Trial fails to deliver goods after advance hype
It was predicted to be a courtroom drama of “Titanic” proportions. It’s turned out to be less interesting than a bad episode of “Boston Legal.”The government’s case against former private eye to the stars Anthony Pellicano was expected (or hoped) by some to lead to an upheaval of all Hollywood, with an embarrassing takedown of top industry execs and A-list talent. Like a lot of Hollywood projects, however, this one came with a lot of advance hype but couldn’t deliver the goods. Even before the March 10 launch of the trial, the details that emerged weren’t nearly as juicy as folks had hoped. And even though the list of 127 potential witnesses was scintillating — including studios chief Ron Meyer, CAA chiefs Kevin Huvane and Bryan Lourd, as well as Michael Ovitz, Chris Rock and Sylvester Stallone — it’s doubtful they’ll actually be called to the stand. And star power is definitely lacking. During the first week of the trial, there was a passing reference to license plates outside Tom Cruise‘s house, not even Cruise’s own car, and to a Farrah Fawcett photo in Pellicano’s desk drawer. Garry Shandling turned up for a guest-star role on the witness stand. He gave a good perf — when asked to state his occupation by a prosecutor, Shandling deadpanned, “That’s a bad sign. I’m a comedian” — and seemed still angry when recounting his dissolved relationship with Brad Grey. His testimony offered nothing new or startling, though. A star was born with the leading lady with the 007-worthy name: Tarita Virtue. Miss Virtue is the government’s key witness, a former Pellicano staffer and Maxim model who teared up while facing her former boss on the witness stand. As for the leading man, it seems a case of miscasting. Pellicano, who is representing himself, is hardly the intimidating figure he’s been portrayed to be. The 63-year-old fumbled his cross-examinations, and has been often admonished by the judge for failing to refer to himself in the third person. But the basic reason this courtroom drama fails is the plot. Prosecutors just want to prove that Pellicano and his cohorts illegally wiretapped and conducted background checks for clients. The details of the content of the calls that were recorded aren’t key. And many of Pellicano’s clients and targets — especially those the government will focus on during the trial — were lawyers or individuals involved in criminal or civil cases that didn’t involve celebrities, thus dimming the spotlight a bit. In other words, this drama should have been put into turnaround.