Leonardo DiCaprio's Manager | Mariah Carey and Ben Affleck Toronto Film Festival    

DiCaprio's Manager: Deal in Bankruptcy Case?

Readers of this column know the whole saga of Dana Giacchetto, Leonardo DiCaprio's best friend and money manager who is now serving 57 months in Allenwood State Penitentiary.

The fallout from the case continues: DiCaprio's manager, Rick Yorn, who is also partners in Artists Management Group with Michael Ovitz, is about to settle with the bankruptcy receiver for Giacchetto's firm, Cassandra Group. The receiver sued Yorn for $1.3 million last winter, claiming that Giacchetto had pillaged other Cassandra Group accounts to compensate Yorn for a non-existent stock transaction.

Giacchetto wrote in his ledgers that the payment was Yorn's return on shares of stock in Paradise Music Group, on whose board Giacchetto sat and whose stock he controlled. But there were no shares of stock. Either Giacchetto was simply handing Yorn cash in fistfuls because he liked him, or Yorn was getting a kickback from Giacchetto to maintain his other relationships with Ovitz and DiCaprio. No one can say for sure, and Yorn is definitely not talking.

A source who's had a lot to do with the Giacchetto case from the Hollywood end said to me yesterday: "I don't think Rick did anything wrong. I think he thought Dana had bought the stock for him."

The receiver — attorney Robert Geltzer who is represented by attorney Robert Wolf — didn't think so, however. He charged in his suit that Yorn knew that Giacchetto had not purchased any shares of Paradise for him. The receiver also charged that Yorn knew the Cassandra Group was insolvent when the payments were made to him. Yorn is accused of receiving $606,521 in August and September 1998 as loans and advances toward the purchase of a new home.

He then received another check, for $737,000, in September 1999.

To pay Yorn, Giacchetto looted the accounts of other clients. The money came from: Courteney Cox ($500,000); Ben Stiller ($250,000); Tobey Maguire ($150,000); Brill's Content editor David Kuhn ($250,000); actress Lauren Holly ($100,000); and Lara Harris, a non-celebrity client ($500,000).

I am now told that Yorn will imminently make restitution to the bankruptcy receiver. "It's some kind of settlement," says a source, "but it's not all the money that was taken."

When I called Wolf yesterday he refused to comment. David Stern, Yorn's lawyer, did not return calls.

But I'm even more interested in how Yorn explained all of this to Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio is either completely insulated from the news, or simply doesn't care. Indeed, Yorn was recently named by DiCaprio to co-head a new production company for him, despite this entire Giacchetto episode. Even though there have been denials on all sides, Giacchetto may have cost DiCaprio up to $10 million by the time their business and their close, close friendship — which evaporated overnight — was concluded.

All of this comes on the heels of Giacchetto's new deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Last week, after still refusing to give an accounting to the SEC of what he did with his clients' money, Giacchetto agreed with the commission that he owed $14 million in restitution. Of course, he doesn't have the money and can't pay it back, but when the SEC moved for a summary judgement against him, this was Giacchetto's response. "He means it from the very bottom of his heart," wisecracked a source familiar with the case.

Additionally, according to the agreement, Giacchetto is never again allowed to work as an investment banker or adviser.

Giacchetto is currently serving a 57-month prison term for fraud.

Mariah and Ben: Paths Crossed 

Is there a way to tie together the fact that both Mariah Carey and Ben Affleck are now getting treatment for a variety of problems? Maybe. You might not think of them in the same sentence, but the pair definitely met. The occasion was the 1999 post-Oscar party Miramax gave at the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge. This was the year of The Cider House Rules, the year after Affleck and Matt Damon won their screenplay award for Good Will Hunting.

At the Polo Lounge, Carey made a surprise appearance, and Affleck gravitated right over to her. His opening line, which I reported back then: "I have your songs on my running tape." This did not seem to impress Carey much at the time, but it was a brave shot by Ben.

Just to tie everything together, both Affleck and Damon lost money with the above-mentioned Giacchetto. Their former money manager, who'd made the investment for them, paid them back the funds Giacchetto stole.

Toronto Fest Holds 'Little Promise' 

Meanwhile, the film festival circuit is about to begin with Deauville, Venice, New York, and of course Toronto. Of them all, I am told that the Toronto Film Festival, which doesn't give awards and often showcases downright lousy films, does not hold much promise for independent spirit this year.

The Toronto Film Festival begins September 6, the same night as the MTV Video Music Awards and the night before Michael Jackson takes the stage at Madison Square Garden.

"There will be almost nothing to buy," one major acquisitions person told me the other night. "It's not going to be very exciting." A good festival produces a bunch of surprise hits which distributors like Miramax, Fine Line and USA Films all vie for.

Bell Canada and Evian put a lot of ad money into the Toronto sponsorship, but the festival does not have the sophisticated edge of New York's Film Society, or the importance of discovery like Sundance, in January. Last year's hot ticket was David Mamet's sort of unfunny State and Main, which proved unpopular as well when it was finally released. Another Toronto selection, Kathryn Bigelow's The Weight of Water, starring Sean Penn and Elizabeth Hurley, has never even been released.

 

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