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Pellicano Trial: Garry Shandling Testifies on his Feud with Brad Grey, Bert Fields


Mr. Pellicano's version of theater of the absurd -- his relentless and pointless cross-examination of his former employee, Tarita Virtue -- was mercifully interrupted this morning for some star-studded testimony by comedian Garry Shandling. Mr. Shandling, dressed in a dark suit and crisp white shirt and looking quite dapper, gave the jury an up close glimpse at one of Mr. Pellicano's alleged wiretapping victims. During his testimony, he seemed genuinely distressed that during his lawsuit with former manager, Brad Grey, his phones had been wiretapped, his character publicly assassinated and his reputation in town tarnished.

When Mr. Shandling was asked to state his occupation by prosecutor Kevin Lally, Mr. Shandling joked wryly, "That's a bad sign. I'm a comedian." The Judge then admonished him that he wasn't a comedian today and Mr. Shandling responded by articulately, calmly and movingly telling the jury about how he'd been allegedly victimized by Mr. Pellicano and by his clients, Mr. Grey and Mr. Grey's lawyer, Bertram Fields. He claimed then when he dared to accuse his long-time manager, Brad Grey, of stealing from him, Mr. Grey reacted by breaking off their eighteen-year relationship, hiring attorney Bert Fields and telling him that all further communication should be conducted through Mr. Fields. It was clear from his testimony that Mr. Shandling was devastated by the revelation that his longtime friend and manager, Grey, who'd he'd hired when Mr. Grey was just 21, had been stealing from him, making side deals and basically, screwing him over.

Mr. Shandling testified that even before he filed his lawsuit, he got a late night call from Mr. Grey in which the former manager, now head of Paramount Studios, "threatened me that if I kept looking into my own business, he'd make my life miserable." Eventually, Mr. Shandling said that he hired counsel out of Washington and filed suit against Mr. Grey for breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. Mr. Shandling told the court that he'd found out that Mr. Grey had been being paid as a producer of their show The Larry Sanders Show, and also taking commissions from Mr. Shandling's fees for his writing and acting services. Mr. Shandling referred to Mr. Grey's behavior as "illegal triple dipping" -- being paid three times for the same services.

"That's when I realized he was really looking out for his own best interest and making deals for himself," said Mr. Shandling in a clear, depressed tone. "I realized a little late," he added, his voice trailing off.

Mr. Shandling testified that he knew that Mr. Pellicano would be involved as soon as Mr. Grey hired Mr. Fields. He said that his knowledge was based on an earlier lawsuit filed against both Mr. Grey and Mr. Shandling five years earlier in which Mr. Grey actually told him that if you hired Bert, you get Anthony (Pellicano). "There was some reference to Mr. Pellicano's specific way of dealing with things," said Mr. Shandling. But then, Mr. Grey said that he didn't believe that Mr. Shandling would want to work that way. So, Mr. Shandling never hired Mr. Fields or Mr. Pellicano.

Once Shandling's lawsuit was underway, Shandling testified that his good friend and security consultant, Gavin DeBecker, advised him that to have his phones swept. Mr. Shandling said that Gavin told him that when "Bert Fields is involved in a lawsuit, you need to get your phones swept because of Anthony." As it turns out, no bugs were ever found during this one sweep -- but as Ms. Virtue has already testified, the Pellicano wiretaps weren't ever placed inside the homes of the targets, they were out at the phone boxes. During his cross-examination of Mr. Shandling, Mr. Pellicano made much of the fact that the sweep had yielded no evidence of any bugs.

Mr. Shandling looked very upset and disturbed as he began recalling what happened to him during the lawsuit, saying that he was subject to incredible public attacks on his character and a major smear campaign (something that he, along with many of Pellicano's other alleged victims, fear will happen again if they testify on behalf of the government against Mr. Pellicano). Garry later told Mr. Pellicano on cross-examination, that he learned about the public smear campaign being waged against him by Mr. Grey from two reporters, including another alleged Pellicano victim, Anita Busch. He failed to recall the name of the other reporter. He also told Mr. Pellicano that he was aware that Mr. Grey had a publicist during the lawsuit, Dan Klores, who was working on his behalf. Mr. Shandling complained about all kinds of articles being planted in the tabloids and legitimate press attacking his character in every conceivable way.

Mr. Shandling described the smear campaign that was waged against him during the lawsuit against Grey as being "incredibly intense" and "a spiritual test." He said, "it affects your resolve. There is what I call the creep factor- -w ondering if your phones are tapped, the articles in the paper that are not accurate...It's a feeling that's severely deflating."

