Attack Dogs of LA Law
Journalist Ross Johnson writes for the May 2000 issue of Los Angeles Magazine:
For years, MARTIN D. "MAD DOG" SINGER of Lavely & Singer has been the all-around bad cop for stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Sylvester Stallone, Eddie Murphy, Celine Dion, Roseanne and Jim Carrey. "I'll make one call to a publicist to check out a tip," growls New York Post Page Six editor Richard Johnson, "and pretty soon I get a hand-delivered letter from Singer threatening all sorts of disasters and financial damages."
Singer covers the waterfront when it comes to celebrity litigation. If a contractor is too slow to finish the star's Malibu pad, Singer will rip him a new you know what. When basketballer Dennis Rodman was sued recently for allegedly manhandling a cocktail waitress, Singer took up the Worm's defense. (The case was dismissed.) When Stallone's household help in Miami banded together against him in a lawsuit, it was Singer who caught the case--and quickly spun this to the press: The plaintiffs were "hired for six days through a temp agency" and one of them "showed up in high heels to clean the house."
Singer, 48, has impeccable credentials for pit-bull lawyering. His father died when he was 19, and he had to run the family's silk-screen printing factory in Manhattan while attending City College of New York. Graduating from Brooklyn Law School in 1977, his goal was to move to California and practice tax law. But he quickly discovered that L.A. transactional lawyers loved a tough litigator who had no desire to buddy up to clients.
Singer can hold his own in a courtroom--he recently won jury verdicts for Jean Claude Van Damme in a contract dispute and Priscilla Presley when she sued a television producer and publicist who lied about her supposed involvement in a deal they were pitching. But it is Singer's ability to make prying journalists back off that's made him so valuable--he charges $400 an hour--to folks who are sensitive about their private lives.
In February, he took on the National Enquirer after it published a false story that Celine Dion was pregnant. (Singer demanded a page-one retraction. When the Enquirer refused, he threw down a $20 million invasion-of-privacy suit.) Last January, the Globe apologized to Singer client Schwarzenegger after publishing a bogus tale about his so-called defective heart valve. When Willis wanted to stop the Independent Film Channel last year from showing a documentary critical of him, Singer got the IFC to quickly abandon the idea, much to the public consternation of those at the channel unaccustomed to Hollywood-lawyer hardball. And a big reason the public heard so little about Eddie Murphy being stopped with a transvestite hooker in his car by West Hollywood sheriffs was that Singer bulldogged the tabs on the actor's behalf.
Enquirer editor Steve Coz, who shared a dais with Singer when they debated at Harvard's JFK School of Government, deals with him on a weekly basis. "Marty is a heavy hitter, but he's reasonable," claims Coz in a careful tone. "He's one of the few that `gets it'--his clients need the press every bit as much as the press needs his clients."
Don't tell that to journalist John Connolly. An August 1996 Buzz magazine article dissected Singer's rabid attempts to discredit Connolly, who had written a damning piece on actor Steven Seagal for Spy. Singer not only slapped a libel suit on Connolly but also hit him with a slander suit for allegedly making derogatory statements about Seagal while reporting the Spy article. (Both suits were quietly withdrawn a few months after the story ran.)
In his Century City office festooned with photos of his three children, Singer manages a wan smile when reminded of the flap. "That story really made me out to be this mean, ruthless lawyer;" he recalls. "I was surprised how much work I ended up getting from it."
Journalist John Connolly writes 11/6/02: Luke Ford, I was unaware of your website until this afternoon. Someone directed me to the Anita Busch articles. I'm quite impressed by your work. Very well researched and documented. Continued success. I also agree with your suggestion that the threats to Busch and Zeman originated in the [Steven] Seagal camp. I can assure you that Anita Busch was not the first reporter/journalist to ever be threatened by the "Seagal camp". My sources tell me to expect more arrests and that one of them, not an actor, will be someone very well, known in Hollywood. Stay tuned.
Luke asks: Weren't you threatened with death by the Seagal camp?
John replies 11/7/02: The only threat I received during the Spy story was from Seagal's legal Doberman, Marty Singer. When I refused to stop researching the story, they sued me to attempt to stop publication. They alleged that I had slandered Seagal by asking questions about him. A few months after they filed the suit, they were disabused of that notion and withdrew the suit. Neither Spy, nor myself made any corrections, retractions or settlement to Seagal.
