Anthony Pellicano, the Hollywood private eye imprisoned for illegally digging up dirt on behalf of A-list clients, has described the News of the World’s phone-hackers as rank amateurs compared to some of the grizzled veterans working in Hollywood.
In his first interview since 2008, when he was convicted of 75 separate crimes, the notoriously bombastic “problem solver” has provided a timely reminder that the rich and famous can be perpetrators as well as victims of illegal data-gathering.
“I was ahead of my time,” Pellicano said, with regard to his work for clients such as Michael Jackson, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin Costner, Arnold Schwarzenegger and (or so he claims) Bill Clinton.
“I was the top of the ladder," he said. “Just to talk to me it cost $25,000. These guys [at News International] were stringers who worked with reporters to try to get information on a celebrity. If the News of the World had called, I would ask the editor, ‘Why would you want me to do that? Are you stupid?!”
Pellicano’s comments came in a prison interview with Newsweek that was long on titillation but short on genuine revelation regarding his 15-year career working for Hollywood’s stars, lawyers, and studio executives.
Famous for carrying a Louisville Slugger baseball bat in the boot of his car, using computers to hack public databases, and bribing telephone company employees to help him tap private phone lines, Pellicano’s allegations provide a fascinating insight into the seamier side of Hollywood.
“If you saw the stuff I found in celebrity homes: cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy, vials of narcotics...” he says at one point. “There was a doctor shooting up celebrities with morphine for $350.”
Although he largely refused to name names, citing the Mafia code of “Omerta,” Pellicano did reveal that in the early 1990s, he helped discredit an erotic wrestler who wrongly claimed to have had a gay affair with Tom Cruise.
The wrestler, Kyle Bradford, “wanted to extort money,” Pellicano recalled. Cruise later sued the man for slander, and succeeded in getting him to drop the allegation.
In another fascinating anecdote, Pellicano said that if the FBI had properly searched his home and office when they raided it in 2002, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political career might never have got off the ground. “I have personal stuff on Arnold," he said. "If they found that stuff, he never would have been governor.”
Now intermittently working on an autobiography, while serving a 15 year sentence, Pellicano added that he also worked for Michael Jackson during his 1993 child-molestation case, but, “I quit because I found out some truths…He did something far worse to young boys than molest them.”