Movie chief testifies in Hollywood wiretap trial

Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:59pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The head of Paramount Pictures testified on Thursday he was unaware of any illegal acts by Hollywood's so-called private eye to the stars who worked on his behalf in two bitter movie industry lawsuits.

Brad Grey, CEO of Paramount Pictures and one of the most powerful players in Hollywood, is a prosecution witness in the U.S. government's bribery and wiretapping case against private investigator Anthony Pellicano.

Grey said Pellicano was hired by veteran lawyer Bert Fields, who was handling two lawsuits in 1999 and 2000 brought against Grey by comedian Garry Shandling and screenwriter Vincent "Bo" Zenga.

Shandling filed a $100 million lawsuit charging that Grey had cheated him out of earnings from "The Larry Sanders Show." Zenga sued him demanding a screenwriter credit for the 2000 film "Scary Movie." Both have been settled.

Grey, a Hollywood talent manager at the time, said he was not involved in the details of either case. "Lawsuits were left to our attorneys," he told a Los Angeles jury.

Grey is among about 100 witnesses, including actors Sylvester Stallone and Farrah Fawcett and movie executives, called in the trial that has kept Hollywood buzzing for more than five years.

Neither Grey nor Fields, who will also testify later, have been charged.

Pellicano, 63, has pleaded not guilty to wiretapping the telephones of his clients' opponents and bribing police and telephone company officials to run illegal background checks on people including Shandling. He and four co-defendants are being tried on more than 100 federal charges.

The investigator who once worked for lawyers representing Tom Cruise, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

The two-week-old trial has revealed the seamy side of the movie industry. Pellicano has been accused of orchestrating smear campaigns and making threatening phone calls to help his rich and powerful clients.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Xavier Briand)

<p>Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey arrives for the Noche de Ninos Gala benefiting the Children's Hospital Los Angeles and held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California October 7, 2006. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>