The threat you mentioned happened six years ago. I had been hired by Time magazine to help Richard Zoglin write a feature on Seagal. Just prior to publication, Norman Pearlstein at the urging of Semel and Daly of Warner Bros. spiked the story [Buzz, 8/96 says Time abandoned the story as too much legal trouble for little payoff]. I took it to Penthouse and contemporaneous with the publication of the story I received a threat from the "Seagal Camp". Penthouse, my lawyer and myself took it very, very seriously. Without going into detail, the very same people that Seagal recently testified against were the fine folks involved in the very real threat to my life. I would think that the people involved in the threats against Busch and Zeman, might want to think about running to the authorities with their story before someone else gets there first.
SCHWARZENEGGER'S FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES BLAST PREMIERE MAGAZINE AND WRITER JOHN CONNOLLY FOR PUBLISHING ARTICLE THEY DENOUNCE AS TOTAL FABRICATION
From icgf.org, an association partly funded by Arnold Schwarzenegger comes this blistering attack by Marty Singer and private detective Anthony Pellicano:
An Article about Arnold Schwarzenegger appearing in the March issue of Premiere Magazine  has raised the ire of Schwarzenegger's friends, physician and co-workers, who blasted the magazine for publishing false statements about Schwarzenegger's health and behavior. Schwarzenegger's former co-stars, such as Linda Hamilton, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sharon Stone, Rita Wilson and Kelly Preston, as well as director and producer James Cameron, have come forward to denounce the Article by John Connolly, titled "Arnold the Barbarian." Well-known producer Arnold Kopelson also weighed in, describing an account of a purported event on the set of Eraser as "a total fabrication."
The Premiere Article written by John Connolly (whose former clients have viewed him as a "consummate liar" as reported in New York Magazine), has been criticized as a work of fiction denounced by a whole host of people who are specifically mentioned in the Article but who were never contacted by Premiere before publication.
Recent articles in US WEEKLY and the LOS ANGELES TIMES also recount the groundswell of support for Arnold voiced by his co-workers and friends, who view the Premiere story as a "hatchet job" with political undercurrents.
The Premiere Article relies largely on unidentified sources in describing alleged instances of inappropriate behavior by Arnold. But the actresses and female producers who worked with him over the years have squarely condemned the Article's false characterization of Arnold's behavior on the set and his treatment of women, sending blistering letters to Premiere Magazine in support of Arnold. Others mentioned in the Premiere story also refuted the reported incidents, which they characterized as ridiculous fabrications.
Arnold's Co-Workers Decry Article As Fictional Gossip-Mongering
Linda Hamilton, who co-starred with Schwarzenegger in both of the wildly-successful Terminator films, denounced as "fantasy" the story of an incident in a limousine in which the Premiere article claimed Arnold lifted her onto his lap in the presence of her then-boyfriend Director James Cameron and others (including Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver). Hamilton stated in a letter she sent to Premiere's Editor in Chief: "Let me be perfectly clear. In my nearly twenty years of friendship with Arnold Schwarzenegger I have never witnessed ANY HINT of the behavior you so carelessly ascribe him. I have known and witnessed Arnold on set as a man who is tirelessly PROFESSIONAL, and in life as a singularly devoted husband, father, and family man." Hamilton went on to describe the publication as "unsubstantiated/gossip-mongering/character-assassinating/smear campaign/tactics."
For his part, Academy Award winning Director-Producer James Cameron (who worked with Schwarzenegger on the blockbusters Terminator, T2 and True Lies) likewise condemned Premiere for its report of the fictional limousine incident. In a letter to Premiere, Cameron described the report as "pure fiction," adding that over the 18 years he has known Schwarzenegger, he has "never seen Arnold act in the coarse fashion [Premiere] describe[s] with any woman, at any time, ever, and most certainly not with Linda Hamilton . . . ." Cameron added: "The situation you describe did not take place, and though I object on principle to your printing of pure fabrication like some cheesy tabloid, I particularly object to the unfair and absurdly off-the-mark picture it paints of Arnold, who is as good a man and human being as I have known."
Jamie Lee Curtis, who won a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Schwarzenegger's wife in True Lies, said that the Premiere article "outrages" her. She wrote of Schwarzenegger in a letter to Premiere: "I admire him as a man, husband, father, friend and icon of the power of the American dream. I hold him in the highest esteem." Curtis stated that she worked with Arnold for seven months on True Lies, during which his trailer door was always open. She added that she never observed anything like the behavior described in the article, noting that Arnold's "wife and his family are the most important things to him in the world." Curtis lambasted the article as a "smear campaign" and a "politically motivated hatchet job." Chastising Premiere's publishers, Curtis told them, "you should be ashamed of yourselves."
