Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Anthony Pellicano: Wiretapper to the Stars

The Adversaries of Ovitz

Bryan Lourd
Bryan Lourd

The hot lights of the government's investigation of Pellicano have also fallen on Michael Ovitz, former Disney president and at one time the most powerful agent in Hollywood. Ovitz has not been charged, but curiously the indictment against Pellicano and his associates includes a list of wiretap victims who also happened to be adversaries of Ovitz.

Ovitz left the agency he'd founded, Creative Artists Agency, to take the job at Disney in 1995. After Ovitz's brief and tumultuous tenure at Disney, he attempted to get into in the management business, setting up a new company, Artists Management, in 1999. He tried to recruit clients and employees from his old company, but two of CAA's top agents, Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane "waged open war" on Ovitz's new company, according to the New York Times. According to Pellicano's indictments, he paid a source in the police department to run a check on the motor-vehicle records of Lourd and Huvane.

Steven Seagal
Steven Seagal

In March 2002, sports agent James Casey sued Ovitz and Artists Management for $450,000 over a disputed finder's fee regarding Boston Celtics basketball star, Paul Pierce. The FBI learned that Pellicano had run a criminal check on Casey.

In May 2002, Pellicano ordered a criminal check on former Artists Management executive Arthur Bernier, who was in the process of suing Ovitz for wrongful termination.

In the spring of 2002, New York Times reporter Bernard Weinraub and freelance journalist Anita Busch collaborated on seven articles concerning Ovitz's business difficulties. On May 16, according to prosecutors, Anthony Pellicano arranged to have both their names put through the FBI's National Crime Information Center database. Pellicano was also wiretapping Busch's telephones at the time.

Movie Poster: Scary Movie
Movie Poster: Scary Movie

Ovitz has maintained that he had no direct dealings with Pellicano and that his attorneys hired the private investigator to work on the Bernier and Casey cases when Ovitz declined to select a private investigator for himself. But one of Pellicano's former employees told Vanity Fair that her boss had been doing personal work for Ovitz since 1996 and that the two men were "good friends and would speak to each other on a daily basis."

Interestingly, the Pellicano-Ovitz connection sheds new light on the dead fish incident, opening the possibility that it was Ovitz and not actor Steven Segal who wanted to scare off reporter Anita Busch. "The FBI has all but cleared the actor of involvement," Vanity Fair stated.

Even more interesting, Gorry, Meyer & Rudd, the law firm that represented Michael Ovitz, sued Steven Seagal for failing to pay a $260,000 legal bill. The firm hired Pellicano to collect it.

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