Actor takes the stand in Pellicano case

Ten years after his split from Brad Grey, a still-bitter Garry Shandling took the stand Thursday in the criminal wiretapping case against Anthony Pellicano.

Dressed in a black suit with an open-necked white shirt, Shandling, calmly testifying on behalf of the government, started with comedy but quickly settled down to serious business.

When asked by assistant U.S. attorney Kevin Lally what he did for a living, Shandling deadpanned, “That’s a bad sign,” before responding that he is a comedian.

Shandling, the trial’s first celebrity witness, was investigated by Pellicano in the course of Shandling’s 1998 lawsuit against Grey. Grey was represented by Bert Fields, who in turn brought Pellicano into the case.

Pellicano accomplice Mark Arneson ran illegal background checks on Shandling, his assistant, accountant, friend and security expert Gavin de Becker, friend Kevin Nealon and Shandling’s former girlfriend, Linda Doucett.

During nearly an hour on the stand, Shandling testified that he hired Grey when Grey was 21, and he was Shandling’s manager for 18 years.

“The troubles began,” said Shandling, when he created “The Larry Sanders show” for HBO, and Grey took half.

Shandling maintained that Grey was not involved in the sale to HBO. “I sold the show directly to (then-HBO chief) Michael Fuchs with a 13-show commitment over the telephone. Brad Grey had nothing to do with it, until he said, ‘I’ll take half.’ ”

Shandling hired entertainment attorney Barry Hirsch to try to get information from Grey, but the relationship had changed. “Mr. Grey called late at night and threatened me that if I did not stop looking into my own business, he would make things very difficult for me,” Shandling testified.

He said he did not even have copies of his own contract because he trusted Grey to handle everything for him.

Hirsch finally advised Shandling to sue, and in 1998, he filed the high-profile suit alleging that Grey had a conflict of interest in acting as the producer of “Larry Sanders” and taking a commission on Shandling’s work on the show.

Shandling described a smear campaign against him in the media during the case. “There were incredible public attacks (that were intended) to destroy my reputation,” said Shandling.

He said he knew he was being investigated by Pellicano because Grey had used him on an earlier matter, referring to a sexual harassment suit filed by Doucett.

At that time, Grey told Shandling that “with Bert Fields, you get Anthony Pellicano.”

In a statement Thursday, Grey said he was “extremely saddened” by Shandling’s recollection of events, adding their friendship was overtaken by a legal process directed by lawyers.

Shandling “remains one of the most talented people I have known and I wish him only the best,” Grey said.

Shandling testified that he remained friendly with Doucett, especially after she started getting “weird calls” from Grey about the case.

Also, said Shandling, his close friend and security expert de Becker told him he should have his phone checked for wiretaps because “anyone in litigation with Bert Fields should have their phone swept.”

When shown the DMV reports and background checks done by Arneson on Shandling, Doucett, Nealon and his wife Linda, among others, Shandling said, “This bothers me as much as the first time I saw it.”

Throughout the testimony, Shandling interjected, “This continues to bother me. It’s a creepy feeling.”

Shandling testified Thursday that he hired famed litigator David Boies to handle the case because of his renown and because, as a New York-based lawyer, he wouldn’t have a conflict. Boies’ fame notwithstanding, he was a minor presence in the case because he was occupied with the Microsoft investigation. Shandling’s case was finally resolved on the eve of trial with a sealed settlement. Boies claimed that he obtained a settlement with an eight-figure value and Fields maintained that it was vastly lower.

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