war, on down through the war on terrorism, all these wars are always used to frighten Americans into accepting the expansion of government, supposedly to protect us from a terrible enemy.

VIEIRA
The actual expansion came about through the supreme court adding some words to the commerce clause. Congress has the power to regulate commerce or whatever affects commerce, and that’s a rather radical departure from the constitution, because imagine if you added those words to every other page in the constitution, why shouldn’t you, you added to one, you add them to others. You have essentially unlimited government. But that has done is it has given congress the power to control not only all true commercial activities but also things that are entirely local, that are related to commercial activities. So, for instance, you have the gun free schools law. Based on what theory? A gun goes through commerce and eventually ends up in somebody’s hands, and therefore he’s within a thousand feet of school or whatever. And so congress can regulate his possession at that point in time. Well, his possession at that point in time is not a commercial transaction, by any stretch of the imagination. How can congress regulate it? Well, this implement that he’s holding in his hand at one time moved through commerce. Well, if they follow that theory out, they can control every aspect of your life. How much cornflakes do you eat in the morning? Well, you eat one bowl, maybe you should eat half a bowl of cornflakes. Can there be a statute telling you how many cornflakes to eat in the morning, sure. Because where did those cornflakes come from? Well, they came from Battle Creek, Michigan.

BUCHANAN
The supreme court has perverted the constitution, making decisions that used to be made democratically at the local level. The congress has the power in the constitution, Article III, Section 2, to circumscribe the jurisdiction of the supreme court, and say, stay out of that area. That is our area, that is the state’s area, you are not to get into that, judges don’t decide these issues, people do.

NARRATOR
After the formation of the fed, and selling the public on the New Deal, it wasn’t long before Congress realized it had both the ability and the philosophical justification to print up endless amounts of elastic currency. What we call fiat money. Congress realized it needed more and more money in order to service the growing addiction of socialist benefits under Roosevelt’s New Deal.

BAEHR
The federal reserve, when it came in, aggravated all the worst problems of the economy. I mean, it’s aggravated and caused the great depression, it’s aggravated and caused the last depression, and it will continue to cause more depressions. Before the federal reserve, every economic system has ups and downs, but they corrected themselves much more quickly and they corrected themselves because the people had freedom to shift their attention to be able to create solutions for the problem and exercise their god-given wisdom and intelligence to be able to do business with each other.

NARRATOR
Ever wonder why congressmen were so eager to sacrifice tariffs for NAFTA’s “free” trade? It’s because tariffs don’t amount to much when congress can print up all the fiat money it wants through the federal reserve system. Yes: monetizing endless fiat money was the answer opinion leader economist John Maynard Keynes suggested to Roosevelt in his 1933 open letter. John Maynard Keynes:

JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (return to Terrible Accent Theater)
I lay overwhelming emphasis on the increase of national purchasing power resulting in governmental expenditure which is financed by loans and is not merely a transfer through taxation from existing incomes. Nothing else counts in comparison to this.

NARRATOR
By these words, Keynes, the most prominent economist of the time, laid out the philosophical rationale for endless government borrowing, and endless government spending, of fiat money. Roosevelt bit.

PAUL
By now, we’re addicted. We’re addicted to the programs and even the banking system is addicted to ever increasing money supply and artificially making interest rates low. And, in the short run, it does seem to help. Just recently, the fed pumped in two hundred billion dollars and the stock market loved it. But, in time, when everybody knows you created two hundred billion dollars in new money, the value of the dollar goes down. Which is what’s happened since then.

NARRATOR
Keynes knew exactly what he was doing. No two men did more to destroy the original intent of the founders and set the groundwork for the cultural marxism and corporate fascism that was to later flourish as competing totalitarian ideologies, hellbent on destroying a self-governing republic that sought to practice true, free market capitalism.

BUCHANAN
You can go back to a gold standard in say, a thousand an ounce. But what do you do if they keep spending and spending, and borrowing and borrowing, people suddenly realize that these dollars aren’t really worth that much gold, and they will demand the gold.

NARRATOR
Sounds to me, given the state of affairs we’re in today, well over ten trillion dollars in debt, immersed in perpetual wars, getting more secular and socialist by the minute, fascist multinationals dominating congress, that we have allowed serious corruption to seep into the american experiment. We may think we won our independence from Europe, defeated communism, and Nazi fascism, but did we?

GRIFFIN
We have traveled the road to totalitarianism. Almost almost to the very end.

PAUL
Austrian free market economics is really the answer and that’s the system that we should be following and, more or less, even though it was not known at the time our country was founded, more or less, classical economics and classical liberalism that was very close to what the Austrians teach today.

NARRATOR
Tragic that wine drinking, pot smoking, Engle challenged baby boomers would so recklessly thwart the wisdom of the founding fathers by allowing their banking system and economy to be so influenced by european financial philosophies. Philosophies that over the past century have created a living hell of endless wars and empires, as we have seen. The intent of the founders was to establish a nation that was different from the ways of Europe. And they did. The United States is different. Not only that, contrary to the propaganda originated by critical theory, it’s the greatest nation that has ever existed. America is not a universal nation. Or a multi-cultural nation. As CFR globalists writing in Foreign Affairs would have reality challenged baby boomers believe. It’s a distinct nation. Distinct with its own language, laws, history, and cultural background. We are different from the rest of the world. Yes, we even drive on the right side of the road because europeans drive on the left.

POLITICALLY CORRECT SPEECH

NARRATOR
So, how come the media seems oblivious to all this? The media that’s looking out for folks, never discusses fiat currency, cultural marxism, media consolidation, Keynesian economics, NAFTA, GATT, WTO, or multinational corporations, in any sort of critical way? How come the mainstream media downplays people who protest against free trade? The World Trade Organization? Or call for protective tariffs?

BAEHR
We do detailed economic studies of the box office, called Our Report to the Entertainment Industry, where we get the studio heads to come, and the studio heads have been moving towards more movies with faith and values. Every one of the six major studios has started a division to do movies with faith and values. Where the most erosion of values, and the greatest attack on values occurring, is the independent film market. Independent films, you tend to have a lot of anti-american films, a lot of anti faith and values, anti-christian films, and they do not do well at the box office. Within the television industry, we find more of an attack on faith and values, mainly because the television industry is not focused on the vote. You see, in movies, each person votes for their movie. They know they have to appeal to who’s going to vote for them at the box office. You have to separate out the movie industry, which seems to be moving counter to much of the other media.

NARRATOR
How come the mainstream media acts as an apologist for multi-national corporations? And fails to take a deep look at the endless expansion of government or its secret partnerships with members of the military industrial banking complex? Instead, all we see is endless programs threatening the world with U.S. military might. Blonde, aggressive women with plastic breasts. And endless TV spots offering insomniacs pills to cure their cheese and dairy product challenged stomachs. Seems to me, to get away with all this cultural marxist propaganda, the media must be in on the deal. Systematically avoiding certain issues. Narrowing the spectrum of speech. Redefining words. Spinning events. And ignoring, invalidating, and or blackballing any author, filmmaker, or candidate that speaks the truth.

RESTORING THE REPUBLIC

NARRATOR
Americans and reality challenged baby boomers need to wake up and smell the constitution.

PAUL
The famous quote from Franklin was that after you left the constitutional convention, “we’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.” And obviously we haven’t done a very good job.

SPEAKER
I think if people want to live in a democracy or a republic such as ours, then they’re more than free to do so, and we should lead by example, not by force.

NARRATOR
Citizens need to get familiar with the original intent of the founders. And realize that the forces of cultural marxism have been raping and pillaging the United States for decades. But to realize the dream, and keep this magnificent republic alive, all americans need to do is take three steps: 1) Disconnect from all sources of cultural Marxist propaganda, media and lifestyles. 2) Don’t patronize the largest Fed member banks and fascist multinational corporations. 3) Connect up with the original intent of the Founders and get active applying the U.S. Constitution. Americans, and history challenged baby boomers, should understand what it means to be a self-governing nation. They need to understand the constitution from a philosophical point of view, not just a mechanical point of view. Why were certain things emphasized and others not. Why is a well-regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state? Why is the term general welfare the only term that appears twice? What principles lay behind the constitution and why? If citizens better understood these things, they would be able to go about their lives with a greater appreciation of the rare opportunity they have been given to live in the american experiment. Instead of pessimism, they would have the realization that America has just begun. That the future will be even more incredible than anyone imagined. Take three steps and it will happen. Yes, the cultural marxists in the media and the universities will scream and dramatize. Yes, there will be a percentage of religious fanatics that attack the United States, or hate us, because we flourish and prosper. And yes, there will always be secular robots and iconoclasts that hate traditional values, and deny that America was populated by christians, or influenced by biblical principles. But the founders somehow knew all this. For they had studied thousands of years of history, and countless failed civilizations. From these lessons, they built the constitution of the United States. And this document has succeeded as no other. The blueprint for the longest standing republic in history is in your hands. Eventually, even the cultural marxists, the corporate fascists, the islamic terrorists, and our current special interest dominated congress, will see the light. And become part of the general welfare. In the meantime, don’t give liberty challenged members of society the power to enslave us all. Just because a relative few have so little faith in the original intent of the founders and the United States constitution.

BUCHANAN
The constitution of the United States represents no threat whatsoever to our form of government.

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A scene I really hope is in the movie of The Wolf of Wall Street

(Spoiler in terms of a possible scene giveaway, but no plot twists.)

A moment from Jordan Belfort’s memoir The Wolf of Wall Street where, in the midst of a cocaine haze, the author has just destroyed a TV and now has an argument with Nadine (“The Duchess”), his wife:

I walked back to my desk and sat down, then I dropped my bleeding nose into the pile of coke. But rather than snorting it, I simply rested my face in it, using it as a pillow.

I felt a slight twinge of guilt that my children were upstairs, but since I was such a wonderful provider all the doors were solid mahogany. There was no way anyone had heard a thing. Or that was what I’d thought until I heard heavy footsteps on the stairs. A second later came the voice of the Duchess: “Oh, my God! What are you doing?”

I lifted my head, fully aware tht my face was completely covered in coke, and not giving a shit. I looked at the Duchess, and she was stark naked – trying to manipulate me with the possibility of sex.

I said, “Fred Flintstone was trying to come through the TV. But don’t worry – I got him. You can go back to sleep now. It’s safe.”

She stared at me with her mouth open. She had arms crossed underneath her breasts, and I couldn’t help but stare at her nipples. What a shame the woman had turned on me. She would be difficult to replace – not impossible, but difficult.

“Your nose is gushing blood,” she said softly.

I shook my head in disgust. “Stop exaggerating, Nadine. It’s barely even bleeding, and it’s only because it’s allergy season.”

She started to cry. “I can’t stay here anymore unless you go to rehab. I love you too much to watch you kill yourself. I’ve always loved you; don’t ever forget that.” And then she left the room, closing the door behind her but not slamming it.

“Fuck you!” I screamed at the door. “I don’t got a fucking problem! I could stop anytime I want!” I took a deep breath and used my T-shirt to wipe the blood off my nose and chin. What did she think, that she could bluff me into rehab? Please! I felt another warm gush under my nose. I lifted the bottom of my T-shirt again and wiped away more blood. Christ! If I only had ether, I could make the cocaine into crack. Then I could just smoke the coke and avoid all these nasal problems. But, wait! There were other ways to make crack, weren’t there? Yes, there were homespun recipes…something having to do with baking soda. There had to be a recipe for making crack on the Internet!

Five minutes later I had my answer. I stumbled to the kitchen, grabbed the ingredients, and dropped them on the granite countertop. I filled a copper pot with water and dumped in the cocaine and baking soda, then turned the burner on high and put a cover on it. I placed a ceramic cookie jar on top of the lid.

I sat down on a stool next to the stove and rested my head on the countertop. I started feeling dizzy, so I shut my eyes and tried to relax. I was drifting…drifting…KABOOM! I nearly jumped out of my own skin as my homespun recipe exploded all over the kitchen. There was crack everywhere – on the ceiling, floor, and walls.

A minute later the Duchess came running in. “Oh, my God! What happened? What was that explosion?” She was out of breath, almost panic-stricken.

“Nothing,” I muttered. “I was baking a cake and fell asleep.”

The last thing I remember her saying was: “I’m going to my mother’s tomorrow morning.”

And the last thing I remember thinking was: The sooner the better.

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Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct: The Beautiful and the Damned

(Spoilers for the Paul Verhoeven movies Basic Instinct and Total Recall, though these movies are so well known that it is expected the reader is familiar with both, and no attempt is made to summarize them. After reading Robert Littell’s essay on the Fitzgerald book from where I take this post’s name, The Beautiful and Damned Is A Timeless Tale”, I should explain that the small difference in the names is that in Fitzgerald’s book, the adjectives apply to the same characters, whereas in the movie I think there is only one who enjoys the overlap: Catherine is beautiful, Nick is damned, Elizabeth is beautiful and damned. This note of explanation was added on December 22nd, 2013. The movie’s lousy screenplay is by Joe Eszterhas, and the excerpts are taken from the version found here, at Daily Script.)

This post might be thought the second in an ongoing series of attempts to deal with what might be generically and euphemistically referred to as “writer’s block”. The first, “The Room: My Funny Valentine” was in turn halted by the same affliction; a substantial second part of this post going off on an entirely different tangent on bad movies remains unfinished. This post attempts to deal with the problem by writing about a bad movie I would usually have no inclination to write about, or frankly watch, Basic Instinct.

I am cheerfully tabula rasa as to what others have said about this film, avoiding the curse mentioned by many, though my memory focuses on Huysmans’ A Rebours, where one’s reading limits one into reiterating, or making awkward and failed attempts to avoid, what others have already said. I have chosen it as a remedy for my ills, but not entirely haphazardly; it has the ideal qualities for a movie about which one wishes to write. I have just spoken of it as a bad movie, and this is almost entirely the fault of the screenplay, maybe one of the worst ever produced for this kind of very expensive production. If one can imagine a crazed billionaire funding an erotic thriller with the stipulation that all the dialogue had to come from comments on youtube, it might produce a similar creature1. You might look at the movie as an example of the lunatic movement of money, entirely unmoored from common sense, this time deciding to make a movie out of a disturbed child’s english homework – though of course somehow this bet paid off, with the movie a huge financial success. The gap between the script and the high quality of the production, the masterful cinematography and design, are what compel analysis. The emptiness of the screenplay becomes opacity. There is seemingly nothing to the characters, nothing to their relations with each other, but the richness (the word is not chosen arbitrarily) of the images compels one to believe there must be something within. The movie is like a cryptic device, seemingly useless but beautifully ornamented, found in a pharoah’s tomb. Someone so powerful must have had some reason for owning this antique, but what?

So, I describe what I think is the most obvious perspective of seeing the film, and though I think this perspective is entirely natural and without awkwardness, it may very well be one entirely without intent of the movie’s makers. I also think I am describing the most obvious way of seeing the film, and as a tender virgin ignorant the film’s commentary, I think I may well be saying things that have been said many, many times before2.

Basic Instinct can only be seen, and only makes sense, as a movie about movie watching and the fantasies they inspire in the audience, and the way they differently affect men and women. It might be seen as a companion piece of the Paul Verhoven film right before it, Total Recall. That movie was about a man having a fantasy made real, but it’s also about the vicariousness involved in movie watching and how those fantasies are not without malevolence. The character Doug Quaid may well experience the fantasy of an escape from his life by playing the role of a secret agent, but we in the audience are given an equal escape too, the role of Arnold Schwarzenegger playing this very part. The film itself gives a discreet nod to this in one of the few moments when we break from Quaid’s perspective and are with another Rekall client and her potential fantasy: the screen showing what awaits her features a massive bodybuilder form suggesting nothing less than our own hero. Our desires, however, are not entirely noble: the fantasy of Doug Quaid involves brutal killing, his use of a body as a human shield, and shooting his wife with a machine gun. We eventually learn what underlies this cruelty: Quaid is actually a double agent, part of the malevolent and ruthless government which he serves, so deep undercover that his secret mission is unknown even to him. That our role playing involves cruel acts more appropriate to a villain than a hero suggests that the fantasy does not involve being a hero at all, but to play, briefly, at evil.

After an opening dream sequence, Recall begins in the bed of Quaid and his wife. Basic Instinct opens in a bed as well, one which we first see entirely in reflection in the ceiling mirror; the movie is not about sex in real life, but images of sex. The plot which follows, all red herrings aside, is ridiculously simple: a mystery writer named Catherine Tramell is suspected of the opening murder, and becomes the target of an investigation led by Nick Curran. Tramell writes books which seem to foretell killings, whether that of her parents or Johnny Boz, the rock star killed in the opening. Detective Nick Curran becomes increasingly obsessed with Tramell, suspecting her of a slew of murders, including that of her parents, but we’re unsure if his investigation is a cover for his own infatuation or the other way around. Eventually, we learn that Curran’s former girlfriend, a police psychiatrist named Elizabeth Garner is also obsessed with Tramell, and has been ever since they went to school together. The movie’s open ending reveals that Garner is the one behind the killings, intended to frame and destroy the object of her ardor, Tramell, yet somehow when the movie closes with Curran and Tramell in bed, there is an icepick on the floor which Tramell tentatively reaches for, but then, for the moment, leaves aside.

The movie, like Recall, often has the ambiguous quality of a dream; there are scenes that seemingly cannot be real, from which we expect the characters to awake, but they never do, suggesting the entire movie is a dream life. Curran is a veteran cop, but when he tails Tramell by car, he is so close and so obvious that he immediately gives himself away. Curran goes to a nightclub shabbily underdressed and easily the oldest person there, yet no one seems to notice or give any dismissive stares; the club itself feels like a vision of what an older man might imagine such a club would be like. On the way to her interrogation, Tramell is asked a series of questions in the car about writing books, and her answers here are first given as a reflection in the rearview mirror, a reflected image like that which opens the movie:

GUS
It must really be something making stuff up all the time.

TRAMELL
Yeah, it teaches you to lie.

GUS
How’s that?

TRAMELL
You make up believable stuff. It’s called suspension of disbelief.

The dream-like sequences we see, of Curran tailing Tramell in a manner more obviously than any cop would ever do, or Curran unnoticed in a nightclub, destroy the movie’s own suspension of disbelief. What we see cannot be real, it must be Curran’s dream.

Tramell, the center of this dream, seems to have an uncanny insight into Curran. We later learn she may have had access to an internal police report on him, but her knowledge appears to precede this, as if she knew him intimately before the movie began. Though Basic Instinct gives no evidence that Curran knew her before, there appears such a close connection between them that he is frequently asked if he did. Curran is both the movie’s protagonist and a character in one of Tramell’s fictions, which uncannily predicts exactly how Curran’s partner is killed. That Curran’s character dies in the book implies that he’ll die soon as well, though perhaps only after the film ends. In her books and elsewhere, Tramell appears to have precognition; she is like a goddess or demon from outside the dream, summoned into it, who knows perfectly how it works and what will take place, but without any power over the consequences3. “I don’t make any rules, Nick,” she says during the famous interrogation scene. “I go with the flow.” She stares out at the camera during a lie detector exam, all-seeing, knowing that eyes are always on her4.

Basic Instinct is a mystery set in San Francisco, and it feels like a play on that other mystery set in San Francisco, Vertigo. There are, of course, the overhead shots of winding staircases, and there is the cop haunted by the mistakes of the past, this time two tourists killed when Curran worked as an undercover agent in a drug sting. The swooning strings suggest the scores of Bernard Herrmann and Tramell’s house is on the coast of the ocean in which Vertigo‘s heroine tries to drown. The detective of Vertigo is obsessed with a mysterious woman while a neglected love stands by. Here, the neglected woman is equally obsessed, and it is not the object of obsession who is remade into the ideal, but this obsessed woman who remakes herself into an image of the femme fatale5.

I have said that the movie’s opening implies that the film is entirely about our obsession with images themselves, and it is only in this relation that the movie makes any kind of sense to me. Tramell is the iconic movie character and its associated celebrity, and Basic Instinct might be a metaphor for the fantasies we have about such things and the influence of such fantasies on our own lives. Tramell is set apart early on from the other characters, a woman with a massive house outside of the city, the bounty of the extraordinary wealth she inherited when her parents died. She is supposedly a figure of malice, yet she is the only character who over and over again wears white, the traditional symbol of purity. This, to my mind, does not represent purity at all. Tramell is the central light whose rays fall on all the others. The other characters almost always wear suits, in drab colors, that blend in with the blah interiors of the police station. Garner is as gorgeous as Tramell, but she’s stuck in dull browns. Almost all the characters work for the police department, doing what’s considered difficult, necessary work, while it’s the multimillionaire maybe serial killer heiress who embodies the ideal of freedom and wealth so often celebrated in movies. This, I think, nakedly and without apology does what so many movies do, celebrating a material ideal achieved through corruption and death, the corrupt means an afterthought: this is not a movie driven by its moral lessons, this is a movie about wanting the multimillion dollar mansion of a murderess6.

I don’t think the references to Vertigo are there to simply place this movie in the tradition of Hitchcock thrillers, but because they are at the heart of Nick Curran’s fantasies, and the relation of movie fantasy to reality. Curran is a man who I assume, based on the age of Michael Douglas at the time, to be in his late forties or early fifties. The icy blondes of Hitchcock movies are the erotic fantasies of his youth, and in this dream, this icy blonde is given pornographic life, and Curran finds himself in a fantasy which unsettlingly shares some of the qualities of Vertigo. The icy blonde of his fantasy has remained eternally a thirty year old, while he has aged into an old man. As said, when he meets her in the club, he is very obviously and uncomfortably the oldest man in the room7. Whatever their absurdities, he does not wish these fantasies to be questioned or examined. The objects of these fantasies, Catherine Tramell and Elizabeth Garner, are also his opponents, and, not coincidentally, they both have a background in psychiatry. Their expertise lies in examining the desires of others. Curran resists anything like such questioning, explicitly so during a psychiatric examination. “When you recollect your childhood…are your recollections pleasing to you?,” he’s asked. “Number one: I don’t remember how often I jerked off, but it was a lot. Number two: I wasn’t pissed off at my dad…even when I was old enough to know what he and mom did in the bedroom. Number three: I don’t look in the toilet before I flush.” Curran doesn’t want to look at the shit in the bowl, and he doesn’t want to look at the shit in his head.

I think the idea of a fantasy preserved in memory, an erotic image made static is crucial to my perspective on this movie, yet I struggle to covey it as precisely as possible. The iciness of the Hitchcock blonde is not simply that of temperament, but a flower frozen in ice, Vertigo‘s Carlotta Valdes is Vertigo‘s Madeleine is Vertigo‘s Judy is Basic Instinct‘s Catherine Tramell; the beauty is eternal because there is something in the beauty that is already dead. As said, I attempt to describe something that is crucial, but I fail; I think, however, Norman Mailer comes closes to conveying it in his essay, “The sinister art of film”:

Think of a favourite uncle who is gone. Does the apparatus of the mind which flashes his picture before us act in another fashion if we ask for a flash of Humphrey Bogart next? Perhaps it does not. Film seems part of the mechanism of memory, or at the least, a most peculiar annex to memory. For in film we remember events as if they had taken place and we were there. But we were not. The psyche has taken into itself a whole country of fantasy and made it psychologically real, made it a part of memory.

We are obviously dealing with a phenomenon whose roots are less defined than the power and glory of king and church. Yes, movies are more mysterious than theatre; even a clue to the undefinable attraction of the movie star is that he remains a point of light in that measureless dark of memory where other scenes have given up their light. He has obviously become a centre of meaning to millions, possessed of more meaning than the actor next to him who may be actually more attractive, more interesting – definition of the phenomenon frays as we try to touch it. But has the heart of the discussion been sounded? Does it suggest that movie stars partake of the mysterious psychic properties of film more than other actors? That something in them lends itself to the need of memory for images of the past one can refer to when the mind has need to comprehend something new before it?

We have to be careful. It is perhaps not so simple as that. The movie star may also suggest obsession, that negative condition of memory, that painful place to which we return over and over because a fundamental question is still unresolved: Something happened to us years ago which was important, yet we hardly know if an angel kissed us then or a witch, whether we were brave or timid. We return to the ambiguity with pain. The obsession hurts because we cannot resolve it and so are losing confidence in our ability to estimate the present.

Obsession is a wasteful fix. Memory, when it can be free of obsession, is a storehouse to offer up essences of the past capable of digesting most of the problems of the present; memory is even the libido of the ego, sweetening harsh demands of the will when memory is, yes, good. But the movie star seems to serve some double function: The star feeds memory and obsession – one need only think back to one’s feelings about Marilyn Monroe! The movie star is welcoming but mysterious, unavailable yet intimate, the movie star is the embodiment of a love which could leave us abject, yet we believe we are the only soul the movie star can love.

Catherine Tramell is an image preserved in stasis, a kind of eternal blonde, and there is a kind of stasis, if not entropy, in the movie overall; when fantasy begins, real life stops. There are no children or families in the film, none of the police seem to have any relatives. Hazel Dobkins was convicted of killing her family, Tramell’s girlfriend, Rocky, was convicted of killing her younger brothers, and Tramell is suspected of killing her parents. Basic Instinct suggests that underlying a movie that is ostensibly about a flawed hero of the community, a representative of the state, a policeman, is a worship of a Nietzschean ideal unencumbered by christianity, fellowship, or community, an all powerful goddess among men, the wealthy and isolated Catherine Tramell; the women of the movie express the other side of this: they destroy the foundation of community, the family, not by namby pamby cultural warfare, but through actual murder. Despite themselves, Curran and his partner, Gus, are drawn to Catherine Tramell, this corrupt ideal. The movie deliberately establishes that the fantasies of Curran and Gus are not those of a corrupt coastal elite, but that of average flyover country Joe Q. America, the movie taking pains to make this clear: one of the longest discussions between Curran and his partner, Gus, takes place in a honkytonk bar, with Gus sporting a cowboy hat and bolo. His partner warns his friend of what might happen through his involvement with Tramell, but he’s also deeply envious of his friend’s entanglement. “You think I’m getting any? Sure, I can get laid by blue haired women!” he complains. “I don’t like them!”

Curran covets this woman as a man might covet a movie star ideal, but she is obsessed over as well by Liz Garner, who wishes to be her but hates her as well. Without doubt or qualifier, I find Garner to easily be the most interesting character of the movie8. This has nothing to do with the writing, and entirely because of the actress. Just as Tramell’s presence flows exclusively from Sharon Stone, the fascination of Garner is wholely due to Jeanne Tripplehorn. There is no erotic charge to any of the couplings in the movie; the only one which one imagines carrying any such electricity is between two characters who never share the screen: Garner and Tramell. Garner is stuck in a world of ugly, older men – the only exception is detective Andrews (Bruce A. Young) who may or may not be considered invisible in this context. Douglas is lit sympathetically in other movies, but here his face is made to look either like melting clay or a cave fish. His character is a charmless sleaze who treats Garner abysmally. In their only sex scene, he forcibly bends her over and sodomizes her. Every conversation, every moment they have together is, as they always say, about his drama, not hers. Garner’s house has paintings on the wall, books, antiques, ornaments, suggesting substance as well as a hunger for new things, places unknown, whereas Curran’s has nothing. Curran is given no rivals for her affections, she is given no hint of a better choice.

Garner is the only female character among the police, and her position is a subservient one. Curran acts like she’s dirt, and in her psychiatric analyses she is always accompanied by older men who take the lead in the analysis – Dr. Lamott (Stephen Tobolowsky) in one, Dr. McElwaine (James Rebhorn) and Dr. Myron (William Duff-Griffin) in the other. Where Curran soon comes to idolize Tramell in his sexual obsession, Garner hates the world she’s stuck in and idolizes her in a different way: she becomes the femme fatale Tramell is supposed to be, killing off a series of men. She wishes to be like Tramell, and yet she hates her as well, the way a woman might hate a beautiful actress or model whose looks she is constantly unfavorably compared to. Her killings are born out of frustration with Curran ignoring her, in favor of loving this ideal: her dying words to Curran are “I loved you.” The irony, of course, is that Garner has all the qualities that Tramell has. Garner’s body is gorgeous and her lips are sensuous. The movie plausibly tells us that Garner is the killer in the opening scene, and that the beautiful sexual dervish we see there is Garner. “She’s evil! She’s brilliant!” Garner warns Curran about Tramell, and she’s actually warning him about herself. Everything that draws Curran to Tramell should draw Curran to Garner, but he is trapped within the confines of his own fantasy; we are told that he is not drawn to Garner out of any erotic attraction, but pity. “Sometimes I think he started banging her just to get Internal Affairs off him,” says one cop to Gus, who replies “He ain’t that way. He’s got a heart.” Garner is a police psychiatrist, she knows exactly what a police officer with a drawn gun will do when she pulls her hand out of her pocket, and so she does exactly that: she is sick of this world, and so she forces her escape9.

That Curran’s own illusion will end is inevitable as well. He wishes for the fantasy to persist eternally, yet for it to unroll as well as if it were real life. Curran and Tramell discuss how the novel about his character will end:

CURRAN
The detective falls for the wrong girl. But he doesn’t die.

TRAMELL
So what happens to him?

CURRAN
They fuck like minks, raise rug rats…and live happily ever after.

TRAMELL
It won’t sell.

CURRAN
Why not?

TRAMELL
Somebody has to die.

He persists with trying to hold onto this conflciting vision, my life will be an erotic thriller but with a family as well, up till the very last scene. “I lose everybody,” says Tramell, because she knows this dream must end. Shortly after meeting Tramell, Curran takes up smoking again, and these dreams are like cigarettes in movies, a stylish pose, which one affects without giving any thought to the aftereffects, but are ultimately a habit you end or they destroy you10. After they have sex, Tramell asks, “What do we do now?” and Curran somehow tries to attach a normal life to this erotic fantasy. “Fuck like minks…raise rug rats and live happily ever after.” Tramell, however, is a creature only of erotic fantasy, and she knows that children are antithetical to this: “I hate rug rats.” Curran wants so badly what he has to persist that he abandons it immediately without negotiation, “Fuck like minks, forget the rug rats…and live happily ever after.” But Tramell knows that erotic fantasy is destroyed not just by children, but that fantasies themselves are self-destructing. Dreams are inherently ephemeral, inherently transient: the dreamer has to wake up. Inevitably, without logic or reason, somehow Tramell is the murderer as well, and sooner than later, Nick Curran will die.

(Edits for aesthetic reasons and clarity were made on November 27th, 2013; apologies are made for the poor readability of this piece on its initial posting, the day before. A still from Total Recall of Quaid using a body as a human shield that I decided was just too explicitly graphic was removed on November 27th as well. I originally misremembered the name of Huysmans’ book and gave it a title which was an incoherent combination of various french sounds. That was also corrected on the 27th. On November 29th, the text involving Noman Mailer and the obsessive images of cinema were added, as was footnote #3, where Verhoeven describes Catherine Tramell as demonic. The actress Jeanne Tripplehorn was briefly renamed Jeannette in this post; on the 29th, she was given back her rightful name. Footnote #4 on Catherine Tramell and Madonna’s Sex, and footnote #8 on who the true killer is, were added on the 29th as well. Footnote #1, the example of the sterling writing of the movie, was added on the 30th. Footnote #6, quoting the passage from The Wolf of Wall Street, was added on December 1st. Elizabeth Garner originally was stuck with a d in the middle of her name; this change, along with a clarification on how I see the last actions of her life, footnote #9, were made on Decemeber 22nd, 2013. On December 24th, 2013, the material dealing with the supporting script excerpt was added to footnote #9. Footnote #7 on the ages of Gus and Nick was added on December 25th, 2013. The additional notes on the inspiration for Catherine Trammell in footnote #4 was added on December 27th, 2013.)

FOOTNOTES

1 The most egregious example of the terrible terrible terrible writing in the movie is the first encounter with Tramell:

CURRAN
Good afternoon. I’m Detective Curran. This is Detective Moran. We’re with the San Francisco Police…

TRAMELL
I know who you are. So, how did he die?

GUS
He was murdered.

TRAMELL
Obviously. How was he murdered?

CURRAN
With an ice pick. How long were you dating him?

TRAMELL
I wasn’t dating him. I was fucking him.

GUS
What are you, a pro?

TRAMELL
No, I’m an amateur.

My dismissal of Eszterhas’s writing is almost as artless and witless as the object of dismissal; thankfully, those looking for an artful and skewering blade can find one in Joe Queenan’s review of Eszterhas’s advice book The Devil’s Guide to Hollywood, “Basic Instinct”.

2 After writing this post and making a few aesthetic edits, I found that innumerable people had looked into the connections between this movie and Vertigo, though not quite taking the approach I have here, where Catherine Tramell is an erotic fantasy formed from the memories of Hitchcock’s icy blondes. Among those who do insightful work into the connections between the two movies are Molly Lambert in “The Fuck of the Century”; a comparison between the looks of Novak and Stone is “Vertigo vs Basic Instinct” by nom de guerre TheClaud; and there are a few references to Vertigo in a detailed discussion of the costumes of Instinct, “Basic Instinct: Sharon Stone, Devil in a White Dress” by Christopher Laverty.

3 The idea that Catherine is clairvoyant to a supernatural degree, implying a demonic figure, not simply an evil character but one whose powers are those of an eternal, all-powerful being, is made as well by director Verhoeven in the documentary that was part of the film’s DVD reissue in 2001, Blonde Poison. It can currently be found on youtube, in three parts: part one, two, and three. These comments occur in part one, from 5:28 to 6:10:

GARY GOLDMAN (script consultant)
She’s beautiful, she’s feminine, and yet she’s also completely and totally masculine. She’s a superheroine in a way, say, that Sherlock Holmes and these characters are superhuman in their cleverness.

PAUL VERHOEVEN
That was extremely contrived, but worked very well. And that I thought, okay, how can I make that true to myself? I say, okay, “she’s the devil.” That basically makes her supernatural in some way, she could forsee with more insight than anyone else…to be so clairvoyant, to be so, let’s say, clever in planning. And it works.

I am grateful to Spencer Everhart for making me aware of this documentary, in his post, “Blonde Poison: The Making Of ‘Basic Instinct’”, from the blog The Seventh Art.

4 The lines that so very aptly describe Tramell are very appropriately found from a book by a woman who shares many of Tramell’s qualities, and may well have been the model for the maybe murderess, and that would be Sex by Madonna. Basic Instinct makes everything gleaming, the entire movie bright with light and money in a way that signals an extinct era, with the audience that might have once fantasized about having a fraction of Tramell’s wealth is now fighting for its life – when reading the essay “Film”, from Norman Mailer’s The Spooky Art, on watching Last Tango in Paris, I came across this sentence which I think adds a felicitous ring: “Perhaps it is the five dollar admission, but this audience has an obvious obsession with sex as the confirmed core of a wealthy life.”

Sex made the mistake of going for a raw zine like aesthetic, to make it look like the kind of cheap porno mags that people used to find discarded in the woods – the kind of artifact that exists now only in memories, like in this great piece by David Sedaris on This American Life, “The book that changed your life”. Madonna needn’t have bothered. We no longer bought our porno in paper bags. We were all outlaws now.

The lines are from the beginning of the book:

I’ll be your sorceress,
your heart’s magician.
I’m not a witch.
I’m a love technician.
I’ll be your guiding light
in your darkest hour.
I’m gonna change your life.
I’m like a poison flower.

My reaction to most of the writing in the movie can be found from a fragment in the same book: “Some people know how to talk and some don’t.”

I am not the only person who sees the other blonde icon as the inspiration for Catherine Tramell; so did Janet Maslin in her contemporary review of the movie at the New York Times, “Sure, She May Be Mean, but Is She a Murderer?”:

Neither the detectives nor the audience has seen anything quite like Catherine before.

Or maybe they have: Madonna is an obvious model for this rich, controlling woman who turns her sexuality into a form of malice, deliberately mocking and inverting ordinary notions of heterosexual seduction.

Eszterhas, however, gives an entirely different source for the character of Tramell, along with the basis for the charater of Curran, in “The Nerve Interview: Joe Eszterhas”:

Is there a key to writing a great sex scene?

I’ll be frank with you. I’ve always loved sex. I think it’s one of the most enjoyable things in life. I pay attention to it. I have “researched” it all my life. When I was doing research for Showgirls — this was before I met Naomi — I had my producer with me, and after our third night of “research,” he looked at me and said, “Man, you are relentless.” And that was accurate.

That’s funny, because I was going to ask how you research films like Basic Instinct and Showgirls.

I began my career as a police reporter, and I met a cop who just liked the action too much. He was always in the middle of shootings. He was a great cop on one level, but on another, you suspected he liked it too much. That’s what Nick Curran does in Basic. As Catherine says in the movie, he got too close to the flame. He loved the flame.

In terms of Catherine herself, when I was in my late twenties, I picked up a young go-go dancer in Dayton, Ohio. We left when the place closed, and we came up to my hotel room and did what we were there to do. And afterward, she reached into her purse, and she pulled out a .22 and pointed it at me. She said, “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t pull this trigger.” I said, “I didn’t do anything to hurt you. You wanted to come here, and as far as I know, you enjoyed what we just did.” And she said, “But this is all guys have ever wanted to do with me, and I’m tired of it.” We had a lengthy discussion before she put that gun down. Those two random characters are where those parts of Basic Instinct come from.

5 Verhoeven discusses the influence of Hitchcock’s Vertigo in the short documentary mentioned in the previous footnote.

From 6:58-7:40:

PAUL VERHOEVEN
I was really delighted, especially when I started to realize, how wonderful, and how beautiful, a city San Francisco was. And, of course, realizing at the same that I was shooting in the city of Vertigo. And Vertigo being one of my, with North by Northwest, probably my most favorite Hitchcock movies, that I studied forever, that I still study…I knew Vertigo by heart. So, a lot of things that Hitchcock had done in Vertigo you will see back in Basic Instinct clearly. All changed a little bit, you know. I didn’t go back to the movie to check it out, you know, what I remembered of Vertigo, I applied, you know. And if Hitchcock took the Golden Gate Bridge, I would take the next bridge.

The intriguing point that Hitchcock would have liked to have made as explicit a movie as Basic Instinct is raised by Verhoven early on in the documentary. From 0:13-0:19 of part one:

PAUL VERHOEVEN
Hitchcock would have loved to do, I think, a movie that has the explicitness that Basic Instinct has.

We know this claim to have some basis in fact. Hitchcock worked for a long period of time on a movie about a male serial killer set in America, to be titled Frenzy – though it was to be a very different movie than the Frenzy that was eventually made about a serial killer which was shot in England. Patrick McGilligan’s Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light provides some idea of its plot, and makes clear that it would have featured explicit sex and nudity:

“Frenzy” evolved into an American manifesto—even offering a passing glimpse of the President of the United States himself. At the same time it was going to be a very personal Hitchcock film, a triumphant reprise of his signature themes. Hitchcock envisioned the mother of the killer as a professional actress, playing with the idea of the mother giving a Broadway performance, while suspecting her son of horrible deeds. (The police are slow to suspect the real killer, of course, although at one point a traffic cop pulls him over.) At the end of “Frenzy,” the mother would agree to help the police trap her son—a kind of apologetic reversal of Psycho.

The “Frenzy” murders would all be triggered by proximity to water, which had been a source of danger in other Hitchcock films. The first victim (a UN employee) would be slain in broad daylight near a waterfall in a secluded patch of woods outside New York City; the second, an art student, would be wooed to a shipyard and viciously murdered amid abandoned World War II freighters. The “Mothball Fleet” sequence would be a nail-biting cinematic crescendo, a Hitchcockian tour de force.

Hitchcock wrote the waterfall murder as a bucolic love scene that ends up as the shocking annihilation of an innocent. He planned ample nudity featuring both women and men (“an insistence on sex and nudity,” Truffaut later pointed out), and a vignette where the killer’s mother interrupts him masturbating in his bedroom.

“The first scene,” [Dan Auiler, writer of the Hitchcock Notebooks] reports, “is of the young model getting up from bed in her New York apartment. She’s nude as she rises in the scene—lit only by natural light—and walks to the bathroom. The camera remains fixed as it does a full 360-degree pan of the apartment—starting with her rise from the bed and following her around to her entry into the bathroom.

“The second scene is at the artist’s studio, where the young killer meets the nude model. There are several dollies and elaborate pans of the artists (including the young man intended as the killer) at work.”

It was the greatest film Hitchcock never made.

6 Some passages which I came across by happenstance in recent reading which best convey this intertwining of hidden desire, the sexual and the materialistic, are in Jordan Belfort’s memoir The Wolf of Wall Street, where he gives a speech which gets at the urge, the fear, that pushes on his team of stock salesmen (also known as the Strattonites because the name of Belfort’s firm is Stratton Oakmont). It imagines material desire as something so urgent that one could think it justification for murder, which makes it an appropriate tangent for a movie where the murderess is the secret hero. Another detail that makes this speech apt for a post on Basic Instinct is that Belfort’s memoir takes place around the time of the movie’s release:

“Listen to me, everyone: There’s no nobility in poverty. I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor, and I choose rich every time. At least as a rich man, when I have to face my problems, I can show up in the back of a strech limousine, wearing a two-thousand-dollar suit and a twenty-thousand-dollar gold watch! And, believe me, arriving in style makes your problems a helluva lot easier to deal with.”

I shrugged my shoulders for effect. “Anyway, if anyone here thinks I’m crazy or you don’t feel exactly like I do, then get the fuck out of this room right now! That’s right – get the fuck out of my boardroom and go get a job at McDonald’s flipping burgers, because that’s where you belong! And if McDonald’s isn’t hiring, there’s always Burger King!

“But before you actually depart this room full of winners, I want you to take a good look at the person sitting next to you, because one day in the not-so-distant future, you’ll be sitting at a red light in your beat-up old Pinto, and the person sitting next to you is gonna pull up in his brand-new Porsche, with his gorgeous young wife sitting next to him. And who’ll be sitting next to you? Some ugly beast, no doubt, with three days of razor stubble – wearing a sleeveless muumuu or a housedress – and you’ll probably be on your way home from the Price Club with a hatchback full of discount groceries!”