Rita Wilson, who played Schwarzenegger's wife in the comedy Jingle All The Way, wrote to Premiere that Arnold "has acted only in the most professional of ways" when they worked together. She added that he "always treated me with respect, as well as everyone else on the set. He never stepped over any boundaries or made me feel uncomfortable." Also noting that Schwarzenegger's trailer doors were always open, Wilson said that she was "saddened" by the hurtful article.
Actress Kelly Preston, who has known Schwarzenegger since working with him on the 1988 comedy Twins, also wrote to Premiere to challenge its characterization of Schwarzenegger, stating that she has "never known him to be anything but kind, respectful and a true gentleman." She also described him as "a loving father and devoted husband," adding that she counts her "experience working with him as one of my fondest memories."
Major behind-the-scenes players in Hollywood have also rallied to Arnold's defense.
Well-known Producer Arnold Kopelson, who produced Eraser, challenged the article's account of a purported incident in Schwarzenegger's trailer during that production. Kopelson, who won a Best Picture Academy Award for Platoon, noted Schwarzenegger's professionalism, and described procedures on the movie set which would have made it close to impossible for the reported incident to have taken place. Kopelson cited his extensive presence on the set during which he and Schwarzenegger were "virtually inseparable for major blocks of hours during each day and more often than not, on weekends as well," as support for his conclusion that the incidents described in the Premiere article could not have taken place, since had they occurred Kopelson certainly would either have observed them or would have heard discussions about such improprieties on the set.
What Kopelson did observe were discussions with Arnold exhibiting "only love and respect for Maria and their children." Describing the article as "dribble," Kopelson said that the events described in the article were "inconceivable," and concluded that Premiere's account of Schwarzenegger's behavior is "a total fabrication."
Rae Sanchini, who has been President of Lightstorm Entertainment since 1993 and was Executive Producer of True Lies, and who was an executive at Carolco Pictures when it produced Red Heat, Terminator 2 and Total Recall, wrote to Premiere that "In all this time I have never once witnessed any of the incidents described in your article or any other conduct consistent with the very stilted picture you paint of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Quite the contrary, he has always treated me and the other women producers and executives involved in these various projects with the utmost respect and courtesy." Sanchini continued: "Although I have worked with Premiere on a number of past articles, I was not contacted in connection with this story, and the names of the many other women producers whom Arnold has successfully – and repeatedly – worked with were also notably absent."
Schwarzenegger's long-time dresser, Gregory Allen Hall, who has worked with Arnold for nearly a dozen years, sent his own scathing letter to Premiere's editor after reading the story's account that Arnold had supposedly humiliated him with cruel comments during the filming of Terminator 2, allegedly leading to Hall's termination. Hall denounced the story about him as false, telling the editor, "Mr. Schwarzenegger has been extremely generous to me and aside from being a good boss he is a good friend. While it is true I was fired from a film, nothing else you reported is true. The film was 'True Lies' not 'Terminator 2,' and I was fired by my boss the Costume Supervisor, not a producer and it was Mr. Schwarzenegger who rehired me (as his personal dresser) when he found out I had been fired." Hall went on to chastize the magazine for failing to contact him about the story.
Producers of the London television program The Big Breakfast on which Schwarzenegger appeared with host Denise Van Outen, denounced the claims in the Premiere article that any improprieties took place when Arnold did the show. In fact, they were so delighted with Arnold's appearance that Producer Nicholas Lazarus urged him to return to the show again when his schedule permits, writing "we would dearly love to welcome you back on to The Big Breakfast very soon." Describing Schwarzenegger as a "fantastic guest," he added that Van Outen had no problem with the interview and enjoyed meeting Arnold, stating that they consider him "a great friend of the show."
Renowned Cardiac Surgeon Proclaims Medical "Facts" In Article "Represent No Facts At All"
Schwarzenegger's cardiac surgeon, Dr. Vaughn A. Starnes, also chastised the magazine for its false depiction of Schwarzenegger's 1997 elective heart valve replacement surgery. Schwarzenegger, a former 13-time "Mr. Universe" and 6-time "Mr. Olympia," who has served as Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, Chairman of the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness & Sports, and Chairman of the Inner City Games Foundation, previously sued with successful results when false statements were published about his health. Among other bogus statements in the Article, the Premiere story states that Schwarzenegger had three of his heart valves replaced with pig valves during his 1997 surgery. In fact, however, Schwarzenegger's cardiac surgeon confirmed that the valves used in Schwarzenegger's surgery were human homograft valves, not pig valves, used to correct a congenital defect. During the successful surgery, two, not three, of Schwarzenegger's heart valves were replaced. Dr. Starnes, who serves as Chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, wrote to Premiere: "I would like to comment on the medical facts of this article. [¶] First of all, they represent no facts at all." Starnes went on to confirm that Schwarzenegger's "condition was not obtained by the use of steroids" but was rather the result of a congenitally acquired condition. Dr. Starnes also confirmed that Arnold's "outlook is excellent with the expectant duration of this valve to be far in excess than quoted for a pig valve."
