As riveting as Michael Ovitz's testimony was last week in the Pellicano trial, there was quite a bit missing. The government obviously wasn't interested in going over many of the details of Mr. Ovitz's relationship with Anthony Pellicano. While we all learned at the trial that Mr. Ovitz asked Mr. Pellicano to look into the sources behind some negative articles about him written by New York Times reporters Bernard Weinraub and Anita Busch, Mr. Ovitz wasn't really asked to testify about exactly who he wanted Mr. Pellicano to target. The government -- and even the defense -- were satisfied with a few names and his general search for "information." Frankly, from reviewing the F.B.I. notes from their February of 2004 interviews with Mr. Ovitz, it seems that the former super agent said a lot to the F.B.I. that the jury never got to hear.
Although Mr. Ovitz still claimed to have had nothing to do with the threat against Anita Busch, he did admit to agreeing at Mr. Pellicano's suggestion to have the detective get "information" on Ms. Busch. (He told the F.B.I. that he considered Busch a friend -- which should have been a great comfort to Ms. Busch as well as to Mr. Ovitz's other friends.) "The interviewing agents asked Ovitz if he recalled any additional information about his April/May 2002 tasking of Pellicano," the F.B.I. 302 from February 2004 says. "Ovitz responded that he asked Pellicano to obtain information about individuals who were either providing, or spreading around, personal and/or negative information about Ovitz...." the F.B.I. 302 notes. "Ovitz said the list of individuals was 15 to 20 people long and included [RON] BURKLE, MEYER, BERNIE WEINRAUB, JAMES CASEY, ARTHUR BERNIER, and DAVID GEFFEN. Both Ovitz and Pellicano contributed names to the list." As for whether Mr. Ovitz asked Mr. Pellicano to target Anita Busch, Mr, Ovitz explained to the F.B.I. agents that "in his mind, Busch was nothing more than a secondary character in contrast to someone like Weinraub." After denying any responsibility for the threat against Ms. Busch, Mr. Ovitz told the F.B.I. that "...if it had been Weinraub who had been the recipient of the threat, Ovitz would have called Pellicano and thanked him." That might have been an interesting tidbit for the jury to hear.
The government also declined to ask Mr. Ovitz about the extent of his efforts to get Mr. Weinraub fired from The New York Times, but the F.B.I. agents questioned Mr. Ovitz about his feelings regarding the Weinraub and Busch articles and any actions he took about the articles. According to the F.B.I. 302's, Mr. Ovitz related that he had met with the publisher of The New York Times, Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger, and complained about the string of stories Weinraub had written over the years about Ovitz. Ovitz told the agents that he went to this meeting with research showing the repetitive nature of the articles -- claiming the same allegations and embarrassing information had been recycle[d] from one article to another. Sulzberger referred Ovitz on to the executive and managing editors of the paper. According to the F.B.I. 302, Mr. Ovitz told the agents that, "Those meetings had no effect as Weinraub continued with his ongoing Ovitz expose. [And] Ovitz believed Geffen was a principle Weinraub source."
Although Mr. Ovitz testified at trial that he requested "all kinds of information" from Mr. Pellicano about the negative stories about him and his business, Mr. Ovitz told the jury that he couldn't "speculate on what I would have done with the information." In his interview with the F.B.I. in February 2004, Mr. Ovitz said that when it came to some of the listed individuals (again 15-20 people), he also "wanted to know information in their backgrounds the revelation of which would cause embarrassment. Ovitz placed GEFFEN , MEYER and BURKLE in this category." But Mr. Ovitz added in that F.B.I. interview that he could "recall getting nothing back from Pellicano relevant to the listed individuals." However, last week at trial, along with praising Mr. Pellicano's directness, good advice and loyalty, Mr. Ovitz testified that the detective's "information was incredibly helpful to me." So, at least according to Mr. Ovitz's trial testimony, Mr. Pellicano gave him information that Mr. Ovitz found "incredibly helpful" and the detective was an "incredibly valuable source."
Finally, despite their seemingly warm and fuzzy relationship in court, Mr. Ovitz told the F.B.I. back in 2004 that he learned Mr. Pellicano was upset with him because he claimed that Mr. Ovitz owed him money. According to the F.B.I. 302, "'He [Mr. Pellicano] had stood between Ovitz and other people in order to protect Ovitz. Ovitz believed that Pellicano was referring to Geffen, Meyer and Burkle."
Read all the coverage from inside the Pellicano courtroom