Just then I locked eyes with a young Strattonite who looked literally panic-stricken. Hammering my point home, I said, “What? You think I’m lying to you? Well, guess what? It only gets worse. See, if you want to grow old with dignity – if you want to grow old and maintain your self-respect – then you better get rich now. The days of working for a large Fortune Five Hundred company and retiring with a pension are ancient fucking history! And if you think Social Security is gonna be your safety net, then think again. At the current rate of inflation it’ll be just enough to pay for your diapers after they stick you in some rancid nursing home, where a three-hundred-pound Jamaican woman with a beard and mustache will feed you soup through a straw and then bitch-slap you when she’s in a bad mood.

“So listen to me, and listen good: Is your current problem that you’re behind on your credit-card bills? Good – then pick up the fucking phone and start dialing.

“Or is your landlord threatening to dispossess you? Is that what your problem is? Good – then pick up the fucking phone and start dialing.

“Or is it your girlfriend? Does she want to leave you because she thinks you’re a loser? Good – then pick up the fucking phone and start dialing!

“I want you to deal with all your problems by becoming rich! I want you to attack your problems head-on! I want you to go out and start spending money right now. I want you to leverage yourself. I want you to back yourself into a corner. Give yourself no choice but to succeed. Let the consequences of failure become so dire and so unthinkable that you’ll have no choice but to do whatever it takes to succeed.”

7 That Curran is acutely aware of his age, that he feels himself to be incredibly old, is the only explanation for what is one of the stranger moments in the film. It is most likely the result of a European director in an American milieu; the result, unintentionally or not, is Curran expressing how he feels like a very old man now, someone of a bygone age. Gus and Nick arrive at the murder scene, and Gus asks about Johnny Boz. “Rock and roll, Gus,” says Curran. “Never heard of him,” says Gus. “Before your time,” says Curran. This dialogue makes complete sense in the script. Gus is a much older man than Nick, sixty four to forty two. From their introduction in the screenplay:

Winter in San Francisco cold, foggy. Cop cars everywhere. The lights play through the thick fog. Two Homicide detectives get out of the car, walk into the house.

NICK CURRAN is 42. Trim, good-looking, a nice suit; a face urban, edged, shadowed. GUS MORAN is 64. Crew-cut, silver beard, a suit rumpled and shiny, a hat out of the 50′sa face worn and ruined the face of a backwoods philosopher.

It would make sense that a man of that age in 1992, the year of the movie’s release, would know nothing of a rock producer like Boz. The line, “before your time,” is clearly a joke, meaning after your time, after you were a teenager. To make the joke obvious, the script’s full line is “before your time, pop”:

GUS
Who was this fuckin’ guy?

NICK
Rock and roll, Gus. Johnny Boz.

GUS
I never heard of him.

NICK
(grins)
Before your time, pop.
(a beat)
Mid-sixties. Five or six hits. He’s got a club down in the Fillmore now.

In the movie, Nick and Gus are played by actors who are the same age. Physically, Gus appears to be slightly older, but only slightly. When Curran says the “before your time” line, it’s now “before your time, cowboy.” Curran no longer grins, or makes any acknowledgement that it’s a joke, when he says the line. This is what is so strange for me in this smoment: given how closely the two men appear physically in terms of age, the line no longer makes sense as a joke, and there’s no hint that this line is intended as one. For me, the scene only makes sense as a way of Curran expressing how old he feels in this dream world. This music actually is before Gus’s time. Curran is older than his older looking partner.

8 Whether coincidentally or not, one finds the names of the three principals line up with ancient rulers. Catherine and Elizabeth are the namesakes of famous queens, one infamous for her sexual appetites (how well founded the rumors are I can’t be bothered to look up right now) and one for her tactical brilliance, respectively and appropriately. Nick takes after Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia, notorious for his weakness and his pliability in the hands of his stronger wife.

9 That I believe Elizabeth to be the one behind all the murders is not the majority view. The documentary “Blonde Poison” gives the views of the movie’s editor Frank Urioste, the composer Jerry Goldsmith, the movie’s script doctor Gary Goldman, and Verhoeven on the subject, with the director making himself very clear that he considers Tramell to almost certainly be the true killer. The movie’s screenwriter, Joe Eszterhas, does not appear in “Blonde Poison”, for what I assume is his usual reason, some feud with someone or other.

From 4:32-5:03 in part two:

GOLDMAN
Everyone has their opinion about the end.

GOLDSMITH
To this day, I’m not even certain that she was really the killer.

URIOSTE
I still don’t even know if she’s the murderer.

GOLDMAN
The last movement, the movement in bed with the icepick, is the final revelation. And the way that it’s done, in Hitchcockian fashion, by simply focusing on it, is the language of cinema telling you this is the answer to the story. It was quite an argument, and quite the fight, to keep it that way, but I think it’s actually the best possible ending.

From 6:42-6:56 in part one:

VERHOEVEN
Of course, Jeanne Tripplehorn is guilty too, in some way. For a long time, there is the suspicion that she is the killer in it, and at the end, the police think she is, but we know better…probably.

The activists who protested the movie’s depiction of a bisexual woman did so by trying to spike the box office through giving away the movie’s ending, which they considered not an ambiguous qualifier, but the movie’s final revelation. I have not brought up the issue in this piece, because outside the contemporary context cited by the group – yet another movie with a queer villain – I don’t think there’s anything here that registers with Elizabeth or Catherine as queer stereotypes. There is nothing in Roxy that makes her stereotypically butch. At no point do they connect gayness with physical ugliness. If I see this movie as one about the different ways a man and a woman relate to an image, a role, a celebrity, that fuels erotic fantasy, it is not to make excuses for the film, but because this is, for me, the most natural and obvious way to see the movie.

From “Blonde Poison”, 1:45-2:28 the activist Annette Gaudino, along with Verhoeven’s dissent:

GAUDINO
Throughout the entire protests, we had been labeled as censors. We had been told that we were trying to censor this film, that we were trying to stop expression. And we thought about that, and we realized, what better way to sort of turn that around, than to name our group “Catherine Did It!”. Catherine, of course, is the killer in the film. By giving away the ending of the film, we were challening Hollywood to see which is more important to you, is our freedom of expression any less valuable than the freedom of expression of the filmmakers? You can know that Rosebud is a sleigh and still think Citizen Kane is a great film. If giving away the ending of this movie takes away its value, that’s really not our fault.

VERHOEVEN
I felt that they were all absolutely wrong, and that the movie proved them wrong.

My point “she knows exactly what a police officer with a drawn gun will do when she pulls her hand out of her pocket, and so she does exactly that” perhaps requires clarification, since Curran demands that she take her hand out of her pocket. The moment she sees him with his gun out, she puts her hand in her right pocket. He demands that she take her hand out several times. She starts to move it out, but while holding onto her keys, so that Curran thinks she has a gun that she’s about to draw on him, and this is what causes him to shoot her. I think she knows that this action dooms her, and she does it on purpose, knowing that she’ll do exactly this when she puts her hand into her pocket at the beginning. Her second to last line, “What’s wrong with you?”, I hear as not being asked about what he’s doing now, but his behavior throughout the movie, why he treats her the way he does, why he sees her the way he does.

The point is perhaps more obvious than in the script, where she starts out with both hands in her pockets, or the script makes the point more obviously than the movie where “She moves a hand in a pocket and moves towards him fast –” while she has a drawn gun on her. Before she makes the gesture, she smiles strangely. She has no purpose for moving her hand in her pocket; unlike the movie, there are no keys, there is nothing:

He hears something. Gun in hand, he runs towards the SOUND. He stops, gun in hand, listens again. He runs again, hears nothing.

Behind him, we see a figure.

He spins suddenly, gun, in hand. Beth Gardner is there.

She wears a windbreaker. She has her hands in the pockets.

BETH
What are you doing here?

NICK
(screaming)
Put your hands up!

She stares at him.

NICK
(screams)
Put your fucking hands up! Don’t move.

BETH
I got a message on my machine to meet Gus here. Where is he?

She smiles a strange smile. She takes a step toward him.

NICK
(screams)
Don’t!
(a beat)
I know about your husband. You still like girls, Beth?

BETH
What?

She smiles strangely again, takes a step toward him.

NICK
(screams)
Take your hands out of your pockets!

She moves a hand in a pocket and moves towards him fast –

BETH
What is wrong with you?

And he FIRES the gun. She is hit in the chest, goes down.

A long beat, and then he goes to her. He gets down on the ground. Her eyes are open. He empties the pockets of the windbreaker — first one, then the other the pockets are empty.

BETH
(in a whisper)
I loved you.

And she dies.

One might read in Garner’s last gesture in the film a symbolism that is no doubt unintended, but is surprisingly fitting and consistent. Garner holds in her hand the keys to Curran’s apartment, the ones she never returned. She has access to the inside of his home, but he has no interest in the interior of hers. She is very much trapped in his dream world, and from which she wishes to escape. It’s the gesture of pulling the keys out of her pocket that gets her shot, the keys are her exit from Curran’s dream house. Curran’s dream is one centered around a sexual fantasy that’s remained frozen, ageless, and so there’s something appropriate that these keys are on a key ring with the eternal child, Bart Simpson. There is something juvenile in this fantasy, and this makes this ring ornament a fitting symbol as well. Curran’s best moment, the one that comes off as most deeply felt, is his agony at killing her over this key ring that he mistook for a gun. He reacts to the ridiculousness of it all, but if you want to give it the context that this is all his dreamworld, it is his juvenile dreams that have brought them to this moment, and when he sees this cartoon memento, he recognizes this, and he is suddenly overwhelmed with regret at what his dreams have destroyed.

10 I am unsatisfied with my attempts to describe the connection between smoking and the ephemeral nature of this dream. I read La Diva Nicotina: The Story of How Tobacco Seduced the World by Iain Gately, to try and find some mention of history or social custom that would prove the felicitous image. Gately’s book has some interesting insights before it descends into a misrepresentation of those fighting against cigarette companies as a bunch of money grubbing opportunists. On this particular area of history, it is an embarrassment, its insubstantial scholarship in contrast to the definitive work on the subject, The Cigarette Century by Allan Brandt. Given the stakes involved in the fight, this embarrassment is not just a squalid one, but a despicable one as well.

As said, before reaching this ignominy, there are many colorful insights, but none that conjure the proper image (I think more in terms of images justes than mots) of association. The first branding of tobacco, by John Rolfe, seems apt for this movie, not the product of our time, a piece of mass manufactured relief for their nerves, but an entry to an exotic other world:

He named Virginia’s product Orinoco, a word, at the time, suffused with the mysteries of Eldorado as described by Sir Walter Ralegh. Lighter in both colour and flavour than its Spanish and Portuguese competitors, it burned with a unique and delicate fragrance, described by a contemporary poet as ‘sweeter than the breathe of fairest maid.’

There is a Victorian firm’s cigar advertising campaign:

Copes published a series of popular wall hangings and calendars illustrating this united nation of tabagohiles. ‘In pursuit of diva nicotina’ is a typical example. It depicts a throng of happy smokers, many caricatures of great or notorious men, rushing towards their temptress, La Diva Nicotina.

A description of Seville; the book’s account of the bandoleros of Spain, who smuggled tobacco in when Napoleon blockaded Europe from American imports like tobacco from Virginia, might be its best moment:

Seville is the birthplace of tobacco’s association with sex in the Old World. It had given Europe cigars and many of the romantic associations attached to their consumption. Cigars were for bandoleros, for dashing cavalry officers, and they were prepared for these heroes’ lips by beautiul, semi-naked Andalusians, who also smoked. Seville, its women and its cigars had also made a deep impression on the Frenchmen who had occupied it earlier in the century, and it became a favourite destination of French literati in 1830s, who celebrated a new use for tobacco – as a sexual ambassador – on their return to France. The first of these to venture south and document the phenomenon was Prosper Mérimée, a prominent figure in the French Romantic movement. Seville’s tobacco factory gave him the material for his most famous work – Carmen – the tale of a gypsy temptress who breaks hearts and steals watches. This is how Carmen dressed for work at the Fabrica:

She was wearing a very short red skirt, beneath which you could see her white silk stockings with holes in them and dainty red morocco leather shoes fastened with flame coloured ribbons. Her mantilla was parted so as to reveal her shoulders and a big bunch of acacia flowers which she had in the front of her blouse. She had another acacia bloom in one corner of her mouth, and she moved forward swaying her hips like some filly out of the Cordoba stud. In my part of the world everyone would have crossed themselves at the sight of a woman dressed like that but there in Seville everyone paid her some risué compliment on her appearance.

Carmen would have removed everything but the stockings and flowers when she sat down to roll cigars.

Interestingly, Carmen the fictional heroine may have been drawn from life. The cigarerras were as wild as their reputation and the Fabrica’s records from the tune of Mérmée document the expulsion of one Maria del Carmen Garcia, a dark haired black-eyed 15-year-old firebrand who had been disciplined numerous times, and who was finally expelled from the factory after she attacked a workmate with a pair of tobacco shears.

The only part of the book which comes close to capturing what I think is there is a very short one, on the global trade of the product which would supplant pipes, cigars, snuff boxes, and other tobacco products, the newly developed cigarette: “The Japanese had also taken to this most Zen of smoking devices, which consumed itself in fire for pleasure.”

(Images from Basic Instinct and Total Recall copyright Carolco Pictures; images from Vertigo copyright Paramount Pictures.)

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Tommy Wiseau’s The Room: My Funny Valentine

(This movie has such a select and devoted audience that I make no attempt to summarize it, but assume that its plot is already well-known to the potential reader. Obviously, spoilers are below.)

I write of this movie, one now infamous, with affection1, as a thing that has provided me with uncountable hours of relief from this sorrowful life. In “Teaching The Room, Amanda Ann Klein writes that one possible aspect of the movie’s pleasures is feeling superior to those within it, “I am better than this. I am superior to this.” This, to me, might be the predominant aspect of enjoying reality TV, and I think it is soul destroying, and if it were any part of the essential joy of this movie I would not watch it again and again. I have never been part of a Room event, and I have no desire to give myself over to its sometime cruel laughter; when I laugh during this movie, I do so with malice to none, simply grateful to the great escape that any comedy gives us. What follows is not an attempt to jeer at this beleaguered film, but to examine sincerely my own enjoyment: why does this movie make me laugh so much, why does it work so well?2

There is the first striking difference between The Room and other such favorites, like Plan 9 From Outer Space, Glenn or Glenda?, Rocky Horror, etc: there is nothing exotic in its subject, no cross dressing, no alien plan for the undead, no madness. The Room should have no possibility of belonging to this class, of exceeding most of its members, because it is a simple character study, very much a movie that started out as a play, one of innumerable movies about romantic life and its difficulties, among which you might include Kicking and Screaming, Swingers, the Before Sunset trilogy, etc. In conception, it is closer to an earnest Henrik Ibsen play then any mad vision, without tinfoil spaceships, without monster make-up, and yet it becomes something strange and hilarious.

One of the first things to be noted is there in the opening credits, the movie’s music. We might expect a lo-fi minimalist score for this small scale drama, and instead we get something that sounds like the theme for a medieval epic, though a slightly cut-rate one: it is a sweeping score that sounds as if it is done entirely on a home synthesizer. It is music for an ancient story, but also an incredibly important one: every note that plays over the introductory San Francisco footage is full of dramatic weight, signaling that this is a story for the ages.

Many have described the plot and dialogue of The Room as maddeningly strange, yet this, I think, is a mis-reading. The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero, the actor who plays Mark, and Tom Bissell, gives some grounds for puzzling out what undergirds the project. Though the book is entirely from Sestero’s perspective, rather than an oral history of the project, at no point do we feel he throws anyone over the side for his benefit. Nothing he says ever raises the reader’s skepticism, not even his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau, who he describes with a mixture of sympathy and understandable exasperation. The book no doubt benefits also from the work of Bissell, who never intrudes into the text (it is told entirely from Sestero’s “I”), but whose perspective we assume to be the same which made his Extra Lives, a book about video games, so good; an attitude not of hostility or superiority, but genuine enrapturement, who wants to understand the nature of the spell.

The Disaster Artist reopens The Room — and uncovers even deeper mysteries” by Nathan Rabin sees a movie embodying the tension in the book between two aspiring actors, Sestero and Wiseau, with the latter coveting the beauty, youth, and success of the former – Sestero is much younger than Wiseau, and was a former model. The Room‘s Lisa, possibly the most malevolent character in the movies who doesn’t kill anyone, embodies the fickleness, the malice, the superficiality of Hollywood itself, choosing Mark over the achingly virtuous Johnny. Though I think Rabin’s analysis is sound, I can only see the movie as being about another of the book’s themes, one which immediately gives sense, for me, to much of the movie’s strangeness.

Wiseau is a man who has kept much of his life secret, and though Disaster Artist retains a discrete veil over many things, it does give us a portrait of the most essential things. Wiseau is a man from the former Soviet East Bloc who led an extraordinarily difficult life before finding success as a businessman in America. For Wiseau, America is truly felt to be a promised land, and he has a love for the country which is sincere and unfeigned. He flies two massive American flags from a building he owns; he insists that the crew for The Room observe a lengthy moment of silence on the first anniversary of September 11th, berating those who break it and extending it until it’s finally fully observed3. I see The Room as an expression of this love, as well as a desire to more fully belong to the country from which, despite his success, he still feels apart. He does so by making a movie in which he stars, to be part of what he feels to be an American universe, by being in a film made in the style of a distinctly American form: the old-fashioned sitcom.

Despite its often serious nature, The Room has all the earmarks of this form, its seriousness often resembling that of a sitcom’s very special episodes. The cast, with the exception of Wiseau, are a smooth featured photogenic ideal. The actors of Plan 9 are incompetent, while those of The Room are efficient professionals. You don’t have any difficulty imagining them in other, similar work; Sestero had a part on Young and the Restless while Carolyn Minott, who plays Lisa’s mother, Claudette, and is easily my favorite actor in the movie, was on the sitcom parody That’s My Bush!. We also see the various types which might populate a sitcom: the best friend, the girlfriend, the nagging mother, the adorable scamp orphan. The movie’s title reveals another definitive trait it shares with sitcoms: it takes place almost entirely in one interior, just like Friends or Seinfeld.

The show is a tribute to this form, but like other tributes to a form which produce something extraordinary, the blueprint has gotten mussed. We might liken it to the westerns of Sergio Leone, which are passionately, unironicly, westerns and yet are also entirely alien and distinct from the very movies from which they take their cues. The Room is a replica of a sitcom, but one built with mismatched and otherwordly parts, so it becomes something funnier and more memorable than its source. It is there in the parts of Denny and Claudette, who Wiseau has read correctly as being, respectively, younger and older than the rest of the parts. This is correct, but he then makes both parts much older than they should be. It is not just that Lisa is in her twenties, and we expect her mother to be in her fifties and not older; it is that she has the formal bearing of a much older woman. That she might have known hippie life if she’d lived all her life in San Francisco is never a possibility for the audience, because her whole manner suggests someone born far before that. As a character, Claudette doesn’t quite fit as a mother of a woman in her twenties in 2003 – yet she makes sense as an imitation of another type, the girl’s mother from a sitcom out of 1993 or 1983.

We don’t notice this mistake as much in Claudette, but it is just ridiculous in Denny. When I watch the movie, the character’s unsettling mixture of ersatz naivet&eaute; and mischievousness always makes me refer to him as Serial Killer Denny. Wiseau clearly perceived the abstract of the child sitcom character, someone of indeterminate age who is both precocious and yet in an entirely innocent state about sex and love, played by an actor who is older, sometimes much older. There is an indeterminacy of age which allows the character to seemingly persist for years and years without getting their first serious girlfriend or graduating high school. The abstraction is correct, but the representation in The Room goes ludicrously wrong. The way Denny acts in much of the movie makes sense if the character were much younger, nine, ten, or eleven, at the outer limit, and would be unremarkable, rather than sinister, if the actor appeared to be that age. It makes sense for a young boy to be clueless about sex, and to leap into the bed of Johnny and Lisa to pillow fight. His confessional to Johnny that he feels something for Lisa makes sense if Denny is a young boy. Even the gesture which baffles everyone, when Denny eats an apple after the lovers ascend the stairs, makes sense in this context: a young boy ignorant of sex slowly gets a sense of what it is after his older friend, Johnny, goes to the bedroom with Lisa, and this knowledge is symbolized by his eating the apple. As said, all these things become elements in the movie’s insanity because of Denny’s age. He is not simply not a boy, but someone in college. Philip Haldiman, who played Denny, was in his twenties when the movie was made and looks much younger – but not young enough to make his innocence look anything other than a creepy act.

That the movie is modeled after the sitcom ideal explains the strange disconnection of its scenes. A situation comedy is built around a conceptual situation, and each episode involves a particular event, chosen for its eventfulness and comedic potential, after which the characters remain entirely unchanged. The Room can best be thought of as consisting almost entirely unrelated short episodes from a sitcom whose central premise is a great guy falls for an undeserving woman who cheats on him with his best friend. I’ll try and convey the similarities by quoting a few plotlines from the wikipedia plot list of Growing Pains episodes. Part of the ludicrousness of The Room is the way in which very serious material is there side by side with lighthearted scenes; you can see from these plotlines that this is very much part of sitcom DNA, where the morbid intermixes with the humorous:

After Jason reviews a marriage-compatibility test for his work, he and Maggie take it. They’re in for some unpleasant surprises.

Mike becomes romantically attracted to a “Madonna look-alike” (Dana Plato), which worries Maggie; Ben accidentally ruins Carol’s plant project.

After being conned out of $10 by Mike, Carol and Ben (with their parents’ help) hatch an elaborate scheme to get it back.

Ben hits puberty and–with advice from Mike–tries to hit on his babysitter.

On Christmas Eve, Ben is having second thoughts about Santa Claus; a patient of Jason’s threatens to commit suicide by head-firsting down their chimney.

Ben doesn’t have enough money to buy Jason the really good present he thinks he deserves, but Mike’s advice causes him to accidentally commit a crime.

Jokester Uncle Bob dies in his sleep during a visit; after the funeral, Mike believes he’s seeing his ghost.

Listing the scenes of The Room in comparison might establish their similarity to such sitcom plotlines, especially the most disconnected ones:

Johnny buys Lisa a dress, which she loves.

While Johnny and Lisa are away, Mike and Michelle drop by for a heavy make out session.

The boys throw a football around in the alley. Mike tells Johnny his underwear story.

Peter gives Johnny relationship advice.

Denny is confronted by a drug dealer, Chris-R, that he owes money to. Mark and Johnny manage to save him and take the dealer to the police.

Peter gives Mark relationship advice.

The boys dress up in tuxedos and play football.

Lisa throws Johnny a birthday party, during which he learns that Lisa has been cheating on him with Mark.

Johnny, overcome with grief, commits suicide.

These scenes make sense conceptually, and might make sense in a sitcom, but they become absurd within the movie. Some, as concepts, are not ridiculous at all, but only become so in execution. “The boys throw around a football” is not absurd as an idea, but becomes hilarious when they do so in close proximity. These football sessions feel like events that exist only as signifiers: it must be demonstrated that The Room is an American movie, and we will do so by showing the characters playing an American sport like football. Wiseau wishes to be part of America, and so he stars in a movie that resembles a sitcom and which clearly establishes itself as American, by the characters constantly playing football. This desire to belong might be the reason behind the subplot involving Mike and Michelle at Johnny’s house. These characters appear without introduction, and during public screenings, they are greeted by the audience shouting out “Who the fuck are you?”4

If we look at The Room as a movie about Wiseau’s desire to belong, then the couple of Mike and Michelle are not incidental, but crucial to the movie. Johnny and Lisa are the unhappy couple, while these two without a trace of unhappiness are a contrasting pair. Lisa, Mark, Mike, Michelle all have the smooth photogenic quality of sitcom characters, and with whom, by comparison, Johnny is a man who can never belong. Sestero describes Weiseau as a man whose appearance suggests a man haunted by secrets, and his look is that of someone broken apart and reassembled again, roughly and carelessly. His face suggests, vividly, a life lived, in contrast to those actors around him. It is a face that would not be out of place in a movie of the social realistic genre, but it becomes absurd in an ersatz sitcom setting. His appearance makes obvious the lives, or aspects of life, that the sitcom leaves out. In turn, The Disaster Artist makes clear the desperation and uncertainty of an actor which the ubiquitous physical beauty of those in movies and TV seemingly denies: the physical perfection implies a perfection of the universe, and how can there be such things as squalor, envy, hunger, thwarted desire in a perfect universe?

There is the striking contrast in appearance between Wiseau and the rest of the main cast, as well as one in performance. The first issue separating Wiseau and his other actors is that Wiseau had extraordinary difficulty with his lines, according to Sestero, requiring take after take5. The second is the extraordinary influence that James Dean had on both Wiseau and Sistero, which is given fascinating space in The Disaster Artist; the classic line “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” is, of course, a quote from Rebel Without a Cause. The line readings of the other actors are those expected in a TV comedy or drama, crisp, well enunciated, efficient. There is no mumbling in a sitcom, no talking over each other, just the simple and effective delivery of a line with an intonation denoting the obvious meaning. With or without his accent, with or without his difficulties preparing for the role, if Wiseau delivered his lines in the manner of the other actors, his dialogue would not be so ridiculous. Instead, he is surrounded by crisp sitcom efficiency, while he draws out and delivers his lines as strange, wayward poetry, full of unexpected intonations and emphasises. This turns some ordinary dialogue during a scene where he and Lisa get drunk into something hilarious and memorable. “You must be crazy,” he says, resisting. “I can’t drink this.” After they get drunk is one of my favorite moments: “I’m tired. I’m wasted,” he says. “I love you, darling.” Again, I don’t think there’s anything bad about this dialogue and there’s nothing egregiously wrong with the line delivery; in a setting where everyone gives such loose delivery, a saloon in a Walter Hill western or an artists colony in a Philip Kaufman movie, say, I don’t think it would stand out as wrong or absurd, anymore than the memorably baroque line readings of Christopher Walken do. It is only amidst the pristine context of a sitcom replica that we have absurdity. Even Weiseau’s best line, “In a minute…bitch“, would have been innocuous if delivered with regret or exhaustion, instead of being one of the funniest things ever said in a movie.

This highlights the fact that the dialogue of The Room, line by line, is relatively normal. There is the welcome absurdity of lines like Mike’s “I gotta go see Michelle in a little bit to, uh, make out with her”, “Did you, uh, know…that chocolate is the symbol of love?”, and Mark’s infamous “Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!” but most of the dialogue, again, line by line, is without major encumbrances. The problem is when these lines are placed one after another. One of the scenes which makes me the laugh the most is the one between Lisa and Claudette, where she declares with a sigh, “I got the results of the test back….I definitely have breast cancer.” This doesn’t prompt a hug, or any move closer on the part of Lisa, but a nonchalant “Look, don’t worry about it. Everything will be fine. They’re curing lots of people every day.” However, it is not even the famous cancer line that really makes me laugh, but the one that is placed incongruously afterwards, and what makes me laugh is that it arouses greater passion from Claudette then the fact that she might be dying from a fatal disease: “Oh. I heard Edward is talking about me. He is a hateful man.” The randomness of this dialogue gives a strange spin to even the most conventional lines from what should be a stock, predictable type, so when Claudette says “Of course I’m right. I know men,” you think, god, what a slut.

Sestero describes the situation of the actors in The Room as people who aren’t naive co-conspirators in this mad fantasy, but actors doing what they always do, trying their best with what they’re given. All of Carolyn Minott’s readings are professional, they are entirely faultless and fitting with a character such as this; the very professionalism turns the performance into lunacy, an ordinary character giving solid line readings which one after another add up to insanity. This reaches its apex in the rooftop scene involving Chris-R, the drug dealer, which is surrounded by a kind of perfect storm of strangeness. These elements include, among others: the homoerotic overtones of the buff Chris-R pressuring Denny for money; Claudette and Lisa appearing out of nowhere; The Room‘s much beloved green screen; the normally calm Lisa going utterly unhinged. Though something like this situation might be found in all sorts of very special episodes devoted to drug use, and there is nothing inherently absurd in Claudette’s lines, somehow the surrounding vortex of absurdity makes her incessant nagging hilarious. I start really laughing at “How in the hell did you get involved with drugs? Were you giving them to him? Selling them to him?”, then reach the first peak with “This is not the way you make money”, before going even higher with return to homoerotic subtext part one, “Well, it is time somebody ganged up on you. For God’s sake!” followed by homoerotic subtext part two, “A man like that! Where in the hell did you meet a man like that?”, until finally reaching the crescendo of Denny’s “You’re not my fucking mother!” and Claudette grabbing the scamp: “You listen to me, little boy!”

The movie is an imitation of a sitcom, but this imitation is of something from a lost and ancient time. I mention Friends and Seinfeld as examples of the way such shows are usually centered around one interior, but the sitcoms it’s imitating are from before their debuts, things like Growing Pains, The Jeffersons, All in the Family or Diff’rent Strokes. The fault line is The Simpsons, which becomes an incredibly successful comedy show without laugh track that offers a skeptical ironic eye to the very form itself. There are no very special episodes in The Simpsons, just as there are no messages in Seinfeld or Friends. The Room is imitating something trapped in amber, just as the genre which Sergio Leone is re-creating had already been near dying or dead for a decade. There is something freeze dried to the love scenes of The Room as well, and something I find unexpectedly charming, though few, if any, mention it. These scenes feel like they’re imitating something from older movies also, the arty love scenes of Tequilla Sunrise or Top Gun, and what makes them hilarious is their extraordinary length. Usually a few shots are enough to convey well enough that these two characters are having sex; here, they go on and on, offering the further emphasis of Johnny’s ass thrusting up and down to properly tell the audience what’s happening. Accompanying every love scene is music by Kitra Williams and Wayne Davis, and these songs are easily the best thing in the movie. What makes me laugh when the music comes on has nothing to do with the quality of the music itself, but the abrupt break from the mood of the medieval score, and the way these songs kick in with Pavlovian efficiency every time the sexing starts. The music, as said, is trapped in something like amber as well, slo-jams very much in the style of the R&B of the early nineties. What I find unexpectedly charming is that you would never find such music in soundtracks of the early nineties for movies that featured exclusively white casts. You might expect to find it on Boomerang or Above the Rim, but not Singles or Empire Records. A native American of the time would, I think, be well aware of the racial codes that governed such things. Weiseau, an outsider, perhaps heard these slo-jams and found only one more part of America, no more distinct or alien than the sitcoms to which the movie pays tribute.

The movie, like all movies, is a massive act of faith. That the movie is so funny is thanks to the strength of this faith, its utter lack of skepticism or irony. Johnny’s virtuousness lies in his overwhelming belief in the good of others, though the good of these others is very often in doubt. Sestero gives us a picture of Wiseau as a man who bullheadedly believes as well, without self-consciousness, in his natural supremacy as an actor, or that he fully deserves the table at an exclusive restaurant. Sestero finds Wiseau’s indomitable self-confidence ridiculous, but also captivating; when Wiseau ends up getting the coveted table through his unhesitating deceptions, the reader feels as if it’s a victory for themselves. I might make here the nod to Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp” and how essential sincerity is to achieve true camp, but these connections have already been made in other essays on the movie6. I note instead that there are the obvious villains in The Room, such as Mark and Lisa, but there’s also the implied one in Peter, the psychologist, the man who goes at all things with analysis while Johnny approaches all things by faith. Everyone is fine with playing football in their tuxes, but only the skeptic Peter demurs. Peter enters the room for this scene and Johnny gives his only greeting that is without enthusiasm: “Hey…Peter.” Johnny is very fit, while Peter exits this football game when he stumbles to the ground. “Gee, Peter, you’re clumsy,” says Denny, the last line said to this character before he leaves the movie entirely. Wiseau appears to be worried about whether or not he fits in, and he might take comfort in making Peter into someone who fits in even less. It is sometimes difficult to discern what in The Room is intentional and what isn’t, and I’m unsure what to make of one moment and how it might fit with the previous analysis: Mark enters the room and Peter gives him a look on which the camera dwells, and the look appears to be that of silent longing.

What the full intention of this character might have been, like the actual vision of the uncut Magnificent Ambersons, remains unknown. We learn in The Disaster Artist that the reason for Peter’s early exit from the film is because the movie had already gone far over schedule and the actor playing the part, Kyle Vogt, had other commitments. Peter’s dialogue from the party is instead taken up by another character and another actor, Steven played by Greg Ellery. I find the section before the birthday party to be a little dull, and sometimes then I have doubts whether the film can still work its magic. By the time of the party, however, I am once again laughing so hard that I have difficulty breathing. I’m laughing hard enough that tears roll down my cheeks, in part because of the endless establishing exterior shots, partly due to the non sequitur “Lisa looks hot tonight” during the camera pan, but mainly due to the work of Ellery. His delivery of every line, unlike that of the cool efficiency of the other actors, is touched by melodrama. If one might imagine a doctor dealing with a zombie plague, to be played by the unironic 1960s William Shatner, that was re-written at the last minute as a marriage counselor, I think something of the intensity with which Ellery delivers his dialogue is conveyed. His best known line is “I feel like I’m sitting on an atomic bomb, waiting for it to go off”, but it’s far from my favorite because he’s off-screen when he delivers it and we miss the accompanying intensity of his face. I prefer “How can you do this! You make me sick“, the simple question, “When is…the baby due?”, and without a doubt, my favorite is delivered after Michelle’s “You have got to be honest with Johnny,” the simple affirmation, magically said: “I agree with that.”

This has been an attempt at an analysis of the qualities of a movie I very much love, and though I try at dilligence, it is very much marked by my own inclinations of what it is I enjoy in The Room. I have, for instance, given short shrift to Juliette Danielle, an attractive woman and a capable actress, perhaps because almost all the laughter directed towards her character I find unnecessarily cruel. Danielle is burdened with some of the most inept costume choices any actress should ever have to deal with, and though I can laugh at Claudette wearing a leopard print blouse when she announces she has breast cancer, I can’t laugh at Danielle’s, because after a while they feel like a quiet persecution: Wiseau hates whoever this fictional woman represents, and he takes it out on the woman playing her. Sestero treats Wiseau fairly, I think, in The Disaster Artist, and I’m sorry to say that he comes off very badly in the sections devoted to Danielle’s burdens, where the eternally cheerful actress falls to weeping under Wiseau’s treatment. On a lighter note, I have also given short shrift to the movie’s spoons, having not even noticed their ubiquitous devotional portraits, like those of a beloved child or founding patriarch, until many viewings in. I have also given no space to what might be one of the funniest moments, because it seems to entirely elude analysis: Mike starting to explain his underwear story, Mark saying “UNDERWEAR!”, before nearly killing Mike by knocking him into some trash cans.

The movie and accompanying book, The Disaster Artist, are full of tangents which I have only touched on, and that I hope to return to soon. For instance, Sestero makes Tom Ripley of The Talented Mr. Ripley the guiding metaphor of his book, whereas I find the relationship of Wiseau and Sestero to be closer to that of the two men in Paul Auster’s Music of Chance, in which one man gives himself over to the recklessness of the other, and Sestero’s participation in The Room feels like a kind of surrender as well. He writes with wistfulness of his first scene in the movie without a beard and how a viewer might see in Sestero’s face then the sense of a richer acting future disappearing. It reminds one of the ancient superstition over cameras, and we might think of The Room as having this same quality of enchantment, a chamber that is a soul trap.

Though I think these last notes are necessary points, they also introduce a melancholy which I have never felt watching this movie, a melancholy with which this life has an excess, and for which I watch The Room to make joyful escape. Some have given themselves over to whether the pleasures of The Room are intentional or not, and these are questions of which I don’t care. Any relief from the horrors of this world is so rarely found that I welcome, without nagging queries of its points of origin, the brief happy sanctuary of The Room.

(I think there is even more to be said about this movie which I enjoy so very much, but for the moment I leave it at that. This post, however, remains unfinished.)

(All stills from The Room copyright Wiseau Films.)

FOOTNOTES

1 Among the best known pieces devoted to the movie are “The Crazy Cult of The Room” by Clark Collis, “The New Cult Canon: The Room” by Scott Tobias, “A Viewer’s Guide To The Room by House of Qwesi – because the AV Club recently shuffled around their links, a lot of their content is off-line, and this link may not work at the moment. A novelization of the movie, by Marcus Sullivan, can be found at Sullivan’s blog. A videogame adaptation, by New Grounds, can be played at New York magazine, “Play the Room, the Video Game”. Profiles of Wiseau include “The Man Behind the Best Worst Movie Ever Made” and “Tommy Wiseau Knows Better”. However, the definitive portrait of Wiseau is in The Disaster Artist.

2 I am relying on The Room, which has helped me out so often in the past, to help me out again with this piece, to break a mild kind of writing block so I might finish the unfinished and seemingly unending “Rising Sun: The Image of the Desired Japanese” which, at the moment, stops abruptly in the midst of “Rising Sun: The Image of the Desired Japanese Part Four”.

3 From The Disaster Artist, on Wiseau’s American flags:

“You have to trust me, young man,” Tommy said. “I have resources.” He directed me toward a bank of private spots on Beach Street. That’s when I noticed the sign hanging above the corner building: STREET FASHIONS USA. I recalled seeing the logo in Tommy’s condo and remembered him saying that he’d done marketing for Street Fashions years before. Two massive American flags—so massive I suspected they could be seen from space—were snapping in the wind on the building’s rooftop.

From The Disaster Artist, on Wiseau’s observance of September 11th:

We all looked at one another. What now? It was blood-boilingly hot inside Birns & Sawyer’s cramped studio space, but once Tommy got us all in there, he asked everyone to please be quiet and “remember the American flag.” We stood there, doing our best to be quiet. Then someone laughed. Tommy furiously decamped to another part of the studio and returned with a digital timer one of the camerapeople had been using during filming. Tommy set the timer to five minutes and placed it where everyone could see it. “Because you laugh,” he said, “we now have five minutes of silence for America. Have due respect.” Ten seconds into that five-minute silence, someone else laughed. Tommy reset the timer. “If I hear any laugh,” he said, “which is very disrespectful, we do another five minutes. You can laugh the rest of your life. So you be the judge.”

It was probably the longest five minutes I’ve ever experienced. Eyes were glazed and several mouths were trembling, but no one wanted that clock to be reset. Somehow, on our third try, we made it all the way through. The timer ran out to several gasps, and I realized how many of us had been reduced to holding our breath near the end to keep from cracking up.

Tommy followed these five minutes with a little speech: “This prick Osama is the biggest asshole-motherfucker-piece-of-shit who ever lived. He think he can stop America. I’m sorry, Mr. Dickhead Osama, you don’t have chance. We are the best country in the world.” He then led the room in a chant of “USA, USA!”

Five minutes of reverent silence followed by fist-pumping mania: That was a pretty accurate encapsulation of the patriotism of Tommy Wiseau.

4 From “A Viewer’s Guide To The Room by House of Qwesi:

At one point, two characters will show up in Tommy’s apartment. They will be fucking. No one will know who they are, thus it is appropriate to shout “Who the fuck are you?” whenever they appear onscreen.

5 This results in the most well-known shot of Room public screenings, where Wiseau signals an exhausted crew off-camera that he’s ready and where, in the theater, it’s played as if he’s waving to a group of people in the corner, is a result of these difficulties. From “A Viewer’s Guide To The Room by House of Qwesi, under “Activities / Cues”:

Saying “Hi” to Tommy when he appears to look down at the corner of the screen during the party scene. This entails running down to the screen and hanging out toward the bottom-right-hand corner and then shouting as his eyes acknowledge you.

From The Disaster Artist by Sestero and Bissell:

One of The Room’s more amusing audience rituals concerns this scene. There’s a moment right before Johnny makes his announcement in which he seems to look down and to the right and wave at someone. Consequently, some audiences send a small gaggle of people to converge in the bottom right-hand corner of the movie screen, where they gleefully return Johnny’s wave. So what’s really going on here? Well, after so many blown takes, Tommy is signaling to the cameraman that he’s ready, he’s got it, let’s roll film, motherfuckers. And yes, a take in which Tommy annihilates the fourth wall by motioning to the cameraman was the best take they got.

6 For instance, “On the greatness of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room” by James MacDowell and “Should Gloriously Terrible Movies Like The Room Be Considered ‘Outsider Art’?” by Adam Rosen.

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“Senator, you can have my answer now if you like.”

Some days this quote is more apt than others.

“Senator, you can have my answer now if you like. My offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.”

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Rising Sun: The Image of the Desired Japanese Part Two

(This posting remains incomplete, and ends before the story here is fully told – though anyone can read elsewhere how the main narrative ends. On October 11th and 12th, material on Michael Jackson and Vincent Nasso was added. As always, this ended up a longer, more complicated posting than I expected. Additional material on Schwarzenegger as well as related ootnotes 112 and 113 were added on October 12th.)

RISING SUN:

THE IMAGE OF THE DESIRED JAPANESE

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR

Rising Sun presents an America that has been nearly conquered by a shadow army, able to surveil whoever they wish, abetted by the press, the police, and the government. The idea, repeated over and over in the book, and even a few times in the less reactionary movie adaptation, is that the Japanese look at business as war, and will employ all means necessary for their victory. Rising Sun presents the idea of a malicious force without, I offer a remedy to its paranoia by pointing to a story whose web grows larger and larger, encompassing events of the past two decades, and involving many of the same sinister elements of Rising Sun – surveillance, phone tapping, criminals, extortion, collusion of the press and members of the police – all used for the purposes of business as war, and yet a sprawling web which was entirely of American manufacture, one rooted in the same city of the novel, Los Angeles. I start with a single name, and follow that strand wherever it leads, and that single name is: Anthony Pellicano.