Schwarzenegger does not shy away from filing defamation lawsuits in response to false stories about his cardiac health. Most recently, the Berlin High Court in Germany reaffirmed Arnold's victory in a defamation suit he filed against German cardiologist Dr. Willi Heepe, who was ordered to pay Schwarzenegger monetary damages and attorneys’ fees, and to issue a public retraction. And a little more than a year ago, Schwarzenegger settled his $50 Million defamation action against the US tabloid, the Globe, which had published an article falsely stating that Schwarzenegger suffered from a "heart crisis" and was a "ticking time bomb" long after his complete recovery from valve replacement surgery. In addition to payment of an undisclosed amount and a charitable contribution to the Inner City Games Foundation, the former owners of the Globe admitted it made a mistake and published a prominently placed retraction, correction and apology.John Connolly replied to his critics in the May issue of Premiere, 2001: During the course of researching this article, neither James Cameron nor anyone at his company, Lightstorm Entertainment, responded to my numerous requests for an interview regarding Arnold Schwarzenegger. Linda Hamilton’s spokesperson told me on four separate occasions that Ms. Hamilton was too busy to speak with me. Nor did Jamie Lee Curtis return any of my phone calls.
In addition, I called Dr. Starnes’s office five times for an interview. He, too, never returned any of my calls. Furthermore, my story states that Mr. Schwarzenegger had three, not four, valves replaced. As for the issue over whether they are pig valves, in June 1997, Mr. Schwarzenegger appeared on Oprah Winfrey. When asked whether he chose a synthetic or pig valve for the replacement, Mr. Schwarzenegger responded, “I’m not going to say which valve I chose, but now every time I see bacon, I start crying.”
I repeatedly requested that Mr. Schwarzenegger grant me an interview, either on or off the record. I made these requests through Mr. Schwarzenegger’s publicist and through other associates of his. All of these requests were denied. Mr. Schwarzenegger refused to talk to me. I stand by my story.
Anthony Pellicano Drama
XXX says: When law enforcement tossed Anthony Pellicano's office on Sunset Boulevard and found the illegal grenades, they also found evidence of wire-tapping. That Pellicano had been wire-tapping people on behalf of clients. There's a Grand Jury investigating this. Some prominent Los Angeles entertainment attorneys have been subpoened to appear and they are most uncomfortable about doing so.
Journalist John Connolly is working on a book on Anthony Pellicano called The Bad Detective.
Journalists who've been terrorized by Pellicano include Jeff Wells, Rod Lurie and Stuart Goldman.
Pellicano may be involved with the Max Factor heir (Andrew Luster, 39) who fled in anticipation of going to prison. Proctor told the FBI's informant that he was going to be paid $100,000 to help a criminal defendant flee the country.
There's a connection between Pellicano and Bill Pavlick, the unlicensed private investigator Luster used in his defense - Steven Seagal (as referenced in the March Esquire story on Pellicano). Seagal claimed he was using Pavlick for his investigations rather than Pellicano. That's a set-up.
Pavlick is a fired LAPD officer who drew a psycho pension. He worked as an unlicensed investigator on the OJ Simpson and Phil Spector cases. Pavlick is under investigation by the state of California for unlicensed activities. He's supposed to get a PI's license to do what he does.
I don't think Pellicano will give anyone up unless he's facing 20-years in prison. I expect Pellicano to serve three or four years.
Pellicano is a neurotic angry control freak. His career is over. The feds have wanted him for a long time since he screwed them over the John DeLorean case in 1983.
Marty Singer pits tabloids against each other. He'll kill stories by promising he will get them a better story.
Retraction & Apology To Marty Singer
Luke Ford, and everyone associated with lukeford.net, offer their sincere apologies to Martin Singer for our inexcusable conduct in posting false information, accusations and implications directed towards Mr. Singer. The true facts are that Mr. Singer is not in anyway connected with or involved in the Grand Jury investigation concerning Mr. Pellicano. Mr. Singer has not been subpoenaed by the Grand Jury, and has not retained the services of any criminal attorney. Mr. Singer is a highly regarded and respected member of the California State Bar, whose ethical conduct has been beyond reproach, and we apologize for any statements and implications to the contrary.
