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The New Yorker's Funny Anthony Pellicano Story

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I know. I know. The news is bleak. War in the Middle East. Iraq is terrible. Global warming. Bush is vetoing stem-cell research. I finally found some humor. The current New Yorker had Ken Auletta's piece about Anthony Pellicano, or more specifically Bert Field and Michael Ovitz who are under a cloud in the scandal in which Anthony Pellicano was indicted, along with six associates, on charges that include wiretapping, racketeering, bribery and perjury. Anthony is a thug.

I confess that I'm an extremely minor footnote to this story, having been named as one of the numerous people whose backgrounds were illegally checked or phones were tapped. In my case, it came after Anita Busch and I were writing stories about the business failures of Michael Ovitz. I spoke to Ken Auletta while he was reporting his article. But I don't think I told him too many jokes.

But the article is really funny. For one thing, we have a portrait of Bert Fields, the toughest litigator in Hollywood for decades, a man who has represented Rupert Mudoch, Tom Cruise, David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Madonna. Clearly Fields gets the job done. He has employed the disreputable Pellicano since 1989. That's a long time. In 1993, a front-page story in the Los Angeles Times exposed Pellicano's alleged mob links in Illinois and the way he physically intimidated people. Yet Fields, whos claims he never lost a case in his life and has a steel-trap mind, told Auletta that "I'm not sure I read it."

Yet Fields and Ovitz are such pussycats here. They are shocked, shocked that their friend Anthony would have done all those terrible things that the prosectuors said he did. They had no idea that Anthony was a bad guy. And they are being victimized. Susan Estrich, a Fields loyalist, goes so far as to say that the Bush Adminisitration may be going after Fields. What?

In the meantime we have a portrait of Fields being chauffered in his Bentley to his home in Malibu from Century City to prepare a salad and take a 20-minute nap for what the Japanese call "wa time," or peacefulness or spirit, before returning to his office to behave, as one Fields client told Auletta, like "a prck."

And several milies away in Santa Monica, we have Ovitz, in some weird concrete bunker with exposed pipes and German art, letting his hair grow long and wearing jeans and sneakers without socks, babbling incoherently about Perry Mason, saying how Anthony Pellicano was not at all like Tony Soprano or the Corleones and he had no idea (unintentionally, do we not think of Howard Hughes?). And he was so hurt -- Ovitz is always hurt and victimhood -- that his former partner, Ron Meyer, said nasty things about him. And then Ovitz tells Auletta, straight-faced apparently, that he should not have been as tough as he once was. And we are supposed to believe this bullshit?

It's all so bizarre. So delightful. Now, unfortunately, it's back to the Middle East.