DEAD SHOWMAN

The story would begin with him born in 1944, in Cicero, Illinois, the hometown of Al Capone1. It would end with him still in jail after a decade. Everything in between mingles with speculation and deception. He would drop out of high school, get his GED later, when he was in the Army Signals Corps and where we reach the first ambiguity – that he was trained as a cryptographer, qualified in one profile with “according to his claims”2. He would end up in Hollywood, a place of images, invention, and self-invention; in Chicago, he was already a man who enjoyed image making and self-invention, and I am often unsure what is the actual and what is the wanted to be. “When I got out,” he would say, “the majority of people who were doing crypto work were in cosmetics or toy manufacturing…. It wasn’t all that thrilling to me.”3 He worked as a collections agent tracking down deadbeats for the Spiegel Catalog, the mail order women’s wear company. He would one day open the yellow pages, and notice how many detective agencies there were. “So I called the biggest ad in there and I said, ‘Listen, I’m the best skip tracer there is, I wanna do all your work, give me your hardest case,’” Pellicano would recall. “They had been looking for this (missing) little girl for six weeks and I found her in two days. How? With intelligence, logic, common sense, a tremendous amount of imagination and an acute perception.” No, he was more modest than that: “Actually, I just worked my ass off, that’s all,” he would say with a smile, and at twenty five he started his own agency4. His office was silver walled, with a massive gold zodiac, samurai swords, black furniture, a pet piranha and a waiting room covered in full length mirrors5. He drove two Lincoln Contintentals, and sometimes used the name Tony Fortune6. He was a man of a thousand voices, able to pose as stupid or hysterical with ease – though again, I am unsure if this is solely his claim, or there’s some basis for this7.

He was of Sicilian background, putting back the terminal o on his last name that his grandfather had americanized by slicing it off, and there is the constant question in his life of whether he was connected, how connected he was, and whether these connections were a burden or a work of self-aggrandizement. When a witness who was supposed to testify against mafioso Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo in an embezzlement case was killed, Lombardo would say he was nowhere near where the killing took place, an alibi helpfully backed up by Pellicano8. “Guys who fuck with me get to meet my buddy over there,” Pellicano would say, gesturing towards an aluminum baseball bat. He was supposedly an expert with a knife – “I can shred your face” – and a black belt in karate, though his body was an awesome power he was fearful to use. “If I use martial arts, I might really main somebody,” he has said. “I have, and I don’t want to. I only use intimidation and fear when I absolutely have to.”9 That time when he was knifed in a bar in Mexico, was one of those times: “I went into my kung fu stance and beat the hell out of him”. He avoided guns, however: “A gun is a physical solution to a mental problem”10.

There was some dissent to all this. In “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick, a profile that dismisses the idea of a close association between Pellicano and Lombardo, there is the quote from former Secret Service agent Joe Paolella: “Pellicano never promoted being connected in Chicago the way he did in L.A.-a place where he could portray himself as some kind of mob guy to an upper-middle-class Hollywood clientele that didn’t know any better, if you’re a real crook in Chicago, you don’t want anybody to know about it.”11 There was no record of Pellicano being arrested or convicted for any crime before he was finally arrested in 2002, nor is there any public or police complaint of his using a baseball bat in an assault. At the time, he couldn’t legally carry a gun because he’d never been employed by a law enforcement agency12. He may well have a black belt, but no profile mentions what dojo he received it at, and I am often confused whether he is an expert in karate, where he is a black belt, or the separate discipline of kung fu, of which he is the supposed master of the praying mantis style13. Whether his body has any trace of the knife wound he received in the showdown in Mexico also gets no mention in any later profiles.

He would soon become a very visible detective, appearing on Chicago TV talking about missing persons, going to Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University where he spoke as “one of the top debugging experts in the United States”, as well as giving lectures at Marquette University Law School, the Maywood Rotary Club, and the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators14. When the House Assassinations Committee looked into audio evidence that there had been a fourth gunshot in the Kennedy assassination, Pellicano would explain that he had performed a complicated mathematical analysis refuting the evidence; the Committee “knows of my findings and somebody is supposed to contact me”, he would declare15. Key to his practice was the Psychological Stress Evaluator, a lie detector that was a controversial rival to the standard polygraph test16. The Illinois Polygraph Society would ultimately bar Pellicano from administering the device, as he lacked the detection-of-deception license the administrator of such a device was supposed to have17. Six years after starting his own agency, his resumé would state that he had a “perfect score” in locating over three thousand missing persons18. This extraordinary success made it all the more surprising when his agency went bankrupt. He would claim he owned over three hundred thousand dollars in electronic equipment, but his bankruptcy listed only fifty dollars in assets19. When he filed Chapter 11, it was discovered that he’d gotten a loan of $30 000 from Paul de Lucia Jr., the son of Paul de Lucia, also known as Felice DeLucia, also known as Paul “The Waiter” Ricca, who had briefly led the Chicago Mob in the 1940s20. Pellicano would deny any connections to the mob, and would deny that de Lucia Jr. had them either21. Pellicano was then serving on the Illinois Law Enforcement Commission, responsible for awarding federal crime funds, and the governor said that he would never have been appointed if they had known about the loan. Pellicano would resign22. Despite these setbacks, Pellicano’s career had barely begun. He would soon achieve a success and prominence that would eclipse just about every private detective in the United States.

On June 25th, 1977, the grave of Mike Todd, Oscar winning producer and third husband of Elizabeth Taylor, had been opened and its casket emptied. Todd had died nineteen years earlier in a plane crash that had reduced his body to ash23. The thieves had moved a three hundred to four hundred pound granite tombstone, dug till they reached the coffin, pried open the lid, then smashed a glass case containing a small bag which held the dust that was Todd’s remains. The bag was now missing. The tombstone was so heavy that the police believed there had to be at least two thieves24. The police searched the entirety of the cemetery and found nothing. Three days later, Pellicano called Bill Kurtis, then Chicago’s WBBM news anchor, with a message: “I got a tip.”25 Pellicano, Kurtis, and a cameraman traveled to the cemetery where the detective then counted off paces from the grave to where his informant had told him the bag had been left under branches and dirt, and there it was. Pellicano believed that the thieves had been looking for a ten carat ring given to Todd, from Taylor. Asked how he got the information, Pellicano would answer, “The information was volunteered to me. I’m a public figure, and I’ve handled many, many missing figures.”26 A 1983 government sentencing report would later allege that a mobster-turned-informant, Salvatore Romano, had told authorities that two other gangsters, Peter Basile and Glen DeVos, were the ones who had committed the act. Another informant, Frank Cullotta, would confirm this story27. Whoever was behind it, there was always a sinister, possibility: that Pellicano had somehow orchestrated it all for publicity purposes28.

In 1994, Joseph Byrnes, at the time of the heist a police lieutenant in Forest Park (where the cemetery was located) would tell Los Angeles magazine: “Seven patrolmen and I, walking shoulder to shoulder, searched every inch of that small cemetery, and we found nothing,” he said. “The very next day, Pellicano makes a big deal of finding the remains in a spot we had thoroughly checked.”29 Kurtis was already leery of Pellicano on the day of the discovery, and he would later say “The police had to have gone over that ground”, though he also didn’t think Pellicano had stolen the remains just to find them. “Whoever took [the remains] must have returned them. They were getting too hot to hang on to.”30 In 1983, when the attorneys took the testimony from Romano there was this additional detail: after the robbery, a top boss in the outfit told Peter Basile to draw up a map “identifying the location of the unearthed body, and he gave it to an organized crime leader.”31 Whatever his involvement, the case brought Pellicano greater renown than he’d ever known before. It also gave his enemies and rivals a new nickname by which they would refer to the detective: the grave robber32.

Thanks to the prominence of the case, celebrated attorney Howard Weitzman would bring the detective in to help in the defense of John DeLorean, the carmaker who was being charged with drug trafficking in a desperate bid to get money for his company. Pellicano was responsible for digging up information to damage government witnesses33. During the trial, Pellicano would be accused of making a threatening phone call to the father of a DEA agent involved in the case34. DeLorean would eventually be acquitted and Weitzman would credit Pellicano’s work as being “in large part responsible for my ability to win that case.” Through Weitzman and the efforts of a grateful Elizabeth Taylor, Pellicano gained access to the rich and famous. He left Chicago and moved to Los Angeles.35.

MY DEATH’S IN TURNAROUND

He would help out Kevin Costner, Roseanne Barr, James Woods, and, in one notable case, the late Don Simpson36. Though now perhaps forgotten, Simpson was one of the successful movie producers of the 1980s, working alongside his partner Jerry Bruckheimer to make Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, Flashdance, and Days of Thunder; his partner would go on to make The Rock, Con Air, and the Transformers films37. Monica Harmon would work for twenty months as Simpson’s secretary during the production of Top Gun and the pre-production of Beverly Hill Cop II, after which she would sue the partners for five million dollars over emotional distress. She claimed that Simpson yelled at her when she put regular milk in his coffee instead of low-fat milk. She alleged that she was forced to watch him commit illegal acts, like take cocaine. That he had her schedule his appointments with prostitutes. He yelled at her when she put his mother on a list of calls to return when he had no interest in talking to her. She was forced to watch pornography and read pornographic material. He was constantly verbally abusive: “You fucked up again, you dumb bitch.”38

As a witness, however, Harmon already had a few problems. She claimed to have been the executive secretary at her ex-husband’s firm, when she was actually a grocery checkout clerk at the time. She mis-spelled calculator on her job application39. Simpson’s lawyer would be Bert Fields, considered one of the best and toughest lawyers in Los Angeles. Harmon would be represented by a firm based out of Koreatown40. Harmon’s case soon became weaker and weaker. The pornography she was forced to watch was played in another room, and she wouldn’t see it unless she turned around to watch it. When Simpson left his office, she snuck in and watched a few minutes of one such movie. The pornographic material she was forced to read were letters from an aspiring actress that were part of the mail she had to read as part of her work. She had claimed to have never heard the word cunt or known what a donkey show was, but she soon admitted to having tried cocaine and rented pornos on her own time41.

This was before Fields brought in Pellicano, a man he’d often use in the future. The detective was able to track down a Patrick Winberg in Minnesota, a former Paramount employee, who would allege that he had delivered a half gram of cocaine to Harmon every day, and had seen her take the drug a hundred times while she worked for Simpson, and paid for the drugs with money from the production company’s petty cash42. Winberg would allege that she used a limo and messaging service for herself, then billed the production company43. He claimed that she had talked about suing the producers six months before she left her job44. He would allege that another employee, Buddy Brown, was her dealer, a charge that Brown would deny45. Pellicano would lend Winberg four thousand dollars, and give him five hundred dollars for three days of meals while he stayed in Los Angeles for his deposition46. All the details from this incident are from the story “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, out of the extinct Spy magazine; while researching the piece, West tried to get Simpson on record, and instead got Pellicano. “Don doesn’t want a story. We don’t want you to do a story,” he warned. West would call other sources, and Pellicano would call West asking why he was contacting that individual. Everyone who had dealt with Pellicano said the same thing: “Don’t fuck with him.”47

It was believed that Pellicano helped Simpson out again at two other critical moments, once after the death of a friend, and once more after the death of Simpson himself. You could find Simpson’s movies terrible, you could find Simpson repellent, and still find him fascinating. He was a passionate reader who made mindless films48. He was born into a strict religious family in Alaska, where he was told that he would be struck down by god for any feelings he might have towards girls, and that if he acted on such feelings, he would live in hell forever49. In Hollywood, he was a heavy coke user, a regular customer of escorts, who, it was said, arranged orgies that were sadistic and humiliating for women50. One potential bed partner said that his preferences seemed to “revolve mainly around turning women over and fucking them in the ass.”51 One call girl, Alexandra Datig, would say of her experiences with the man, “I knew Don Simpson for approximately five years. Of which, I spent about six months around him directly. And the time I spent around him was probably the most insane, wicked, and self-destructive time of my life.”52 He and Bruckheimer had run a very hot streak in the eighties before things went cold with Days of Thunder and The Ref. Then things got better with Bad Boys and Crimson Tide, but Simpson’s drug problems got a lot worse. In addition to cocaine, he used a network of fifteen L.A. doctors and eight pharmacies to get his stuff, and his stuff included Percodan, morphine sulfate, Dexedrine, Seconal, Xanax, Valium, lithium53. He gorged on ice cream and peanut butter and blew up fifty pounds54. He became a recluse, not showing up at studio meetings, never even visiting the set for Crimson Tide55.

It was through Stephen Ammerman that he would try to kick his habit, and one can’t help but see this doctor as a double for the producer. Ammerman was a high school football star until a knee injury put an end to that, and his drive was turned towards medicine instead56. He started out in orthopedics, then went to Los Angeles to practice emergency medicine. He was good at medicine and he was good at the side business he set up as well, a service which contracted out doctors to Los Angeles emergency rooms57. Like Simpson, he was drawn to the visceral and kinetic; a friend said of his skills, “He was very good at trauma.”58 Simpson was obsessed with a youthful ideal, getting a chin implant, face lifts, and placenta injections59. Ammerman got liposuction and a hair transplant. Since college, the doctor had had a problem with prescription drugs like amphetamines and Xanax. The two men would meet in a Santa Monica gym60.

Ammerman had gone into rehab twice, and had managed to stay clean for five years61. He was trying to get Simpson to kick his own habit by prescribing drugs which would help him deal with the symptoms of withdrawal from the other drugs, a strategy considered “dangerously unorthodox” by one expert62. Something, somewhere went very wrong instead: Ammerman’s own habit got worse. It was known he was using Xanax again, even though this was a violation of his rehab program. He was arrested after he crawled naked onto the ledge of his apartment building. He had jumped onto the balcony of his neighbours, yelling, pounding on their walls and screen door63. This story of Ammerman’s relapse, however, is only one version, the one told in the Los Angeles Times story, “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips and Carla Hall; there is a very different one, told in an Associated Press piece, “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman. In that version, Ammerman never kicks his habit, though he tries to help Simpson kick his. At the gym where Simpson and Ammerman meet, the doctor writes prescriptions for amino acid supplements to any gym rat who asks64. Ammerman later gets his prescription drugs from two psychopharmacologists, Robert Gerner and Nomi Frederick. Gerner had been accused of both fondling a female patient and writing prescriptions for seven thousand pills for one patient over two years65. Both Gerner and Frederick would end up writing prescriptions for Simpson, with Frederick’s prescriptions for the pseudonym “Dan Wilson”, who resided at the Simpson address66. Both versions of the Ammerman story end with him at the estate of Don Simpson, where he’d gone to recover from his hair transplant, and where he was discovered on August 15, 1995, dead, in the shower of the pool house67.

The autopsy found the cause of death to be multiple drug intoxication, with cocaine, morphine, Valium, and the antidepressant Venlafaxine in his system. Ammerman had been visiting the Simpson house almost daily in the last three weeks of his life68. Here is where Pellicano may have come in: the coroner’s report included the belief that the house had been sanitized before the police arrived. A syringe and a vial of valium had been found near the body, but though morphine was found in his system, no morphine was found in the house. The detective was there after police arrived. “I didn’t sanitize anything. The police and the paramedics got there before I got there,” insisted Pellicano69. “Ammerman was never Don’s doctor,” he said. “There was no medical treatment going on for drugs or for anything else…Ammerman was a hanger-on, one of many who just wouldn’t leave Don alone.” Records showed that Ammerman had prescribed both dextroamphetamine and morphine for Simpson. There would be contradictions about the events leading up to the death and when the body was discovered. Was there an argument beforehand? Ammerman’s girlfriend, who was at the estate before abruptly leaving in the middle of the night, said there was, without giving mention of who was arguing about what. Simpson’s police statement made no mention of an argument70. Simpson told the writer and director James Toback that he discovered the body at 6 AM, five hours before 911 was called. Simpson told Vanity Fair he found the body at 9 AM71. Pellicano, again: “It’s unfortunate that this guy committed suicide, but honestly, we wish it would’ve happened at someone else’s house.”72 In the Vanity Fair piece, Simpson would say afterwards that he had no knowledge of Ammerman’s addictions, “Pellicano found out that the guy had a history of substance abuse I had no idea of that,” and that they had never done drugs together: “I’ve never done drugs with him in my life.”73

It was over for Ammerman, and it was over for Simpson-Bruckheimer as well: this death was a clear sign to Bruckheimer that his partner’s problem was only getting worse, and the partnership was dissolved on December 19th, 199574. A month later, it was over for Simpson as well, when he collapsed on his toilet in the early morning of January 19th, 1996. In the month before his death, when a doctor had charted his nervous system, he saw a body so messed up by prescription drugs – Percodan, Percocet, and Dexedrine – that it was not simply at risk of heart attack, but abrupt cessation of heartbeat. “What I read from Simpson’s chart,” he’d say, “was like a singing telegram: You are going to die!75. Police discovered over two thousand pills, alphabeticized, in the closet by the bathroom. Of the eighty bottles which contained those pills, sixty three had been prescribed by Ammerman76. Even so, they once again thought the death scene had been sanitized. Pellicano had been acting as Simpson’s spokesman. Though Simpson had a history of cocaine and PCP abuse, and the autopsy report declared that he’d died from prescription meds and cocaine, no cocaine was found anywhere in the house. Among the elements of possible prescription drugs found in his system: Unisom, Atarax, Vistaril, Librium, Valium, Compazine, Xanax, Desyrel, and Tigan77. “I wouldn’t get tangled with Hollywood for all the tea in China,” Ammerman’s father would say afterwards. “I think that’s the screwiest place in the world.”78.

THE MAGICIAN

However, the biggest case of Pellicano’s career was a few years before this, centering around a troubled man who was a great artist and the biggest star in the world. In August 1992, when Michael Jackson was accused by Jordan Chandler and his father, Evan, of child molestation, he brought in his attorney, Bert Fields, to fight it, and Fields, in turn, brought in the detective. Howard Weitzman, who had worked with Pellicano in the DeLorean case, would help in the defense as well79. I gave extensive description of the deaths of Ammerman and Simpson, as well as the accusations of Monica Harmon because they are so little known; I do not go in detail into this infamous scandal, as I thinks its vastness and complexity would overwhelm an already too long post, and I instead concentrate almost entirely on the role of Pellicano.

The detective would be at the front and center of the case, acting as an aggressive spokesman for Jackson. He would frame the case early on as an extortion attempt by Evan Chandler. The first media accounts would carry this imprint, with no reference to molestation, but a quote from Pellicano saying that police were looking into an “extortion attempt gone awry.”80 Pellicano would emphasize again and again that it was an extortion attempt. The detective would allege that the father had demanded $20 million in four movie deals worth $5 million each81. He would invite a reporter into the inner sanctum of his office to hear the evidence. The Chicago office may or may not have had top of the line audio equipment, but this place was crammed with it. He played an audio tape of a conversation between Pellicano and the Chandlers’ lawyer, where they allegedly haggle over the details of the agreed on deal. While the reporter listened, Pellicano would grip his arm, tight: “It absolutely happened,” he’d say. “I mean, he acknowledges that on the tape.” Pellicano would explain his approach: “I had to lay out the chessboard and say: ‘What does the public think?’”82

Some thought Pellicano was a pretty terrible chess player. The taped conversation was ambiguous, with only Pellicano mentioning extortion. Pellicano would also distribute a tape of a conversation between the father and stepfather of Jordan Chandler, secretly recorded by the stepfather. It would be described by Maureen Orth in her piece, “Nightmare in Neverland”, as crudely edited and full of erasures83. Ernie Rizzo, a veteran detective from Chicago and an enemy of Pellicano’s, would declare that sections of the tape had been deleted. Pellicano and Weitzman would deny editing the tape. Rizzo had been one of those who’d given Pellicano the nickname “the grave robber”. “I’ve called him a fraud since Day 1,” Rizzo said. Pellicano called Rizzo a fruit-fly and an ambulance chaser. That year was the first time in ten years that Rizzo had had a detective license, after he lost it when he got caught wiretapping. Chandlers’ lawyer said Rizzo didn’t work for them. Rizzo would insist that he’d been hired by Evan Chandler, and it didn’t matter what the lawyer said84.

Another tactic Pellicano employed had a more serious critic than Rizzo. The detective let the press have access to two boys, Brett Barnes and Wade Robson, friends of Jackson’s, who described their experiences with him. “He kisses you like you kiss your mother,” said Barnes. “It’s not unusual for him to hug, kiss and nuzzle up to you, and stuff.” Said Robson, “Michael is a very, very kind person, really nice and sweet. Sure, I slept with him on dozens of occasions but the bed was huge.”85 The detective gave his perspective: “If it’s a 35-year-old pedophile, then it’s obvious why he’s sleeping with little boys. But if it’s Michael Jackson, it doesn’t mean anything.” Asked a prominent criminal attorney, “Do you know an adult now who is not absolutely convinced that Michael Jackson did it?” He, along with others, thought the interviews with the boys made things much worse. “Pellicano ruined it.”86 One key figure also had a very negative opinion. “That’s not good,” said Michael Jackson after hearing about it, according to one of his advisers. “That makes me look even worse, I think. It’s not good.”87

A few months later, just days before christmas, Pellicano would be asked to resign. Fields, who also had made a few mis-steps, would be asked to resign as well88. Johnnie Cochran, his defense of O.J. Simpson still a few years away, would be brought in. Jackson would settle for over twenty million. Pellicano was forthright that if it were up to him, he would never have settled with the accusers. From Dish by Jeannette Walls:

Some people close to Jackson were persuading the singer that his lawyers and Pellicano were making mistakes and talking to the press too much. “If it were in my camp, I would get rid of everyone,” said the singer’s brother Jermaine Jackson. “His representatives are just plain stupid.” By then, Jackson was said to have been spending $100,000 a week on his legal defense. Faced with these expenses and with four months of uninterrupted tabloid hysteria, Jackson switched tactics, parting company with Pellicano in December 1993. “I swear on my children [he has nine of them] this decision was not Michael Jackson’s,” said the detective. “If I wanted to, I could be working on this case today.” Pellicano also continued to maintain that Jackson was innocent. Weitzman stayed on the case but Bert Fields also quit and was replaced by Jonnie Cochran, the flamboyant attorney who would later defend O.J. Simpson. The following month, the case was settled for a reported $27 million.

Pellicano claimed he was dead set against paying any money. “There was no way that Bert Fields and I would have settled that case,” Pellicano said. “No chance, no way.” And indeed the settlement, which was publicly viewed as a tacit admission of guilt, effectively crippled Jackson’s career.

I isolate one part of that quote for emphasis:

Pellicano claimed he was dead set against paying any money. “There was no way that Bert Fields and I would have settled that case,” Pellicano said. “No chance, no way.”

I quote Pellicano from an interview given to the Times after his resignation: “In no way, shape or form does (my resignation) indicate that Michael Jackson is guilty,” Pellicano would say. “Michael Jackson is not guilty, and all the things I said in the past I reaffirm.”89

I place next to that a quote from a jailhouse interview with Pellicano conducted in 2011 by Christine Pelisek, “Hollywood Hacker Breaks His Silence”:

Later in the interview, Pellicano reveals that when he agreed to work for Jackson during the star’s 1993 child-molestation case, he warned Jackson that he’d better not be guilty. “I said, ‘You don’t have to worry about cops or lawyers. If I find out anything, I will f–k you over.’ ” The detective took the assignment, but says, “I quit because I found out some truths…He did something far worse to young boys than molest them.”

We see how the story of Anthony Pellicano, though it traverses the American entertainment industry, the most overexplored part of the news world, is full of ambiguities that remain unexamined. Here he is quitting because he found out some truths; then he was fired and would never have settled the case, ever. Though I don’t have a binary sensibility, I think we have an either-or situation here: Pellicano either lied about aspects of the case and why he left it, or he lied when he was in jail.

THE BEAST

It was during the Jackson case that we hear the first disquieting notes which will prove the end of Pellicano’s career. The celebrity and squalor of the case was chum for tabloid reporters, one of whom, Diane Dimond, was a very tenacious digger. The intimidation tactics Pellicano reportedly had used before were now used against people looking into a major crime by a public figure, rather than a questionable suit by a marginal employee. There was intimidation, but there was something else, which would recur again and again through the career of Pellicano: it felt like someone was listening.

I give lengthy excerpt again to Jeanette Walls’ fascinating Dish:

“For months, the Michael Jackson story consumed every waking moment of my life. At every turn, Anthony Pellicano kept popping up,” said Dimond. “I started hearing from friends that Anthony Pellicano had called, asking questions like where does she live? Where did she come from? Does she have any kids?” Other reporters would pass along veiled threats, she said, from Pellicano – which he denied making. “He’d say, “Tell Diane Dimond I’m watching her,” or “Tell her I hope her health is good.”” Dimond became convinced that her phone was tapped. “Paramount was pretty convinced too,” she said. “They got a security expert to come to my house…They found evidence of some weird tampering.” Dimond also believed that her phones at Hard Copy were tapped. She decided to do her own detective work and devised a plot with her husband.

One morning at 9 AM, Dimond’s husband called her at her office: “How’s that special on Anthony Pellicano coming?” he asked.

“Oh, it’s great,” Dimond replied. “We’ve got all sorts of things on him. We’re going to expose everything, including the whole story about Elizabeth Taylor’s husband’s grave.”

At 9:28 AM, Dimond got a call. “What kind of story are you doing on Anthony Pellicano?” someone from Paramount’s legal department wanted to know. Dimond said she wasn’t doing any story on the detective. “I just got a call from Weitzman’s office,” the caller told Dimond. “They were quite sure you are doing a story on Pellicano.”

“After that,” said Dimond, “I never used my desk phone.”

This, however, suggests a binary conflict of celebrities versus tabloids, with the detective on the side of the glitterati, when it was a little more nuanced than that. The various tabloids had a network of insiders, spies, and sources for their stories, and one of their best sources for anything on Jackson was Jackson himself.

Again, from Dish:

Even before the child abuse scandal broke, Jackson and his handlers were masters at manipulating the press. Actual interviews were minimal and were limited to journalists who were bona fide friends or allies. Although articles frequently appeared about Jackson’s bizarre behavior, most of them were amusing tales of Jackson’s wacky eccentricities or stories of his love for stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross. Almost all the stories were planted by the singer or at his direct orders. When Jackson and Madonna had a “date” at the Los Angeles restaurant Ivy, paparazzi were waiting by the time they arrived. They had been tipped off by both Jackson’s people and Madonna’s. A similar scene occurred when he had a “date” with Brooke Shields – whose other publicized romances included George Michael, John Travolta, and Dodi Fayed. Some believed that Jackson’s friendship with Elizabeth Taylor was also largely for public consumption. They fed off each other’s fame: she gave him old Hollywood credibility, he gave her cutting-edge hipness. “They rarely saw each other privately,” according to writer Chris Anderson, who said the friendship was both a public relations ploy and a financial arrangement because Jackson was a big investor in Taylor’s various merchandising efforts.

“Jackson would leak stories to us all the time,” says the National Enquirer‘s Mike Walker. “Then he’d do this whole ‘the tabloids lie’ routine.” Jackson regularly planted items that he was feuding with rival singer Prince; one of favorite tabloid stories reported that Prince was using ESP to drive Jackson’s beloved chimp Bubbles crazy. “This is the final straw,” the story quoted Jackson as saying. “What kind of sicko would mess with a monkey?” Jackson personally orchestrated the publication of stories that he wanted to buy the Elephant Man’s bones and that he slept in an hyperbaric oxygen chamber because he wanted to live to be 150. Jackson wanted the hyperbaric chamber story to run on the cover of the National Enquirer – the one condition was that the writer use the word “bizarre” at least three times. “He really liked the word bizarre,” according to Charles Montgomery, the reporter who did the piece. When Jackson was told that the Polaroid that showed him sleeping in the chamber wasn’t good enough quality to run as a cover, he posed for a second photograph. “I did more articles on Jackson than I did on anyone else,” said Montgomery. “Before I ran anything, I would always check with people close to Michael to see how accurate it was. I almost always had full cooperation from his camp.”

Jackson was shocked that the mainstream press, including Time, Newsweek, the AP, and UPI, picked up the oxygen chamber story. “It’s like I can tell the press anything about me and they’ll buy it,” Jackson said. “We can actually control the press. I think this is an important breakthrough for us.”

It was not just Jackson who gave material to the Enquirer and others, but Pellicano who gave out information as well, sometimes working both sides of the fence. He would leak something to the tabloids, then let the celebrity know that the Enquirer or whoever was working on a story, after which he was paid to kill it90. This was often easy to do, because the very source who Pellicano had paid to give the story to the Enquirer was now paid again by the detective to quit leaking91. Sometimes he would trade one celeb’s secret to kill a story about another. This was all made obvious when Jim Mitteager, a reporter for the Globe and the Enquirer, died of cancer in 1997, and he gave tapes he’d made of conversations with Pellicano over to Paul Barresi, a former porn star and unlicensed private investigator who occasionally did legwork for Pellicano as well. The conversations hve Mitteager, Pellicano, and a Globe reporter named Cliff Dunn, swapping what can go in the tabloids and what needs to be killed92.

One of the best pieces on Pellicano, “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick, provides an excerpt:

During a 1994 conversation, Mitteager, Dunn, and Pellicano agree to get together the following Tuesday, and Pellicano, who was working for Michael Jackson, promises to find out for them what’s happening with the L.A. grand jury’s looking into child molestation accusations against the star. The reporters then inform Pellicano that actress Whoopi Goldberg, a friend and client of his, went to Saint John’s Hospital for a mammogram and that Dunn was tipped off by a hospital source that she had breast cancer (a rumor unconfirmed by Los Angeles). “I want that source,” Pellicano tells Dunn. “For how much?” replies Dunn. “What the fuck kind of question is that?” Pellicano shoots back. “You can’t say, ‘How much?’ to me. You have to give me a price and say, ‘This is what I want!’” Dunn answers, “I want five grand. Then you blow him out of the water [i.e., expose him as a source], and he’s used on every celebrity story [at the hospital].”

They next turn to Elizabeth Taylor.

Pellicano: Now let me ask you a question on Liz Taylor. You say that they are going after her?

Mitteager: Well, of course. She’s in the hospital. Liz Taylor sells goddamn books.

Pellicano: Because I don’t care what you do with her. As a matter of fact, if I can help you with her, I will…. What do you want to know on her?

Mitteager: Any story that would make the front page.

Pellicano: I know that she is fucking drinking again. That’s a fact.

Dunn: That’s something. If we can confirm that.

Pellicano: I just told you!

Dunn: I can’t say to [the Globe] lawyers that my source is Anthony Pellicano.

Mitteager: We need to work together to get some sort of network of people.

Pellicano: We’ll go further on that. But you guys are guaranteed the three grand on Tuesday.

Pellicano would not just pass them information, he would fight hard for them as well. When reporter Rod Lurie researched a piece on tabloids for Los Angeles magazine, he had managed to put together a list of all the sources the tabloids used. If published, it would cripple them, cutting off their access to information. Pellicano was reportedly paid half a million dollars to kill the story93. “There was consistent cultlike phone intimidation from Pellicano,” said Lurie. “He would call my friends and family and editors I worked for at other magazines saying I was through in this town.” Lurie alleged that the detective would tail him, call up Lurie’s sources and smear him. Pellicano got access to his credit record, found out his unlisted number and called him. He allegedly threatened to sue Lurie and paid the reporter’s research assistant to steal his notes94. Lurie would describe him this way: “For those who don’t know better, he’s an intimidating character. He’s a classic movie goon.” After the story was printed in the magazine (unfortunately, I have been unable to find a copy online), Lurie went biking and broke a few bones; he was knocked down in what seemed like a hit and run accident. The reporter, however, was certain it was no accident95.

The methods of the tabloids of that era to get their stories were ruthless, nasty, often illegal, and very effective, very similar to the methods of a spy or a certain private detective. Stuart Goldman would gain some insight into these techniques when he went undercover as a reporter for The National Enquirer, The Globe, The Star and Hard Copy (a now extinct tabloid TV program that boasted such news features as “Celebrity Stalker”, “Drano Killer”, “Bodybuilding Sex Slave”, and “Hot Cream Wrestling”), for a story for the now extinct Spy Magazine, “Spy vs Spies” 96. There were the legal and borderline legal means of getting what they wanted. The tabloids, he found out, have sources everywhere: bodyguards, hairdresser, bartenders, hospitals, courthouses, the DMV97. Then there were the illegal means. He watched as one reporter stole mail out of mailboxes. Another source hacked someone’s answering machine so they could listen to the messages. He saw another tap into a TransUnion database to get credit information. He was told that one reporter paid bribes at the social security office in order to get celebrity social security numbers. They employed methods of extortion, a more forceful variation of the Mitteager tape, where a celeb was forced to give up info on another celeb in return for the paper killing a hurtful story on them98. When the tabloids couldn’t get a story, they would create one. Goldman looked on as a reporter would call up Child Protective Services, posing as the mother of a girl who was going to the same school as the daughter of Roseanne Barr (then the star of the top rated sitcom), and accuse Barr of abusing her child. CPS would investigate the charges of abuse, and the tabloid would have a story99.

Pellicano employed many of the same legal and quasi-legal methods, and he would be intertwined in both sides of these tabloid stories. He would locate a child Roseanne Barr had given up for adoption, and then would be cussed out by Barr after she suspected he gave details on the child and the reunion to the tabloids100. The tabloid press used extortion to get what it wanted, and Pellicano used extortion to get what he wanted: if a troublesome ex-wife of a celeb asked for alimony, he would dig up enough embarrassing dirt to force her to settle her claim101. A Hollywood madam of the time, Heid Fleiss, who provided prostitutes to Don Simpson as well as other celebrities and studio executives, would accuse the tabloids of paying prostitutes to defame her102. Pellicano would show up to help out Columbia Pictures executive Michael Nathanson get out of the Fleiss scandal, and he then made the kind of error that suggested he was not kind quite the detective mastermind he thought he was: Pellicano made a public statement denying that Nathanson had ever used Fleiss’s girls, even though no one had yet reported such a thing. A Variety columnist, with no double entendre intended, gave it his “PR Boner Award”103. Later, on an audio tape of Pellicano in conversation that was played at his court case, the detective would say of Nathanson, now at MGM, “I saved his fucking career. He had a whole lot of shit – There was a whole lot of shit with him and prostitutes, and I saved, and cocaine, and I saved him.” He continued: “Let me tell you, Michael fucking owes me.”104

THE STRONG MAN

The stakes would be higher in a later intersection of the tabloids and Pellicano, one which astonishes me at how little it was reported. According to Paul Barresi, the Pellicano associate who would release transcripts of phone call conversations between the detective and Globe reporters, who was brought in to help in a thorough investigation of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s past. This inquiry was not being conducted by the star’s enemies, but initiated by the star himself, to see what would could be dredged up were he to run in the 2002 California governor’s race105. Barresi would turn in a twenty seven page report, of which Barresi gave out no details, except to say that it covered the personal, professional, and business lives of Schwarzenegger106. The investigation was begun after an incredibly damaging article, “Arnold the Barbarian” by John Connolly was published in Premiere magazine, alleging, among other things, that the star had sexually harassed and groped women on numerous occasions107. Barresi, a former porn star, was like Pellicano, working both sides of the tabloid fence. The Enquirer had once published a story where he’d claimed to have been John Travolta’s lover for two years. He later retracted his claims108. He went on to become a fitness trainer, then a private investigator; the investigative work he was probably best known was for the quelling of the tabloid story about Eddie Murphy picking up Atisone Kenneth Seiuli, a transsexual prostitute109. According to Singer, he reached out to Marty Singer, Murphy’s lawyer, to help out, then located various transsexual prostitutes, including Seiuli, and paid them off to recant their stories. When Barresi felt Singer didn’t give him the proper respect, he told his story to Mark Ebner, providing proofs such as copies of paychecks from Singer’s firm to Barresi and memos from Barresi to Singer detailing his investigation110. This might suggest that Barresi would be in permanent exile from Hollywood, when he wasn’t – in 2012, he was the driver for Ron Tutor, the new head of Miramax. This position is actually understandable, since if you’re the new head of a studio, you’d want someone with intimate access to all the secrets of the town111.

That Schwarzenegger would run into greater scrutiny when he ran for public office was anticipated in a scathing Spy story, “Arnie’s Army”, by Charles Fleming: “if Arnold does indeed go into electoral politics, his relationship with the press will change from The Silence of the Lambs to Dances With Wolves.” (I’m guessing these references were a little less musty in 1992)112 But it didn’t. Part of this was due to the short time frame of the recall, but it also had to do with another detail in this old piece. He may make stupid movies, but Schwarzenegger is very smart, and he had been excellent at controlling the press as a movie star, and both despite these recent disruptions as well as in reaction to them, he demonstrated his cunning and control of the press once again113. Schwarzenegger would go on to run in the 2002 re-call election anyway, anticipating the tabloid attacks, and employing the pre-emptive strategy that I think has been too little reported on. I first came across it in the Los Angeles magazine piece, “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, which carries the subhead, “Exclusive! The hush-hush deal that made Arnold Schwarzenegger governor”. After the Premiere story, the Enquirer published two pieces on Schwarzenegger’s infidelities, one involving a seven year affair114. The tabloids were a major problem for Schwarzenegger in two ways: they could hit you with scandal every week (2002 is still before the prevalence of the internet, where gossip blogs could hit you every hour, every minute, every second) and that the tabloids were a toxin lab where such stories could be reported, sourced through the dubious legal and illegal means already mentioned, and then re-reported by the non-tabloid press115.

Almost all the name tabloids in 2002 – the Enquirer, The Globe, The Star – were owned by American Media, Inc., or AMI, and in 2002, AMI was in a lot of trouble. They’d just had anthrax sent to their offices in Florida, killing an employee and turning the whole place toxic. This forced them to sell their new multimillion dollar glass and steel Boca Raton headquarters for forty grand. On top of that, the tabloid press had become a cannibal’s feast, with glossies like People and Us Weekly, along with bottom feeder websites like The Drudge Report and TV shows like Access Hollywood, killing the business. In the past decade, the name tabloids had lost half their newsstand sales116. AMI would try to perform triage by buying up Weider Publications, a publisher that specialized in health and bodybuilding magazines, putting out titles like Muscle & Fitness, Flex, Shape, and Men’s Fitness. They managed to keep up ad revenue through the supplement business, which paid for over seventy percent of the ads in the magazines of Weider Publications. The owners of Weider Publications may have been worried about increasing scrutiny by the FDA into such supplements, the effects it would have on advertising, and that may be why they were trying to sell the publications in 2002. Weider Publications were owned by Joe and Ben Weider, who were heavily involved in the bodybuilding world, as well as the promotion of the career of an Austrian bodybuilder who would go on to be an incredibly profitable film star, one of the most famous men in the world, and the governor of California. Schwarzenegger was in turn heavily involved with Weider Publications, his name bylining a ghostwritten bodybuilding advice column, as well as being heavily involved in promotion of its magazines at various events. He was arguably crucial to the continued success of the magazines of Weiner Publications, and with the buying of the publisher by AMI, the parent company of the tabloids, we might have the answer for why their scandal coverage of the candidate suddenly ceased during the recall race117.

In November 2002, AMI would buy Weider Publications for over three hundred million dollars118. The next month, Joe Weider would have dinner with David Pecker, the head of AMI. Weider would recommend that Schwarzenegger become part of AMI, perhaps be given a ten percent stake in exchange for his publicity work. However, Weider was worried about all the scandal stuff in the AMI press. Pecker would allay the man’s fears, assuring him that they didn’t rehash old news119. During the recall election, the New York Daily News would get an even stronger quote from Weider about what Pecker said to him: “We’re not going to pull up any dirt on him.”120 Weider would slightly alter what Pecker had told him: “I want you to know that we’re not going to bring up or print the old stuff. Only new.”121

Whatever the assurance, the effect was the same. The AMI tabloids stopped airing Schwarzenegger stories. Four sources in AMI would claim that this was the result of orders from the top. “When Weider was being bought,” said one of the sources, “the edict came down: No more Arnold stories.”122 In July 2003, Pecker would meet with Schwarzenegger to ask him to stay on the board and play a bigger role with the Weider magazines, specifically Muscle & Fitness and Flex123. Three weeks after this meeting, Schwarzenegger would announce his candidacy on The Tonight Show124. The AMI tabloids not only stopped reporting on the scandals, the infamously cynical press started rah-rahing his campaign.

“Pecker ordered [National Enquirer editor] David Perel to commission a series of brownnosing stories on Arnold” for the campaign, said one ex-staffer. Perel would deny the charge125. “Vote Schwarzenegger!” was a full page story that ran in August in The Star. Follow-up stores in The Star were “Arnold and Maria’s Family Life” and “Arnold: A New American Patriot”, where the future governor was compared to George Washington. AMI would also put out a glossy special edition called Arnold, The American Dream126. The now extinct Weekly World News, which specialized in ridiculous stories involving martians and the undead, gave out an endorsement in distinctly Weekly World News style, a story headlined “Alien Backs Arnold for Governor.”127

The major tabloid story of the election was not broken in a tabloid, but the Los Angeles Times, with a collection of sixteen women testifying that Schwarzenegger had groped or otherwise harassed them128. Another story, dealing with the illegitimate son of the candidate, was published in the Enquirer two days before the election, but was mostly a re-print of a story that had already been broken in the Daily Mail129. Sources say that the story was brought to the Enquirer in May, but was emphatically turned down by Pecker, who said, according to the source: “We’re not doing the story. In fact, we’re not doing any more Schwarzenegger stories.”130

Two weeks after the election, Pecker would join Schwarzenegger at a press conference during his Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition. They announced that the new governor would serve as executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex, to be paid $1.25 million over five years, which would go to the Governor’s Counsel on Physical Fitness, plus a quarter million dollars per year from AMI. The publishing company would also buy a fifty percent stake in Mr. Olympia, the bodybuilding competition owned by the Weiders131. Since Schwarzenegger’s electoral victory, the tabloids had continued to run positive stories, such as “Make Arnie President” (subtitled, “All We Have to Do Is Change One Stupid Law”), “Wisdom of Arnie”, “Maria & Arnie: White House Bound?”, “The Governator”, “American Dream: Arnold & Maria’s New Life”, and “Arnie’s Accent Will Soon Be All the Rage”132.

