Tag Archives: celebrities

Diane was Celeb of the Day

Stars shine on the court.

All ask for private meetings.

Diane Sawyer’s here.


I got a little behind, thanks to a really busy Valentine’s Day weekend. I am catching up, though.

There’s not much mention in Anatomy of a Trial about Diane Sawyer’s courtroom visit. It did, however, take her more than one visit to get to see Judge Ito. He did agree to see visitors, but told me to bring them in just before he had to go back out on the bench. Sawyer’s visit must have been pretty brief. My notes for that day say, “The celebrity star du jour  was Diane Sawyer. She wanted to meet Ito, which I arranged. (The bad part was having to parade through the courtroom, which was filled with press and public.) Ito said what I’ve thought so often during this trial: ‘ It’s strange to meet people you’ve only seen on TV.’ She said she was surprised to see that he had legs. It was a short amicable meeting. She, of course, tried to convince him to agree to do an interview, which he, of course, declined.”

Ah, the good ol’ days in the fast lane.

Celebrity-Media Mutual Need

I’m generally unsympathetic when I read or hear about celebrities wanting shelter or legal protection from the very entities that, in fact, make them what they are.

During my 10-year-plus stint with the Los Angeles courts, I saw plenty of celebrities come through courthouse corridors and grace courtrooms.

Some, such as rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg (cum Snoop Dogg, cum Snoop Lion — as in the reincarnation of Bob Marley), who came into the downtown Los Angeles County Courthouse alone and proceeded to the courtroom for a case in which he was being sued. No entourage, not screaming fans, no paparazzi, no reporters, no hangers on. Not even any head turning. Granted it was somewhere around 1998 or’ 99, but he was a celebrity even then.

Same with John Malkovich a few years earlier. Rather than being a party in a case, Maklovich came to the county courthouse in a show of support for a Hollywood colleague who had been sued for breach of contract. I spotted him during a court break squatting — yes squatting — against a wall in the hall across from the entrance to the courtroom where his friend’s trial was being held. Not another soul seemed to notice him.

Some stars, such as Kim Basinger and Bette Midler, preferred to slip in quietly, sometimes sans makeup, poofed hair or flashy fashions, which almost guaranteed they wouldn’t be mobbed or even recognized.


There were the likes of Pamela Anderson (Lee, at the time), whose advance men made sure the media know she would be cat-walking the halls en route to her civil-trial venue and the media obliging en force, with male drool so deep, I practically had to wear boots.

And then there was that one-of-a-kind, Michael Jackson, whose entourages were legion and media turnouts were unparalleled.

The point being that stars and media-types need each other — some to lesser or greater degree than others.

For the most part, though, the only ones who’ve ever needed shielding, so far as I’m concerned, are the children of famous people. Alec Baldwin was justified, I thought, when he shoved a paparazzi’s camera when the clod pushed it in Baldwin’s car (or it might have been a pickup truck or an SUV) window, to get pictures of Baldwin’s newborn baby. I don’t thing Baldwin would have been justified had the photographer just been trying to get pictures of Baldwin.

So here are celebrities carping about the British government not stepping up to the plate to protect them from Britain’s so-called “unruly press.”

Hugh Grant urges tougher media laws

Mon, 18 Mar 2013 8:53 a.m.

Hugh Grant (Reuters file)

(Hugh Grant — Reuters file)


One issue these stars are carping about is having their email and telephones hacked. And maybe they have a point. Perhaps they should rightly have an expectation of privacy when it comes to what they think are private communications.

What do you think?


Celebrities like JK Rowling and Hugh Grant have accused the British government of letting down the victims of media intrusion and urged tough new measures to rein in Britain’s unruly press.

Lawmakers are to vote today on rival plans for tougher controls in the wake of the country’s phone-hacking scandal.

The Conservative-led government says it will propose a new press watchdog with the power to levy fines of up to £1 million (US $1.5 million). But hacking victims say the regulator must be backed by a new law to give it real teeth – something Prime Minister David Cameron opposes.

Harry Potter author Rowling – who testified previously to a media ethics inquiry about the impact of intrusive media upon her family – said she and other victims felt they “have been hung out to dry” by the government.

Grant, who won damages for phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, said hacking victims supported a rival plan by the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party for stronger media measures. The actor said lawmakers “promised victims to do right by them, and they have that chance on Monday.”

Debate about how to control the press has raged in Britain since revelations in 2011 that tabloid journalists had eavesdropped on voicemails, bribed officials for information and hacked into computers in a relentless quest for scoops.

