LOS ANGELES – Comedian Garry Shandling offered a somber and sometimes pained account Thursday of a “smear campaign” he said Anthony Pellicano orchestrated against him while the private eye was working for Paramount Pictures executive Brad Grey and entertainment attorney Bert Fields.
The first celebrity witness to testify in the racketeering and wiretap trial of Pellicano and four others, Shandling told a federal jury that he became the target of ugly media stories after he sued Grey, believing the executive, then the comedian’s manager, was improperly pocketing proceeds from a popular HBO television program Shandling starred in and helped create, “The Larry Sanders Show.”
After he hired an attorney to get to the bottom of Grey’s financial dealings, Shandling testified, the then-manager called him late one night at home and angrily threatened he “would make my life miserable.” Shandling said he later learned from the FBI that Pellicano and his alleged accomplices, including a former officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, had rifled confidential police databases for personal information about the actor and others close to him, including his former girlfriend, Linda Doucett, and a close friend, comedian Kevin Nealon.
Shandling did not detail what Pellicano might have found in the police files. Nor did he describe the negative stories, other than to say reporters told him they were planted by Pellicano.
But with its famous names and charges of chicanery, Shandling’s testimony hinted at what federal authorities have been alleging for years: that Pellicano and others resorted to dirty tricks to sidestep the justice system and give his powerful clients an upper hand in battles inside and outside the courtroom.
Both Grey, who testified as a witness before the grand jury, and Fields, who acknowledged years ago that he was a subject of the federal investigation, have denied knowing of any illegal activities by Pellicano and have not been charged with crimes. Both are on the government’s witness list.
In a statement released by his spokesman, Grey said: “I am extremely saddened by Garry’s recollection of events dating back more than a decade. His representation is very different than what I remember and what I know to be true.”
The 63-year-old Pellicano is on trial on 110 counts of wire-tapping, conspiracy, racketeering and other federal charges after a six-year investigation into allegations he illegally investigated targets and bribed sources to gain an edge for clients.