Alleged Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss will be arraigned this morning in Los Angeles Municipal Court — and don’t doubt for a minute that all of Hollywood will be watching.
Fleiss, 27, is facing five charges of pandering and one drug violation, which could put her in jail for 11 years. But for Hollywood executives who fear for their jobs and their names, Fleiss’s legal woes are secondary.
They’re more worried she’ll open her “little black book” in court, which could show that studio money was used to pay her. Last week she threatened to tell all for $ 1 million in a book deal and several film development deals for her story have been rumored (Daily Variety, Aug. 2).
Columbia Pictures worldwide prexy of production Michael Nathanson already surprised just about everyone in the biz, including his boss, Sony chief Peter Guber, by going on the record through lawyer Howard Weitzman to deny any “professional” association with Fleiss.
According to studio sources, Guber was furious about Nathanson’s statement. The Fleiss saga was expected to be a high-priority item at a Sony-Colpix exec retreat in Santa Barbara over the weekend. But a Col spokesman declined comment Sunday, saying that all the meetings at the retreat were behind closed doors.
The latest link between Colpix and Fleiss was an apparent listing of exec veep Barry Josephson on a single page of Fleiss’s book published Friday in the New York Daily News.
A Daily News reporter called the number listed for a “Barry” and heard a recording that identified him as Columbia’s production exec. The recording has since been changed and Josephson did not return phone calls on the matter.
Nathanson and Josephson, coincidentally, are both speculated to be moving to different jobs, particularly in the wake of the poor performance by the studio’s recent release “Last Action Hero.”
Sources have placed Nathanson as a new exec veep, being replaced by former Warner Bros. production prexy Lisa Henson. And Josephson is thought to be pursuing an indie production deal at Columbia. Both job changes were in the works long before the Fleiss saga broke, but industry insiders are still buzzing about the connections.
“This kid (Nathanson) was set up to take the fall” for several higher-ups, said one industry exec. “He’s an innocent in all this.”
Meanwhile, Colpix, deep into its in-house investigation into the possible use of studio money for drugs and call girls, has turned its attention to two movies , “Super Dave” and “Flatliners II,” both of which may have diverted funds in those directions, according to studio sources.
Sony rep Peter Wilkes declined to comment on the report, but internal sources said the films have been in development for a long time.
Another film, “Skinner,” co-produced by Ivan Nagy, a 55-year-old former boyfriend to Fleiss, has also been said to have used her alleged call girls as actresses. Nagy and co-producer Brad Wyman reportedly offered the film to Columbia TriStar Home Video for distribution.
Nagy was arrested Wednesday and charged with running his own call girl ring; his “black book” was immediately seized by police. But the former “Starsky and Hutch” director reportedly had copies of Fleiss’ book, a page of which he gave to the New York Daily News.
Hottest of hot topics
National media interest in this tale of drugs and sex is skyrocketing, with reporters and camera crews scouring the city.
Dozens of reporters and cameramen have camped outside Fleiss’ Benedict Canyon home and Nagy’s Century City apartment, as well as the Sony studio gate, looking for anyone who will talk. But studio mouths have shut and only rarely will industry honchos go on the record.
A Los Angeles Municipal Court spokeswoman said the court had received hundreds of requests from news media outlets eager to cover the arraignment.