A year after the “Carnivorous Beast” story broke, the Los Angeles Times, would publish the details of Schwarzenegger’s contract with AMI. He would receive an annual sum that was either 1% of the magazines’ annual advertising revenue, or a million dollars a year. Most of this revenue, as already said, came from supplement advertising; a year before the story broke, the governor had just vetoed legislation regulating the supplement industry. Larry Noble, of the Center for Responsive Politics, would say “This is one of the most egregious apparent conflicts of interest that I have seen.”133. A second story from the Times would reveal that AMI had cut a deal with the woman who’d alleged a seven year affair with Schwarzenegger, Gigi Goyette, as well as her friend, Judy Mora134. It was either a very strange deal, or one that made great sense given the context. Two days after Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy, AMI paid Goyette twenty thousand dollars and Mora one thousand dollars forbidding either woman from speaking about Goyette’s dealings with the governor to anyone else. Despite the exclusive contract, no AMI tabloid would ever publish a Goyette related story. This despite the fact that there was a surge of interest in Goyette and her story when Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy, with reporters at her house, school, and local coffee shop. The contracts are in perpetuity, forbidding the women from ever sharing their story. “AMI systematically bought the silence,” said an AMI employee. The governor “was a de facto employee and he was important to their bottom line.” Goyette thought that the contract was the beginning of a book deal; instead, there was nothing135.

What looks very much like a deal to insure the silence of the tabloids, and to actively use them to quiet someone, Gigi Goyette, to other sources was a story that made little or no circulation. It got no mention in later profiles of the Enquirer during the avalanche of publicity the paper received when it broke the scandal of John Edwards, whether it be the pathetically fawning “All The Dirt That’s Fit To Print” by Alex Pappademas in GQ, or the more critical “Going Respectable?” by Paul Farhi, in American Journalism Review. You could, however, fit it with the past actions of AMI head David Pecker. Before AMI, he had been the chief financial officer of Hachette, a company that produced such things as Elle magazine and Exocet missiles. After they bought up a bunch of U.S. titles, like Women’s Wear Daily, Car and Driver, and Premiere, the management team of those titles left, and Pecker got to take over136. His focus, however, remained entirely on the dollars and cents of an operation, with all other things exploited and crippled to that end. He hacked the staff of Premiere from 80 to 38, and Mirabella‘s from 80 to 20. “Pecker is a financial guy,” said one source who worked for him. “He doesn’t understand publishing…He never worked on a magazine…He interferes with editorial integrity.”137

When Corie Brown at Premiere magazine was putting together a story on tensions over the management of Planet Hollywood (the father of Sylvester Stallone, Anthony Filiti, would eventually sue both Stallone and Robert Earl, an executive and key developer of the Planet Hollywood chain), it conflicted with the interests of Ron Perelman, the CEO of Revlon, a co-investor in Premiere, and most pertinently, someone who wanted to work with Planet Hollywood to set up a chain restaurant built around the theme of Marvel superheroes. Pecker killed the story138. “The last time I looked I am CEO of the company,” was a Pecker statement that reflected what took place: le journal, c’est moi. The two top editors at Premiere, Chris Connelly and Nancy Griffin, would resign in protest immediately afterwards139. Later, The National Enquirer would have solid evidence that Tiger Woods was having an affair, then allegedly kill the story in return for his appearing on the cover of AMI’s Men’s Fitness – even though Woods had an exclusive contract to do covers for only Condé Nast magazines. Pecker knew about the Woods affair, but “traded silence for a Men’s Fitness cover”, alleged the magazine’s former editor-in-chief. Pecker denied the charge140. When AMI’s Florida headquarters was hit with anthrax, there were strong rumors that the state’s governor, Jeb Bush, had had an affair. There were excellent leads and a reporter eager to look into the story, but there was a problem: after the attack, AMI was pleading with the state for some kind of relief. The reporter says that he was told emphatically by his editor, “We’re not writing about Jeb.” As long as AMI was based in Florida, staffers believed, Jeb Bush was off-limits141.

In the aftermath, all these deals and all these alleged cover-ups involving Schwarzenegger seemed like a pointless failure. He would end his governorship as someone looked on as weak and a turncoat by fellow Republicans, with no one still putting forth the idea that the constitution be changed so he might run for president. When Premiere had published “Arnold the Barbarian”, it had resulted in an angry backlash and the editor being fired142. After the Los Angeles Times put out its story alleging sexual harassment, “Women Say Schwarzenegger Groped, Humiliated Them”, there were thousands of cancelled subscriptions143. When there was the ignominious revelation upon his exit of the governorship that Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with his family’s housekeeper (this child was a different one from the paternity scandal reported by the Daily Mail in the recall election), it triggered no such reaction144. The man who’d been a heroic ideal, an embodiment of strength and power, was no longer anything of the kind, and people invested no hope in him, and felt no besmirchment if these accusations were true. The FDA would outlaw a good chunk of supplements. AMI would declare bankruptcy, and then two years later, would be back on the edge of default. After ending his contract with AMI following the hostile coverage during his governorship, Schwarzenegger would renew the contract in March, 2013. Though mention was made of the past conflict of interest over supplements, none was made about the abrupt end in negative Schwarzenegger tabloid stories during the recall election145. “Is a Revolt Brewing at AMI?” asked a piece in Gawker following the bankruptcy, as massive staff cuts took place while top executives got bonuses. “Everybody believes the company would be better off without David Pecker,” said one source146. “His mismanagement, dishonesty and incompetence drove the company into bankruptcy.” A follow-up piece, “AMI Executives Agree: Everything’s Fine at AMI” would include emails from top executives denying these assertions. “David Pecker is a great CEO and leader. Check your sources!” said one such email. Among the emails from supportive execs was one missive from an anonymous employee: “AMI is just a bad, poorly run company and has been for several years now.”147 When AMI first got its new CEO, a prescient observer would say, “Pecker is a big thinker”, then: “and he has got big plans for that place.”148

THE GANGSTER SAMURAI

Pellicano might have been involved in the first self-investigation by Schwarzenegger, but when these stories broke on the compacts made between Schwarzenegger and the parent company of the National Enquirer, he had already served several years in jail. Before that took place, however, the nineties were a very good decade for him. His Los Angeles office was a variation on his Chicago one, with walls of whorehouse red velvet and black leather furniture. “Anthony,” according to his fourth and sixth wife, Kat Pellicano, was “the only man I ever met that could make a silk shirt look like polyester.” In his Chicago headquarters, he sometimes wore a labcoat with his agency’s symbol, an eye surrounded by concentric circles. His place in Los Angeles had oak finished doors with “Pellicano Investigative Agency Ltd./Forensic Audio Lab/Syllogistic Research Group” in gold lettering. Cappuccinos were offered in the waiting room and there was the intermezzo from “Cavallieri Rusticana” that played on the phone while you waited. His assistants were often female, young, and beautiful149. The detective firm’s executive vice president, Tarita Virtue, appeared in Maxim dressed in lingerie. Pellicano thought about putting together a “Girls of Pellicano” spread for Playboy, featuring his employees150.

He presented a hypervivid image of a detective agency to a town that produced and consumed such hypervivid images. The images overwhelmed the dysfunction underneath. He received two million dollars for his work on the Michael Jackson case, of which he reported only one million to the IRS as income, the other half labeled as a loan. The day he received a letter from the IRS afterwards was a dramatic one, as related by an ex-employee: “I remember one morning when he opened his mail with the letter from the I.R.S., he jumped on his desk and started screaming, ‘Abandon ship! Abandon ship! We’re out of business!’ Women were crying and screaming in the office.” Pellicano would be constantly yelling and screaming. One long time employee would constantly ask new hires, “Are you on Prozac yet?” It seemed like everyone in the office was on anti-anxiety or anti-depression medicine151. Despite this, it was a successful business, and though Pellicano could be very talky, much of the business with his Hollywood clientele would remain secret. There were so many interesting stories that never hit the news, and his job to make sure they never made the news, said Kat Pellicano152. “You know an awful lot about this business,” laughs Pellicano during one of his taped calls with John McTiernan, the director of Die Hard and Predator, and the knowledge, it is implied, has nothing to do with film stock or lenses, but the undertow of financial and sexual dirt. Pellicano knew quite a lot about the business as well. “Boy, could we cause some chaos,” the detective would continue, “Do you realize that? I think…we could cause chaos like you have no idea.”153 And boy oh boy, would Pellicano end up causing chaos.

“I read about him in Vanity Fair. Guy seemed like a real nut job,” said the head of one detective agency. “I never took the guy seriously. The way he bragged openly about wiretaps and baseball bats, I mean, I just thought it wasn’t real,” said San Francisco private investigator Jack Palladino154. That he was a man of illusion, or more bluntly, a bullshit artist, only made his act more coveted. Movies, for the simple reason of the limited running time gravitate towards an economy of narrative where every word and every gesture conveys something specific of the character. In simple, often bad, movie writing what is conveyed is one principle, in every word and gesture. This person is a killer for hire. This person is a spy. This person is a detective. This person is a mobster. In this way, Pellicano’s image resembles bad movie writing, where words and gestures make clear in the most thuddingly obvious manner that he is a private eye, that he is a gangster. “I didn’t understand,” said Palladino, “that his Hollywood clientele lived in that same film noir world and accepted it as real.” The only place where Pellicano’s illusions might have worked was in the rarefied air of the Hollywood elite. “I mean, this is not how anyone else in this business does business. It’s the way it is in the movies,” said Palladino. The movie elite, “they don’t know much about the real world. They don’t know much about bounda-ries or rules. They’re rich and spoiled and out of touch. And this was a guy who reflected their reality, which was the reality in films.”155 Pellicano was a man of colorful illusions and his downfall was due to another man of equally captivating illusions.

Just as almost everything about Pellicano was open to question, a mix of what was possible and what was a put-on, so every fact about Steven Seagal’s life was a mystery or ridiculous joke. He spoke like an Italian-American born and bred out of New York City, but he was half Irish and half Jewish, born in Detroit, Michigan before moving to California when he was five156. His last name was pronounced the same way the last names of Bugsy Siegel, Beanie Siegel, or George Segal were pronounced, but after he saw a Marc Chagall exhibit, he started saying “Seagal” in a way no one else ever had or ever will, and managed to get everyone to go along with it157. He supposedly was a CIA associate, doing very important top secret work, which the CIA didn’t deny, but anybody could say the same thing and the agency wouldn’t deny it either – the agency prizes such secrecy and never issues such denials158. Perhaps the best example of this mythmaking that I have yet come across is from the very beginning of his career, before the release of his first movie, Above The Law, the piece “Steven Seagal Gets a Shot at Stardom” by Patrick Goldstein. Seagal speaks of his time in Japan, and how he was recruited by the CIA while teaching aikido:

“In Asia, you’d be amazed how many people are connected with the agency,” Seagal explained one night on the film set in Chicago, where he was fighting off a migraine headache. “A lot of the American military has been over there since the occupation and they’ve become very connected to the intelligence community.

“These guys were my students. They saw my abilities, both with martial arts and with the language. My CIA godfather told me he’d never heard any American speak Japanese so well. I would say I was a prime candidate to be recruited.”

Did Seagal actually work for the CIA? He offered a qualified admission–or perhaps a qualified denial.

“You can say that I lived in Asia for a long time and in Japan I became close to several CIA agents,” he said, choosing his words carefully. “And you could say that I became an adviser to several CIA agents in the field and, through my friends in the CIA, met many powerful people and did special works and special favors.”

Seagal declined to offer many details, refusing to cite specific missions or locales. However, when asked about the authenticity of a scene in “Above the Law” that shows an intelligence operative injecting a rival with a deadly chemical truth serum, Seagal said: “That’s not made up. That’s something that really happened.”

However, Seagal spoke freely about his involvement in security operations for the Shah of Iran when he was deposed in 1979: “We helped set up safe houses in London and Paris so the Shah and his family could flee the country. We also were aiding members of the Shah’s family, who were under the threat of death from Kakahili, Ayatollah Khomeini’s killing judge.

“It was incredibly barbaric–they were randomly executing people. It was like something out of the Hitler era. One of the Shah’s nephews wouldn’t leave, so we had to hit him over the head and try to take him out unconscious. But he insisted on going free, so we finally had to let him go. We warned him what would happen. But he left. Later the same day, he got shot in the back of the head.”

Seagal said he has done more recent security work, including work for South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, but only jobs for people who are “special” to him. “My wife and I just had a baby girl, so I’m trying to stay semi-retired and away from a lot of these things.”

“I did some work for the White House recently, for a committee where everybody had top-security clearance. And when they checked up on me, they couldn’t find any data on me. They asked the agency, who refused to confirm or deny who works for them.

“That’s why I see no reason to go public with any details I might or might not know. But I could tell you stories. . . .”

Like Pellicano, he also muttered darkly about being connected with those guys, youknowwhoimtalkinabout? In Out for Justice, he played Gino Felino, a guy with mobster friends. In Above the Law, he’s Nico Toscani, a Sicilian and a CIA agent involved in top secret covert ops. In Under Siege and its sequel, Seagal plays a former Navy SEAL. He hinted in real life that he’d been a Navy SEAL as well, then got invited on a treasure hunt off Barbados with an actual Navy SEAL, and had to move equipment to a raft amidst rough, violent, choppy water. It was lousy conditions, but nothing a SEAL wouldn’t have faced in training. Seagal reacted like Pellicano when he got his letter from the IRS: “He started screaming and panicking and was sure he was going to die and all that crap.” He had to be helped onto the raft, one man pulling his hair, and another pushing his ass. Despite Seagal’s extensive experience in secret covert operations, he couldn’t read either a compass or a map159.

This would suggest he was entirely a ridiculous joke, when he wasn’t. Stories like the Barbados tale and others portraying Seagal as an incompetent clown without covert ops or SEAL experience were told by his former business partner Gary Goldman, after a falling out over screenplay credits and movie profits. The action star would allegedly present an actual former CIA agent, Robert Strickland, with a file on Goldman and a briefcase with fifty thousand dollars. “I’d like you to do me a favor,” Seagal allegedly said, in a manner we can imagine from his movies. “I’d like you to kill Gary Goldman.” “You’re crazy”, replied Strickland, again, according to his version of events. “If you won’t do it,” replied Seagal, allegedly, “get someone who will. Pay him what you want and keep the rest.” Strickland refused again160. A second source, a security level consultant and actual veteran of an intelligence agency would fly to New York, where he claims Seagal would ask him to whack someone in Chicago. When you say “whack”, he asked, does that mean “whack dead”? “Of course,” says Seagal. The man refused the offer. “You’re crazy,” he replied. Seagal would also ask that a writer who’d just written a hostile cover profile of him for GQ, Alan Richman, be set up, with pictures taken of Richman going down on another man. “This guy is, like, a five foot two fat little male impersonator,” Seagal would say of the five foot nine Richman on The Arsenio Hall show (this segment is on youtube: part one and part two; Seagal’s complaining about Richman is in the first part)161. Richman is a fag, Seagal tells the security consultant, though Richman is heterosexual. Richman is also a former Army captain, a recipient of the bronze star, and a Viet Nam veteran. Seagal, whatever his claims, has no military experience whatsoever. Seagal was upset at Richman for supposedly misquoting him in the profile, though GQ and Richman had, out of a misguided sense of mercy, left out a few things. That his hair looked like it was soaked in shoe polish, that he wore a hairnet, that his face was thick with make-up, that he felt most directors were incompetent, and that he complained that Hollywood was controlled by jews, a strange complaint for someone who’d had both an incredibly rapid rise to stardom and a jewish father162. In August of 1993, Seagal would be deposed in a civil suit filed against him by a parking lot attendant who claimed the action star had assaulted him. While on the stand, Seagal would be asked if he’d ever solicited a murder. An agitated Seagal took the Fifth163.

With the exception of some details on Alan Richman’s military experience and Seagal taking the Fifth about soliciting a murder, all details from the previous two paragraphs come from the Spy article “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly. Before it was even published, Seagal’s attorney, Martin Singer, would file slander and libel suits against Connolly, alleging that the claims made that Seagal associated with killers, that Seagal associated with mobsters, that Seagal had solicited murder were false. Upon publication, the suits were withdrawn164. Connolly was also the writer behind “Arnold the Barbarian”; after that article was published, Garry South, the campaign manager for Gray Davis, Schwarzenegger’s competitor in the governor’s race, sent out the article to fifty or eighty reporters along with a small note: “Arnold’s piggish behavior with women – is it the pig valve?” Singer sent a letter to South threatening to sue for libel – because South had emailed out an article published in the free press, in a magazine that could be bought in any part of the country. Singer’s letter also stated that the letter itself was copyrighted, and its contents could not be published anywhere without violating the copyright165. Singer, of course, was also the man who Paul Barresi alleges paid him to quiet the episode involving Eddie Murphy and transsexuals. Murphy is another Singer client, and Pellicano was often hired by Singer166.

Seagal’s hubris got worse and his movies became unwatchable. His physical qualities, the essence of almost all movie stars, soon rapidly diminished. He lost his hair, and though his acting was never called Brandoesque, his stomach soon was. Before his first movie was released, he was described as a man who was tall and lean, having the rough, good looks of a daredevil jet pilot, catlike movement and an amazing presence. The presence is perhaps best described by Trevor Gilks on his site Every Steven Seagal Movie in his overview of “Out for Justice (1991)”: “He’s a festering ball of anger and threats, yet he rarely raises his voice above a whisper; he’s spewing pure machismo extract, yet the way he moves, talks and looks is strangely feminine” – though perhaps the reason he never speaks above a whisper, we learn from “Man of Dishonor”, is that his actual voice is very squeaky. He soon became the thing described in John Krewson’s review of Fire Down Below: “Steven Seagal, the uncharismatic stack of puffy, aging flesh”167. The studio tried to get him to lose weight, and they ended up finding cookie crumbs on the stairmaster168. He was a guy who soon became defined for being paunchy and utterly nauseating. When Jenny McCarthy auditioned for a part, he asked her to take off all her clothes, though the movie had no nude scenes. When he hosted SNL, he suggested a sketch where he’d play a psychiatrist who tries to have sex with a rape victim169. “Gee, Raeanne,” he said to his personal assistant, Raeanne Malone, when she was brushing her teeth, “You look like that when I come in your mouth.” She and three other personal assistants successfully sued him for sexual harassment170. In 2000, well after people had gotten royally sick of his shit, Warner Brothers, his longtime studio, ended their relationship with him171.

THE PHARMACIST

That Seagal was a ridiculous man didn’t mean he couldn’t also be dangerous or frightening. Pellicano was also both things. The devastating Spy piece, “Man of Dishonor” suggested there must have been some power behind the throne. When Strickland, the former intelligence agent, got into a legal hassle with Seagal over the action star taking Strickland’s stories of working with the CIA and presenting them as experiences of his own, Seagal would declare in front of Strickland and his attorney, “If anybody from the CIA fucks with me, they will be hurt”, and claimed that he was backed by very powerful people172. When “Man of Dishonor” was published, the text was accompanied by two striking photographs: an unsinister and warm faced Seagal in his high school photo, and, more importantly, the neighboring houses of Seagal and his former associate, Jules Nasso. On the left is an elegant medium sized house, that of one of the biggest movie stars in the world at the time. Next to it is a sprawling, eight thousand acre estate, the property of Nasso173. He was a pharmacist who ran Universal Marine Medical Supply, stocking ships with their medicines. He would say in “Man of Dishonor” that he and Seagal were related, and, at the time, Seagal told people that Nasso was his cousin174. In a later profile, “Seagal under Siege” (from Vanity Fair, now hosted at the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club) by Ned Zeman (with additional reporting by Connolly), it would be said that Nasso and Seagal met in Madeo, an Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills, in part because Nasso knew Kelly LeBrock, Seagal’s then wife, through a friend175. A casual reader asks themselves a question unanswered by the article: what is a New York pharmacist doing in Beverly Hills?

Nasso was best man at Seagal’s wedding to LeBrock, godfather to two of their children, and he co-held the deed to the house Seagal owned next door to his. Warner Bros. did not have a contract with Seagal, but with Steamroller Productions, formerly Seagal/Nasso Productions. Robert Strickland, the intelligence agent who Seagal had allegedly solicited to kill someone, had been paid an advance to have Seagal adapt his life story into a movie; when their relationship fell apart, the advance which had come from Seagal’s personal account was to be repaid to Nasso’s176. You would find possible answers to Nasso’s wealth in an early profile, “His Two Worlds Are Worlds Apart” by Barnaby J. Feder in The New York Times, which came out after the release of Seagal’s Out for Justice. Nasso had a score of successful businesses: he’d founded and currently ran Universal Marine Medical Supplies, the world’s largest distributor of pharmaceuticals to ships, which he’d started as an undergraduate at St. John’s University, and which grossed $30 million a year; he’d founded Tishcon, a company that made over the counter drugs which drugstores and supermarkets sold under their own labels; at the height of the Cabbage Patch doll craze, he’d owned a Baby Land General Hospital outlet in New York City, where people came to adopt their dolls. He owned and ran four pharmacies in New York City under the Bi-Wise name. He was in Beverly Hills because his involvement in Universal Marine Medical Supplies often brought him out to their branch office in San Pedro. This same profile lists Seagal and Nasso as cousins177.

Seagal wanted to be seen as an Italian with mob connections. Nasso wanted to be seen as an Italian without them. Both men had difficulty being seen as they wished. Nasso’s uncle, also named Julius Nasso, was the owner of the Julius Nasso Concrete Corporation, one of several companies that Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and others had extorted money from in a bid rigging scheme. Salerno had gotten a century in prison in part due to the testimony of employees of Julius Nasso Concrete. This same uncle was described by federal authorities as having connections with organized crime. The uncle had attended a meeting with the Gambino crime family about the contract for the Jacob Javits Convention Center178. Nasso’s brother married a daughter of Johnny Gambino, an imprisoned captain of the crime family of the same name; at the wedding, Seagal walked Nasso’s mother up the aisle. In the most famous scene from Out for Justice, perhaps the most famous scene in Seagal’s career, he goes to a bar owned by an adversary, disturbs the patrons, breaks stuff, causes a nuisance, and provokes things till people start attacking him and he takes them all on. One bar patron, however, he never hits, and that’s Benny the Book, played by Jerry Ciauri (currently, in IMDb’s credits for Out for Justice, his name is mis-spelled as Jerry Clauri). “No way Seagal was going to take a swing at Bobby Zam’s kid,” says one source in “Man of Dishonor”179.

The scene (“Anybody seen Richie?” on youtube) has a brief dialogue segment between Ciauri and Seagal. Later, Seagal beats the shit out of everybody in the pool room around Ciauri, but strikingly, leaves Benny the Book alone in his chair.

FELINO
Benny the Book…hey, how’re ya. [bounces cue ball twice on the floor hard enough that it bounces back to his hand] Benny, you wouldn’t be over here using Ma Bell for illegal means, wouldsyou?

BENNY
Bookmaking’s an illegal activity, Gino.

FELINO
You also would not know that Richie owns this place and that he sells narcotics here because he’s a fuckin puke, and he likes to pervert kids and stuff, huh?

BENNY
Drugs. Nobody uses drugs around here.

FELINO
Yeah? [bounces cue ball again] You don’t know nothin, do ya? (Sicilian dialogue)

Bobby Zam is Robert Zambardi, Ciauri is his stepson, and allegedly, Ciauri got the part because Zambardi asked. At the time, the Colombo mafia was at war with itself, split between two leaders, Carmine Persico, who was in jail, and Vic Orena, the acting head. Both Ciauri and Zambardi would be indicted for separate attempts on the life of Orena. Ciauri and a co-conspirator would be successfully convicted for extortion, robbery, and enterprise corruption in their shakedown of a local grocery. They were also convicted for a failed attempt on the life on Orena, a few months before Out for Justice was released, for which they were still serving time as the new century began. Zambardi was charged with RICO violations, loan-sharking conspiracy, and conspiracy to murder Orena. He would plead guilty to a racketeering charge and a fifteen year sentence; he would eventually plead guilty to committing four murders180. Nasso would often dismiss accusations of association with organized crime as something thrown at all Italians. “On my block, there’s a judge and a gangster,” the gangster being Tommy Bilotti, who was killed alongside Paul Castellano when John Gotti took over the Gambino crime family. Bilotti’s brother, Joseph, was indicted alongside Zambardi in the attempt on Orena’s life181.

Though Nasso was often written about, there remained mysteries and contradictions in his life. In the Zeman piece, Nasso said he’d met Seagal for the first time in Los Angeles, at Madeo’s. In a 1999 interview for the Friars Club, as well as other profiles, he said they’d met for the first time in Kobe, Japan182. In “His Two Worlds”, he said he visited childhood acquaintance Tony Danza while visiting Los Angeles, and that it was Danza who’d helped get him into the movie business. The often congenial Danza was emphatic in his denial of this in “Man of Dishonor”: “I know Nasso, but he’s no friend of mine. I didn’t introduce him to Seagal.”183 He was a man who headed up a multi-million dollar international business, something that should focus his attention entirely, yet he’d attempted to break into the movie business by working as a gofer for Sergio Leone, when he directed Once Upon a Time in America, something that would require him on location and away from the office his entire day184. “Seagal Under Siege” would have him with two doctorates, one from St. John’s and another from the University of Connecticut. “Between Two Worlds” would have him in his office, with a wall behind him covered in degrees and certificates. “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” by Paul Lieberman, however, would point out that Nasso considers a 1979 testimonial dinner at Fordham University as the equivalent of an honorary degree, and considers the membership certificate from the Connecticut Pharmaceutical Association as equivalent to a doctorate185. He was, according to “Two Worlds”, the owner of the Baby Land General Hospital in New York City, where families came to “adopt” Cabbage Patch dolls. We are told he owned in it during the early days of the Cabbage Patch craze, but this is an unusual statement – the peak of the craze was the christmas of 1983, and the Babyland adoption center on Fifth Avenue (something distinct from the Baby Land General Hospital, the headquarters of the Cabbage Patch dolls) only opened in 1985186.

There was another strange episode involving Nasso, but one that took place years after the lives of Pellicano, Seagal, and Nasso had already converged, a convergence that resulted in jail time for Nasso and Pellicano. “Operation Which Doctor” was an attempt to shut down a network of doctors and pharmacies which prescribed steroids to athletes and emergency responders, such as police and firefighters, as well as corrections officers. The steroids may have affected the temperament of the police officers, with one, Victor Vargas, allegedly arriving at an emergency call and then beating without mercy the very man who’d made the call. Two major points of steroid use were the police departments of New York City and Jersey City. Two doctors identified as the major writers of false prescriptions so that their patients could obtain steroids were Richard Lucente and Joseph Colao187. Lucente would plead guilty to conspiracy and lose his medical license, Colao would collapse, after years of using human growth hormones, from a heart attack. The source for much of the human growth hormones was the drugstore Lowen’s. Victor Vargas had gotten some of his HGH from Lowen’s. Both Colao and Lucente would allege that they got kickbacks from Lowen’s for steering clients there. Over nine thousand prescriptions over eighteen months throughout the country were filled out for steroids at the pharmacy. When narcotics investigators raided the store, they took away over seven million dollars in human growth hormone, illegally imported from China. The owner of the building that housed Lowen’s was Julius Nasso188.

The pharmacist at Lowen’s, John Rossi, would tell investigators that Nasso was also a silent partner in the business189. Rossi would write two letters to the local paper, the Brooklyn Eagle, insisting that neither he nor the store had done anything wrong. “Lowen’s and its pharmacists and employees have done nothing improper,” he wrote, and taped both letters in the glass of the store’s front door. On January 28th, a week before Rossi was to have a formal discussion with investigators, he was found dead in his store office. He had been shot in the right side of the chest and the right side of his head. Investigators ruled the death a suicide. Richard Signorelli, his attorney, declared, “I had no sign that anything like this was going to happen.” In the neighborhood, there was the obvious question following Rossi’s death: if a pharmacist wanted to kill himself, wouldn’t he do it with pills, instead of a gun? Nasso’s lawyer would insist that he had no ownership stake in the pharmacy, and that he had no connection with steroids or the mafia. “I think you take any Italian born in a neighborhood that has … a variety of people of different types, it is kind of hard to escape allegations that you are somehow involved with these people. Because they’re your neighbors,” said Nasso’s lawyer, Robert Hantman. “My family is my life,” said one of Rossi’s letters to the Eagle.190

This was all still in the future. After the collapse of the relationship between Warners and Seagal, Nasso still had several projects he wanted to make with his partner, including a bio-pic of Genghis Khan which he advertised with a full page ad in Variety. Seagal dropped out of those pictures, and his relationship with Nasso fell apart as well. According to Nasso, the terminal conversation was on July 5, 2001, and it ended with him saying to Seagal, “You’ll never hear from me again. Go fuck yourself.”191 In March of the next year, Nasso would hit Seagal with a $60 million breach of contract suit. In June, seventeen men would be arrested on a variety of charges, including Peter Gotti, acting head of the Gambino crime family and older brother of I-think-you-can-guess, Anthony “Sonny” Ciccone, and Primo Cassarinio. They would be charged with, among other things, extortion, loan sharking, and racketeering. Among the seventeen arrested was Julius Nasso, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion and extortion of an individual in the film industry. This individual in the film industry, the man behind Nico Toscani and Gino Felini, was being asked to pay out $150,000 per movie to Nasso and his associates, or else192.

A lengthy excerpt from “Seagal Under Siege” by Zeman and Connolly captures well how these threats took place:

On February 2, 2001, according to just one of the government’s 2,200 tapes, Seagal sat down in a Brooklyn restaurant with Jules and Vincent Nasso. Before they got down to business, though, Jules decided to switch locations–to Gage & Tollner, the venerable steak house near, of all places, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in downtown Brooklyn. On the way over, perhaps so they couldn’t be tailed, they also all switched cars. Once ensconced in a back room, they were joined by Ciccone and Cassarinio.

The action star was “petrified” by the location switch, Ciccone recalls after the meeting was over.

“I wish we had a gun on us,” Cassarinio adds. “That would have been funny.”

To which Vincent Nasso replies, “It was like right out of the movies.”

On February 14, in a bugged Brooklyn restaurant, Ciccone asks a guy who sounds a lot like Jules Nasso whether he has asked Seagal for the $150,000 per movie.

“And did you do it? Did you carry it out?” asks Ciccone.

“Oh, I’ll take care of it. I’ll take care of it,” says Nasso.

“We said that day that we were gonna tell him that every movie he makes, we want $150,000.”

“Right… a hundred, and I said I want to get more for you.”

In this same conversation, the guy who sounds a lot like Nasso encourages Ciccone to be even more forceful than he was at Gage & Tollner. “I think the first meeting that we had was a nice initial meeting to break the ice,” Nasso says. “But the next one, you gotta get…you really gotta get down on him. ‘Cause I know this animal. I know this beast. You know, unless there’s a fire under his ass…”

The Vincent Nasso here is the brother of Jules. This was not the brother who’d married a daughter of Johnny Gambino, jailed mob captain, but a fascinating character in his own right, and one given too little attention. The most noteworthy fact about him, which occasionally got mentioned in the articles on Jules Nasso and Seagal, was that he was convicted of paying the mob four hundred grand in return for handling a union’s drug prescription plan193. Vincent Nasso owned Value Integrated Pharmacy (VIP). General Prescription Programs Inc. (GPP) owned eighty percent of GPP. It’s believed that the money which Nasso gave to Peter Gotti resulted in GPP winning the contract to handle the drug program for the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), even though the GPP was rated fifth out of five finalists for the contract. GPP also handled the multimillion dollar drug plans for at least five major public-employee unions, representing firefighters, police sergeants, corrections officers, Teamsters, and transit workers. “It’s not my company,” said Joel Gordman, the nominal head of GPP/VIP. “Basically I was acting as a subcontractor.”194 The evidence that Nasso and the mob were heavily involved in the GPP contract for the ILA was gained through wiretaps. Some of the discussion of the contract is excerpted in the indictment, “459 F.3d 296: United States of America v. Peter Gotti, Anthony Ciccone, et al.”, such as when Anthony “Sonny” Ciccone and Vincent Nasso discuss the fact that Gordman wants to raise the GPP contract fees charged to the Longshoremen’s union:

On Wednesday, April 18, 2001, Ciccone and Nasso spoke again about the MILA contract. Nasso noted that “the Jew [Joel Grodman, co-principal of GPP/VIP] wants to raise the rate.” Gov’t Exh. TR-178N. Ciccone responded, “Tell him to go fuck himself. Tell him you do what I tell you to do.” Id. Ciccone added, “I’m calling the shots over here, not you. And tell him, the day you don’t like it, I got another guy to replace you. You’re only here on account of me. Fuck him.” Id. Nasso agreed, stating, “All right. That’s what I’m gonna say today.” Id. Ciccone also asked about receiving his check, to which Nasso responded, “The Jew’s gotta send me the money.”

Joel Gordman would also join up with another entity owned by Nasso, Pharmaceutical Consultants & Administrators Inc. (PCAI), to handle the drug plan of Local 6, a hotel and restaurant workers union. Nasso also worked for Bio Reference Laboratories, Inc. (BRLI), headed up by Dr. Marc Gordman, Joel’s younger brother. BRLI had the contract for blood and physical tests at firehouses and detention facilities. In a lawsuit, two former employees would charge the company management with extorting employees, where expenses weren’t reimbursed unless an executive was given a Rolex watch or enevelopes of cash. BRLI would get financing from a mafia associate, a company involved in a legendary ponzi scheme, and a notorious penny stock broker that was the inspiration for the film Boiler Room195. These, and other seamy points, were all detailed in the heavily documented Streetsweeper profile of the company, “Bio-Reference (BRLI): Loads of Dirty Laundry”. Nasso had owned Bio-Dynamics, Inc., which had handled blood laboratory and diagnostic work for the Longshoremen’s Union; BRLI had gotten those accounts when they purchased Bio-Dynamics, Inc. in 1989, and that’s how Nasso had come to work for BRLI. After Nasso’s conviction, BRLI would terminate him, and Nasso would sue. Following the indictments of Vincent Nasso, Ciccone, Peter Gotti, and the others in the waterfront arrests, the various unions would end their contracts with GPP196.

The threats made against Seagal were captured accidentally, as part of these wiretaps in the racketeering probe of the waterfront and the Longshoremen’s union. “I don’t think it’s Jules at all,” said Jules Nasso’s lawyer, Robert Hantman. “I think that’s all they have. I think that what they’ve played–Sonny Ciccone berating or yelling at somebody, assuming he’s yelling at somebody–is not Jules.” Nasso would eventually plea bargain the charges, and get a year, less two months for good behavior197. He would try again as a producer, pointing again and again to his credit on the distinguished and high profile film, Narc, made before the trial. “You wanna know which one of us was the brains? Seagal’s making straight-to-videos in fuckin’ Bulgaria,” he’d say. “I’ve been making big-time movies.”198 This, however, was a more complicated story than it appeared. Narc was a very, very low budget movie and a week into shooting, it ran out of money. The principal people behind the project – actor Ray Liotta, director Joe Carnahan, and producer Diane Nabatoff – scrambled to find new money, picking up investors the principal people had never even met. Nasso put in a share, “not off the street, not gangster money,” he insisted – somewhat redundantly, given his denial of any association with the mafia – and got a credit. The film ended up with four listed producers, nine executive producers, five co-executive producers, and a line producer. “We bummed a cigarette off some guy — he got an E.P. [executive producer] credit,” said Liotta. When the movie was submitted for Academy Award consideration, which restricts you to three producers per picture, the producer names submitted were Liotta, his wife (his partner in his production company), and Nabatoff. Nasso would tell people that he’d helped edit the film and gave Liotta ideas on how to play the character. “Never saw him. None of those producers ever spent a day [on set],” said Liotta of Nasso. After Liotta’s production company took out a “For Your Consideration” ad in Variety, Nasso took out his own Narc ad, thanking the cast and crew, on behalf of Julius R. Nasso Productions199.

Since breaking with Seagal, Nasso would go on to co-found Manhattan Pictures International (with Paul Cohen), which distributed Enigma and Jean-Luc Godard’s In Praise of Love. In 2012, he’d co-found Wakefield International Pictures with Todd Moyer. The Legend of William Tell: 3D, one of the first films of Wakefield International Pictures would result in star Brendan Fraser suing the company because they didn’t have the financing for the project, followed by a countersuit by producer Moyer, alleging that Fraser had assualted him when drunk. “This is a ridiculous and absurd claim by Mr. Moyer,” said Fraser’s lawyer, Marty Singer200. In 2005, Nasso announced the creation of Cinema Nasso Film Studios on Staten Island, with the groundbreaking taking place on September 8th with fireworks on the beach and Kylie Minogue expected to attend. This last detail might be added to the pile of Nasso’s mysteries: this announcement for the studio groundbreaking in the Times (“A Producer Is Back on Location and Ready to Celebrate”) was August 29th. Minogue had already revealed that she was afflicted with breast cancer, had cancelled the Australian leg of her world tour, and was undergoing intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy for a prolonged period, treatment that she likened to being hit by an atomic bomb201. In 2007, Seagal and Nasso allegedly reached a secret settlement where the action star would pay him $500 000, and sign off on a presidential pardon for Nasso. In 2012, Nasso would sue Seagal for breaking the terms of the settlement. In January of 2013, Seagal would send a letter to the justice department backing such a pardon: “I have no objections to and would support the application (when it is timely) of Julius R. Nasso for a Presidential pardon.” During his stay in prison, Nasso would insist: “I am NOT an associate of organized crime.”202

It was because of the coverage of the extortion plot that Anthony Pellicano would end up in prison for over a decade.

THE PELICAN PART ONE

The coverage of the extortion of Seagal by Nasso, Ciccone and Cassarinio, would be covered in the Los Angeles Times by two reporters, Anita Busch and Paul Lieberman – examples, in chronological sequence, would be: “N.Y. Arrests Have Ties to Hollywood” (Busch and Lieberman, June 5 2002), “Claims Seagal Started FBI Probe Called ‘Absurd’” (Busch, June 6 2002), “Mob Said to Have Threatened Actor” (Lieberman and Busch, June 12, 2002), “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” (Lieberman, July 12 2002), “Alleged Extortion of Actor Detailed” (Lieberman, July 17, 2002), “Seagal Sought Rival Mob’s Help, Feds Say” (Lieberman, February 8, 2003), “Brother of Late Mob Boss Convicted of Racketeering” (Lieberman, March 18, 2003), “Former Seagal Associate Plea-Bargains in Plot to Extort Actor” (Lieberman, August 7, 2003).

That Busch leaves the bylines is because of what took place on June 20th. It is best conveyed by the police report describing the incident, listed under the “probable cause” section, the basis for the FBI raiding Anthony Pellicano’s offices203:

D. PROBABLE CAUSE

9. On June 20, 2002, I interviewed Anita Busch (“Busch”), who told me the following:

a. Busch was working as a contract employee for the Los Angeles Times.

b. Bush arrived at home at approximately 8:45 p.m. on June 19, 2002, and parked her car across the street from her residence.

c. At approximately 8:00 a.m. on June 20, 2002, Busch was informed by her neighbor that her car window had been “punctured.” (1) a note taped to the windshield which said “STOP”; (2) a shatter mark just below the note; and (3) a tin foil baking tray turned upside down on the windshield. Busch called the LAPD, which treated the baking tray as a suspicious package. After rendering the package safe, the LAPD determined that it contained a dead fish and a rose.

d. Busch believed that the incident was related to her investigative work for the Los Angeles Times on an as-yet unpublished article regarding Julius Nasso and actor Steven Seagal. Busch began her work for the Times on June 3, 2002, and was contracted through October 15, 2002.

The next day, Daniel Patterson, a senior citizen and grandfather of eleven would leave several messages on Busch’s answering machine that were serious warnings. Daniel Patterson is the “CW” in the FBI report.

The relevant excerpt is below:

10. On June 21, 2002, I again interviewed Busch, who told me the following:

a. An individual, whose name Busch provided me and who shall be referred to herein as “CW,” had left her six messages on her voice mail at her Los Angeles Times office during the morning hours of June 21, 2002. CW had indicated that it was “urgent” that he speak to Busch in person concerning the article she was writing about actor Steven Seagal.

b. At approximately 11:45 a.m. on June 21, 2002, Busch telephoned CW. CW stated that he had run into a guy a few days ago by the name of “Alex,” and that Alex had told CW that he had been hired by a detective agency to blow up Busch’s car. Alex was aware that Busch had been doing a series of articles concerning actor Steven Seagal.

11. On June 21, 2002, I interviewed CW, who told me the following:

a. He had left messages for Busch because he did not want to see anyone get hurt.

b. He has known an individual named “Alex” for approximately a year. Approximately four or five days earlier, CW met Alex at a car repair business. Alex told CW met Alex at a car repair business. Alex told CW that he had been recently hired by a detective agency that had been contacted by “some people back east” to set fire to the car of a female reporter who had written a series of articles concerning actor Steven Seagal. Alex said that this was to serve as a warning because “they” wanted the reporter to stop writing the article. Alex stated that he had been by the reporter’s residence and noted the difficulty in setting her car on fire because of the close proximity of an apartment building. Alex was also concerned about an individual who lived in an apartment above the reporter’s parked vehicle who stayed up late at night walking from room to room. Alex said that this was going to be a “tough job.” Alex told CW that he was going to decline the job, but that the people back east were “ruthless” and would “get somebody to do it.”

Patterson was a long-time con man who had led an interesting life, or at least told an interesting story about that life. He’d gone to college for a semester, dropped out, worked salvage in Hawaii, gotten a degree at Ball State University, taught at West Texas, got shot in the stomach by drunk joyriding teens, taught high school after he was able to walk again, extorted money from an employer, got involved in some insurance fraud, founded a hazardous waste transportation business, got involved in mining in Mexico, was abducted at gunpoint by “the Secret Service of Mexico”, before finally being rescued by members of the FBI disguised as doctors and nuns. The reporter who relayed the story expressed some skepticism about its veracity204.

He would engage in a series of phony investment schemes, convincing a businessman to sell him his yacht if the businessman in turn invested in some of his businesses. The promissory notes Patterson gave the businessmen all defaulted. Patterson went on to use the yacht to lure investors to put some money into an offshore sports book. Other investments Patterson was involved in were an unspecified project in the United Arab Emirates, something that involved the leasing of foreign satellites, and a package delivery service superior to Federal Express. He conned manufacturing firms out of their industrial gold and silver by posing as Sun Microsystems and Ball University205.