The meat of Mr. Shandling's testimony came when he was asked to review alleged LAPD computer runs on him, his ex-girlfriend, Linda Doucett, several of his employees and his good friend, Kevin Nealon. As he stared at the computer runs, he shook his head with disgust and said, "This bothers me as much as the first time I was shown this." He then identified the various names of the run sheets as Warren Grant, his accountant, Mariana Grant, his personal assistant at the time, Linda Doucett, his ex-girlfriend, Gavin DeBecker, his friend and well known security consultant and Mr. Nealon's then wife, Linda Nealon.

Mr. Shandling told the jury that during this time, he leaned heavily on Mr. Nealon and also spoke with Ms. Doucett, who complained that she was getting scary phone calls in the middle of the night and strange hang-ups. Ms. Doucett later testified against Mr. Grey in the Shandling/Grey lawsuit.

Mr. Shandling pointed out that all of these runs were happening right around the time that the depositions were taking place in his lawsuit against Mr. Grey. The prosecutor, Kevin Lally, then took a moment to establish that Mr. Shandling was never the subject of an LAPD criminal investigation (which would justify the computer runs on him as well as his associates and friends) and that Mr. Shandling had never requested that the LAPD do these computer background checks on him or his associates. Mr. Shandling was clear that he had nothing to do with these computer runs and that he was shown them by the prosecutors and agents.

When Mr. Pellicano got up to examine Mr. Shandling, the comedian was calm and collected and had little or no expression on his face. Mr. Pellicano's cross-examination seemed to be some sort of strange attempt on his part to justify Mr. Grey's position in the old lawsuit against Mr. Shandling. (Mr. Grey called and settled the lawsuit a week before trial was to begin.) But, as far as Mr. Pellicano was concerned, Mr. Shandling's behavior towards Mr. Grey as well as the details of their partnership were still at issue. He asked Mr. Shandling if he used an attorney when he signed his agreements with Mr. Grey. Mr. Shandling replied that he hadn't because he'd trusted Mr. Grey. Then, Mr. Pellicano asked Mr. Shandling about his experience in show business.

Mr. Shandling recounted working on Stanford and Sons, Welcome Back Kotter and a variety of talk shows and then said, "I had a lot of experience that I taught to Mr. Grey."

The most humorous exchange between the two took place when Mr. Pellicano asked Mr. Shandling when he considered himself successful. Mr. Shandling looked puzzled and replied, "I don't think in those terms." When Mr. Pellicano asked Mr. Shandling what Mr. Shandling considered the most monumental moment of his career, Mr. Shandling replied, "when I guest hosted The Tonight Show." Mr. Pellicano nodded and then asked again, "what was another monumental change?" Mr. Shandling stared back and then with classic, comedic timing, spat back, "I consider monumental a good enough word to use one time." The courtroom erupted in laughter, but Mr. Pellicano didn't even smile. He just looked down at his notes and asked another disjointed confusing question that the Judge had to correct for him.

Finally, Mr. Shandling took a moment to remember how he'd sold his critically acclaimed Larry Sanders show to HBO. "I sold it over the telephone to Michael Fuchs. Mr. Grey had nothing to do with that until he said, I'll take half of your show." The courtroom again smiled. Mr. Pellicano finally asked if Mr. Shandling had signed a contract to give Mr. Grey half of his show and when Mr. Shandling answered that he had, Mr. Pellicano sat down. "No more questions, your honor," he said as if he'd finally achieved his Perry Mason moment.

As Chad Hummel cross-examined Mr. Shandling on the origins of the LAPD computer runs on Mr. Shandling, the comedian began again to shake his head at the absurdity of it all. "This was all consistent with the smear campaign that was being conducted against me," he said, reading his name off the paper. "It confirmed that what I was feeling was accurate." When Mr. Hummel tried to get him back on point, Mr. Shandling interrupted, saying again, "I think it's important to say that seeing my name on here is disconcerting."

After his testimony, Mr. Shandling, escorted by F.B.I. agent Stan Ornellas, headed for the elevator, chased by a throng of reporters firing questions his way. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights, signaling to Mr. Ornellas that "this is not good." Mr. Ornellas then escorted Garry into the elevator. As the door closed, he was asked if he would comment on how he felt about Mr. Grey not being charged in this matter, Mr. Shandling looked away and said, "Not right now."

Read all Allison's HuffPost coverage from inside the courtroom here