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Shandling: Pellicano tried to 'smear' him

March 13, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The first celebrity has taken the witness stand in the wire-tapping trial of private investigator Anthony Pellicano. Actor-comedian Garry Shandling testified the celebrity sleuth was involved in a "smear campaign" against him.Garry Shandling said he was troubled to find his name on an unauthorized background check. Prosecutors say Shandling is among the victims of an alleged racketeering scheme headed by Pellicano that dug up dirt on prominent Hollywood clients for use in various disputes.

Garry Shandling was on the witness stand for about an hour, testifying in the trial of P.I. Anthony Pellicano and four other defendants. Prosecutors showed him documents indicating police databases had been searched four times in 1999 for Shandling's personal information.

Court artist Mona Edwards describes Shandling's reaction.

"He said the creep factor was just very upsetting to him, and he said he was as upset looking at this several years later as he was at the time to find out that he was being tapped," said Edwards.

There was a light moment at the beginning of Shandling's testimony.

"When the prosecutor attorney asked him his name, to spell his name, and then he asked him what his profession was. And so Shandling doesn't miss a beat, and he looks out at the audience and he says, 'That's not good.' And then he proceeded to answer and said, 'I'm a comedian,'" said Edwards.

"Not today, sir," said U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer, getting the final laugh.

In 1999, prosecutors say Pellicano was working with attorney Bert Fields. Fields represented Brad Grey, Shandling's former manager. Shandling sued Grey for $100 million, accusing his former manager of taking excess fees.

Both Grey and Fields deny knowing Pellicano's alleged tactics and are not charged.

Dressed in prison clothes, Pellicano is acting as his own attorney. On Thursday, former Pellicano employee Tarita Virtue also testified that she feared for her safety after cooperating with federal authorities.

Eleven years ago, in an exclusive interview with this reporter, Pellicano talked about his tactics. The story then was that a group of celebrities planned to dig up dirt on paparazzi to get back at them. Pellicano said theirs was a bad idea.

"You're not going to stop these paparazzi - or 'stalkarazzi,' or whatever term you want to use - from doing what they're doing, unless you use a little bit more demonstrable means, as I have been known to use from time to time," said Pellicano.

The private eye and his co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to the more than 100 federal charges.

 

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