Patterson then posed as Sergeant Michael Jeffries, a man badly in need of over a million dollars in gold for scientific purposes. He called a Massachusetts company from a Pasadena hotel room, and arranged a shipment of gold that was needed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratories, which was developing a neutron accelerator for the shuttle. The gold was to be shipped to a Pasadena warehouse that was also a JPL facility. An armored car arrived at the warehouse on December 19, 2000, the deliverymen were met by a Dr. Charles Schultz. You could tell he was a doctor because he wore a white lab coat with a label that said “Charles Schultz, PhD.” Charles Schultz PhD. was actually Aleksandr Drabkin, no PhD. The deliverymen were actually FBI agents. Patterson was hit with a federal fraud charge, and after that, he agreed to provide the FBI with information on his precious metal scams, as well as any other cases and investigations he could help out with. Months later, he would get involved in dealings with Alex Proctor, a heroin, cocaine, and X trafficker. It was in the midst of these dealings that Patterson heard from Proctor that he’d been hired by a detective agency to intimidate Busch by blowing up her car. Patterson, worried, tried to warn Busch by leaving messages on her machine. Proctor decided to just leave a dead fish on the windshield instead. The L.A. district attorney’s office would find out about Patterson through the messages. Why did you warn Ms. Busch, they asked, What did you want? Nothing, said Patterson, he had a daughter about the reporter’s age. Patterson told them he just didn’t want to see anyone get hurt. They asked Patterson to wear a wire for his meetings with Proctor. Patterson agreed206.

Excerpts from the police report, the information from the Proctor meeting a result of the hidden recorder:

13. I learned from CW and from Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Saunders that CW is currently under indictment for conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, uttering forged securities and interstate transportation of stolen property in a case pending in the Central District of California.

14. On July 3, 2002, CW met with Proctor at CW’s residence. CW recorded the conversation with a digital recording device that I provided to him. I have reviewed the recording of the conversation, which revealed the following:

a. Proctor stated that actor Steven Seagal had hired a private investigative firm to threaten the reporter who was preparing an article on Seagal. Proctor said that the private investigator is very famous and a big investigator in Los Angeles. Proctor identified the investigator as “Anthony” and Seagal as Anthony’s “client.”

b. Proctor acknowledged that he had been hired to set the reporter’s car on fire. Uncomfortable with that idea, Proctor had purchased a fish and a rose and placed them on the reporter’s car. Proctor stated that he also placed a cardboard sign on the windshield with the word “stop” and put a bullet hole in the windshield. Proctor emphasized that “They wanted…he wanted to make it look like the Italians were putting the hit on her so it wouldn’t reflect on Seagal.”

16. On July 30, 2002, I and other FBI SAs [special agents] conducted surveillance of Proctor. We followed Proctor from Santa Fe Springs, California, to a residence at 10620 Wellworth Avenue, West Los Angeles, California. After Proctor exited his vehicle, the surveillance team observed him walking down the driveway to the rear of the residence, in the area of the garage. A second-story living quarters was observed located above the garage.

17. On August 13, 2002, CW met with Proctor at CW’s residence. CW recorded the conversation with a digital recording device that I provided to him. I have reviewed the recording of the conversation, which revealed the following:

a. Proctor acknowledged that the “Anthony” who had hired him was private investigator Anthony Pellicano.

b. Proctor stated that he had owed Pellicano $14,000 as a debt. Proctor further stated that “they” had agreed to pay Proctor $10,000 for the job involving the reporter, but that “they” were so pleased with Proctor’s work that Pellicano wiped out the entire debt and told Proctor they were even. Proctor stated that Pellicano had also said he would have another job upcoming for Proctor.

In August, Ned Zeman, the writer of the essential “Seagal Under Siege”, was driving through Laurel Canyon at night when a Mercedes with a flashing light drove up towards him. Zeman lowered his window. Someone in the passenger side of the Mercedes rolled down their window as well. The unknown passenger rapped a pistol against the side of Zeman’s car, then pointed the pistol directly at Zeman, and said “Stop.” The unknown passenger pulled the trigger, but there was nothing in the chamber. “Bang,” the unknown passenger said. The Mercedes drove on. After a long period of constant arguing, Anthony and Kat Pellicano had had a trial separation that lasted two months, broken by one night that August. Kat let Anthony back one Sunday, and he left again that night. They got divorced that month.207.

In November 21, 2002, a team of FBI agents went into Pellicano’s offices. There were two loaded handguns in Pellicano’s desk. There were two safes with two hundred thousand dollars in cash. The safes contained boxes of jewelry. The safes contained C-4 plastic explosive and two grenades that had been doctored to spray massive amounts of shrapnel. Useful for blowing up a car, the agents thought. After the first raid, the FBI would return eight days later with another warrant, and got to his trove of recordings, some encrypted some not, and transcripts of recordings, some encrypted some not. A year later, on November 16, 2003, Pellicano married his fifth wife, Teresa Ann DeLucio, two days before going to prison for possessing explosives. At the time of this posting, on October 10th, 2013, it would be the last time Anthony Pellicano was a free man208.

RISING SUN:

THE IMAGE OF THE DESIRED JAPANESE

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR

FOOTNOTES

(Images from Out for Justice copyright Warner Bros.; images from Rising Sun copyright Twentieth Century Fox.)

1 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars: When Hollywood’s A-list wants protection from gossip and lawsuits, they put Anthony Pellicano on the case. Some see him as a pushy showoff, but he says he likes to play hardball.” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

Profile: Anthony J. Pellicano Jr.

* Born: March 22, 1944.

From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

For the Pellicanos, a pleasant evening might mean watching The Sopranos or one of the Godfather movies. Mafia rituals fascinated Pellicano, who grew up in Al Capone’s hometown of Cicero, Illinois, and once listed the son of a reputed Chicago Mob boss as a creditor.

2 A profile, “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly, with the claim without qualifier:

The grandson of Sicilian immigrants, Pellicano was born in 1944. His grandfather Americanized the family name, Pellicano, to Pellican, but Anthony, proud of his roots, restored the name to Pellicano as an adult. A self-described “young tough” on the streets of Cicero, he was kicked out of high school for fighting. He joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where he was trained as a cryptographer.

A profile, “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson, with the qualified claim:

On the day Michael Todd died, Anthony Pellican celebrated his 14th birthday in Cicero. Around two years later, having blossomed (by his own admission) into a street tough, he dropped out of high school, though he would earn his GED during a stint with the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where, he claims, he was trained as a cryptographer.

3 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

In the early ’60s, he joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps and received his GED while serving as a cryptographer, coding and decoding messages. “When I got out,” he told Playboy magazine, “the majority of people who were doing crypto work were in cosmetics or toy manufacturing…. It wasn’t all that thrilling to me.”

4 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

Back in Chicago, he became a bill collector for the Spiegel catalogue. Working under the pseudonym Tony Fortune, he traced people who had skipped out on debts. One day he was scanning the Yellow Pages when he noticed how many ads there were for detective agencies.

“So I called the biggest ad in there and I said, ‘Listen, I’m the best skip tracer there is, I wanna do all your work, give me your hardest case,’ ” Pellicano said. “They had been looking for this (missing) little girl for six weeks and I found her in two days. How? With intelligence, logic, common sense, a tremendous amount of imagination and an acute perception.”

He cracked a smile.

“Actually, I just worked my ass off, that’s all.”

5 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

At the same time, he was playing footsie with seemingly every reporter in Chicago. They gushed over his plush office, with its silver walls, black furniture, and full-length mirrors in the waiting room. They marveled over the mammoth gold zodiac that dominated his office-beneath which hung samurai swords and two nunchaku sticks, which he’d take off the wall to demonstrate how he could kill a reporter, while his pet piranha looked on.

6 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

On the day Michael Todd died, Anthony Pellican celebrated his 14th birthday in Cicero. Around two years later, having blossomed (by his own admission) into a street tough, he dropped out of high school, though he would earn his GED during a stint with the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where, he claims, he was trained as a cryptographer. Following his discharge, he got a job as a skip-tracer with the Spiegel Company-tracking down people who had not paid their bills. In 1969, he established his own detective agency. Around this time, he restored the “o” at the end of the family name; his Sicilian grandfather had dropped that final vowel after emigrating to the United States.

7 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

Pellicano had several strengths as a private investigator. Known early on as “the man of a thousand voices,” he could easily assume whatever character the situation called for. “I’m an actor,” he told the Tribune in 1978. “I let people underestimate me. I will act stupid, ignorant, emotional, but I never am.” Pellicano was also an expert in what he called “forensic audio”: voice identification, electronic surveillance, detecting eavesdropping devices. He exhibited the kind of flair usually seen in a Hollywood film noir. He owned twin Lincoln Continentals and decorated his office with samurai swords. For a time he employed the pulp-fiction nom de guerre of Tony Fortune.

8 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

Testimony in the ongoing Family Secrets trial suggests that Pellicano may have had closer links with the Mob-especially with Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo. Among other things, prosecutors have alleged that Lombardo was behind the 1974 murder of Daniel Seifert, who had been scheduled to testify against Lombardo in an embezzlement case. Lombardo’s lawyers claim he has a “rock-solid” alibi-provided, as it turns out, by Pellicano, who collected evidence demonstrating that Lombardo was having breakfast in a Chicago pancake house at the time two gunmen shot Seifert outside his Bensenville plastics company.

9 From Dish by Jeannette Walls:

“I can’t do everything by the book,” Pellicano once admitted. “I bend the law to death in gaining information.” Pellicano would sometimes remind people that he carries an aluminum baseball bat in the trunk of his black Nexus. “Guys who fuck with me get to meet my buddy over there,” he once told a reporter, gesturing toward the bat. Pellicano also tells people that he is an expert with a knife – “I can shred your face” – he has said – and that he has a blackbelt in karate.

10 From “Trouble Shooter” by Bill Hewitt:

To his detractors, Pellicano is a blustery egotist who is not above cutting ethical corners and thus is a risky choice for such a sensitive case. But to hear Pellicano tell it, he is a thoroughly modern shamus who relies more on brains than on muscle. Indeed, he likes to boast that not only is he a member of Mensa but also that he doesn’t even carry a gun. “That’s a physical solution to a mental problem,” he says disdainfully. “I involve myself in cases that take tremendous amounts of thought—Sherlock Holmes-type things.”

From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

He didn’t carry a gun, he told Oui magazine, “because my hands are lethal weapons.” In fact, he couldn’t legally carry a gun because he’d never been employed by a law enforcement agency. He recounted how he was knifed in a Mexican bar while working on a kidnapping case but “went into my kung fu stance and beat the hell out of him.”

11 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

A recent story from the Chicago Sun-Times alleges, with little evidence, that Pellicano was once a member of Chicago gangster Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo’s crew and had done investigative work for Lombardo in 1974, helping clear him as a suspect in a murder case. But as Joe Paolella, a former Secret Service agent from Chicago says, “Pellicano never promoted being connected in Chicago the way he did in L.A.-a place where he could portray himself as some kind of mob guy to an upper-middle-class Hollywood clientele that didn’t know any better, if you’re a real crook in Chicago, you don’t want anybody to know about it.”

From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

A slight man who eschewed firearms-”A gun is a physical solution to a mental problem,” he told the Tribune-he had a black belt in karate and was known sometimes to brandish a Louisville Slugger. “I can’t do everything by the book,” he insisted. “I bend the law to death in gaining information.”

12 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

He didn’t carry a gun, he told Oui magazine, “because my hands are lethal weapons.” In fact, he couldn’t legally carry a gun because he’d never been employed by a law enforcement agency.

13 The references to Pellicano’s black belt are many, here is one from “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

A slight man who eschewed firearms-”A gun is a physical solution to a mental problem,” he told the Tribune-he had a black belt in karate and was known sometimes to brandish a Louisville Slugger.

From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

Throughout the mid-1970s, he sold the legend of “Tony” Pellicano to anyone who would listen. His message was simple: He was the baddest, sagest practitioner of the “praying mantis style of kung fu.”

14 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

There he was on Channel 7 talking about runaway teens, on WBBM radio discussing “the families of missing persons,” flying to New York to appear on To Tell the Truth, and then back to Chicago to do Friday Night with Steve Edwards. Then it was over to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University to speak as “one of the top debugging experts in the United States” and off to lecture at the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity at Chicago-Kent College. He went to Marquette University Law School to make a presentation on the “psychological stress evaluator,” then to the Maywood Rotary Club, then to the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators.

15 From “Police tape site disputed” by Earl Golz, a re-posting from the alt.conspiracy.jfk, originally appearing in The Dallas Morning News (9-13-78):

The Dallas police open microphone thought to have picked up the sounds of four shots when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 “was nowhere near Dealey Plaza,” says an acoustical expert whose Chicago firm made its own analysis of the tape recording.

Anthony Pellicano said the sound of sirens heard on the tape after Kennedy was shot was “the most devastating” to the finding of the Cambridge, Mass. firm that presented its analysis of the tape Monday to the House Assassinations Committee.

The firm of Bolt, Beranek & Newman said the tape revealed four shots may have been fired during the 6-second period in which the president was assassinated in Dealey Plaza.

Pellicano was an expert witness in connection with the 18-minute gap in President Richard Nixon’s White House tape recordings in the Watergate case. He challenged the Cambridge firm’s analysis that the gap was intentional. His firm, Voice Analysis and Interpretation, also has acquired a national reputation for analysis of electronic evidence in plane crashes and wiretap cases.

The background noises during the six seconds “just do not dictate that it (open microphone) was in the motorcade,” Pellicano said.

Spectators cheering the president along Houston and Elm streets in Dealey Plaza could not be heard during the six seconds, he said, but the noise of heavy traffic and police sirens – not present in the plaza at the time – could be heard.

Using a computer, Pellicano said he determined how far away from the open microphone the motorcade sirens would have been at certain speeds.

“At the rate they were traveling, you can hear that they start off softly when they come into range of the microphone, get louder and then start to get softer again as they go off in the distance,” he said.

“It is nowhere near Dealey Plaza. And the most conclusive evidence was the sound of the sirens. The sirens – if you clock them – came after the time the president was shot, just about a minute or two after….You can hear sirens coming down Stemmons Freeway somewhere (after the presidential limousine left Dealey Plaza and started towards Parkland Memorial Hospital). So, whoever he was, he was somewhere along Stemmons or somewhere in that area in range of hearing those sirens go by.”

“There are a lot of noises in there (entire police radio tape available for Nov. 22, 1963) that sound like gunshots,” Pellicano said. “A lot of it is flaws in the original Dictabelt which caused the absence of noise which sounds like gunshots.

“The impulses that the man (Dr. James Barger, chief scientist for the Cambridge firm) was talking about could have been a million and one things, not necessarily gunshots.

“The correlation studies I used is a mathematical correlation; it’s not a hearing correlation. And we can find a lot of noises that sound and correlate like gunshots but are not.”

Pellicano said the police Dictabelt was worn and had many scratches on it which made “all kinds of sounds on the tape that sounded like gunshots” at points other than the six seconds when Kennedy was shot to death.

“You can use your imagination,” he said.

The noises the Cambridge firm said were motorcycles also could have been a bus running alongside a police car with the car’s window down and its microphone open, he said.

On the other hand, the open microphone didn’t have to be a policeman’s and could have been held open intentionally, he said.

“In other words, let’s say the assassin wanted to try to jam the communications, but he didn’t really know too much about it,” Pellicano said. “But he thought if he could get a radio transmitter and get a crystal for the same frequency and held that button open and generate some noise over that thing he would be able to mask a lot of the communications. It all depends on how close he was to the receiver.”

“I’m sure there was a conspiracy,” said the electronics investigator. “And I would love to say there were four or five shots but I can’t say it was based on any of my findings. I can’ say there were any more than three shots.”

Pellicano said his firm used $300,000 in sophisticated equipment for three weeks of acoustical analysis of an excellent copy of the tape obtained from a Dallas resident. He said the House Assassinations Committee “knows of my findings and somebody is supposed to contact me.”

16 From “The moment of truth – It’s all in the voice” by Chicago Daily News Service:

CHICAGO – Finding an honest man has never been easy. Diogenes, the ancient Greek philosopher, carried a lantern on his quest. Tony Pellicano, the Sicilian private eye, carries a briefcase.

But the briefcase has fired more controversy than a lantern ever could, for it contains a compact new instrument called the psychological-stress evaluator (PSE), the first competitor of the polygraph for truth verification in 50 years.

Invented five years ago by three ex-Army sleuths, the PSE is used by 100 police departments, several major retail organizations and private investigators such as Pellicano. Many use the instrument as a lie detector in lieu of the more common polygraph.

Unlike the polygraphy, which charts a subject’s respiration, pulse, blood pressure and skin response while the subject answers questions, the PSE registers stress by measuring certain inaudible modulation in the voice, Pellicano explained.

Once the subject’s answers are recorded, the tape is played at slow speed on the special tape recorder, which is wired to the PSE. A heat stylus charts the subject’s speech pattern in a merry zigzag on a roll of treated graph paper, Pellicano explained.

“It measures the muscular microtremor in the voice,” he said. “Everybody has this tremor,” which in an unstressed situation shows up as an unclipped hedge on the graph.

Many involved in the polygraph industry are very upset with the psychological-stress evaluator. An examiner with John Reid & Associates, a well-known polygraph firm, said that while the firm hadn’t worked with a PSE, “We tested a similar device and our office found it unreliable.”

“But we have no objection to its use as a fifth parameter (reaction to be checked) with the polygraph,” said James Bobal of the firm.

Legally, the PSE is in limbo, according to one of its inventors. “Our only legal hurdle was some state laws,” according to Allan Bell, president of Dektor Counterintelligence and Security, Springfield, Va., which manufactures the instrument.

17 From “ILLINOIS POLYGRAPH SOCIETY v. PELLICANO”, a ruling in favor of the polygraph society, reversing an earlier, successful appeal by Pellicano of the ruling:

Reversed and remanded.

MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the court:

The plaintiffs, Illinois Polygraph Society, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, Carl S. Klump and Richard Needham, brought an injunctive action in the circuit court of Cook County. The plaintiffs sought to enjoin the defendant, Anthony Pellicano, from administering detection-of-deception examinations or from holding himself out as a detection-of-deception examiner since the defendant was not licensed under “An Act to provide for licensing and regulating detection of deception examiners * * *” (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 202-1 et seq., now Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111, par. 2401 et seq.). The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, alleging that the Act is unconstitutional and that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. After a hearing the circuit court denied the motion and certified that there was no just reason to delay an appeal from its order. The appellate court reversed, deciding that section 3 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 202-3, now Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111, par. 2403) is special legislation in violation of article IV, section 13, of the 1970 Illinois Constitution. (78 Ill.App.3d 340.) We allowed the plaintiffs’ petition for leave to appeal. (73 Ill.2d R. 315.) We reverse.

18 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

But what really set Pellicano apart, colleagues said, was his hyperbole. A copy of his resume, circa 1975, describes his company as an agency “whose services are as diverse as its director’s talents” and claims a “perfect score” in locating 3,964 missing persons.

“The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick has a slightly different number:

Throughout the mid-1970s, he sold the legend of “Tony” Pellicano to anyone who would listen. His message was simple: He was the baddest, sagest practitioner of the “praying mantis style of kung fu.” He had a “100 percent success rate” in tracking down exactly 3,968 missing persons. Most amazingly, they were all “cases other people couldn’t solve.”

19 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

In 1969, he opened his own private-eye firm, focusing on collections and the removal of secretly placed surveillance equipment. He liked to wear huge, amber-tinted aviator glasses and three-piece jeans suits with foot-long collars and huge knotted ties; in repose he was almost handsome, with curly dark hair, large, heavy-lidded, expressive eyes, and full lips-the effect broken only when he smiled and revealed large, uneven buckteeth. On occasion he wore a white lab smock embroidered with an eye surrounded by concentric circles, the symbol of his detective agency, Fortune Enterprises. In 1974, he filed for bankruptcy, a setback he blithely ignored as he hired a press agent and launched an all-out assault on the gullibility of the Chicago press.

He boasted of having $300,000 worth of electronic equipment, an unlikely possibility given that in his bankruptcy he’d listed his assets as $50 in clothes and $28 in cash.

20 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

Even his bankruptcy fed the Pellicano myth, for it revealed that he’d received a $30,000 loan from a friend, Paul DeLucia Jr., the son of mobster Felice DeLucia (aka Paul “the Waiter” Ricca). He was also a pallbearer at the eider DeLucia’s 1972 funeral and named DeLucia Jr. the godfather of one of his daughters. He claimed that the younger DeLucia “was just like any guy in the neighborhood.” From then on he both denied and promoted his mob connections as it served his purposes. The governor of Illinois took the loan seriously enough, however, to force Pellicano to resign from a state law enforcement advisory board.

From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

Things took a downward turn the following year when he filed for bankruptcy protection. During that process, Pellicano admitted he had borrowed $30,000 from Paul DeLucia Jr., the son of Paul “the Waiter” Ricca, who had briefly led the Chicago Mob in the 1940s. Pellicano insisted that DeLucia, his daughter’s godfather, was “just like any other guy in the neighborhood,” but the information was enough to force Pellicano to resign from the commission.

21 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

But not all his publicity was the kind he liked. In 1976, he resigned under pressure from the Illinois Law Enforcement Commission after news reports that he accepted a $30,000 loan from the son of underworld figure Paul de Lucia, also known as Paul (the Waiter) Ricca.

Then-Gov. Dan Walker said Pellicano did not mention the loan on an ethics statement he was required to file. Walker told reporters that if Pellicano had done so, he would never have been appointed to the panel, which is responsible for awarding federal crime funds.

Pellicano said that Ricca’s son, Paul de Lucia Jr., was a childhood friend and that he borrowed the money because the cost of starting his agency had driven him into bankruptcy. He denied having underworld connections, and said he did not believe the younger Lucia had them either.

“Paul de Lucia is my daughter’s godfather,” Pellicano said. “He’s just like any other guy in the neighborhood.”

22 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

Then-Gov. Dan Walker said Pellicano did not mention the loan on an ethics statement he was required to file. Walker told reporters that if Pellicano had done so, he would never have been appointed to the panel, which is responsible for awarding federal crime funds.

23 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

It had been years since the dark-haired woman with the violet eyes had visited her husband’s grave. But with a stopover at O’Hare International Airport on this early summer day, she finally had her chance. On Friday, June 24, 1977, the actress Elizabeth Taylor, one of the most recognizable people in the world, slipped unnoticed into a suburban Chicago cemetery and left a dozen long-stemmed roses and an American flag at the tombstone of her third husband, the Oscar-winning movie producer Michael Todd, killed 19 years earlier in a fiery plane crash.

One day after Taylor’s surreptitious appearance, Todd’s grave had other visitors, though their presence went unreported until shortly after noon on Sunday, June 26th. That’s when an elderly woman visiting a nearby gravesite noticed Todd’s toppled tombstone-inscribed with his given name, Avrom Hirsch Goldbogen-and his unearthed and emptied casket. She called police, and on Monday morning, the case of Mike Todd’s missing remains made headlines nationwide. Through a spokesperson, Taylor, then the wife of John Warner, the future U.S. senator from Virginia, said she was “very upset and as baffled as anyone over the motive.”

When officials retrieved the remains of Mike Todd from the wreckage of the Lucky Liz in 1958, they didn’t come away with much. Todd was charred beyond recognition, and officials could identify him only through dental records. His wedding ring survived, and police returned it to Taylor. The rest-basically a handful of dust and what was likely part of a nylon seat belt-was scooped into a rubber bag and buried in Forest Park’s Waldheim Cemetery. There it rested until the weekend of June 25, 1977, a few days after what would have been Todd’s 68th or 70th birthday.

24 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

When officials retrieved the remains of Mike Todd from the wreckage of the Lucky Liz in 1958, they didn’t come away with much. Todd was charred beyond recognition, and officials could identify him only through dental records. His wedding ring survived, and police returned it to Taylor. The rest-basically a handful of dust and what was likely part of a nylon seat belt-was scooped into a rubber bag and buried in Forest Park’s Waldheim Cemetery. There it rested until the weekend of June 25, 1977, a few days after what would have been Todd’s 68th or 70th birthday.

To get to Todd’s remains, thieves first had to move a 300- to 400-pound granite tombstone about ten feet. They then dug a four-and-a-half-foot-deep hole and unearthed the bronze coffin. They pried open the coffin’s lid, smashed a glass case, and extracted the rubber bag containing Todd’s remains. Police, who estimated the entire operation took at least five hours, said that the thieves-because the tombstone was so heavy, there had to be at least two-had dragged some tree branches around the grave to shield themselves. A search of the cemetery later turned up a shovel likely used by the thieves. There were no other clues.

25 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

For a couple of days, police remained stymied, while the media speculated about the who, what, and why of the whole affair. That’s when Anthony Pellicano showed up with some of the answers. On the morning of June 28th, he called Bill Kurtis, then the popular TV news anchor at WBBM/ Channel 2. Pellicano’s company-Voice Interpretation & Analysis-had recently performed some acoustical studies for a U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the John F. Kennedy assassination, and Kurtis had reported that story. Now, over the telephone, Pellicano told Kurtis he thought he knew the location of Todd’s remains. “I got a tip,” he said (as Kurtis remembers the conversation). “Want to go out and look?”

26 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

Kurtis grabbed a cameraman and rushed out to Forest Park. At some point-he can’t recall exactly when-he also called police. At the cemetery (which Kurtis describes as resembling a savanna, with thickets of ash and oak trees and only a few graves), Pellicano and Kurtis headed for Todd’s grave. Pellicano recited aloud the instructions he had received and began pacing off distances from the grave. Finally, when he had walked about 75 yards, he cried out. “He yelled, ‘I think this is it!’” recalls Kurtis. “I came running over, and sure enough, it was.”

According to news stories at the time, Pellicano found a rubber bag containing the remains beneath a pile of branches, leaves, and dirt. He told the Sun-Times he had relied on a tip he had received from someone likely acting on behalf of the thieves. “I think they felt they made a tremendous mistake,” he said. “The information was volunteered to me. I’m a public figure, and I’ve handled many, many missing figures.”

27 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

A 1983 government sentencing report maintains that a mobster-turned-informant told authorities that two mob figures were the ones who exhumed Todd.

From “Unearthing of Taylor’s 3rd husband’s grave still a Chicago mystery” by John Kass:

Then in 1983, the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago identified two Outfit hoods as the grave robbers who stole Todd’s body: Peter Basile and Glen DeVos. But they weren’t charged with the crime.

One of the federal informants in the Todd case was Outfit figure Salvatore Romano.

Romano claimed Basile told him he’d dug up the bag containing Todd’s remains and dragged it into some bushes. Later, the hit man and government informant Frank Cullotta told authorities the same story. In each account, the ring was not found.

28 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

A 1983 government sentencing report maintains that a mobster-turned-informant told authorities that two mob figures were the ones who exhumed Todd. But the story making the rounds in Chicago even today is that Pellicano orchestrated the event to gain publicity in hopes of being hired to help find Chicago candy heiress Helen Brach, who disappeared in 1977.

“I’ve been hearing that story for years. It’s a great story, but there’s no way I would know if it’s true. The guy is a legend here,” said lawyer Glen Crick, former director of enforcement for the state agency governing private investigators.

29 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

As to the local investigation, Pellicano insisted police might easily have missed the bag containing Todd’s remains on their sweep of the cemetery. “You couldn’t see it coming up on it,” he said. Sgt. Richard Archambault, head of the Forest Park police investigators, concurred, pointing out that, in the wooded cemetery, “it would be possible to miss [the bag] on the first search.”

But in 1994, Joseph Byrnes, a Forest Park police lieutenant, told Los Angeles magazine a different story. “Seven patrolmen and I, walking shoulder to shoulder, searched every inch of that small cemetery, and we found nothing,” he said. “The very next day, Pellicano makes a big deal of finding the remains in a spot we had thoroughly checked.”

30 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

Kurtis, too, thinks it unlikely that police could have missed Todd’s remains. “The police had to have gone over that ground,” he says. “Whoever took [the remains] must have returned them. They were getting too hot to hang on to.”

That doesn’t mean Kurtis thinks Pellicano was the thief, although he hasn’t entirely dismissed that possibility. But he has difficulty accepting a scenario that involves Pellicano stealing Todd’s remains with the intent of later returning them to the cemetery where he could dramatically “find” them. To Kurtis, that just seems like too much work.

31 From “Unearthing of Taylor’s 3rd husband’s grave still a Chicago mystery” by John Kass:

Romano claimed Basile told him he’d dug up the bag containing Todd’s remains and dragged it into some bushes. Later, the hit man and government informant Frank Cullotta told authorities the same story. In each account, the ring was not found.

Prosecutors said that shortly after the grave robbery, an Outfit boss ordered Basile to draw a map “identifying the location of the unearthed body, and he gave it to an organized crime leader.”

32 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

But Pellicano’s critics–Chicago archrival Ernie Rizzo among them–gleefully refer to him as “the grave robber.” And police say the story has become part of the city’s detective lore although there is no evidence linking Pellicano to the disappearance.

Pellicano–along with his defenders in Chicago–says the tale is fueled by professional jealousy.

“Ernie Rizzo is a fruit fly,” Pellicano said in one of his more printable comments about the man.

33 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

The incident caught the attention of defense attorney Howard Weitzman, who brought Pellicano to Los Angeles. (He left his wife and five kids in Chicago.) Together they would work on the case that made both their careers: the 1983 drug-entrapment trial of automaker John DeLorean. Desperately trying to raise money to save his company from bankruptcy, DeLorean ran into a government sting fueled by a paid informant and ambitious federal prosecutors. DeLorean was acquitted, and Weitzman gave Pellicano a large share of the credit for tarnishing the informant.

From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

In 1983, Pellicano moved to L.A. His first assignment was helping the John Z. DeLorean defense. Pellicano was hired by attorney Howard Weitzman to help the former auto executive beat drug selling charges. Pellicano dissected key government tapes and dug up information that helped undermine prosecution witnesses.

34 From “Delorean defense protests inquiry” by Judith Cummings:

The telephone records of a private investigator working for John Z. DeLorean were subpoenaed by the Government in connection with a purportedly threatening telephone call that the investigator made to the father of a narcotics agent on the DeLorean case, it was disclosed in court today.

This disclosure led to an exchange of charges of threats and intimidation between the defense and the prosecution at the automaker’s trial on charges of cocaine trafficking.

Mr. DeLorean’s lawyers said the investigation of the investigator, Anthony J. Pellicano, was started in June a year ago without their knowledge when the Drug Enforcement Administration obtained six months of Mr. Pellicano’s telephone records on a subpoena. Donald M. Re, a DeLorean lawyer, called this an illegitimate tool being used by drug agency to obtain details of their defense.

On the telephone records subpoena, Mr. Pellicano in an interview, denied that his call to the father of a narcotics agent, John Valestra, had been threatening. Mr. Pellicano, who has worked on the case analyzing the Government’s audio and videotapes for the defense, said he had called a number of ”Valestras” in the United States at random, hoping to find someone able to provide background information on Mr. Valestra.

35 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

Weitzman said Pellicano’s work was “in large part responsible for my ability to win that case.” It was also the start of a profitable friendship. Pellicano will not say how much his Sunset Boulevard firm takes in each year or how much he personally makes. But Pellicano acknowledges that through Weitzman and entertainment lawyer Bertram Fields, he gained entree into the Hollywood A-list. Soon, his clientele included Kevin Costner, Roseanne Arnold, Jackson, [Don] Simpson and other celebrities.

From Dish by Jeannette Walls:

The recovery of Todd’s body made headlines, and a grateful Elizabeth Taylor introduced Pellicano to her Hollywood friends. Los Angeles criminal attorney Howard Weitzman hired Pellicano to work with him, and the pair successfully defended auto executive John DeLorean in a cocaine-trafficking case – even though the FBI caught DeLorean on videotape selling cocaine to an undercover agent. In 1983, Pellicano left Chicago and opened an office on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. There, sources say, he was coached by the notorious Fred Otash, the private investigator for Confidential. In Hollywood, Pellicano quickly became what he calls “the ultimate problem solver.”

36 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

His specialty was unique for a private eye: protecting the image of stars. That’s why Michael Jackson, Roseanne Barr, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, James Woods, Farrah Fawcett, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Chris Rock sought him out. Just how much they valued his protection was demonstrated by a phone call from Rock to Pellicano in 2001, asking for help in neutralizing an accusation that he’d had sex with a woman without her consent. “I’m better off getting caught with … needles in my arms,” he told Pellicano in a tape leaked to The New York Times. “Needles with pictures [saying,] ‘Here’s Chris Rock shooting heroin: [That would be] a much [lesser] blow to the career.” No charges were filed.

37 The filmographies on IMDB of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer.

38 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific page “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 92)”:

Harmon got the job, all right, and the privilege of working for Simpson while he was producing Top Gun and preparing Beverly Hills Cop II. But on October 12, 1988 – a year after leaving the position – she filed a complaint against Don Simpson; Jerry Bruckheimer and S-B [Simpson-Bruckheimer, the production company of the partners] asking $5 million for the emotional distress she suffered during her 20 months of employment. That comes out to $11,500 per working day, which would seem to be more than adequate recompense for a secretary who misspelled calculator on her application.

From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West; the sections in quotes are from Harmon’s deposition, where she refers to herself in the third person, specific page “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 92)”:

He repeatedly abused her in front of her co-workers and others. “Every day that Mr. Simpson had come into the office ever since I was employed there, I always serve him his coffee and club soda the minute he hits the door or he starts screaming. On this one particular day, he yelled to me, ‘Monica, get your ass in here,’ so I went to the main office and he accused me of using the wrong type of milk in his coffee. He said that I was using regular milk instead of low-fat milk and I just could not believe it…

“I said, ‘Don, for the past two years I have been putting low-fat milk in your coffee. What you talking about?’

“He starts yelling I am getting him fat and he starts yelling, get him the carton…I went to the refrigerator and got the carton and said, ‘Don, see, it is low-fat…’

“He started screaming that I was lying to him. I am trying to get him fat, and don’t ever put milk in his coffee again from now on. So I got back to my desk and started crying and said, ‘Ginger, I cannot believe this. I cannot believe he is yelling at me for stupid milk.’”

He required her to watch and tolerate illegal and immoral acts. “I have testified that Mr. Simpson used cocaine in his office; that he had others, including Bruckheimer, present when he was doing it; that on at least two occasions he left a pile of cocaine in his office and in his office bathroom and ordered me to clean it up before it was discovered by others.”

Harmon says that in June of 1987 she saw Simpson take “a vial out of his pocket and [he] proceeded to snort in the inside office.” She also claims she was told that Simpson did coke off his desk with Richard Tienken, Eddie Murphy’s agent at the time and an executive producer of Beverly Hills Cop II.

“Simpson maintained lists of girls he used as prostitutes and he required me to keep and update these lists. Periodically he required me to schedule he appointments with some of the prostitutes,” Harmon claims. She complaints that hookers would call the office all the time, and Simpson would not want to talk with them. (Harmon says she once got yelled at, ironically enough, because she put Simpson’s mother on his list of phone calls to return, and he didn’t want to talk to her either. In one deposition Harmon claims that Simpson hadn’t talked to his mother for six years.)

He exposed her to a variety of pornographic and obscene events, documents and statements. “On more than one occasion Simpson played pornographic videotapes in the office in such a way that I and other members of the staff could not help but see it…As a condition of my employment I was required to read lurid and pornographic material.” She also claims she heard that Simpson and members of his staff had appeared in porn films.

39 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific page “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 92)”:

Harmon, a woman of Mexican heritage in her mid-thirties who looks like a dark Stefanie Powers, claims to have worked as an executive secretary at Tilden Specialties, her ex-husband’s now-defunct manufacturing firm. In fact, she never worked for the company, and for much of the time she claims to have been there she was employed as a supermarket clerk.

A section on how much Harmon was suing for:

That comes out to $11,500 per working day, which would seem to be more than adequate recompense for a secretary who misspelled calculator on her application.

40 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 93)” and “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 94)”:

The 60-year-old partner in the firm Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman & Machtinger was recently named “the toughest attorney in Hollywood” by American Film. While most entertainment lawyers are content with quietly negotiating deals and taking their cut, Fields actually goes to court, where he has fought for Hoffman, the Beatles, Warren Beatty, Mario Puzo, 20th Century Fox, Gore Vidal and Isabelle Adjani.

Representing Harmon is the firm of Mathews and Evans, which has fewer attorneys in all (four) than Fields’s firm has in its name (five). While Fields works his legal legerdemain out of a plush Century City office, Charles Mathews and William D. Evans are based in Koreatown.

41 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 94)”:

For example, the pornographic films that Harmon “could not help but see” really existed. However, they were played in Simpson and Bruckheimer’s office with the door closed and were projected on a monitor in a different office, which Harmon could see from her desk – but only if she turned to her right and looked over her shoulder about 20 feet. If she had been looking straight ahead or down at her work, she could not have seen the picture on the monitor.

Harmon also admitted to stealing into Simpson’s private office the next day and playing the first two minutes of the video: “I wanted to see if that was the tape that they were looking at.” When asked by Bert Fields why she had done this, she answered simply, “Because it was pornographic.”

The obscene documents Harmon complained about are six letters to Simpson written by an aspiring actress. Harmon was obliged to read Simpson’s mail, but it’s tough to sue a guy for receiving dirty letters. She said that one she realized a letter was pornographic, she would stop reading it. But later she admitted to having taken these personal letters out of Simpson’s trash and reread them, naughty words and all.

She confessed to having rented adult movies to watch at home, having attended Chippendales twice and having voluntarily arranged for a male stripper to perform at the office.

42 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 95)”:

In an unsigned deposition to Fields, Winberg said that during the time of Harmon’s employment at S-B he had delivered a half gram of cocaine to her pretty much every day. Winberg said he had seen her do cocaine 100 times during her tenure at S-B and afterward. He also said Harmon had told him she was paying for her drugs out of S-B petty cash.

43 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 95)”:

The more Winberg talked, the less plausible Harmon’s already dubious shy-girl image became.

He said she had hired limousines and a messenger service for her private use and billed the company, and that she had once ordered a Paramount truck to move her cocaine deliverer’s mother’s furniture out of state.

44 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 95)”:

According to Winberg, Harmon started discussing the possibility of suing S-B in early 1987, about six months before she left her job. “She was pretty much upset all the time,” said Winberg. “She said that they were rich, and that she was going to get them. You know, they didn’t deserve it, to have that much money…She said that [Simpson] called her a cunt all the time.”

45 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 96)”:

Winberg, who wouldn’t talk without Pellicano’s permission, said only that he regretted that he had named Buddy Brown as Monica’s drug dealer. But not half as much as Brown did.

“I’m no drug dealer,” fumes Brown, Simpson’s imprudent racquetball opponent [an earlier part of the piece deals with Brown not letting Simpson win at the game when they play together]. “But I’ve sure been treated like one. I’ve lost my job, I’ve lost my apartment, and I’m two months behind on my car payments.”

Brown, half black, half Greek and 34 years old, spent 7 years at Paramount, the last few working alongside Winberg. “I don’t know why he’d name me. That guy was a life abuser, a suicidal crack addict. I felt sorry for him. I gave him my old clothes. My wife cooked dinner for him. I just don’t understand it,” says Brown.

46 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 95)”:

Why would Winberg confess to delivering cocaine – a felony – merely to help in a stranger’s civil lawsuit? Possibly because of the $4,000 that Pellicano lent him. Or the $500 Pellicano provided for meals during his three-day stay in L.A.

47 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 95)”:

When I first tried to contact Don Simpson about his legal troubles, it was Pellicano who returned the call. “Don doesn’t want a story. We don’t want you to do a story,” he told me. When I called Simpson, Pellicano would phone me and ask why I was calling them. He did his best to let me know he was out there. When I talked to people who had had run-ins with Pellicano, they all said the same thing: “Don’t fuck with him.”

48 From “I’m Don Simpson; And you’re not” by David Thomson:

He didn’t walk out of Alaska as a child. The walk is too long, and Don always wanted such staples as functional bathrooms. That he was a very bad boy in Anchorage is not in doubt. But he left at the requisite age to attend the University of Oregon, where he was a prize student. Although his subsequent films give no hint of this, Don was a bit of an intellectual: indeed, he would sometimes say that he hired in call girls for the weekend so as to discuss Dostoevsky – once the formalities had been transacted.

So he is out of university some time in the late Sixties, which is about as close to the Baptist hell as we’re going to get – unless there’s a meltdown in every last vestige of order. He had reached San Francisco, where the attempt at meltdown was being earnestly pursued. He was working for a showbusiness advertising agency and running publicity for the First International Erotic Film Festival. This is important, because – despite the Dostoevsky – Don had a very basic attitude to the movies: he was for sensation, speed, violence, nudity, getting the point straightaway, and things the public had never seen or done before.

49 From “Simpson Unplugged”, a series of excerpts of interview answers he gave in the documentary The Big Bang, made by his friend James Toback:

It’s really tough to escape early conditioning. I mean, I was brainwashed. I came from a family that was – and is – extremely religious. Southern Baptist, fundamentalist Christians who hit you in the head in the morning and made you pray at night. Went to church three times a week. Thanked God for the fact that He didn’t kill you that day. Because we were all born evil, nasty, dirty people. Except if we hung on long enough in this life, God would give it all back to us in the next.

A pastor on a prayer-meeting night had gotten me in the corner of this cold, dank basement. He had become aware that I had been looking at the ladies in church – not the girls but the mothers. There was a particular woman, and he made a comment that I was apparently lusting after her. Mind you, I was 10 years old. And this is a man who, my whole life, had been my mentor and moral benefactor. So I said, “Minister Culley, I have these thoughts, and I have these feelings.” He said, “If you think about it beyond this moment, God will strike you. And if you do anything about it, you will live in hell forever.”