The Scoop On The Chameleon Group, Anthony Pellicano, Anita Busch
Ross Johnson, the last of the truth tellers, writes:
1. Chameleon Group. The snitch that burned Alex Proctor on the Pellicano case initially tried to shake down Jules Nasso's lawyers by giving them the wrong lead about who whacked Anita Busch's car. The snitch was trying to work the feds, Nasso's lawyers, and possibly the LA Times for payment for the information. But the snitch had to sniff out the wanna see factor, so he told the Feds and the mob lawyers that it was a bunch of israeli muscle guys from a security agency that screwed with Busch's car. Nasso's lawyers narrowed the search to Chameleon, which may be a totally legit operation. (their cool web site is for those who want to know what ex-Mossad members do when they move to Hollywood) My sources close to the U.S. attorney's office (whose information I shuttled to you so that you could scoop everybody on the Pellicano story) checked out Chameleon, found out they were not to be messed with, and left it at that.
There was one reporter at Alex Proctor's arraignment: yours truly. I got a tip that Anthony Pellicano's attorney, Don Re, wanted to rep Proctor, and the feds told Re that it was a total conflict of interest. So in walks another mob lawyer, who is there to sniff out if Proctor has any money, like cash money, to get a defense going. Well, Pellicano didn't have a way to get cash to Proctor, so Proctor had to use a federal public defender. Still, Proctor didn't make a deal to rat out Pellicano on the Busch hit. Why? The whole Busch fish caper read great in the papers, but it was a vandalism beef, at the end of the day. Proctor is going to do a little time on a drug beef, and he'll never rat out Pellicano.
How did I know Pellicano was in on the Busch car hit? The mob lawyer gave me the 4-1-1 on Proctor. Proctor has worked for Pellicano for years in Pellicano's wire tapping business. Pellicano and Proctor go back almost twenty years.
Now let's talk about Pellicano's wire tapping business. The only two reporters at Pellicano's first bail hearing was moi and Gina I-forget-her-last-name from Reuters. Who did we see there? Two very well-known lawyers, one a pit bull that's been featured in your column and the other one of Hollywood's toughest divorce lawyers. They ain't there out of the goodness of their heart. The message to Pellicano was this: keep quiet and his extended family will be taken care of while Pellicano does his bit in the pen on the explosives rap resulting from the C-4 and hand grenades that were found in Pellicano's office.
The Hollywood lawyers at Pellicano's bail hearing knew that the feds had found the transcripts of Pellicano's wiretaps done on the behalf of the lawyer's clients.
Don't expect these transcripts to ever become part of the public record, because Pellicano will plead guilty to the illegal wiretapping. It's perfectly legal for lawyers to use information from a p.i. as long as the p.i. doesn't tell them he got the information illegally. The feds may be talking to Bert Fields et al, but nobody's gonna roll on Pellicano because these lawyers are all one step removed (wink-wink) from Pellicano's wiretapping.
But there is one rub. What the feds want is to get one of Pellicano's electronic operatives to roll. Pellicano never planted the bugs himself, he got an operative to do it. And these guys are like Proctor, they're ghosts. They live in the shadows, like Travis Bickle.
What's the story here? The big one is how dirty stars play when they go through a divorce. Man, it's ugly. The forensic accounting is nothing compared to the dirt digging. Do you think for one second Tom Cruise didn't have a full file on Nicole Kidman's every phone conversation when they were going through a divorce?
Another thing that Pellicano is great at is illegally wiretapping the women who sleep with stars and come back either pregnant or psychotic. Remember the woman who sued Steven Seagal for all sorts of stuff after she slept with him on location (you have her name, I forget.) Nobody knew this was the same woman who had faked her own death years earlier on an insurance fraud scam until Pellicano went to work. And why is it that after Pellicano goes to work, all the subjects of his investigations are suddenly under the gun for taking anti-depressants? Read any deposition of someone suing a star that Pellicano has worked for that star (through the star's attorney), and it's all about the poor plaintiff looking deranged because they're taking Xanax or Prozac. If you think Pellicano finds out about these people's perscription drug use by anything other than wiretapping, then you believe in the tooth fairy. Pellicano is not some great sleuth with tons of investigators going through public records. HE gets his information putting bugs on phones and paying off cops. That ain't shoe leather, amigo. The reality is so far from Phillip Marlowe it's a joke.
Why am I telling you this? You owe an apology to Anita Busch. I want you to say, "I'm sorry, Anita." How would you like to be a single woman who, by the nature of her profession, has to be paranoid? And then goes online at Lukeford.net to read how crazy she supposedly is? You crossed the line, Lukie Boy. I believe in the power of the Web to get to the truth, but you can't torture people like Anita. She was deeply hurt by what you wrote, and she's not even a public figure.