Comedian Garry Shandling offered a rare glimpse into the seamy side of Hollywood on Thursday as he testified in the wiretapping and bribery trial of the so-called private eye to the stars, Anthony Pellicano. ( Reuters )
Shandling, star of television's "The Larry Sanders Show," told a Los Angeles federal court jury that Pellicano was involved in a "spin campaign to assassinate my character" during a bitter lawsuit between Shandling and his former manager Brad Grey.
Grey, now CEO of Paramount Pictures, and Shandling are among witnesses, including movie executives and actors Sylvester Stallone, Chris Rock and Farrah Fawcett, who are expected to testify in a case that has kept Hollywood buzzing for more than five years.
Pellicano, 63, has pleaded not guilty to wiretapping the telephones of opponents of his powerful clients and bribing police and telephone company workers to run background checks.
Prosecutors say Grey's attorney hired Pellicano to investigate Shandling in 1999 after the comedian filed a $100 million lawsuit against Grey alleging his manager had cheated him out of earnings from "The Larry Sanders Show."
Prosecutors said Pellicano had a former police officer run background checks on Shandling, his personal assistant, his accountant and a friend. Grey made threatening phone calls and numerous inaccurate stories began appearing in the media, Shandling testified.
"It's a creepy feeling," Shandling said. "It was a spiritual test to get through."
Grey has not been charged. The lawsuit was later settled for $10 million.
Grey said in a statement issued after Thursday's hearing that he was "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."
Pellicano and four co-defendants are being tried on more than 100 charges. Prosecutors have said Pellicano's victims ranged from rape victims to cheating spouses and a troublesome screenwriter.
Pellicano has worked in the past for lawyers who represented Tom Cruise, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson. Most of his celebrity clients have denied knowing that Pellicano was breaking the law.