At that moment, I said, “This is bullshit. I’m gonna play Little League and get laid.” I knew then that I would leave and never go back. I didn’t escape my roots, I ran away from them – eternally.

50 From “I’m Don Simpson; And you’re not” by David Thomson:

For years, Don Simpson had been a cocaine freak, without apparent problems. He had it under control. The blow just kept him firing and moving. But years of cocaine can often lead to paranoia, delusions and depression. More to the point, in 1990, Don was 45. For 20 years he had worked very hard, which in Hollywood is often a matter of keeping up the show of work, of meetings, taking calls, making deals, when lesser people are dropping. Don didn’t drop; he was always there, still grinning, in the poker of business. He might be down on someone and still haggling over points. He ate – ice cream, peanut butter, junk food – and he did cocaine; and he screwed hookers. He was never married, or close to it. But he had a well-earned reputation for funding orgies, and word got out – it’s a word-of-mouth town – that the orgies were sado-masochistic. He liked to impose pain, indignity and humiliation on women; and then he liked to go away as their friends.

51 From “I’m Don Simpson; And you’re not” by David Thomson:

He helped to write and played a small part in the action movie Cannonball, but he was more importantly a thrusting new executive, becoming more powerful at Paramount with every quarter. He figures occasionally in Julia Phillips’s book, You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again. She sees him as a relentless, ape-like, funny, attractive and avid cocaine-user, a weird mix of stupid and smart, right brain and left so at war you could see the zip in the middle of his head. They sort of have sex in the way of people who are talking dirty to feel out the chance of doing business:

“When we get back to the hotel, Don is still wired from the Redford evening, so we have a nightcap in my room. We get into some heavy necking, but he is very uptight about my married status. I say something corny, `Don’t make me beg,’ but the farthest he ever goes is down on me … After this quasi-sexual encounter, he feels very free about expressing his preferences, which seem to revolve mainly around turning women over and fucking them in the ass. He talks about angry fucking, and I am grateful we never get to intercourse, because I don’t think I’d like it very much his way. We stay tight friends, but it is by silent mutual agreement that there will be no more sex.”

52 This quote is from the BBC documentary devoted to Simpson, “A Death in Hollywood”. It can currently be found in youtube, transferred from an old videotape copy, in five parts: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five.

53 From “Don Simpson’s Death Showed Depth of Abuse” by Chuck Philips:

By visiting multiple doctors and pharmacies, Simpson was able to conceal the vast quantity and array of drugs prescribed to him, as well as the frequency with which he procured them. In many cases, the famous 52-year-old producer also masked his identity by having prescriptions illegally written for him under a pseudonym.

Simpson had no difficulty getting such dangerous and addictive narcotics as morphine sulfate and Percodan, which require federally regulated triplicate prescriptions. (When a triplicate is issued, a copy goes to the doctor, the pharmacy and the state agency that monitors controlled substances.) Simpson also had acquired a significant stash of Dexedrine, Seconal, Xanax, lithium and other controlled substances.

54 From “I’m Don Simpson; And you’re not” by David Thomson:

For 20 years he had worked very hard, which in Hollywood is often a matter of keeping up the show of work, of meetings, taking calls, making deals, when lesser people are dropping. Don didn’t drop; he was always there, still grinning, in the poker of business. He might be down on someone and still haggling over points. He ate – ice cream, peanut butter, junk food – and he did cocaine; and he screwed hookers.

From “Don Simpson’s Death Showed Depth of Abuse” by Chuck Philips:

Despite a comeback last spring with “Crimson Tide” and “Dangerous Minds,” the producer’s weight had ballooned 50 pounds and he was succumbing to serious addiction. Associates say he became reclusive, rarely leaving his mansion even to visit the sets of his movies.

55 From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

But even as the hits were opening, the partnership was quietly crumbling. Disney executives say they began to see less and less of Mr. Simpson, who was working out of his home or spending time at Canyon Ranch to fight his constant weight problem. Mr. Bruckheimer seemed to be carrying the load. Mr. Simpson never even visited the set of “Crimson Tide.”

But Mr. Bruckheimer remained loyal to his erratic partner. At studio meetings, Mr. Bruckheimer would sometimes show up alone. “Is Don coming?” one executive says they would ask Mr. Bruckheimer. “I don’t know,” was his frequent response. But Kathy Nelson, Disney’s president of music and a friend of the producing duo, says Mr. Simpson “would respond in writing or sometimes with a phone call to every single memo I sent him.”

56 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

Steve Ammerman was adept at reinventing himself. At Washington State, when a knee injury sidelined the former high school football star from Sandpoint, Ida., Ammerman said goodby to football dreams and lackluster grades. He transferred to the University of Oregon, turned himself into a high achiever and was admitted to medical school at the Oregon Health Sciences University.

57 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

Ammerman pursued a residency in orthopedics in Washington, but tired of that and moved to Los Angeles 12 years ago to practice emergency medicine. “He liked the challenge of all the different cases,” Capri recalled. “He was very good at trauma.”

And he was good at business. He started a company that contracted doctors out to emergency rooms and he created a billing service for hospital emergency rooms. Operating out of an office in Paramount, Ammerman’s firm provided emergency room services to the Beverly Hills Medical Center, the Santa Ana-based Coastal Community Hospital and the El Monte Community Hospital, among others.

58 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

Ammerman pursued a residency in orthopedics in Washington, but tired of that and moved to Los Angeles 12 years ago to practice emergency medicine. “He liked the challenge of all the different cases,” Capri recalled. “He was very good at trauma.”

59 From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

Friends noticed that Mr. Simpson, who had a weight problem and a penchant for yo-yo dieting, seemed increasingly determined to reinvent himself. He underwent a series of plastic-surgery operations; one friend says that among the procedures he had were a chin implant, several face lifts, and placenta injections. He began disappearing for months at a time, telling friends he was at Canyon Ranch, where most visitors stay only a few days. And he began talking about finding new projects in which he could appear as an actor.

60 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

And he struggled to look the part. Always interested in bodybuilding and health food diets, he continued his search for self-perfection with liposuction and, less than two weeks before his death, a hair transplant.

He had a natural ease that he used to ingratiate himself. “He sought out certain people he thought would help him,” Capri said.

Simpson was one of those people. Ammerman met the producer at a Santa Monica gym more than five years ago.

But he couldn’t solve his own drug problem. His tools of abuse were prescription drugs–”amphetamines and anxiety drugs like Xanax,” said Capri, who watched Ammerman’s problem grow from seemingly casual use in medical school to problematic use in the mid-’80s.

61 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

As he struggled for recognition, Ammerman brought along his demons–an addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol that dogged him for years. He checked into rehabilitation facilities twice and stayed clean for five years. Confident of his ability to fight his own battle, he even fashioned himself into something of an expert on drugs, friends say.

But in the months before his death, he had begun to slip again. In April, Santa Monica police arrested Ammerman after finding him in a drug-induced trance, standing naked on the ninth-floor ledge of an oceanfront apartment building.

62 From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

Ammerman believed that, for Simpson to become clean, it was necessary to prescribe drugs that would ease the painful withdrawal symptoms of other medications that he was taking–a “dangerously unorthodox” regimen, according to a government pharmacist interviewed for this article.

63 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

But in the months before his death, he had begun to slip again. In April, Santa Monica police arrested Ammerman after finding him in a drug-induced trance, standing naked on the ninth-floor ledge of an oceanfront apartment building.

64 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

Cut to Ammerman pumping iron in the mid-1980s at a gym in Santa Monica. The gym rats are Hollywood players. Ammerman wants to play too.

The gym rats ask if Ammerman can get them amino acid supplements so they can build big muscles. Ammerman starts writing prescriptions.

65 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

By 1993, Ammerman can’t keep still. Literally.

He sees a Dr. Robert H. Gerner at the Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder and Child Adolescent Psychopharmacology Institute and is diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

Gerner is a well-known practitioner of psychopharmacology, identified in print as an “expert.”

He is also being investigated by the state Medical Board.

He has been accused, according to board records, of fondling a female patient as part of something he called “rubbing therapy.”

He also allegedly prescribed about 7,000 pills to the same patient, a drug addict, from 1988 to 1990. The pills include amphetamines and antidepressants.

Gerner treats Ammerman for four months in 1993, medical records show, and writes prescriptions for five different medications. They amount to 700 pills including amphetamines, an anti-hyperactivity drug and a potent stimulant known as methamphetamine.

Within months, Ammerman switches doctors. He chooses Nomi Frederick, also a psychopharmacologist who studied under Gerner at UCLA.

Ammerman apparently lies to his new doctor. Her notes indicate he “denies current substance abuse” and incorrectly describe him as a “Harvard grad.”

Frederick first prescribes a new antidepressant, then switches Ammerman to Ritalin, Prozac and Dexedrine. Ammerman prescribes himself sleeping pills.

Sometime in the early 90s, the Medical Board gets wind of Ammerman’s problems. The state gets him into detox twice.

It doesn’t work.

66 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

To maintain confidentiality, Ammerman thinks up a pseudonym for Simpson: Dan Wilson.

“Dan Wilson,” says Capri, “is Don Simpson.”

To help with the treatment, Ammerman recruits his own doctor, Frederick.

A record from the Brent Air Pharmacy in Brentwood shows that on July 22, 1995, Frederick prescribes Vistaril, an anti-anxiety medication, to a Dan Wilson at Simpson’s address. Writing prescriptions to a phony person is illegal in California.

Then, in August alone, sources say, Frederick prescribes about 800 pills for Simpson. Records show prescriptions for Dexadrine, Percocet, Valium, Seconal and morphine sulfate.

From “Don Simpson’s Death Showed Depth of Abuse” by Chuck Philips:

On Friday, authorities armed with warrants raided the offices of two Westside psychiatrists–Robert Hugh Gerner and Nomi J. Fredrick–in connection with the probe. Fredrick’s home also was searched.

Gerner, who treated Simpson in 1993 and 1994, is on probation for overprescribing controlled substances to another patient with whom he had sex, according to the California Medical Board.

Fredrick, according to records obtained by The Times, dispensed large amounts of addictive drugs to Simpson and other wealthy Los Angeles residents, including oil heiress Aileen Getty, who obtained more than 4,000 pills from Fredrick over the last year.

Many of the drugs at the heart of the probe were prescribed last summer while Simpson was undergoing detoxification at his home by friend Stephen Ammerman, a Pacific Palisades physician with a long history of substance abuse.

67 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

A few minutes later, Michelle D. McElroy, a personal assistant to Simpson and the woman who made the 911 call, directs paramedics to the pool house.

Ammerman is nude and slumped against the shower door, his long legs stretched out in front of him, blood dripping from his nose. Just 10 days earlier, his head had been reforested with a hair transplant.

If his dreams had come true, he would have become a successful Hollywood filmmaker–powerful, respected, earning millions. Instead, Steve Ammerman’s life and long quest for success as a movie maker came to an abrupt end two months ago in the pool house shower at prominent film producer Don Simpson’s Bel-Air home. An assistant to Simpson found Ammerman dead of a drug overdose on the morning of Aug. 15.

From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

68 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

Ammerman was at Simpson’s house almost daily during the last three weeks of his life. Ammerman told friends he was acting as Simpson’s doctor. His screenwriting collaborators say that Simpson, meanwhile, was advising the fledgling filmmaker.

From “Producer’s house sanitized before investigators arrived” by The Associated Press:

A toxicology report said Ammerman, 44, died of a drug overdose, with a large amount of morphine in his system. He was staying at Simpson’s home after undergoing a hair transplant.

From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

Mr. Toback, the screenwriter, says that Dr. Ammerman’s death was a major shock for Mr. Simpson. An autopsy found cocaine, morphine, Valium and the antidepressant drug Venlafaxine in Dr. Ammerman’s system. Police ruled the death an accidental drug overdose.

69 From “Producer’s house sanitized before investigators arrived” by The Associated Press:

The areas in movie producer Don Simpson’s house where he and a friend died from drug overdoses appear to have been cleaned up before investigators arrived, authorities said.

A coroner’s report, attached to Simpson’s autopsy and toxicology analysis, described the Ammerman scene in fractured English: “Investigators impression the scene had been sanitized.”

Simpson’s private investigator, Anthony Pellicano, was at Simpson’s house after Ammerman’s body was found.

“I didn’t sanitize anything. The police and the paramedics got there before I got there,” Pellicano said.

One coroner’s document said Ammerman had a “drug background” and noted the fatal level of morphine in his system. It made no reference to police finding any morphine or heroin in the guest house. The only drugs found at the scene was a vial of Valium and a small syringe, documents said.

From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

The coroner determines Ammerman died of a mixture of Valium, speed, cocaine and enough morphine to knock out a horse.

That much is certain, but conflicting statements, questionable police work and the possibility of missing evidence plague the investigation.

For one thing, the drugs police find on the estate don’t match the drugs in Ammerman’s body.

A coroner’s investigator finds a vial of Valium and a syringe in the pocket of a pair of Ammerman’s shorts. The Valium has been prescribed by Ammerman two weeks earlier to the nonexistent Dan Wilson [a pseudonym used by Simpson].

But what he cannot find, and what no one else can find, is any trace of morphine on the estate. Police reports also make no mention of finding speed or cocaine there.

A coroner’s report quotes police as saying the scene appeared to have been “sanitized.” Another coroner’s document says police had trouble “getting information from people present.”

70 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

Anthony Pellicano, a private investigator who has worked for the film producer since 1989, acknowledged that Ammerman was often at Simpson’s house during July and August, but denied that Ammerman ever treated Simpson.

“Ammerman was never Don’s doctor,” Pellicano said. “There was no medical treatment going on for drugs or for anything else . . . Ammerman was a hanger-on, one of many who just wouldn’t leave Don alone. It’s unfortunate that this guy committed suicide, but honestly, we wish it would’ve happened at someone else’s house.”

According to government sources, records indicate that Ammerman prescribed dextroamphetamine in 1990 and morphine in 1993 for Simpson.

71 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

[Ammerman] walks into the pool house of the Simpson estate, where his girlfriend is sleeping. He complains about being too hot. He takes a shower. He goes swimming naked. He does exercises. He crawls into his girlfriend’s bed wearing a wet towel. He makes growling noises.

The girlfriend, a flight attendant, suspects the doctor’s been taking wrong doses of his medicine again.

The doctor doesn’t want to talk about it. The girlfriend bolts, pulling out of the mansion’s driveway about 1:30 a.m.

Was there an argument on the estate the night Ammerman died? Police reports say his girlfriend overheard an argument, but there is no mention of who is arguing or about what.

Simpson also gives police a statement and makes no mention of an argument. Police apparently don’t follow up.

Who found the body – and when – is never resolved.

Police reports say McElroy reported finding the body about 11:10 a.m. when she walked into the pool house to get some sausages.

Simpson later tells screenwriter James Toback he found Ammerman’s body “out by the pool” about 6 a.m. – about five hours before the 911 call. Simpson tells Vanity Fair magazine he found the body at 9 a.m.

Simpson and his friends can’t even agree on who Ammerman was and what his relationship was to the famous producer.

72 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

“Ammerman was never Don’s doctor,” Pellicano said. “There was no medical treatment going on for drugs or for anything else . . . Ammerman was a hanger-on, one of many who just wouldn’t leave Don alone. It’s unfortunate that this guy committed suicide, but honestly, we wish it would’ve happened at someone else’s house.”

73 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

To Vanity Fair, Simpson describes Ammerman as a Harvard graduate and a former football All-American. He was neither.

“Pellicano found out that the guy had a history of substance abuse I had no idea of that,” Simpson tells the magazine. “I’ve never done drugs with him in my life.”

Simpson’s friends find this last part hard to believe.

74 From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

After the body was discovered, one of the first calls Mr. Simpson made was to Mr. Bruckheimer, an associate says. By this point, according to friends, Mr. Bruckheimer’s wife was encouraging him to end the partnership. The doctor’s death, they say, finally pushed him to the point of no return.

Over the next four months the pair worked out the details of their separation. The finale came on Dec. 19, when they announced their professional divorce.

75 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

On the last night of his life, Don Simpson can’t stop talking about his big plans for the future.

The next day, Jan. 19, 1996, Simpson’s body is found slumped by his toilet, a biography of filmmaker Oliver Stone at his side.

From “Amorality Tale: The Last Days of Don Simpson” by Richard Natale, specifically “Amorality Tale: The Last Days of Don Simpson (page 75)”:

[Gastroentrologist Dr. William Stuppy] charted Simpson’s autonomic nervous system over a 24-hour period and was alarmed by his findings. Simpson’s overdependence on uppers and downers – Percodan, Percocet and Dexedrine – placed him at high risk of “sudden death” for not a heart attack but a sudden cessation of his heartbeat. Stuppy says, “What I read from Simpson’s chart was like a singing telegram: You are going to die!” He told Simpson death “would most likely happen either at the dinner table, on the can or when waking up.”

76 From “Don Simpson’s Death Showed Depth of Abuse” by Chuck Philips:

It was no secret in Hollywood that producer Don Simpson had a drug problem. But the depth of his addiction was not revealed until the night he died.

On Jan. 19, police discovered more than 2,200 pills and tablets stockpiled in alphabetical order in a bedroom closet next to the bathroom where Simpson’s body was found.

From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

When paramedics arrive, they find a house that looks like a pharmacy. Scattered about are more than 80 bottles of prescription medication containing some 2,000 pills. Sixty-three of the bottles were prescribed by one man, Dr. Stephen Ammerman.

77 From “Producer’s house sanitized before investigators arrived” by The Associated Press:

Coroner’s reports obtained Friday by The Associated Press suggest that police failed to find the drugs that killed Simpson and Dr. Stephen Ammerman.

Simpson, who teamed up with Jerry Bruckheimer to produce such hits as “Flashdance,” “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Top Gun,” was found dead Jan. 19. Ammerman was found dead in the guest house at Simpson’s Bel-Air estate five months earlier, on Aug. 10.

A coroner’s report, attached to Simpson’s autopsy and toxicology analysis, described the Ammerman scene in fractured English: “Investigators impression the scene had been sanitized.”

Referring to the scene after Simpson’s death, the report said: “At scene police suspect the same in this case.”

One coroner’s document said Ammerman had a “drug background” and noted the fatal level of morphine in his system. It made no reference to police finding any morphine or heroin in the guest house. The only drugs found at the scene was a vial of Valium and a small syringe, documents said.

The report said Simpson was “said to have histories of PCP and cocaine abuse” and his death was linked to cocaine use. Yet police reported they found only prescription medication in Simpson’s house after his death.

From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

When the toxicology report comes in, it is longer than the credits on some of Simpson’s movies. His blood contains the chemicals that make up Uniso, Atarax, Vistaril, Librium, Valium, Compazine, Xanax, Desyrel and Tigan. Cocaine is also detected.

The official cause of death: massive amounts of drugs assaulting Simpson’s fibrous heart.

78 From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

But Mr. Simpson then disappeared for weeks and seemed to be in hiding shortly after Stephen W. Ammerman was found dead in his pool house on Aug. 15. Some friends say that Dr. Ammerman, 44, had been hired to help direct Mr. Simpson’s detoxification program. But he also was an aspiring screenwriter who had sought Mr. Simpson’s advice.

Rumors began to swirl that the Simpson and Bruckheimer partnership was on the rocks. Anthony Pellicano, a well-known private investigator, started acting as Mr. Simpson’s spokesman, and adamantly denied that a breakup was near. Yesterday, he said that Dr. Ammerman wasn’t treating Mr. Simpson and that he was simply a “hanger on.”

From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips and Carla Hall:

“I wouldn’t get tangled with Hollywood for all the tea in China,” his father said. “I think that’s the screwiest place in the world. I could never understand his infatuation with all that stuff.”

79 From “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

When the father became more and more irate and demanded a meeting, the mother confided in Jackson, who in turn called his lawyer, Bertram Fields, to intervene. Fields did so aggressively, even though minor custody disputes are hardly what he, as one of show business’s most visible litigators, normally gets paid $500 an hour for. Fields called in private investigator/negotiator/forensic audio specialist Anthony Pellicano.

From Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story, 1958-2009 by J. Randy Taraborelli:

Michael’s camp hired high-powered criminal defence attorney Howard Weitzman to represent him; he read a statement prepared by his client: ‘I am confident the department will conduct a fair and thorough investigation and that its results will demonstrate that there was no wrong-doing on my part. I intend to continue with my world tour.’

80 From “Gloves Come Off in Damage Control by Jackson Camp” by David Ferrell and Chuck Philips:

As the Aug. 21 police raid threatened to spill the accusations into the public realm, Pellicano sought to act quickly, enlisting Weitzman’s services before flying from Bangkok, Thailand, to Los Angeles.

Even the first sketchy media accounts of the investigation, which surfaced a few days later, contained Pellicano’s spin on the case. Initial reports contained no reference to molestation, but quoted the investigator saying police were acting on “an extortion attempt gone awry.”

81 From “Gloves Come Off in Damage Control by Jackson Camp” by David Ferrell and Chuck Philips:

Pellicano followed by giving previously undisclosed details of the alleged extortion attempt. In phone calls and meetings spanning six weeks, Pellicano alleged during interviews, the boy’s father had threatened to ruin Jackson’s career unless Jackson paid $20 million in a series of movie development deals.

From “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

He called Barry Rothman and told him what had happened. They arranged a meeting immediately in Rothman’s office.

“The doctor wants to close down his dental practice and he wants to write full-time, and what he wants is this,” Rothman supposedly tells Pellicano: “Four movie deals, $5 million each.”

“And I look at him like he’s absolutely crazy. You want $20 million? There’s no fucking way that’s going to happen. I’m not going to pay $20 million and for what?” Once again, Pellicano says, his mind races: Maybe Rothman is lying how do I get this on tape? Later, they go back and forth on the telephone and arrange another meeting with the father at Rothman’s office for August 9.

82 From “Trouble Shooter” by Bill Hewitt:

Anthony Pellicano, Hollywood’s most famous private investigator, ushers a visitor into his inner sanctum, a room in his Los Angeles office crammed with enough computers and electronic gear to make a cyberpunk swoon. Pellicano, 49, has something he wants to share a tape, he says, that will show that the allegations of child molestation leveled against his client Michael Jackson are nothing more than an extortion plot gone bad. Mostly the recording sounds like two guys haggling over business. A former lawyer for the father of the 13-year-old accuser tells Pellicano that the father, ostensibly negotiating a screenwriting gig with Jackson, wanted more than the $350,000 deal that had been offered. Aired earlier at a press conference, the tape is suggestive but far from conclusive. Listening to the conversation yet again, Pellicano can scarcely contain himself, at one point excitedly grabbing a visitor’s arm in a viselike grip. “It absolutely happened,” says Pellicano of the alleged extortion attempt. “I mean, he acknowledges that on the tape.”

From “Gloves Come Off in Damage Control by Jackson Camp” by David Ferrell and Chuck Philips:

The private eye also tracked down child friends of Jackson who might help paint a positive image of the singer. In one of several interviews with The Times, the investigator described his role as that of a far-ranging problem-solver: “I had to lay out the chessboard and say: ‘What does the public think? How will this affect Michael and all of the other deals that are in the works for him? And the sponsors involved?’

83 On the tape Pellicano made, from “Gloves Come Off in Damage Control by Jackson Camp” by David Ferrell and Chuck Philips:

Pellicano appeared at a news conference with Weitzman on Wednesday and released a tape, one Pellicano said he made just before the scandal broke. In the 23-minute tape, he said, he was talking to the father’s attorney about the demands–but no demands were stated explicitly on the tape.

“We didn’t release the tape earlier because we didn’t think it was necessary,” Weitzman said. “It was just a strategy we employed.”

From “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

Later that day or the next, the stepfather, in an effort to help his wife, secretly recorded three long phone conversations with the father and reported back to Fields and Pellicano. (Ironically, Pellicano distributed the tape to the media to bolster his side, but the tape is crudely edited, full of erasures, and at times actually seems to help the father’s case.) From Jackson’s point of view, the tape would have been deeply disturbing, not only because on it the father threatens to “ruin Michael’s career” and bring him down, but also because he implies that he has the proof to do so: “When the facts are put together, it’s going to be bigger than all of us put together, and the whole thing is going to crash down on everybody and destroy everybody in sight.” Jamie’s father says Michael “is an evil guy. He’s worse than bad, and I have the evidence to prove it.”

84 From “Jackson Aides Go Back on the Offensive” by Amy Wallace and Jim Newton:

Shortly after that tape was obtained by CBS News and The Times, Rizzo, the private investigator who said he represented the family of the boy, declared that Pellicano had deleted sections of the tape.

“In the part he cuts out, the father says: ‘I want Jackson in jail, and I want my child in therapy,’” Rizzo said. “Does that sound like extortion?”

From “3 More Players Emerge in the Jackson Case” by Jim Newton and Jim Newton:

Late in the day, Hirsch, the lawyer for the boy’s father, disavowed the private investigator and said Rizzo did not speak for the family. Doubts about Rizzo mounted further when he could not produce evidence that he worked for the boy’s mother, as he had claimed.

“I wasn’t hired by Hirsch,” Rizzo said. “I was hired by (the boy’s father). Hirsch can’t fire me. He didn’t hire me…Until (the boy’s father) tells me different, that’s where it’s at.”

In Chicago, colleagues of the investigator described him as a colorful private eye who lost his professional license after being forced into a hiatus by a conviction for illegal wiretapping.

“Ernie isn’t well liked, possibly because his colleagues are jealous, possibly because he does not always do things within the law,” said Richard Fries, a veteran investigator who has practiced in Chicago for 20 years and who sits on the state licensing board. “He had lost his license for almost 10 years, and he just got it back, let’s see, in January or December.”

Fries said Rizzo failed the test for reinstatement the first time he took it but passed it on the second try.

The bad blood between Rizzo and Pellicano dates back years to when both worked as private investigators in Chicago. On Tuesdays, they gave no indications that a truce is in the offing.

“I’ve called him a fraud since Day 1,” Rizzo said.

For his part, Pellicano dismissed Rizzo as “an ambulance chaser” from Chicago drawn to the case by the prospects of getting publicity.

From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

So exactly who looted Mike Todd’s grave? And how could Forest Park police have overlooked the remains? A 1993 profile of Pellicano in the Los Angeles Times cited a 1983 government sentencing report that claimed a mobster-turned-informant told authorities that two Mob figures were the ones who exhumed Todd.

But, the article went on, the story making the rounds in Chicago even today is that Pellicano orchestrated the event to gain publicity in hopes of being hired to help find Chicago candy heiress Helen Brach, who disappeared in 1977. According to the Times, the PI’s critics including Ernie Rizzo, another colorful Chicago private eye gleefully referred to Pellicano as the grave robber. Pellicano, reported the Times, dismissed Rizzo as a fruit fly. (Rizzo died in 2006.)

85 From Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story, 1958-2009 by J. Randy Taraborelli:

On 25 August, in an effort to do more so-called ‘damage control’, the day after Michael performed his first show in Bangkok, Anthony Pellicano arranged that the media have access to two young friends of Michael’s, Brett Barnes and Wade Robson. In front of lights, cameras and microphones from news outlets around the world, Brett admitted that he and Michael had slept together on many occasions, but with no sexual overtones. ‘He kisses you like you kiss your mother,’ said the eleven-year-old. ‘It’s not unusual for him to hug, kiss and nuzzle up to you, and stuff.’

Wade, who was ten, also said he had slept in the same bed as Michael, but ‘just as a friend’. He said, ‘Michael is a very, very kind person, really nice and sweet. Sure, I slept with him on dozens of occasions but the bed was huge.’

Anthony Pellicano’s offering of Wade and Brett to the press did little to help Michael’s case: in fact, it was thought by many observers to have made things worse.

From “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

Michael Jackson’s defense: “If it’s a 35-year-old pedophile, then it’s obvious why he’s sleeping with little boys. But if it’s Michael Jackson, it doesn’t mean anything,” says Anthony Pellicano. “You could say it’s strange, it’s inappropriate, it’s weird. You can use all the adjectives you want to. But is it criminal? No. Is it immoral? No.”

86 From “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

As much as in any political campaign, media manipulation and spin are crucial in a volatile case like this. Pellicano worked tirelessly to shape the coverage, with mixed results. Early on, in his most controversial action, Pellicano introduced to the TV news cameras two young boys who said that they were close friends of Michael Jackson’s and had shared the same bed with him, but that he had never done anything to them. Many people then thought that Pellicano’s effort to clear Jackson had backfired. “Do you know an adult now who is not absolutely convinced that Michael Jackson did it?” said a prominent criminal attorney. “Pellicano ruined it.”

87 From Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story, 1958-2009 by J. Randy Taraborelli:

Anthony Pellicano’s offering of Wade and Brett to the press did little to help Michael’s case: in fact, it was thought by many observers to have made things worse. Michael was actually unhappy about Anthony’s decision to put the boys forth when he heard about it in Thailand. ‘That’s not good,’ he said according to an adviser of his at the time. ‘That makes me look even worse, I think. It’s not good.’

88 From “Investigator, Lawyer Quit Jackson’s Defense Team” by Jim Newton and Sonia Nazario, published on December 22, 1993:

Two controversial members of Michael Jackson’s defense team–a lawyer who blundered in court and a private investigator whose tactics and public comments drew fire–have resigned from the case as Jackson continues to battle allegations that he sexually molested a young boy.

Meanwhile, new details emerged Tuesday about a potential second child molestation victim who has been interviewed by police and social service workers during the last two months. The child and his parent, a former Jackson employee, were interviewed jointly by investigators and told them that Jackson fondled the boy’s buttocks on several occasions, according to a source close to the investigation.

The new allegations come amid news of the shake-up in the Jackson camp. Private investigator Anthony Pellicano and lawyer Bertram Fields, one of Jackson’s team of legal advisers, resigned privately in recent weeks–Pellicano quit last Wednesday and Fields quit Dec. 3–sources close to the entertainer said.

On the mistakes of Bert Fields, during the Jackson case, from “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

In the course of the hearing, Bert Fields, Jackson’s own lawyer, misinterpreting information hastily given to him by Jackson’s criminal attorney, Howard Weitzman, told the judge that a grand jury in Santa Barbara had issued two subpoenas for witnesses, adding, “You can’t get closer to an indictment than that.” Weitzman appeared amazed at this disclosure; he later contradicted Fields, and within 48 hours Fields was no longer solely in charge of the civil case. Fields has always maintained that a criminal trial for Jackson could be fatal: “The stakes are going to jail and ruining his life, and his life is essentially over if he’s charged and convicted.”

Those in law-enforcement circles had long believed that there would be no indictment without an airtight case. As evidence piled up, the L.A. District Attorney’s Office informed Weitzman that it wanted to question Jackson. Fields, meanwhile, antagonized authorities by sending a letter to the police commissioner claiming that police were using intimidation and scare tactics with children they were questioning.

89 From “Investigator, Lawyer Quit Jackson’s Defense Team” by Jim Newton and Sonia Nazario:

In the interview Tuesday, Pellicano continued to stand behind Jackson.

“In no way, shape or form does (my resignation) indicate that Michael Jackson is guilty,” Pellicano said. “Michael Jackson is not guilty, and all the things I said in the past I reaffirm.”

Pellicano insisted that he pulled out of the case because it was taking too much of his time and because his investigation was essentially complete. “The investigation has all been done and is now in the hands of the lawyers,” he said.

90 Paul Barresi, the sometime private investigator who occasionally worked for Pellicano discussing this approach, from “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

“If you find dirt on a celebrity, then you go to the attorney, or directly to the client, and say, ‘Hey, there’s a story brewing with the tabs, we need to quash it: Most celebrities are not gonna hesitate, because a celebrity is the most naive, infantile person in the world. They get preferential treatment, but if boulders fall on their head in real life, they don’t know what to do, other than dig deep into their pockets,” says Barresi. “Pellicano was the master of getting them to do that-the celebrity never knew how simple it was to put a fire out, or that sometimes there was never really a fire in the first place. There would be a story brewing, but the reporter couldn’t nail it down. So Pellicano would light the fire. He was the arsonist-and then he’d come back and put the fire out.”

91 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

Often, says private investigator Bill Pavelic, who worked for the defense on the O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, and Phil Spector cases, “Pellicano would have the source in his hip pocket and be able to pay him right off the bat to kill the story or rumor. But he wouldn’t tell his clients that. He’d simply say, ‘I can make the problem go away.’” That fed right into the Pellicano mystique. If you’re a magician, you don’t tell the audience how you do your tricks.

92 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

By the late ’80s, Pellicano had become involved in a far more complex dance with the tabloids. In 1997, Jim Mitteager, a reporter for the National Enquirer and the Globe, died of cancer. Shortly before his death, he gave hundreds of tapes he had secretly recorded to Paul Barresi, an informant and sometime investigator for Pellicano. The tapes capture little people fighting over crumbs tossed around as celebrities try to protect their images. Transcripts of the tapes provided by Barresi, a former porn star and producer currently working as an unlicensed investigator, show Pellicano trading gossip and planting stories with Mitteager and Globe reporter Cliff Dunn while paying to have other stories killed.

93 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

In 1990, then-freelance journalist Rod Lurie acquired a list of paid sources used by the National Enquirer and contracted to do a story about it for Los Angeles magazine. Pellicano was allegedly paid $500,000 by the Enquirer to have the story killed. The huge amount of money was an indication of how desperate the tabloid was. The Enquirer couldn’t continue to exist if its sources were burned. Moreover, the company was in the process of going public on Wall Street, and this was a terrible time to have the kind of embarrassing revelations they themselves made their living generating.

Pellicano’s way of dealing with recalcitrant reporters involved perseverance-he’d start with “I’m a tough guy, don’t fuck with me,” and when that didn’t work, he’d try “I’m getting a lot of money. If you don’t think I’m going to get paid, you’re out of your mind.” He’d follow that with “You’re an intelligent guy. I really like you. I’ve checked you out” and finally graduate to bribery: “You shouldn’t write this story. I can get you six figures elsewhere.”

94 From Dish by Jeannette Walls:

The truth is that Pellicano did work for the National Enquirer from time to time. When Los Angeles magazine was preparing an exposé of the tabloid, reporter Rod Lurie said the detective threatened him and tried to get the piece killed. “There was consistent cultlike phone intimidation from Pellicano,” said Lurie. “He would call my friends and family and editors I worked for at other magazines saying I was through in this town.”

From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

But Rod Lurie, a Los Angeles free-lance writer, vividly recalls what it was like to be the target of Pellicano’s brand of damage control. In 1990, Lurie was working on an expose about the National Enquirer’s reporting methods. The newspaper hired an old nemesis, Pellicano, to act as its advocate.

In an attempt to kill the story, Lurie alleged, Pellicano tailed him, bad-mouthed him to his sources, dug into his credit record, called him on his unlisted telephone and threatened to sue.

95 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

“He told me . . . that he has killed hundreds and hundreds of stories,” Lurie said. “For those who don’t know better, he’s an intimidating character. He’s a classic movie goon. But those stories he doesn’t kill become much bigger because he becomes a central character in them.”

Lurie offered his story as a case in point: It ran in Los Angeles magazine anyway, along with an account of Pellicano’s attempts to have it quashed.

Pellicano said that he has killed numerous stories but in Lurie’s case did nothing more than run a background check and call the writer to question the premise of his piece. “I wanted him to lay off my clients and act appropriately,” Pellicano said.

From “The Pellicano Brief” (PDF) by Howard Blum and John Connolly:

Rod Lurie, in the days when he was a struggling freelancer rather than the in-demand director he’s become (The Contender, The Last Castle), complained that Pellicano persistently tried to intimidate him as he researched a piece about The National Enquirer. Then, after the story ran in Los Angeles Magazine, Lurie was the victim in a hit-and-run accident while bicycling – except he was convinced it was no accident.

96 From “Spy vs Spies” by Stuart Goldman, specific page is “Spy vs Spies (page 35)”:

A few days after I’d signed on at the Enquirer, I started freelancing for the rival tabloid The Star. So now I was a double agent. Why not try for three? It wasn’t difficult: just one more phone call and I was working for The Globe.

From “Spy vs Spies” by Stuart Goldman, specific page is “Spy vs Spies (page 36)”:

Hard Copy’s initial shtick was to posture itself as a “cut above” the other tabloid shows. “We’re not gonna get down in the gutter like A Current Affair,” Parsons told me. But that notion evaporated the moment I saw the story rundown, which boasted titles such as Satanic Therapy, Celebrity Stalker, Drano Killer, Bodybuilding Sex Slave, and Hot Cream Wrestling.

97 From “Spy vs Spies” by Stuart Goldman, specific page is “Spy vs Spies (page 34)”:

“The tabloids have a more powerful network of informants than the FBI – or any other government agency,” an ex-tabloid reporter told me. That was no exaggeration. The tabloids have “sources” everywhere; film and TV studios, record companies, PR agencies, law firms, doctor’s offices, courthouses, banks, police departments, social security offices, the DMV, hospitals – you name it. In addition, there are a host of masseuses, bodyguards, hairdressers, bartenders, gardeners, limo drivers, agents, friends, neighbors, relatives, and lovers who regularly peddle dirt for bucks.

98 From “Spy vs Spies” by Stuart Goldman, specific page is “Spy vs Spies (page 34)”:

Still, in order to get the really good stuff – credit records, sealed court documents, hospital records, unlisted phone numbers, bank balances, the contents of safe-deposit boxes – you need more than bodyguards and masseuses. So how do the tabloids get this stuff?

They steal it, of course.

Naturally, the tabs are not dumb enough to do this themselves. So they pay other people to do it for them: sleazoid PIs, ex-cops, computer hackers, information brokers. Anyone willing to grease the right palm, get that confidential information – whatever it takes.

The tabloids are, as I would experience first-hand, in the business of smearing reputations and subverting the truth. If the blatant fabrication for stories – and the lying, backstabbing, bribery, blackmail, intimidation, mail theft, wiretapping, leaking of disinformation, and computer hacking used to get these stories – wasn’t what I initially expected, I quickly learned otherwise.

Item: I sat in the car as a tabloid stringer stole mail out of the mailboxes of his targets. He checked names off a list as he made his rounds.

Item: I observed as a tabloid source, a skilled hacker, cracked the code on his target’s answering machine – allowing him to play back all of the person’s private messages.

Item: I watched as a tabloid stringer, using an unauthorized access code, tapped into the TRW and TransUnion databases and pulled credit reports on a number of stars (or their relatives) including Demi Moore, Tom Selleck, and Frank Sinatra.

Item: I was told by a major tabloid source that he had bribed an employee in the social security office into coughing up the social security numbers of a long list of celebrities. According to the source, the money was given to him by the tabs, who had full knowledge of where it was going.

Blackmail is a regular activity at the tabloids – though it’s not called that. It’s called “cooperation.” Here’s how it works: The tabloids get some serious dirt on a star (a photo of him or her in a compromising position, for example). They go to the star and say, “We’ll kill this story; but we’d like you to cooperate with us on ten other stories.” The star, who in many cases says yes, has now become “a friend” of the tabloids. According to insiders, some tabloid “friends” include Billy Graham, Bill Cosby, Kenny Rodgers, Linda Blair, and Michael Jackson.

99 From “Spy vs Spies (page 42)”:

I also watched in amazement as stories were fabricated out of whole cloth. Example: A tabloid reporter calls up Child Protective Services and poses as the mother of a child who attends the same school as Roseanne’s daughter. The reporter states that Roseanne is abusing the child. Per their obligation, CPS begins an investigation. Then the tabs stake out Roseanne’s house. Soon an investigator from CPS shows up and – bingo! The tabs now have a “legit” story: “ROSEANNE BEING INVESTIGATED FOR CHILD ABUSE.”

100 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

As his profile rose, so did the profile of the celebrities he worked for-or against. They included Heidi Fleiss, “Beverly Hills Madam” Elizabeth Adams, Sylvester Stallone, and Kevin Costner. He investigated the OD death of John Belushi and found the daughter Roseanne Barr had given up for adoption (and then leaked the story to the tabs).

101 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

Pellicano could be startlingly candid about his methods. On a celebrity’s behalf, he found that an effective way to make an inconvenient lover go away was “counter-blackmail.” A girl sues an actor for palimony? Pellicano would dig into her past and find something-a prostitution arrest, drugs. Men weren’t so easy. “If you can’t sit down with a person and reason with them,” Pellicano told GQ in 1992 [I'm sorry to say but this article doesn't seem to be on-line], “there is only one thing left, and that’s fear. Of course, law-enforcement authorities don’t want to hear stuff like that, know what I mean? But it happens every day.”

102 From “Spy vs Spies” by Stuart Goldman, specific page is “Spy vs Spies (page 42)”:

Next, I got confirmation of another crime: use of prostitutes by tabloid producers to procure information and to leak disinformation (as well as for their own pleasure). One of my sources was none other than Heidi Fleiss, who I had interviewed jut weeks prior to her arrest. Fleiss confirmed that particular tabloid producers did indeed use the services of her girls. Additionally, she related an incident in which her arch nemesis, Madame Alex, had sent hookers to one TV tabloid show in order to do negative story on Fleiss [sic], which, according to Fleiss, was not true.

“You mean they sent girls over there to leak false information?” I asked.

“First to have sex with the man,” Fleiss said. “That’s no big deal. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s wrong when the purpose is to do some [false] story on me!”

Maybe it was no big deal to Hollywood’s top madam, but I figured others would be interested in that little sound bite. After all, I know I was.

103 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

His detractors have questioned Pellicano’s renegade style, most recently his decision to issue on behalf of Columbia Pictures executive Michael Nathanson a public denial of involvement with Fleiss.

The preemptive denial–which even surprised Nathanson’s lawyer and later earned a “PR Boner Award” from a Variety columnist–was an attempt to put a stop to widespread gossip about Nathanson even though he had not been publicly accused of wrongdoing. The result was that it put the names of Nathanson and Columbia Pictures into play in the Fleiss affair.

104 From the transcript of the conversation between director John McTiernan and Pellicano, “Rising Sun: Image of the Desired Japanese Part Three” footnote 214, made from the audio file available at “Pellicano Trial: Hear Hollywood Director Dish Film Gossip, Prostitutes, Cocaine and Phone Taps” by Allison Hope Weiner:

PELLICANO
You know the story about me and Michael Hirschmann, right?