The scandal has brought the demise of one newspaper – Murdoch’s News of the World – along with dozens of arrests and resignations, scores of lawsuits against Murdoch’s media empire and a public inquiry into media ethics.

That inquiry, led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, last year recommended the creation of a strong press watchdog body dominated by non-journalists and backed by government regulation.

But negotiations between Cameron’s Conservatives and others over how to implement those recommendations have stalled amid an increasingly acrimonious debate. Politicians are divided about whether a new press watchdog should be set up through legislation – as recommended by Leveson – or through a Royal Charter, an executive act that does not require a vote in Parliament.

Proponents say passing a law will put the watchdog on a firmer footing and give it more power to discipline rogue newspapers. Opponents believe that passing a media law would endanger the country’s free press.

In fact, the proposals aren’t all that different. A new law would set up an independent press watchdog, not control the media directly. And the regulator would only have the power to impose fines or demand published apologies from newspapers – not to stop articles being published.

But the language of the debate has been fierce, with opponents fearing the demise of Britain’s free press and advocates seeing a bullying media riding roughshod over people’s rights.

“The idea of a law – a great, big, all-singing, all-dancing media law … would have been bad for press freedom, bad for individual freedom,” Cameron said.

Rowling accused the prime minister of letting down hacking victims by ignoring Leveson’s proposals.

“I believed David Cameron when he said that he would implement Leveson’s recommendations `unless they were bonkers,'” she said. “I did not see how he could back away, with honour, from words so bold and unequivocal.

“Well, he has backed away, and I am one among many who feel they have been hung out to dry.”


Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Hugh-Grant-urges-tougher-media-laws/tabid/417/articleID/290689/Default.aspx#ixzz2O08NiA9A

Jay & me


Jay Leno gets a signed copy of my book, Anatomy of a Trial.

(I wonder if he’ll read it…  He’s on pages 13,108, 115, and 120.)





We Got Our FIXX

The Rotary Club of Mitchell Field presentation and signing went well. Some Rotarians brought guests, specifically because of the program topic – me talking about “Anatomy of a Trial.” From their attention, questions and feedback, they weren’t disappointed. Son-in-law Tom offered an observation, which I thought illuminating. He recalled a trip he made from Milwaukee to L.A. to see my daughter (and his intended at the time), during which I took them in for a short visit with Judge Ito. Tom recounted how surprised he was that here this judge was immersed in what by that time was universally being described as the ‘trial of the century’ and a courtroom full of media, celebrities, ‘dream-team’ lawyers and enough ‘issues’ to drive the most unflappable of judges nuts. Yet, after introductions and his invitation for his guests to have a seat, rather than talk about what was going on with him or the swirl around the trial, he asked Tom and Carrianne what was going on back in Wisconsin and how the weather was there. “He was just such a regular guy, not at all what I expected,” Tom told his fellow Rotarians. Describing his experience was a nice enhancement to the program. I understood the attendance was about a third more than average.


The same couldn’t be said of crowd — or lack of — at the FIXX Coffee House a few days later. Customers were few – FIXX proprietor Shari Franz had said Saturday mornings between 9 and 11 usually saw about 100. Two factors were at play, though. One was the weather. A blizzard had blown through the day before, depositing more than a foot of snow, and more snow was in the forecast. The other was the season. Surely, a number of FIXX regulars were using the last Saturday morning before Christmas to do last-minute shopping and other holiday-related preparations – especially with the potential of getting around later being hampered by even more snow.


But we had a great time anyway. First was just the ambience of the place. It’s dominated by a conversation pit of comfy broad-shouldered sofas with a large low coffee table laden with magazines, catalogs and board games in the center. A basket of toys for kids sits next to the coffee table. A dozen or so tiled-top tables line one side of the restaurant, each surrounded by spindle-back white oak (I’m guessing) chairs, and many with games like cribbage or checkers awaiting players. A few more tables – the small round tall kind typical at bars – dot the front part of the dining room. A piano with books and an alabaster (or faux) bust of Beethoven on top sits against one wall. Small displays of hand-made jewelry, silver book marks, stained-glass sun catchers, business cards and photographs by a local photographer and stacks of books fill every corner and flat surface. Notices of coming attractions are tacked above the coffee condiments sideboard; musicians Ellie and Jerry Quint, guitarist Keith Hampton. The Celtic folk band, the Garlic Mustard Pickers,” have played there.


We met a professor of education at a local college whom we plan to hook up with our online education development expert daughter. We had a couple of suggestions for Shari about spreading the word about happenings at the FIXX. We ended our morning with a great chicken salad wrap and butter-rum flavored coffee before heading out into the snow to finish up our Christmas errand running.