(long pause)

MCTIERNAN
No.

PELLICANO
I saved Michael Hirschmann’s life. I saved his career. [MCTIERNAN: Nathanson. Michael Nathanson.] Yeah, Michael Nathanson. I saved his fucking career. He had a whole lot of shit- There was a whole lot of shit with him and prostitutes, and I saved, and cocaine, and I saved him. This fucking guy loves me. Now, if I ever called him up and said to him “McT is my guy, leave him the fuck alone”, that’d be the end of that too.

MCTIERNAN
I hope it won’t come to that. Michael and I have known each other for a long time.

PELLICANO
Let me tell you, Michael fucking owes me, and if I called him up, and I go on my rampage with him, he’s scared to death of me as it is. So that’s all it’ll take.

105 From “Arnold, Pellicano and Politics” by Nikki Finke:

Arnold Schwarzenegger asked once-celebrated and now-celled private investigator Anthony Pellicano to see what dirt could be unearthed on the actor if he entered the 2002 gubernatorial race, Pellicano’s former legman Paul Barresi tells L.A. Weekly. Less than a week after the 27-page file was turned in, Schwarzenegger opted out of the race, says Barresi, the ex-X-rated film star who maintains he was hired by Pellicano to conduct the background search.

The existence of this still recent self-probe raises the question of why Schwarzenegger would have himself investigated again. Boggles the mind, no? After all, on November 6, Schwarzenegger, then governor-elect, announced he was in the process of hiring what his aide said was a “well-respected” P.I. firm to look into allegations that the bodybuilder-actor groped more than a dozen women over a 30-year period.

106 From “Arnold, Pellicano and Politics” by Nikki Finke:

Arnold Schwarzenegger asked once-celebrated and now-celled private investigator Anthony Pellicano to see what dirt could be unearthed on the actor if he entered the 2002 gubernatorial race, Pellicano’s former legman Paul Barresi tells L.A. Weekly. Less than a week after the 27-page file was turned in, Schwarzenegger opted out of the race, says Barresi, the ex-X-rated film star who maintains he was hired by Pellicano to conduct the background search.

Barresi will not divulge the contents of the report in any detail, except to note broadly that it dealt with the personal, professional and business lives of Schwarzenegger, family and associates. According to Barresi, the file was read closely. He recalls one incident he discovered: a bodyguard trying to sell to the highest bidder “a damaging story” about Schwarzenegger. “I mentioned his name to Pellicano, and, all of a sudden, this guy stopped peddling his goods,” Barresi claims.

107 Though Premiere magazine no longer exists, the “Arnold the Barbarian” article can be found in several places on the web such as democrats.com and slumdance.

Some excerpts:

The tabloid press got a nice Christmas present late last year when Arnold Schwarzenegger tore through a day of publicity work in London, promoting his latest film, The 6th Day, which had just opened there. In less than 24 hours, the star was said to have attempted to, as high school boys used to say, cop a little feel from three different female talk-show hosts. The level of consternation expressed by those who received this hands-on treatment from the hulking, Austrian-born international superstar ranged from none whatsoever (Denise Van Outen of The Big Breakfast invites her guests to lie on a bed with her and, hence, probably has a rather elastic definition of what constitutes inappropriate behavior) to irked (on tape, Celebrity interviewer Melanie Sykes looks a little thrown off after Arnold gives her a very definite squeeze on the rib cage, directly under her right breast) to, finally, righteously indignant. Anna Richardson of Big Screen claims that after the cameras stopped rolling for her interview segment, Schwarzenegger, apparently attempting to ascertain whether Richardson’s breasts were real, tweaked her nipple and then laughed at her objections. ‘I left the room quite shaken,’ she says. ‘What was more upsetting was that his people rushed to protect him and scapegoated me, and not one person came to apologize afterward.’

‘The second I walked into the room,’ Anna Richardson says, several weeks after the incident, ‘he was like a dog in heat.’ Other stories about Schwarzenegger tend to fit her simile. During the production of the 1991 mega-blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a producer on that film recalls Arnold’s emerging from his trailer one day and noticing a fortyish female crew member, who was wearing a silk blouse. Arnold went up to the woman, put his hands inside her blouse, and proceeded to pull her breasts out of her bra. Another observer says, ‘I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This woman’s nipples were exposed, and here’s Arnold and a few of his clones laughing. I went after the woman, who had run to the shelter of a nearby trailer. She was hysterical but refused to press charges for fear of losing her job. It was disgusting.’

A former Schwarzenegger employee recalls another incident from the T2 days. At the time, director James Cameron was married but having an affair with one of the film’s stars, Linda Hamilton. One evening, while riding in a limo with Cameron, Hamilton, and others, Schwarzenegger suddenly lifted Hamilton onto his lap and began fondling her breasts through the very thin top she was wearing. The witness says, ‘I couldn’t believe Cameron didn’t have the balls to tell Arnold to get off his girl. The whole thing made me sick.’

A female producer on one of Schwarzenegger’s films tells of a time when her ex-husband came to visit the set. When she introduced the man to Schwarzenegger, the star quipped, ‘Is this guy the reason why you didn’t come up to my hotel room last night and suck my cock?’

A woman who went to the set of 1996′s Eraser recalls the friend she was visiting there being asked to retrieve Schwarzenegger from his trailer for a shot that was ready to roll earlier than expected. ‘He asked me if I wanted to meet Arnold, and I said sure. When we opened the door to his trailer, Arnold was giving oral sex to a woman. He looked up and, with that accent, said very slowly, ‘Eating is not cheating.’ I met him again about a year later and asked him, in German, whether or not eating was cheating, and he just laughed.’

A lot of people must feel the same. A lawyer who frequents Café Roma, a Beverly Hills bistro that is a hangout for real and wannabe wiseguys, says, ‘When ever I see Schwarzenegger and his crew [walk into the place], I leave quickly and go to another restaurant. This guy is a real pig. He will say the most disgusting sexual things to women he doesn’t know. Everybody knows he is Arnold Schwarzenegger. . . . But in any other city, somebody would have cracked him by now.’ In Hollywood, though, nobody cracks a billion-dollar box office gorilla.

108 From “The Bagman” by Mark Ebner:

Barresi moved sharply higher on the Hollywood notoriety scale in 1990 when the National Enquirer ran a front-page story showcasing his claim that he’d had a two-year love affair with John Travolta. Barresi told the tabloid he’d met Travolta in 1982 when the actor followed him into the shower room of an L.A. health club. They later had sex dozens of times, Barresi said. The star, he said, often showed up at his apartment for bedroom calisthenics, implored Barresi to tell him dirty stories over the phone, and told the porn actor he was sexier and more macho than Burt Reynolds and Clark Gable combined. Barresi said he’d gone to bed with other celebrities, too. “From time to time I’ve let them use me in hopes of furthering my acting career,” he said. But several months later Barresi retracted his story, saying in a letter to Travolta’s attorney that he’d never engaged in homosexual activity with Travolta.

109 From “The Bagman” by Mark Ebner:

Barresi, who’s married and has three children, also acted in or directed a string of gay porn films. Among their titles are Lusty Leathermen (An all star cast of Sex Soaked Studs) and Black Brigade (A chocolate-covered, licorice-licked, cocoa-crammed cum-a-thon that spins the Civil War into the 90s). Between porn jobs, he landed minor parts in TV shows and mainstream movies including Perfect, a 1983 hit about L.A. gym rats picking each other up that starred John Travolta.

By the early ’80s, Barresi had launched a parallel career as a fitness trainer, capitalizing on his Hollywood connections to attract such celebrity clients as David Geffen, Joan Rivers, Johnny Carson’s wife Alexis and Go-Go’s drummer Gina Schock. But his employers, he says, often wanted the muscular, hard-edged Italian to help them with matters that had nothing to do with pumping up their pecs. He found himself delivering summonses when his bosses sued someone, and collecting money for them from recalcitrant borrowers. He became, he says, a last-resort guy.

On a spring day in 1997, a veteran porn actor, bodybuilder and strong-arm man named Paul Barresi picked up a supermarket tabloid and spotted a 24-karat opportunity. What caught Barresi’s eye was an intriguing story about vice cops stopping actor Eddie Murphy just before 5 a.m. in a West Hollywood neighborhood known for its abundance of transsexual prostitutes. Sitting next to Murphy in the front seat of his Toyota Land Cruiser was a gorgeous, 21-year-old tranny streetwalker from Samoa. “Eddie Murphy’s Sick Obsession With Drag Queens!” shrieked the Globe. “H’wood Stunned by Superstar’s Secret Double Life as Cops Catch Him With Transsexual Hooker.”

The Enquirer’s coverage included an interview with the preoperative transsexual who’d been stopped with Murphy. Atisone Kenneth Seiuli had been trolling for johns, dressed in tight bell-bottoms and a black tank top, when Murphy drove up. After Seiuli got in, she claimed, Murphy placed two $100 bills on her leg and asked if she liked to wear lingerie. “”I said yes,” said Seiuli. “He said, “Can I see you in lingerie?’ I told him, “Whenever I have the time.’ He said, “I’ll make the time.’” Murphy also wanted to know what kind of sex Seiuli liked, and she replied that she was “into everything.”

110 From “The Bagman” by Mark Ebner:

Barresi had worked in the porn business long enough to know how easily its denizens could be bought, and he’d dealt with tabloid news outfits enough to know they could be manipulated. After acting in or directing more than 50 porn movies, gay and straight, he was connected enough to know he could find the trannies who’d blabbed to the tabs faster than any private detective. Barresi’s plan was to reach as many of the tale tellers as possible and pay them to change their stories and say they’d lied about having sex with Murphy. The star’s lawyers could then mau-mau the tabloids to back off him since the papers’ sources, by recanting, would have forfeited what little credibility they’d had to begin with.

Barresi was well aware that nothing chills a publisher’s blood more than the threat of a libel suit. If any of the trannies were planning to write kiss-and-tell books about Murphy, those projects might be quashed, too. “My role was pretty much to neutralize [the transsexuals],” says Barresi.

He dialed Murphy’s lawyer, Marty Mad Dog Singer, a corpulent, pugnacious ex-New Yorker renowned in Hollywood for his brass-knuckles defense of celebrity clients. Barresi got the attorney on the phone and told him: “I’ve got the wherewithal, everything you need to save Eddie Murphy’s ass on this issue.” Singer listened.

On July 17, Barresi drove Candace and Valerie to Singer’s office, where, in signed declarations, they took back everything they’d told the tabs. Candace wrote that she’d referred Valerie and Tempest to the Enquirer purely for money; that the two other trannies had lied about having sex with Murphy, also for money; and that an Enquirer reporter had coached and intimidated them to make false statements. “I have never met Eddie Murphy, nor do I know anyone who has had sex with Eddie Murphy,” Candace declared in her statement.

Despite the coup of obtaining Candace and Valerie’s recantations, “Singer couldn’t wait for the two trannies to leave,” Barresi says. “Singer was thoroughly disgusted, felt like creepy crawlers were going up his neck,” recalls Barresi. “I could tell he was very shaken and disturbed. Just being in their presence repulsed him. And he conveyed that to me outside the office: ‘Just get this over with, get them outta here!’”

For her efforts, Candace was paid $15,000 by Singer’s firm, according to an IRS document she provided to New Times. Valerie says she was paid $5,000. Sylvia Holland, who gave Barresi a videotaped statement at her West Hollywood apartment denying any sexual relationship with Murphy, says she received $2,500.

Asked about Barresi’s tactics, Singer initially insisted that Paul Barresi has in no way been employed by our firm. Told later that Barresi provided New Times with pay stubs indicating he received at least $3,451 from Singer’s firm for work on the Murphy/Enquirer account, the attorney conceded that Barresi had been retained as an investigator. Singer also acknowledges hiring Barresi despite knowing of the porn actor’s deceitfulness in the Travolta case, which was handled by Singer’s firm.

He brooded angrily on why the Century City suits had apparently ended their relationship with him. Had Singer and company thrown him more work, he says, “they certainly would have had my allegiance forever.” “But in the same way that they demonstrated that they had no respect for me, that’s how I felt about them. I gotta tell you, that plays on my emotions. Quite heavily. Because I put myself in harm’s way, is really what I did.” And that’s why, when a New Times reporter came calling much later, Barresi gladly turned over his records on the Murphy case. The documents included copies of paychecks from Singer’s law firm to Barresi, transcripts of his coached trial run interviews with the trannies, and memos to Singer and Wolf outlining some of Barresi’s activities.

Once again, Barresi exacted revenge on people he felt had screwed him.

“How much risk does a person have to take, how much crow does a person have to eat, before they’re gonna win some respect?” he asks rhetorically, reflecting on his handiwork. “I feel that as much as I did for them, they really didn’t give me a fair shake. My wife has brought this up many times. She says, ‘Eddie Murphy is probably completely oblivious as to what you did for him.’”

111 From “Ron Tutor: The Lawsuits, Losses and Private Struggles of the Man Behind Miramax” by Daniel Miller:

As he has waged his legal wars, Tutor has paid himself a handsome salary. According to Tutor Perini filings, his compensation in 2010 was $9 million. As part of a five-year employment contract Tutor signed with the company in 2008, he receives 150 hours of annual personal flying time in the company’s 737. Other perks include an apartment in Las Vegas and a car and driver (Tutor is chauffeured in a GMC Denali SUV). Currently, Tutor’s driver is Paul Barresi, who long worked with Anthony Pellicano as a private investigator and until 2006 was a director, writer and producer on such pornographic films as Frat Boys on the Loose 7 and Leather Bears and Smooth Chested Huskies. (Tutor said in a November deposition that many years earlier, he employed Barresi as a personal trainer; Barresi could not be reached for comment.)

112 From “Arnie’s Army” by Charles Fleming, specifc page “Arnie’s Army (page 65)”:

If Arnold really believes it is his right to do whatever stories he wants to do, though, he is in for a rude shock. In a race for the governorship or a Senate seat, “the real press will eat him alive,” as one magazine editor says. A longtime associate of Arnold’s agrees. “[Running for office] isn’t like doing a PR campaign for some movie. If there is anything at all unpleasant in his background, [the press] will go after it like animals.”

You can’t help but wonder, for example, how campaign reporters would have treated the dinner at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. This rather astonishing spectacle caused no stir whatsoever among the “outlets,” as they are known to the movie business, that cover Arnold, except as an ocasion to puff him. Neither Vanity Fair nor Entertainment Tonight, Premiere nor Good Morning America seemed very interested in the event. However, if Arnold were in the middle of a political campaign and were honored by a Holocaust philanthropy, some intrepid reporter would be digging into his past associations and comment faster than you can say, “Donna Rice.” Or, as they would put it on Entertainment Tonight, if Arnold does indeed go into electoral politics, his relationship with the press will change from The Silence of the Lambs to Dances With Wolves.

113 On Schwarzengger’s control of the press, from “Arnie’s Army” by Charles Fleming, specifc pages “Arnie’s Army (page 62)” and “Arnie’s Army (page 63)”:

Arnold has achieved his position in the world largely because he wields ruthless control over his press. As one Paramount executive says, “Arnold exercises power the way the old-fashioned moguls did — they could cover up anything, make any problem go away.”

Usually Arnold is successful. For example, there’s the journalist who mirthfully tells of the star’s backlot misdeeds — how he surprised Arnold in flagrante delicto during the filming of one of his blockbusters and how Arnold said, “Ve von’t tell Maria about dis” — but who will never commit that story to print. And there’s the movie executive who will tell you only in private, and never for attribution, about Arnold’s occasional suggestions to the owner of a store where he shops that the two find some chicks who will perform an act Arnold calls “polishing the helmet.” Arnold’s rationalization, according to the store owner? “It’s not being unfaithful. It’s only some plo-jobs.” Probably no one will ever quote the Hollywood producer who pals around with Arnold and says, “He’s an unstoppable womanizer, even worse than the Kennedys.” No, these tales will go with Arnold to the grave. Or at least they were supposed to have.

114 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 92)”:

Despite the Premiere story, Schwarzenegger still hoped to challenge Davis in 2002. Then matters took another bad turn. On February 27, 2001, the star’s nemesis – the tabloids – jumped into the fray. The National Enquirer published an “Arnold exclusive,” headlined “He’s Caught Cheating,” predicting his impending divorce from Shriver. A pull quote ran across the page: “Arnold has the worst reputation in Hollywood for groping, grabbing, and lewd remarks.”

Two months later, the Enquirer announced it had a “world exclusive.” The cover story, headlined “Arnold’s Shocking 7-Year Affair,” chronicled his dalliance with a former child actress named Gigi Goyette and was accompanied by photos of Goyette lounging in a thong bikini and posing with Schwarzenegger. Coming on the heels of the Premiere story, it was a lethal blow, certainly for a candidate who needed the support of the family-values, conservative base of the Republican Party to survive a primary.

115 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 93)”:

The tabloids posed another problem. One of the less ennobling secrets of the mainstream media is its reliance on the tabs to launder seedy but irresistible stories about celebrities and politicians. Once the story appears in the tabloids, it’s not long before it’s fodder for TV talking heads and late-night comics. Then, more often than not, it’s regarded as fair game for the mainstream media. In the last 15 years, the tabs have earned a reputation for nailing down hard-to-get stories for the simple reason that, unlike the mainstream media, they often pay sources and hire private investigators. The meshing of the tabs and the mainstream media went into high gear during the O.J. Simpson trial and was standard practice by the time of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. Schwarzenegger, of course, could have curbed his excessive behavior. But there is scant evidence for this having occurred before 2003.

116 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 223)”:

The year 2001 would prove to be a terrible year in the tabloid kingdom. On October 2, 2001, AMI’s world headquarters, a showy glass-and-steel edifice in Boca Raton, Florida, became the first target of an anthrax attack in the United States. Within the week, AMI’s photo editor was dead from anthrax inhalation, another employee was clinging to life, and property, which only months earlier had been remodeled, was worthless. Everything inside the structures was declared contaminated and untouchable, including a film library of 5 million photographs and a collection of rare books. AMI’s chairman, CEO, and president, David Pecker, places the damages at $20 million.

The boarded-up facility was sold for $40,000 to a real estate investor, who then leased it to a company headed by Rudolph Giuliani that specialized in decontamination.

117 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

Six months after AMI’s anthrax attack, Pecker started to look into buying L.A.-based Weider Publications. Founded by Joe Weider, the legendary bodybuilder who had brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to the United States in 1968, the company owned seven titles, including Muscle & Fitness, Shape, Flex, and Men’s Fitness. Eighty-three years old, Weider had decided it was time to unload his magazines. They were strong sellers, especially when Schwarzenegger posed for their covers, as he has done more than 50 times, mostly for Muscle & Fitness and Flex. The film star also “penned” the Ask Arnold column, though it was no secret that it was written in-house. Although Schwarzenegger was not paid for his cover appearances, he was well rewarded by the publicity they bestowed on his gyms and the Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition held each year in Columbus, Ohio.

“The supplement business makes up more than 70 percent of the ads in Weider magazines,” says Eric Weider, Ben’s 40-year-old son, who runs much of the Weider empire today. The supplement business also provides about 30 percent of the ads in the tabloids.

With the evidence mounting that ephedra could produce serious side effects, the FDA started to investigate the substance in the late ’90s. The agency’s actions may have been a factor in Weider’s decision to sell his publishing company. “The supplement thing had already reared its ugly head by 2000,” says one former AMI editor with firsthand knowledge of the negotiations between AMI and Weider. “I know two media players who backed away from the Weider magazines because they were worried that the supplement thing would blow up.” It eventually did. In 2004, the FDA banned all ephedra-based products.

118 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

None of this deterred Pecker, who bought the company in November 2002. To the surprise of some media analysts, AMI paid $350 million in cash and stock for the seven magazines, a large photo archive of Schwarzenegger and offices in Woodland Hills and Manhattan.

119 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

In early December 2002, Pecker and his wife had a celebratory dinner at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills with Joe Weider and his wife, along with Eric Weider. “Joe’s asking me, ‘How are you going to handle the bodybuilding world?’” recalls Pecker. “‘You should know that this is something that’s very important to me personally.’ I said, ‘Yes, I understand that. I know that you have a very close relationship with Arnold Schwarzenegger.’”

Weider sys that over dinner he recommended to Pecker that Schwarzenegger become part of AMI – that he should be given “maybe 10 percent of the company as our publicist.” He feared, though, that Schwarzenegger was too busy doing movies and concerned about “all the scandal” in AMI’s tabloids.

Pecker was enthusiastic about the idea of bringing Schwarzenegger into AMI and tried to allay Weider’s concerns that the actor would continue to be a tabloid target: “I said, ‘There is one thing that I can tell you. We don’t, as a company rehash old stuff.’” Pecker says he also told Weider, “Anything he does that’s newsworthy, we’re going to run.” Then he added a caveat not usually associated with the tabloids: “If we can validate it.”

120 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

During the heat of the recall campaign, the New York Daily News reported that Pecker had assured Joe Weider that the tabloids would “lay off” Schwarzenegger. “We’re not going to pull up any dirt on him,” Weider quoted Pecker as saying. AMI denied such an arrangement.

121 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

Recently, however, Weider offered a slightly different version of the dinner, one that corresponds with Pecker’s account: “David said he knew Arnold was close to me. ‘Oh, yes, Arnold is your friend, and I want you to know that we’re not going to bring up or print the old stuff. Only what’s new.’”

122 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

But a funny thing happened soon after the Weider deal closed in January 2003. The tabloids suddenly became Arnold free. Despite Pecker’s denials, four sources at AMI say that the Schwarzenegger vanishing act was no accident. “When Weider was being bough,” says one senior AMI staffer, “the edict came down: No more Arnold stories.”

123 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 225)”:

After a flurry of telephone calls, Pecker flew to Los Angeles on July 11, 2003, to make a direct appeal to Schwarzenegger to stay on board with the Weider magazines. Pecker and Schwarzenegger met at the actor’s production office in a building he owns in Santa Monica.

Pecker then presented Schwarzenegger with his proposal. “I approached about the concept of having a bigger role with of the Weider titles,” says Pecker, “but specifically with Muscle & Fitness and Flex.”

124 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 225)”:

Three weeks later, on August 6, 2003, Schwarzenegger stunned the world with his announcement on The Tonight Show that he would be challenging Gray Davis in California’s historic recall election.

125 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 225)”:

Californians quickly learned, however, that the AMI tabs were not only laying off Schwarzenegger but were at the forefront of his campaign. One former staffer says that “Pecker ordered David Perel to commission a series of brownnosing stories on Arnold” that would hit the stands during the campaign. “It’s not true,” says Perel. “That’s absurd.”

126 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 225)”:

In August The Star ran a full-page story headlined “Vote Schwarzenegger!” and accompanied by a half-dozen flattering snapshots.

In September 2003, AMI published a 120-page glossy special edition titled Arnold, the American Dream. It was sold on newsstands for $4.95, with the cover line “Camelot’s Future.”

127 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 225)”:

To complete the coronation, Weekly World News ran its own “exclusive” – “Alien Backs Arnold for Governor.”

128 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 226)”:

Beginning on October 2, 2003, five days before the recall election, the Los Angeles Times published a series of stories in which 16 women – 11 willing to be identified – charged that Schwarzenegger had either groped or sexually harassed them. The Schwarzenegger team went on the offensive, attacking the Times for its “opportunistic” late timing and attributing the stories to the trash politics of the Davis campaign. The Times piece was picked up by the national media and monopolized the news cycle up to Election Day. And still not a murmur from the tabs.

The Times article was “Women Say Schwarzenegger Groped, Humiliated Them” by Gary Cohn, Carla Hall and Robert W. Welkos.

129 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 226)”:

To prove his case, Pecker cites an “Arnold exclusive” that ran in The National Enquirer with the headline “Arnold’s Love Child Scandal.” The Enquirer posted the story on its Web site on October 5, two days before the recall election, and published a heavily revised version in its print edition 14 days after the election. Certainly it was an incendiary story, but because it was posted so close to the election, the mainstream press had little time to follow up the account and confirm it. As a result, the story remained on the margins. Moreover, the Enquirer article cited as its source a story by a reporter named Wendy Leigh that appeared in the British tabloid The Daily Mail, indicating it was a life-and-clip job.

130 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 226)”:

Former AMI staffers dispute Pecker and Perel’s account, contending that the tabloid was offered the love-child story in mid 2003 but turned it down. According to one former AMI editor, the story had been brought to the tabloid by John Connolly, the author of the Premiere article on Schwarzenegger. Connolly, a former policeman with close ties to private investigators, has staked a reputation as Schwarzenegger’s archenemy. (The former staffer also credits Connolly with bringing the 2001 Gigi Goyette story to the tabloid.) There was considerable interest in the story, according to the former staffer, who says Perel worked with Connolly “for a couple of weeks on the story. They said the story was solid. Then Pecker became involved and said, ‘We’re not doing the story. In fact, we’re not doing any more Schwarzenegger stories.’”

Another former AMI staffer also questions Pecker’s account. “Connolly brought us that thing in May,” he says. “So you’ve got May, June, July, August, September, October. Are you telling me the Enquirer can’t do in six months what Wendy Leigh does? If that’s true, it’s a pretty sad state of affairs. Here’s how to look at it: If the Weider deal hadn’t worked out, do you really think the Enquirer would not have done the love child?@

Connolly ended up working on the story with Wendy Leigh of The Daily Mail, who had written a book about the star. “It all came from John,” says Leigh. “John came to me. Basically he was my partner on this. He was a silent partner.” Connolly confirms Leigh’s account, saying he “brought her a much bigger story and the love child became part of it.”

131 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 227)”:

At a press conference, Pecker and Schwarzenegger clutched the winner’s trophy and beamed. They announced that Schwarzenegger would become the executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex. He would be paid $1.25 million over five years, which he would donate to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness. He would also receive a $350,000 annual salary from AMI, according to sources close to the governor. Schwarzenegger has not disclosed his AMI salary in any of his filings with the state. According to his spokesman, he has until March 2005 to do so. Despite numerous requests for an interview, the governor declined.

In May, AMI announced it had deepened its relationship with Schwarzenegger and Weider, by buying a 50 percent stake in the Mr. Olympia competition. Pecker calls the event “the Super Bowl of bodybuilding.”

132 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 226)” and “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 227)”:

Since Schwarzenegger’s ascension, the tabs have been a fount of gushy news about him. “Make Arnie President” exhorted the headline of one story soon after his election, with the subhead “All We Have to Do Is Change One Stupid Law.” Another, titled “Wisdom of Arnie,” offered helpful tips from his movies. And then there were “Maria & Arnie: White House Bound?” “The Governator,” “American Dream: Arnold & Maria’s New Life,” and “Arnie’s Accent Will Soon Be All the Rage,” among others. Despite Pecker’s denials, AMI is now the press organ of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

133 From “Gov. to Be Paid $8 Million by Fitness Magazines” by Peter Nicholas and Robert Salladay:

SACRAMENTO – Two days before he was sworn into office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger accepted a consulting job paying an estimated $8 million over five years to “further the business objectives” of a national publisher of health and bodybuilding magazines.

The contract pays Schwarzenegger 1% of the magazines’ advertising revenue, much of which comes from makers of nutritional supplements. Last year, the governor vetoed legislation that would have imposed government regulations on the supplement industry.

According to records filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Schwarzenegger entered into the agreement with a subsidiary of American Media Inc. on Nov. 15, 2003. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company publishes Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines, among others.

Watchdog groups and state lawmakers called the contract — which refers to Schwarzenegger as “Mr. S” — a conflict of interest.

Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C., said: “This is one of the most egregious apparent conflicts of interest that I have seen. This calls into question his judgment as to who he is working for, and it calls into question what he thinks he owes the public.”

As recently as a few days ago, American Media refused to say anything about Schwarzenegger’s pay. The company filed an 83-page annual financial statement with the SEC last month that, in one paragraph, mentioned a consulting agreement with an unnamed “third party.” Stuart Zakim, an American Media spokesman, refused to say whether the third party was Schwarzenegger.

The contract shows that Schwarzenegger’s firm, Oak Productions, gets 1% of the subsidiary’s annual advertising revenue. It holds that “in no event” will payment be less than $1 million a year.

The agreement estimates that the governor’s company will receive $2.15 million in fiscal year 2006; the same amounts in ’07 and ’08; and $1.7 million in ’09. Those sums exceed the salary of the chairman and CEO of American Media, David J. Pecker, whose base pay this year is listed at $1.5 million.

The governor used his regular column in the June issue of Muscle & Fitness to defend the supplement industry. He vowed to oppose any effort to restrict sales of the products in California, writing that he is “so energized to fight any attempt to limit the availability of nutritional supplements.”

Last year, the governor vetoed a bill by state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) that would have required coaches to take a course in performance-enhancing supplements, created a list of banned substances for interscholastic sports and barred supplement manufacturers from sponsoring school events. In his veto message, the governor said that most dietary supplements were safe and that Speier’s bill would have been difficult to implement. He also said the bill unfairly focused on “performance-enhancing dietary supplements (PEDS) instead of focusing on ensuring that students participating in high school sports are not engaged in steroids use.”

134 From “Tabloid’s Deal With Woman Shielded Schwarzenegger” by Peter Nicholas and Carla Hall:

SACRAMENTO – Days after Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped into the race for governor and girded for questions about his past, a tabloid publisher wooing him for a business deal promised to pay a woman $20,000 to sign a confidentiality agreement about an alleged affair with the candidate.

American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, signed a friend of the woman to a similar contract about the alleged relationship for $1,000.

American Media’s contract with Gigi Goyette of Malibu is dated Aug. 8, 2003, two days after Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy on a late-night talk show. Under the agreement, Goyette must disclose to no one but American Media any information about her “interactions” with Schwarzenegger.

American Media never solicited further information from Goyette or her friend, Judy Mora, also of Malibu, both women said. The Enquirer had published a cover story two years earlier describing an alleged seven-year sexual relationship between Goyette and Schwarzenegger during his marriage to Maria Shriver, California’s first lady.

135 From “Tabloid’s Deal With Woman Shielded Schwarzenegger” by Peter Nicholas and Carla Hall:

American Media’s contract with Gigi Goyette of Malibu is dated Aug. 8, 2003, two days after Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy on a late-night talk show. Under the agreement, Goyette must disclose to no one but American Media any information about her “interactions” with Schwarzenegger.

American Media never solicited further information from Goyette or her friend, Judy Mora, also of Malibu, both women said. The Enquirer had published a cover story two years earlier describing an alleged seven-year sexual relationship between Goyette and Schwarzenegger during his marriage to Maria Shriver, California’s first lady.

On Aug. 14, 2003, as candidate Schwarzenegger was negotiating a consulting deal with American Media, the company signed its contract with Mora, who said she received $1,000 cash in return. Goyette declined to say whether she received the $20,000 promised in her contract.

But American Media was effectively protecting Schwarzenegger’s political interests, said a person who worked at the company when the contracts were signed. At the same time, American Media was crafting a deal to make Schwarzenegger executive editor of Flex and Muscle & Fitness magazines, helping to lure readers and advertisers.

If American Media was buying exclusive rights to the women’s stories, said the person, who has a confidentiality agreement with the company and spoke on condition of anonymity, “why didn’t the stories run? That’s the obvious question.”

“AMI systematically bought the silence” of the women, said the person. Schwarzenegger “was a de facto employee and he was important to their bottom line.”

American Media’s contracts with Goyette and Mora, both titled “Confidentiality Agreement,” are two pages long and never expire; they bind the two women “in perpetuity.”

Goyette’s agreement states that she is not to disclose “conversations with Schwarzenegger, her interactions with Schwarzenegger or anything else relating in any way to any relationship [she] ever had with Schwarzenegger,” except to American Media.

Mora’s contract bars her from disclosing anything about Goyette’s “conversations with Schwarzenegger … interactions with Schwarzenegger or anything else relating in any way to any relationship Gigi Goyette ever had or alleged to have had with Schwarzenegger.”

[Goyette] said she did not believe American Media would purchase the rights to her story and then do nothing with it. She thought signing the pledge would be the prelude to a book deal.

“In my mind, it was trying to seal a deal so I wouldn’t do the book with anybody else,” she told The Times. “That was my feeling in my heart and in my mind.”

[Charlotte Hassett, Goyette's lawyer] added later: “She has reason to believe that she was manipulated by the actions of the people at National Enquirer.”

The contract was sealed just when interest in her story was peaking. Once Schwarzenegger’s campaign was launched, the media quickly dug up the 2001 National Enquirer article. She was besieged by reporters.

They were “in front of my house. In front of my school. In front of the coffee shop,” she said. “I didn’t answer anyone’s questions.”

136 From “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing” by Bagher Hossein, specific page “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing (page 51)”:

Formerly, Pecker had been Hachette’s unusually nerdy Chief Financial Officer – a “major dweeb-man” is how one columnist described him – ever since the French company (which also manufactures Exocet missiles) bought a grab bag of U.S. titles, including Women’s Day and Car and Driver, to buttress its launch of American Elle. But when Peter Diamandis, the American from whom Hachette bought the magazines, walked after two years, taking his management team with him, Pecker was suddenly in a position to land the company’s top job almost by default. For a glamour-deprived mathlete like Pecker, this was a legitimate, once-in-a-lifetime chance to build a public persona.

137 From “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing” by Bagher Hossein, specific page “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing (page 53)”:

Notorious for cutting staff with the purchase of each new title, Pecker promptly hacked Mirabella‘s staff of 80 down to 20 (what could all those editors be doing up there, anyway?) and Premiere‘s from 80 to 38. Similarly, 36 staffers at Travel Holiday suddenly found themselves practicing what they’d been preaching after Pecker took over. “Every time they buy a new magazine, they don’t add the staffing to go with it,” laments a former employee with first-hand experience of Hachette’s clear-out-your-desk-by-noon hatchet policy. “He squeezes people to do so many different things – so he doesn’t put the money into bringing in the best editors, or enough editors, or enough sales people,” he said.

From “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing” by Bagher Hossein, specific page “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing (page 51)”:

Inspired by what his banker-brain perceived as the looseness and inefficiency of the publications under his power, the professionally thrifty Pecker started making what he thought were obvious changes: slashing staff, pandering to advertisers, and generally making a mockery of the editorial process. “Pecker is a financial guy,” explains an ad-sales representative who worked for him. “He doesn’t understand publishing…He never worked on a magazine. He doesn’t know the right ingredients to make a magazine great, only profitable…He interferes with editorial integrity.”

138 From “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing” by Bagher Hossein, specific page “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing (page 51)”:

Last May, David J. Pecker, CEO of Hachette-Fillipachi magazines, found himself with a problem.

An unsettling piece of paper had landed on his desk: an article slated for Premiere magazine, Hachette’s cheerful movie monthly, detailing the involvement of muscled thespian Sylvester Stallone in the Planet Hollywood chain of theme-restaurants. Uh oh. Pecker’s good buddy Ronald Perelman, CEO of Revlon, was at that moment hoping to create a new chain of restaurants “themed” around Marvel Comics characters with both Stallone and Planet Hollywood. For a Hachette publication to run an article exposing the dysfunctional relationships behind the business dealings of the chain would be a major personal embarrassment for David Pecker.

139 From “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing” by Bagher Hossein, specific page “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing (page 52)”:

Pecker’s public response to the Planet Hollywood debacle – which made national news after two of Premiere‘s editors, Christopher Connelly and Nancy Griffin, resigned in protest – was similarly stiff with pioneer spirit. “We have found in our research that investigative pieces score the lowest,” Pecker number-crunched defiantly. “Our readers are not interested in negative journalism”; “There are hard-hitting journalistic pieces that have hurt the magazine”; “The last time I looked, I am CEO of the company.” And then a landmark utterance: “I have 100% control over what runs in Premiere.”

From “Two Premiere Editors Resign Over Column” by Claudia Eller and James Bates:

Reflecting a drastic change in the editorial direction of one of the movie industry’s most widely read publications, Premiere magazine’s two top editors abruptly resigned Tuesday afternoon in protest after a controversial investigative story about Sylvester Stallone and Planet Hollywood was killed by the magazine’s owner.

Editor in Chief Chris Connelly and Deputy Editor Nancy Griffin shot off a memo to executives at Premiere managing owner Hachette Filipacchi Magazines on Tuesday afternoon saying, “Because we feel that the editorial integrity and credibility of Premiere is the magazine’s most precious asset, we will not kill Corie Brown’s California Suite column for July as we have been ordered to do by ownership. We therefore resign our positions . . . effective immediately.”

Hachette executives said the story was killed because the magazine is positioning itself as a “fan” magazine that will profile celebrities and the movie industry and will no longer run investigative stories.

Sources said the resignations at Premiere come after months of meddling by Hachette executives, as well as pressures from the magazine’s business side to soften the publication so it won’t offend advertisers. Twentieth Century Fox pulled advertising after a recent Brown column examining talent deals at the studio.

140 “How mag helped to cover Tiger’s great ‘lie’” by Keith J. Kelly:

The National Enquirer caught Tiger Woods in a steamy extramarital affair two years ago, but killed the story in exchange for the golfer doing a rare cover-shoot for its sister mag – despite Tiger’s exclusive deal with a rival publication, a former editor told The Post.

Woods’ camp, fearful of a potential public-relations nightmare in spring 2007, allegedly agreed to do a cover for Men’s Fitness – a magazine owned by the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media, former Men’s Fitness editor-in-chief Neal Boulton said yesterday.

“[American Media CEO] David Pecker knew about Tiger Woods’ infidelity a long time ago,” Boulton told The Post. “[Pecker] traded silence for a Men’s Fitness cover.”

“We were going to [do a quid pro quo with] America’s favorite sports star, just to get his name on the cover of a magazine,” said Boulton. “That was too much for me. That’s when I high-tailed it out of there.”

Pecker dismissed all the quid-pro-quo allegations.

141 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 223)”:

Initially, Pecker was hopeful that the state of Florida would lend a hand in limiting the costs of the first act of terrorism in the state. Governor Jeb Bush, however, thought otherwise. Pecker acknowledges the tabs have run stories certain to have displeased the Bush family. There had been pieces on all three of Jeb Bush’s children and their run-ins with the police. Daughter Noelle’s drug problems were chronicled. Son Jebby’s police report for “sexual misconduct” with a young woman in a parked car also made it into the tabs, as did a police report on his brother George P., a rising political star, who was arrested for skidding across his girlfriend’s lawn in his car and breaking into her home.

On the other hand, the tabs were curiously restrained while the mainstream press was abuzz with items about Jeb Bush’s alleged philandering. Even after the Florida governor held a press conference in May 2001 in which he volunteered that he had never slept with anyone other than his wife, the tabs had nothing to say. One Globe reporter says he was eager to cover the story and had excellent leads but was told by his editor, “We’re not writing about Jeb.” The feeling at the tabloid, he says, was that as long as AMI was based in Florida, “Jeb Bush, himself, was off-limits.”

142 From Glenn Kenny, a writer at Premiere at the time, the post “Memories of Arnold” from his blog Some Came Running:

I remember being at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2001, having two-to-three hour conference calls with Connolly and Hachette’s legal team and Premiere’s fact-checkers (and let me mention that Hachette’s legal people were always incredibly helpful and encouraging to us whenever we did sensitive stories, which you wouldn’t necessarily think if you know certain aspects of the history of U.S. Premiere at Hachette) and thinking, “Holy crap, we’re really pulling this off.” We had a GREAT headline (“Arnold The Barbarian”), Matt Mahurin did a really creepy photo-illustration, and our stuff was fucking airtight. What it all meant in the larger scheme of things was completely beyond my ken at that moment, but at least I wasn’t going to get fucking fired.

You know who did get fucking fired? Michael Solomon. Before he had even served out a year as Premiere’s editor-in-chief. And believe it or not, the Arnold story represented the first couple of nails in his coffin. Yeah, we got A LOT of Hollywood blowback from Schwarzenegger’s claque: irate letters from very big-name collaborators, many of them women, complaining at how disappointed they were that Premiere was trucking in such baseless garbage and what a great guy Arnold was. (And I do believe, incidentally, that the protestations of Schwarzenegger’s great-guyness were entirely sincere; after all, don’t we all have friends who are generous and kind to us and may be less than entirely gallant in other respects, about whom we tend to say, “Oh, that’s just X?” when we hear stories of them doing things that aren’t so cool?) Every day for like two weeks there were a bunch of new letters, and the names: James Cameron, Jamie Leigh Curtis, Emma Thompson (whose verbal wrist-slapping was hand-written; I remember thinking she had the most beautiful handwriting of any living person that I had ever seen) and so on. But there was no black-balling, no “We’ll never work with Premiere again” grandstanding. From any of them. It was just due-diligent noise-making. Because, as much as they liked the fellow, they really did know what was up.

No, the blowback that counted actually echoed that which we got from our readers, many of whom were up in arms that we were “picking” on Arnold. It wasn’t just a matter of people thinking highly of Schwarzenegger; because of his rags-to-riches story and Terminator awesomeness, people actually had quite a bit invested in the idea of thinking highly of Schwarzenegger, and they just didn’t want that messed with. Quite a few of the bigwigs at Hachette, both French and American, apparently looked at “Arnold the Barbarian” and said “Why are they/is he doing this?” Hachette had acquired U.S. Premiere in order to unify it with the international editions of the book; aside from that, the company never really had much of an idea of what to do with it. THIS, however, they did NOT want to do. So the fellas upstairs all of a sudden got a little bit skeptical of the young man who had been their exciting new fair-haired boy just about ten weeks before. Michael was out in October, I think. And now when people cite the history of reputable Arnold scandal-mongering, all they talk about is the 2003 Los Angeles Times piece. Well, Premiere was there first, and we didn’t get sued. Next time I see Michael Solomon, I think I’ll buy him a drink.

143 From “‘Shoe leather’ leads to Schwarzenegger’s secret son” by Ann O’Neil:

Within hours of the story breaking, Schwarzenegger sheepishly conceded that at times he had “behaved badly.”

His wife, Maria Shriver, stood by him.

The paper immediately felt an intense public backlash.

“We had 10,000 subscriptions canceled,” [Times editor John Carroll] said. “The people who were answering the phones became convinced that the people who were calling and canceling the subscriptions weren’t actually reading the story.”

A rumor campaign targeted the “liberal” Times, alleging the newspaper deliberately held the stories until just before the election to hurt Schwarzenegger at the polls.

144 “How fall of Arnold Schwarzenegger was predicted by ‘Hollywood’s Nostradamus’” by Guy Adams:

The anchormen called it a bolt from the blue, Tuesday’s news that Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered a child during an affair with his housekeeper.

Or nearly everyone. For while a gob-smacked mainstream media was coming to terms with the implosion of one of Hollywood’s foremost power couples, a scandal-mongering celebrity biographer called Ian Halperin was celebrating a remarkable journalistic coup.

Schwarzenegger’s foibles have long been rumoured in the entertainment community. When he announced his intention to stand for Governor of California in 2003, his campaign was almost derailed by a string of women who claimed that he had groped or made inappropriate sexual advances towards them. At the time, journalist Wendy Leigh alleged in Britain’s Daily Mail that a former flight attendant called Tammy Tousignant had given birth to his illegitimate son, Tanner, in the 1990s.

No US news organisation followed up the allegation. And while Tousignant yesterday denied that the boy (whose name is shared with Schwarzenegger’s character in Total Recall) was the ex-governor’s son, her lawyer said that a paternity test had been carried out.

[San Francisco Chronicle political editor Jerry Roberts] said that in the wake of a crippling recession and huge budget deficit, Schwarzenegger had a tarnished reputation. The recent disclosures about his personal life add to that perception, he said.

“As a practical matter, it doesn’t have a lot of effect, but among California voters and people in politics, (the latest scandal) was just a huge ‘F-you’ from him.”

145 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

With the evidence mounting that ephedra could produce serious side effects, the FDA started to investigate the substance in the late ’90s. The agency’s actions may have been a factor in Welder’s decision to sell his publishing company. “The supplement thing had already reared its ugly head by 2000,” says one former AMI editor with firsthand knowledge of the negotiations between AMI and Weider. “I knew two media players who backed away from the Welder magazines because they were worried that the supplement thing would blow up.” It eventually did. In 2004, the FDA banned all ephedra-based products.

From “National Enquirer Owner Invites Default Talk” by Matt Robinson:

Just two years after emerging from bankruptcy, the publisher of the National Enquirer is being abandoned in the bond market on concern that competition from TMZ.com and Gawker.com will push it back into default.

American Media Inc.’s $470 million face value of bonds have lost 3 percent of their value this month, the worst performance among distressed issuers, even as the average bond yielding more than 10 percentage points above similarly dated Treasuries gained 4.6 percent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data. Standard & Poor’s downgraded the Boca Raton, Florida-based company one level to B- with a negative outlook last week as cost cuts and higher prices haven’t compensated for lower sales.

From “Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to bodybuilding magazines as editor” by Chris Megerian:

Arnold Schwarzenegger has found lots of ways to keep busy since leaving the governor’s office, from starring in action movies to lending his name to a policy institute at the University of Southern California.

Now he’s going to be returning to a role that stirred controversy during his stint in Sacramento — Schwarzenegger will once again serve as executive editor at Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines.

Schwarzenegger, who was named Mr. Olympia seven times, first took the job shortly after winning the 2003 recall election. When details of the arrangement were revealed in 2005, it was criticized as a conflict of interest and he quit the job.

Schwarzenegger was receiving at least $1 million a year from a magazine dependent on advertising for dietary supplements while also making decisions as governor about how to regulate the industry.

At the time, the leader of the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington called it “one of the most egregious apparent conflicts of interest that I have seen”

146 “Is a Revolt Brewing at AMI?” by Hamilton Nolan:

Since emerging from bankruptcy at the end of last month, AMI has announced that it’s merging the LA newsrooms of Star and the Enquirer (and cutting jobs in the process), and that all employees “must take a three-day unpaid furlough before the end of the current fiscal quarter on March 31.”

Those things were bad enough-especially after CEO David Pecker (pictured, with Playboy bunny) reassured employees of the company’s strong financial health as soon as it came out of bankruptcy. But now, word is circulating among AMI employees that Pecker and a handful of other executives stand to receive hefty bonuses for their work on the bankruptcy. “The anger among the employees is widespread and morale is shot,” an insider tells us. It’s so bad that there have already been discussions of legal action by the employees, and/ or a “job action” from the rank and file. The immediate goal: to get rid of Pecker.

“Everybody believes the company would be better off without David Pecker,” says an insider. “His mismanagement, dishonesty and incompetence drove the company into bankruptcy. And now he and other executives are getting even more rich on the backs of good people who have worked very hard over the years for AMI. The stakeholders and employees would benefit greatly from new leadership and we are hoping the company’s board of directors takes action soon.”

147 From “AMI Executives Agree: Everything’s Fine at AMI” by Hamilton Nolan:

Yesterday we told you that a revolt may be brewing at National Enquirer publisher AMI, where employees are upset about furloughs, layoffs, and perceived management screw-ups following its recent bankruptcy. Did we get some feedback from AMI execs? Did we!

Our post went up at 12:56 yesterday afternoon. Before the afternoon was over, we’d received all of the following emails, in close succession. (We did not receive a forward of the email that went around the AMI offices saying ‘Everyone email Gawker immediately,’ but feel free to send it along.)

From David Jackson, AMI SVP and group publisher:

Revolt??? Nothing of the kind happening at AMI.
David Pecker is a great CEO and leader.
Check your sources!

And:

AMI employee here. I’ve been with the company [nearly a decade]. I haven’t heard of any revolt, but it wouldn’t surprise me, and it certainly wouldn’t be unjustified. Morale is not good right now for a variety of reasons…AMI is just a bad, poorly run company and has been for several years now.

148 From “Taming the Tabloids” by Darcie Lunsford:

“Pecker in the magazine business never thought he got the respect he deserved,” says John Masterton, an editor with Media Industry Newsletter, a New York-based publication covering the magazine industry. “He had a reputation in publishing as being an accountant, basically.”

An accountant by training, Pecker started off his professional career as an auditor for Price Waterhouse and Co. He broke into publishing in the late 1970s as a financial manager for CBS’ magazine unit. Its roster of titles at the time included Woman’s Day and Field & Stream.

Pecker was among a group of CBS executives who later orchestrated a $650 million buyout of the CBS publishing division to form Diamandis Communications, which in turn was purchased by Hachette in the spring of 1988. Pecker became Hachette’s chief financial and operating officer and later its president and chief executive.

He pushed Hachette to make a play for the tabs owned by Generoso Pope–including the National Enquirer and the Weekly World News–when they hit the auction block after Pope’s death in 1988. Hachette was outbid by MacFadden Holdings Inc. and its financial partners. But Pecker never lost interest.

A decade later, the sassy pubs would become his.

“Pecker is a big thinker,” Masterton says, “and he has got big plans for that place.”

149 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

He dressed in expensive double-breasted wise-guy suits and leather jackets set off by patent leather shoes, man-with-no-eyes shades, and a pinkie ring. He slicked back his thinning hair, doused himself with cologne, and popped Chiclets the way Kojak used to suck on lollipops. He was, said Kat, “the only man I ever met that could make a silk shirt look like polyester.” In the ’80s, he papered the walls of his office in bordello red velvet, later graduating to a hipper decor, highlighted by black leather furniture. His oak-finished office doors were painted in gold lettering announcing that you were entering the Pellicano Investigative Agency Ltd./Forensic Audio Lab/Syllogistic Research Group. He installed what he claimed was the latest in audio analysis equipment. He had his receptionist talk over the piped-in Puccini and offer cappuccinos to prospective clients.

From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

But to those on the business end of his $25,000 retainer fee, Pellicano is part hard-boiled detective and part hardball PR man, a tough talker in a thousand-dollar suit who does not carry a gun but whose telephone Muzak is the Sicilian opera used in “The Godfather, Part III.”

150 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

Pellicano preferred his assistants young and beautiful; his executive vice president, Tarita Virtue, 36, who says she was the only employee allowed into the secret room where his wiretaps were monitored, once posed in lingerie for Maxim. Pellicano mused about arranging a Playboy layout on “The Girls of Pellicano.”

One sample from Virtue’s spread at Maxim, “Tarita Virtue: Girls of Maxim”:

151 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

That $2 million fee, however, brought Pellicano into conflict with one of the few outfits more tenacious than he: the Internal Revenue Service. According to several people close to him, Pellicano reported only $1 million of the fee as income. The other $1 million, Denise Ward says, was reported as a loan: “I remember one morning when he opened his mail with the letter from the I.R.S., he jumped on his desk and started screaming, ‘Abandon ship! Abandon ship! We’re out of business!’ Women were crying and screaming in the office. Fortunately, Rich DiSabatino was in the office and pulled him aside and calmed him down. I understand it took him a few years to pay off the I.R.S.”

Yet between their boss’s flirtations and his bellicose management style, few stayed long. “I always thought when people left Pellicano they should be entitled to therapy instead of severance,” says Denise Ward, a P.I. who toiled six years for Pellicano and dated him as well. “He constantly screams and yells and threatens everyone who works for him. I would ask new employees, ‘Are you on Prozac yet?’” Adds another former Pellicano employee, “At one point every one of us in the office was on anti-anxiety and/or anti-depression medicine.”

152 From John J. Nazarian’s podcast with guest Kat Pellicano, “John Unleashed (09/23/2013)”.

This excerpt is at the 54:15-54:45 point in the podcast.

NAZARIAN
Ray Donovan‘s a great show, but I’ll tell you what, Anthony Pellicano’s got a show much better than that.

KAT
Oh, no question, no question. If he could ever really…if he was ever really able to tell the story, I don’t know if he ever would or not, there’s so many cases, and so many interesting stories, and so many that…things that never hit the news, that was his job and your job also, to make sure that the stories don’t get in the news.

153 From the transcript of the conversation between director John McTiernan and Pellicano “Rising Sun: Image of the Desired Japanese Part Three” footnote 214, made from the audio file available at “Pellicano Trial: Hear Hollywood Director Dish Film Gossip, Prostitutes, Cocaine and Phone Taps” by Allison Hope Weiner:

PELLICANO
Whenever you’re ready, I’ll take care of it for you. But I know who everybody is. That’s the other thing. I’ve got streams of fucking phone numbers, streams of them. Do you want me to find out who they all belong to? Or do you give a shit?

MCTIERNAN
I don’t think it matters. Unless I knew more about his business. But I don’t think it matters. I assume he’s talking-

PELLICANO
Well, let me tell you something. You know an awful lot about this business [cracks up while saying the last sentence] Boy, could we cause some chaos. [still cracking up] Do you realize that? I think…we could cause chaos like you have no idea.

MCTIERNAN
Probably. Probably.

154 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

“Before this, I’d never heard of the guy,” the C.E.O. of a top New York agency told me. “No, check that. I read about him in Vanity Fair. Guy seemed like a real nut job.” The noted San Francisco P.I. Jack Palladino says of Pellicano, “I never took the guy seriously. The way he bragged openly about wiretaps and baseball bats, I mean, I just thought it wasn’t real. I didn’t understand that his Hollywood clientele lived in that same film noir world and accepted it as real.”

155 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

“You have to understand, a lot of what he did was unnecessary,” says Palladino. “He was asking for information he could have gotten otherwise. Either he really didn’t understand how much is now available or he was just too lazy. I mean, this is not how anyone else in this business does business. It’s the way it is in the movies. And, unfortunately, he had this L.A. community-they’re like politicians, they don’t have much to do with regular people. They don’t know much about the real world. They don’t know much about bounda-ries or rules. They’re rich and spoiled and out of touch. And this was a guy who reflected their reality, which was the reality in films.”

156 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific page “Man of Dishonor (page 59)” and “Man of Dishonor (page 60)”:

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.”

157 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific page “Man of Dishonor (page 60)”:

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.

158 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

Seagal’s not-so-secret history, it must be said, was a PR masterstroke, the beauty of it being that the CIA never comments on personnel matters–if Tori Spelling claimed to be an agency assassin, no one could disprove her. So on Seagal went, self-mythologizing in the grand Hollywood tradition. “Steven had to re-invent himself to fit in,” says his friend Bob DeBrino, a former New York cop and all-around Hollywood dabbler. “Hollywood’s a tough place to fit in, and he did a good job, man. Coming from nothing. Whether he lied, acted, or whatever, he made it and he became a star.”

159 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific page “Man of Dishonor (page 62)”:

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 Wildner 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.”

160 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific page “Man of Dishonor (page 58)”:

September 1989: Robert Strickland, a tall dark 68-year old businessman and former contract employee 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 but that certainly adds to the aura of terminal menace the Mike Ovitz protégé likes to project. Perhaps, goes a common Hollywood jest of the 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, pulling out 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 dossier is peanuts 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 attaché 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.”

161 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 58)” and “Man of Dishonor (page 59)”:

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 had 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.’”

162 From “GQ Skewers Steven Seagal, Its Testy Cover Boy” by James Warren:

The letter-from-the-editor column in magazines, like your appendix, comes with the basic package but is virtually useless. Thank goodness your appendix doesn’t think it’s droll and can write.

Arthur Cooper, editor of Gentlemen’s Quarterly, pulls off a rarity, capturing one’s attention in his June issue as he sticks it to actor Steven Seagal, cover subject of the March issue. Seagal, a scantily talented, action-adventure star, was miffed by a somewhat intriguing, mildly critical profile by GQ’s Alan Richman that questioned murky areas in his past. Seagal appeared on Arsenio Hall’s TV show and, in what Cooper describes as “his charmingly inarticulate manner, raged that stars as big as he should not be treated so shabbily,” even calling writer Richman a “5-foot-2, fat, little male impersonator.” Richman, who is 5-foot-9 and won a Bronze Star as an Army captain in Vietnam, found being tagged mean-spirited by Seagal ironic. “If I wanted to be mean-spirited,” he tells Cooper, “I would have done a better job. For example, I didn’t put in the story that Seagal said Jews run Hollywood and that most of his directors were incompetent, because I thought it was just more of his careless shooting off at the mouth.” Cooper makes sure to disclose that when Seagal, who thrives on a macho image, showed up to have his picture taken for the March cover, he did so with “an entourage of 12, including bodyguards. His jet-black hair seemed to have a coating of shoe polish, and he was wearing a hair net.” “Having been ministered to earlier by his personal makeup artist, Mr. Seagal was wearing more pancake makeup than Tammy Faye Bakker on her very best day,” Cooper writes. “So, I ask you, who is calling whom a male impersonator?”

163 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

Never mind even the videotaped 1993 deposition Seagal gave while defending a civil suit brought by a parking-lot attendant who claimed that the star had roughed him up during a brief scuffle. The suit was settled, though not before a visibly agitated Seagal was asked whether he’d ever solicited murder. His response? He took the Fifth.

164 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

Often, Seagal’s wrath comes courtesy of his attorney Martin Singer, who once took the tack of suing a journalist before his story was even written. In 1993 a reporter who contributed to this article, John Connolly, began investigating Seagal for Spy magazine. Singer filed slander and libel suits against Connolly, alleging that he had falsely stated that Seagal associated with murderers and members of organized crime and had solicited murder.

After Connolly’s article was published, the suits were withdrawn. The story contained bombshell allegations by former Seagal associates, including an ex-CIA operative named Robert Strickland, who’d collaborated with Seagal on an aborted film project. In 1990, Strickland said, Seagal had opened an attaché case filled with $50,000 and asked him to kill a former friend and colleague of Seagal’s. The article also quoted a “top-level security consultant” who claimed that in 1991 Seagal had asked him what it would take to “whack” a certain man from Chicago. Shortly thereafter Seagal denied the charge and questioned Strickland’s sanity.

165 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 91)”:

One would be hard pressed to confect a more devastating article for an aspiring politician. Gray Davis’s team couldn’t have been more delighted. ‘As far as I was concerned, [the Skelton column] put Arnold in the ring,” says Garry South, Davis’s campaign manager at the time. “If you’re going to call up a nationally known political columnist for the biggest paper in California and trash the sitting governor and announce that you’re thinking about running against him if he doesn’t shape up according to your own dictates, then you’re running. And by God, you’d better be ready for what’s going to come after you.” South sent the Premiere article to “50 to 80 reporters with a smart-ass little cover memo on it that said, Arnold’s piggish behavior with women-is it because of the pig valve?’ The Arnold camp went bananas.”

South was immediately confronted by Schwarzenegger’s first line of defense: Martin Singer, the combative attorney, also known as “Mad Dog” Singer, who has represented the star since 1990. Singer’s Century City firm, Lavely & Singer, employs 16 lawyers and handles many of Hollywood’s bad boys. “Marty Singer sent me a five page letter, threatening to sue me,” says South. “This was sent to my office, by the way, in person, and they demanded that somebody sign for the letter. Not only did he threaten to sue me for libel-for e-mailing out an article that anyone could have bought on any newsstand-the last paragraph said, ‘Oh, and by the way, this letter is in itself copyrighted, and if you release any part of this letter to the press, I will further sue you for copyright infringement.’ Now, I’ve got to tell you, in my 32 years in politics, I had never gotten a letter like that from anybody.”

166 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

Those attorneys who used Pellicano’s services and who have cases known to be under federal examination, or who have retained their own attorneys, include some of the best-known lawyers in Southern California: Dennis Wasser, the renowned Beverly Hills divorce attorney whose clients have included Kerkorian, Spielberg, Rod Stewart, and Jennifer Lopez; Martin Singer, who has represented Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Celine Dion, and whose office number is said to have appeared on Pellicano’s speed-dial list; the late Edward Masry, best known for spearheading the class-action lawsuit that inspired the 2000 movie Erin Brockovich; Charles N. Shep-ard, head of litigation at Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman Machtinger & Kinsella; two attorneys who have represented Pellicano, Victor Sherman and Donald Re; and Daniel G. Davis, a Beverly Hills criminal-defense attorney best known for his work in the late 1980s on the McMartin pre-school child-molestation case. (None of the attorneys or their representatives would comment for this article.)

167 From “Steven Seagal Gets a Shot at Stardom” by Patrick Goldstein:

Tall and lean, with the rough, good looks of a daredevil jet pilot, Steven Seagal is more than just a 6-foot-4 martial-arts wizard who can flip a man 5 feet in the air with a flick of his wrist.

His fans proclaim that he’s a star waiting to be born.

Ludwig wasn’t exaggerating. When Seagal sweeps through a restaurant, quickly crossing the room with his long, supple strides, heads do turn. With his huge hands, finely sculpted cheekbones and quick, cat-like movements, Seagal radiates plenty of movie-marquee sex appeal. And his martial-arts expertise seems to offer plenty of action-film credibility.

But what really grabs your attention is his voice.

Whether he is recounting his exploits overseas or wondering about his box-office reception, he speaks with a hushed, conspiratorial purr–as if he were worried that a tiny man hidden under the floorboards might be taping the conversation.

From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 58)”:

According to [Joe] Hyams, Warners was impressed enough 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 is unknown (Donner would not return our phone calls), but Seagal got his break.

From “Fire Down Below” review by John Krewson:

Steven Seagal, the uncharismatic stack of puffy, aging flesh who stars in Fire Down Below, is a federal agent posing as a church mission carpenter while he works for the Environmental Protection Agency to stop rich coal barons from storing toxic waste in abandoned Appalachian mines. He believes in stopping evil polluters, but his pal got killed investigating the same dumps, so it’s also personal.

168 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

When Warner Bros. put him on a strict diet and supplied him with a trainer, they found cookie crumbs on the fitness equipment. On the set of Fire Down Below, according to a source, Seagal was so overweight that the crew spent much of its time trying to find flattering camera angles–which, given the final product, seem to have been few.

169 From “Is Actor Steven Seagal the Biggest Jerk in Hollywood?” by Kosmo:

There have been many bad hosts on Saturday Night Live, but perhaps the worst of all time is Steven Seagal; in fact, Seagal made the list of the Top Ten Dubious SNL Hosts. According to the book, Live From New York by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller, back in 1991 when Seagal hosted the show, cast member David Spade said it was the first time he heard talk about replacing the host and doing a cast show.

Julia Sweeney said: “When we pitched our ideas for Seagal at our Monday meeting, he gave us some of his own sketch ideas. And some of his sketch ideas were so heinous, but so hilariously awful, it was like we were on Candid Camera.

“He had this idea that he’s a therapist and he wanted Victoria Jackson to be his patient who’s just been raped. And the therapist says, ‘You’re going to have to come to me twice a week for like three years,’ because, he said, ‘that’s how therapists freaking are. They’re just trying to get your money.’ And then he says that the psychiatrist tries to have sex with her.”

From “EXCLUSIVE: The Full Steven Seagal Story Jenny McCarthy Told Movieline in 1998″ by Kyle Buchanan, a re-print of an excerpt from a profile by Stephen Rebello:

When I press her on the subject, the hurt in her voice says she’s still freaked. “I went to the audition for Under Siege 2 with, like, 15 other Jenny McCarthys. These girls came in and out of his office and I was last. Steven comes out and goes, ‘Hmm, so you’re last.’ I’m thinking, ‘Shouldn’t a casting person be doing this?’ I go inside his carpet, which has shag carpet and this huge couch, and he’s by himself and says, ‘Sit on the couch.’ I have my [script pages] and I say, ‘OK, I’m ready,’ but he says, ‘No, I want to find out about you.’ I knew what was coming. He goes, ‘So, you were Playmate of the Year,’ and I was trying to go–” Here, McCarthy breaks off and adopts a Laverne & Shirley blue-collar foghorn delivery: “Yeah, but, like, I lived in Chicago, see, and…”

The accent was apparently no turnoff. “I was wearing this very baggy dress,” she continues, “which I always wear to auditions, with my hair pulled back. I’m listening to him go on and on about how he found his soul in Asia and is one with himself and whatever. When I said, ‘Well, I’m ready to read,’ he said, ‘Stand up, you have to be kind of sexy in the movie and in that dress, I can’t tell.’ I stand up and he goes, ‘Take off your dress.’ I said, ‘What?’ and he said, ‘There’s nudity.’ I said, ‘No, there’s not, or I wouldn’t be here right now.’ He said again, ‘There’s nudity,’ and I said, ‘The pages are right in front of me. There’s no nudity.’ He goes, ‘Take off your dress.’ I just started crying and said, ‘Rent my [Playboy] video, you a**hole!’ and ran out to the car.” That wasn’t quite the end of it. “I’m closing my car door and he grabs me and says, ‘Don’t you ever tell anybody.’ He won’t sue me or say anything because he knows it’s true. If I saw him today, I would still say, ‘You’re a f***ing a**hole and I really hope you change your ways.’”

170 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 58)”:

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.

171 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

By 2000, Seagal’s relationship with Warner Bros. was effectively over. The studio had given him one last shot, paying him roughly $3 million to play a supporting role in Exit Wounds, an action vehicle for rapper DMX. The film performed decently, grossing about $72 million worldwide, but Warner Bros., fed up with Seagal’s work habits and bad karma, walked away from its 49-year-old Frankenstein, whose per-picture fee has dropped to about $2.5 million.

172 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 64)”:

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.”

173 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, the high school photo is on “Man of Dishonor (page 58)” and the photo of contrasting houses is on “Man of Dishonor (page 61)”:

174 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 64)”:

Julius Nasso is a 40-year-old pharmacist from Staten Island and the owner of Universal Marine Medical 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.”

175 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

If ever there were a little taste of Brooklyn in Beverly Hills, it would be Madeo, a chubby Italian fixture famous for its prosciutto, its veal, and an atmosphere not inhospitable to gold jewelry for men. That’s where Nasso and Seagal first met, in 1986. Seagal was there with his girlfriend, the actress Kelly LeBrock, best known for her role in the 1984 Gene Wilder comedy, The Woman in Red, and for a shampoo ad in which she famously said, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” Their romance had begun at Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel, where she was on a modeling assignment and he was on a mission for love, having persuaded friends that LeBrock was his “destiny.” Which evidently came as something of a surprise to Seagal’s wife at the time, Adrienne La Russa, whom he’d wed while technically still married to Fujitani, and who subsequently filed for an annulment.

It turns out that Nasso knew LeBrock through a friend, and pretty soon Nasso and the lovebirds were tight. A sweetheart, Nasso recalls of Seagal at the time. Stand-up guy. No booze, no drugs. Thin and fit. He wasn’t yet a star, wasn’t even acting. He was teaching aikido at a dojo on La Cienega but had some private clients as well.

176 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 65)”:

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 he 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 clarification: 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.

177 From “His Two Worlds Are Worlds Apart” by Barnaby J. Feder:

He may not have had the artistic impact of the composer Charles Ives and the poet Wallace Stevens, both versatile executives who juggled careers in insurance and the arts, but Julius R. Nasso’s dual career has a similarly diverse flair.

Mr. Nasso runs Universal Marine Medical Supplies, which he has built into the world’s largest distributor of pharmaceuticals to ships, while helping produce action films like “Hard to Kill” and “Out for Justice.”

“I had no idea,” said William Muggenthaler, a senior purchasing executive in the shipping subsidiary of the Chevron Oil Company, which has counted on Universal Marine to stock its oil tankers’ medicine chests in ports around the world for nearly a decade. “We talk strictly about business. We look at other suppliers every two or three years, but we keep renewing his contract.”

Even fewer people know about several shorter-lived but also profitable ventures, like Mr. Nasso’s ownership in the early days of the Cabbage Patch doll craze of Baby Land General Hospital opposite the New York Public Library, where families came to adopt their dolls. Or Tishcon, a Westbury, L.I., company, established in 1976 with Satish Patel, one of his college pharmacy professors, to make over-the-counter drugs and vitamins sold by drugstores and supermarkets under their own labels. The company was sold to Cosmo Laboratories in 1985 in a deal that will provide Mr. Nasso with payments until 2005.

Mr. Nasso got his first taste of pharmacy when he went to work as a 7-year-old stock boy in a Bay Ridge pharmacy, now one of four he owns and operates under the Bi-Wise name. He held numerous other jobs as well, including pouring concrete as a teen-ager on a Manhattan skyscraper being built by the prosperous and influential uncle for whom he was named.

Mr. Nasso founded Universal Marine while still an undergraduate at St. John’s University in Queens, jumping at an opportunity he discovered on his evening shift managing a Brooklyn pharmacy. A harried mate from a freighter docked nearby had rushed in with a lengthy order for drugs and medical equipment that the Coast Guard required the ship to have on board before the scheduled sailing, only hours away. Mr. Nasso filled nearly all of the order by calling around to other drugstores and immediately began to wonder if there was not a better way to do business.

Today, Universal Marine grosses more than $30 million annually, providing shippers with one-stop shopping for supplies ranging from aspirin to hospital beds. It competes with local pharmacies by offering shipping concerns standard prices for worldwide delivery, quantity discounts, inventory control services and expert guidance on the use and disposal of regulated narcotics like morphine.

178 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 65)”:

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 named 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.

On Julius Nasso’s uncle, also named Julius Nasso, from “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” by Paul Lieberman:

Another profile mentioned that his early jobs included pouring concrete for an “influential uncle,” with no mention of how the elder Nasso’s name had come up at a 1980s mob trial. According to testimony, the uncle attended a meeting with the then-head of the Gambino crime family to discuss the contract to pour concrete for the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

179 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 65)”:

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.

On Nasso’s family, from “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” by Paul Lieberman:

He is not the only one in his family embroiled in the criminal case. His brother Vincent, 43, is accused of paying the mob $400,000 in kickbacks in return for a three-year contract to administer a union prescription plan.

A second brother in health care, a chiropractor, was not implicated. He’s the one who in 1989 married a daughter of Johnny Gambino, an imprisoned mob captain.

Nasso says he and Seagal were so close by then, “he escorted my mother up the aisle …. Steven was the star of the wedding.”

180 On Zambardi’s indictment, from “Prosecutors Tell of Colombo Family Murder Plot” by Arnold H. Lubasch:

Victor Orena, reputedly the acting boss of the Colombo crime family, has narrowly escaped an assassination plot, according to a court document.

The plot stemmed from a power struggle between Mr. Orena and a group loyal to Carmine Persico, the convicted Colombo boss now serving a long prison sentence, the document said. It noted that the information about the alleged murder plot came from confidential informants.

Federal prosecutors submitted the document last week at a detention hearing for a defendant, Robert Zambardi, in a loansharking case in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. The document identified Mr. Zambardi as a Colombo crime family soldier who reports directly to Carmine Sessa, identified as the family’s counselor.

“Five confidential sources have informed agents of the F.B.I. that members of the Colombo family close to Persico and concerned that Orena wanted to take over complete control of the family, ordered Orena’s murder,” the document said.

“On June 20, 1991,” it continued, “Carmine Sessa, Robert Zambardi and two other men went to Orena’s residence intending to murder Orena. The plan failed because Orena arrived home prematurely before the conspirators were ready.”

Mr. Zambardi, who is 51 years old and lives on Staten Island, was the only defendant the Government tried to detain without bail in the loansharking investigation. Five others, accused of links to the Gambino crime family, were indicted on separate loansharking charges and were released on $250,000 bail each.

The other defendants were Joseph Bilotti, 58, of Staten Island; Vincent D’Antoni, 48, of Staten Island; Joseph Seggio, 54, of Brooklyn; Peter Sgarlato, 56, of Edison, N.J., and Michael Murdocco, 48, of Staten Island.

Mr. Bilotti was identified as a brother of Thomas Bilotti, who was killed with Paul Castellano, who reputedly headed the Gambino family. They were shot to death on Dec. 16, 1985. Their murders are among the charges against John Gotti in a racketeering trial scheduled for early next year.

The details of Zambardi’s conviction and sentencing can be found in his later, failed, appeal, “164 F.3d 796 UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Theodore PERSICO, Robert Zambardi, and Richard Fusco, Defendants-Appellants.”:

Background

The charges and the Persico trial. The charges in this case arose from an internal war between the Persico and the Orena factions of the Colombo organized crime family, which was fought on the streets of New York City from mid-1991 through the end of 1994. The war was the subject of numerous indictments and has already precipitated several decisions of this Court, which recount its complex details.1

Appellant Persico, the brother of the Colombo family boss, Carmine Persico, Jr., was a member of the Persico faction. He was tried in this case with four other members of that faction, Joseph and Anthony Russo (hereinafter “the Russos”), Joseph Monteleone, and Lawrence Fiorenza. Appellants Fusco and Zambardi, who pled guilty, were also members of the Persico faction.

The trial focused on a conspiracy among members of the Persico faction to murder members of the Orena faction and on three murders of Orena faction members that occurred during the conspiracy: John Minerva and Michael Imbergamo, killed in one incident, and Lorenzo Lampesi, killed separately. Evidence was also presented showing many other incidents in which one or more of the defendants plotted or attempted to kill members of the Orena faction.

The proof consisted largely of the testimony of four cooperating accomplice witnesses: Carmine Sessa (the former consigliere of the Colombo family’s Persico faction), Lawrence Mazza, Joseph Ambrosino (both lower-level soldiers in the Persico faction), and Salvatore Miciotta (a soldier in the Orena faction). These witnesses all testified from their personal knowledge of the conspiracy and the murders, and the defendants’ participation in them. Their testimony was corroborated by tape-recorded conversations, law enforcement surveillances, and evidence seized through lawful searches.

Zambardi’s guilty plea. Zambardi was originally charged in five counts of the indictment with substantive and conspiracy RICO violations, conspiracy to murder, using and carrying a firearm in connection with the murder conspiracy, loan-sharking conspiracy, and possession of a firearm by an ex-felon. At the start of Persico’s trial, Zambardi pled guilty to one count of racketeering, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), pursuant to a plea agreement stipulating to a 15-year term of imprisonment. If convicted on all counts, Zambardi would have faced life imprisonment.

Following the disclosure of Scarpa’s role as an informant, Zambardi moved to withdraw his plea. He relied on Brady and its progeny, and also alleged that the Government had engaged in “outrageous conduct.” Zambardi claimed that if he had known these newly disclosed facts, he would not have pled guilty.

The District Court denied the motion, finding that the evidence against him was overwhelming. The Court also analyzed the legitimate use that Zambardi might have made of the newly disclosed information and concluded that it would have been immaterial to Zambardi’s trial and to his decision to plead guilty, because there was ample direct evidence against Zambardi without resort to the Scarpa hearsay. Thus, any impeachment of Scarpa’s statements would have been of no value to Zambardi. In Chief Judge Sifton’s view, Zambardi was not seeking to withdraw his plea for any reason other than to try to bargain for an even more lenient sentence. After denial of his post-plea motion, Zambardi received a sentence that included a term of 15 years.

Zambardi’s later guilty plea to four murders is in “Feds Stick With Mob Turncoat” by Helen Peterson and Jerry Capeci:

A top Brooklyn mob turncoat released on bail two years ago was recently returned to prison for possessing guns and beating his wife but the feds still think he’s a credible prosecution witness. Former Colombo consigliere Carmine Sessa, who killed 12 men and a woman in his mobster days, pleaded guilty last month to gun charges and lying to the FBI about terrorizing his wife, Anne, and son, Thomas, for seven months. Despite the renewed violence, Sessa, 48, who made his bones as a member of the Bensonhurst-based crew of Greg Scarpa Sr., was returned to a prison unit for cooperating witnesses. There he was prepped to testify in Brooklyn Federal Court at the racketeering and murder trial of Colombo mobster Robert Zambardi, according to court papers. Zambardi also was a member of the Scarpa crew that operated out of the Wimpy Boys Social Club on 13th Ave. Zambardi, charged with four murders and facing life, pleaded guilty last week after prosecutors made him an offer he couldn’t refuse 11 years.

A piece at the time of Ciauri’s conviction is “State jury makes it official: La Cosa Nostra does exist”:

The jury convicted [Jerry] Ciauri and [James] Besser of shaking down a supermarket owner and stealing $60,000 from the market. In addition, it found that Besser forced the market manager to cash bad checks and that Ciauri made him buy produce from a mob-connected supplier. Ciauri also was convicted of murder conspiracy related to internal warfare in the Colombo mob.

The two man face up to 25 years in prison when sentenced at a later date.

That Ciauri was still serving time in 2001 on various charges is mentioned in “Metro Briefing New York: Albany: Crime Figures’ Appeal Is Rejected” by the Times:

The state’s highest court yesterday rejected an appeal by two imprisoned members of the Colombo organized-crime family. The decision by the Court of Appeals means that James Besser, also known as James Zerilli, will continue to serve 15 years to life in prison, and that Jerry Ciauri will continue his sentence of 12 1/2 to 25 years. According to court records, Mr. Ciauri and Mr. Besser were involved in a failed conspiracy to kill Vic Orena, acting head of the Colombo family, in 1991.

181 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

As ever, there were whispers about the duo’s rather exotic origins–Nasso’s in gangland, Seagal’s in his own mind. Nasso, especially, had colorful connections. There was his Uncle Julius, whom federal authorities describe as having connections with the Gambino crime family, and there was his brother, whose wife’s maiden name happens to be Gambino. “I’ve known the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Nasso says. “On my block there’s been a judge and a gangster.” The latter would be Tommy Bilotti, who in 1985 was whacked alongside former Gambino boss Paul Castellano. “That’s the way of life in Staten Island. We all do what we do, and then, when we go home at night, we’re neighbors.”

On Joseph Bilotti’s involvement in the attempt on Orena’s life, from “Prosecutors Tell of Colombo Family Murder Plot” by Arnold H. Lubasch:

The other defendants were Joseph Bilotti, 58, of Staten Island; Vincent D’Antoni, 48, of Staten Island; Joseph Seggio, 54, of Brooklyn; Peter Sgarlato, 56, of Edison, N.J., and Michael Murdocco, 48, of Staten Island.

Mr. Bilotti was identified as a brother of Thomas Bilotti, who was killed with Paul Castellano, who reputedly headed the Gambino family. They were shot to death on Dec. 16, 1985. Their murders are among the charges against John Gotti in a racketeering trial scheduled for early next year.

182 From “The Brooklyn Guy and the Movie Guy: It’s a Mobster Scenario” by Alan Feuer:

In addition to making movies, Mr. Nasso, 49, is the president of Universal Marine Medical Supplies, which sells prescription medicines and surgical products to freighters, cruise ships, off-shore oil rigs and military vessels. He got his start in the pharmacy business by working weekends as a stock boy at Lowen’s, a drugstore in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, according to a 1999 interview he gave to The Friars Epistle, which is published by the Friars Club.

In that interview, Mr. Nasso spoke of meeting Mr. Seagal on a business trip to Kobe, Japan. The chance encounter eventually led to a movie partnership, Seagal-Nasso Productions, said Mr. Nasso’s lawyer, Barry Levin. ”They made movies together,” Mr. Levin said. These included ”Hard to Kill,” ”Marked for Death” and ”Under Siege.”

Here’s another version from “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” by Paul Lieberman:

Nasso has often said he met Seagal in Japan, while on business for Universal Marine Medical Supplies, his Brooklyn-based company that sells pharmaceuticals and health gear to cruise lines and merchant ships. Nasso said he needed a translator and looked up Seagal, who was fluent in the language: He’d been married to a Japanese woman and had run a martial arts studio in Japan.

Nasso sometimes told people he and Seagal were distant cousins. They’re not, and the whole Japan story is “puffery,” Nasso now acknowledges.

He now says they met in Los Angeles in early 1987.

…as well as in “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

If ever there were a little taste of Brooklyn in Beverly Hills, it would be Madeo, a chubby Italian fixture famous for its prosciutto, its veal, and an atmosphere not inhospitable to gold jewelry for men. That’s where Nasso and Seagal first met, in 1986. Seagal was there with his girlfriend, the actress Kelly LeBrock, best known for her role in the 1984 Gene Wilder comedy, The Woman in Red, and for a shampoo ad in which she famously said, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” Their romance had begun at Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel, where she was on a modeling assignment and he was on a mission for love, having persuaded friends that LeBrock was his “destiny.” Which evidently came as something of a surprise to Seagal’s wife at the time, Adrienne La Russa, whom he’d wed while technically still married to Fujitani, and who subsequently filed for an annulment.

It turns out that Nasso knew LeBrock through a friend, and pretty soon Nasso and the lovebirds were tight. A sweetheart, Nasso recalls of Seagal at the time. Stand-up guy. No booze, no drugs. Thin and fit. He wasn’t yet a star, wasn’t even acting. He was teaching aikido at a dojo on La Cienega but had some private clients as well. One of them, as fate would have it, was then the most powerful man in Hollywood, Michael Ovitz, who ran the vaunted Creative Artists Agency. They had met through another mutual client, actor James Coburn.

183 From “His Two Worlds Are Worlds Apart” by Barnaby J. Feder:

Mr. Nasso’s involvement with movies was an outgrowth of business trips to Universal Marine’s branch office in San Pedro, the port of Los Angeles. Mr. Nasso fell into the habit on trips there of taking a couple of extra days to stop in on childhood acquaintances who were making their mark in television: Tony Danza (“Taxi”), Jimmy Baio (“Soap”) and Scott Baio (“Happy Days”). He was immediately intrigued by the organizational skills that went into filming.

From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific page “Man of Dishonor (page 64)”:

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.”

184 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

By 1983 the magic found Nasso–in, of all places, Brooklyn–courtesy of the late spaghetti-Western director Sergio Leone, who was in town making his gangland epic, Once upon a Time in America, starring Robert De Niro. Leone needed an assistant, and who better than Nasso, who spoke paesan and was, at the very least, familiar with the subject matter? At age 29 Nasso became Leone’s gofer, earning $35 a day while keeping his day job. “You’re a doctor?” Leone asked him, embarrassed that a pharmacist was fetching him lunch. “What are you doing here?”

“You’re the master,” Nasso replied.

185 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

Nasso’s heritage, by contrast, has never been in dispute–except perhaps for the time in the early 1990s when he claimed to a reporter that he and Seagal were related. (He’s sure not claiming that anymore.) Little Jules was a classic Brooklyn scrapper, working his way through college at St. John’s, in Queens, while climbing the ladder at Lowen’s, a pharmacy not far from the Brooklyn Piers, which were lousy with mobsters who shook down the major shipping lines. (Nasso also earned a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Connecticut.)

From “His Two Worlds Are Worlds Apart” by Barnaby J. Feder:

Inside, the counter behind his desk is filled with a large model of the Titanic and a computer terminal that connects Mr. Nasso to Universal Marine’s operations. The wall above it is covered with pharmacy degrees and certificates. A model anchor serves as a paperweight. But off to the side are a series of movie posters, pictures of Nasso family members with stars like Sylvester Stallone and the cast of “Ghostbusters” and a director’s chair with Mr. Nasso’s name.

From “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” by Paul Lieberman:

Three newspapers did profiles tracing his rise from humble roots, one account saying he had two doctorates, apparently not realizing that Nasso proudly counts a 1979 testimonial dinner at Fordham University as the equivalent of an honorary degree and bases his other on a membership certificate from the Connecticut Pharmaceutical Assn.

186 From “Cabbage Patch Fever: 25 Years After” by Colleen Kane:

Whenever I see a Cabbage Patch Kid slouching naked on a shelf at a thrift store, yarn hair pulled out of her former fat pigtails, I think about how far her value has fallen.

In the Christmas season of 1983, Cabbage Patch Kids were America’s most wanted dolls. They were nearly impossible to find selling at their $30 retail price, with the black market values going to $75 and beyond into triple digits. The dolls were ugly, each one was unique, and each had their own ugly unique compound name, like Eunice Grismelda or Archibald Jehosephat.

I was 9 going on 10, edging up on being a little old for dolls, but I was not immune to Cabbage Patch fever. Most of my friends already had them, some even had more than one (NOT FAIR). My wish for a doll coupled with an even more urgent desire to not be left out. I knew it would take more than a letter to Santa to acquire one of these. It would take lots of begging.

From “About New York; A New Cabbage Patch Arrives On 5th Avenue” by William E. Geist, from The New York Times, December 7, 1985:

Two burly tr