Over at Hollywood’s famous Chateau Marmont hotel, guests are not seeing things. Lindsay Lohan, America’s favorite whipping girl, has been spending time with “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner. They’ve been seen together in various modes of dining and socializing in the lobby bar and garden restaurant, according to my Hollywood spies. Of course, Lohan been seen with lots of famous types at the Chateau, my sources point out.
I am told that Lindsay and several female buddies have also spent time at Ratner’s Hillhaven Lodge, formerly the home of Ingrid Bergman. Why not? The preceding owner, “Grease” producer Alan Carr, left behind a full-size disco with mirrored walls and a silver disco ball.
But, as Ratner likes to say, it’s more about schmoozing and dessert than anything particularly weird. Ratner’s grandparents live in the guest house, which is hard by the front door. The grandmother is in and out of the main house kitchen, sort of like a sitcom, and there are non-stop visitors. It’s hard to get away with anything secret at Hillhaven.
Lohan is one of my favorite Hollywood characters. She’s sort of like a modern day Daisy Clover, run wild. In fact, she should remake that famous Natalie Wood-Robert Redford movie. If you remember, Ruth Gordon played Daisy’s mom — the two of them lived in a shack or something until Daisy became a huge Hollywood star.
Lindsay’s story isn’t much different: After all, her father is in jail. Her mother/manager hasn’t exactly raised her daughter with much self-restraint. Lindsay has had to negotiate Hollywood’s hairpin turns mostly by herself.
Ratner, who’s said to be giving Lohan advice and providing a shelter to her from the gossip storm, is a little too busy to do anything else right now. He’s finishing “X Men: The Last Stand,” which will debut in Cannes a few days before its May 26 opening in theaters.
The $200 million comic book adventure is said to be better even than episodes 1 and 2. I’m told the Cannes debut is so hot that the entire cast is being invited to the annual AmFar dinner in Mougins, where star Hugh Jackman may be asked to perform along with Elton John and other surprise guests.
Maybe we’re all slow, or we just don’t get it. But it turns out that Tom Cruise’s lawyer, his point man in Bert Fields’ Hollywood law firm Greenberg, Glusker, et al., worked for years for none other than jailed private eye Anthony Pellicano before obtaining a law degree.
Ricardo Cestero’s name crops up in nearly every story about Cruise’s legal issues in the last seven years. Notably, Cestero represented Cruise in a defamation lawsuit involving a gay man who claimed to be Cruise’s lover. Cruise wound up winning $10 million.
But what most people don’t know is that before he went to law school and came to work for Fields, Cestero labored in the office of Anthony Pellicano as a private investigator. In fact, he was schooled at Pellicano’s very knee.
Ricardo P. Cestero graduated from Oberlin College in 1991. According to the Greenberg Glusker Web site, he got his law degree in 1997 from the University of California Los Angeles School of Law. This differs from the Martindale.com Web site, which has biographical info for all attorneys. Cestero graduated from law school there in 1999.
Either way, in the years between graduating college and getting his law degree, according to sources and reports, Cestero worked exclusively for Pellicano, who in turn worked for attorney Bert Fields. Fields has maintained throughout the Pellicano investigation that he knew nothing of the private detective’s activities and sanctioned nothing illegal.
But Cestero is the attorney who took the lead in Cruise’s suit against a porn actor who claimed to have had an affair with the "Mission: Impossible" star. Sources say Cruise would not have been so comfortable with a relative novice and recent law school grad if Cestero had not already been working on matters for Cruise for some time before that.
It’s time to play connect the dots in Hollywood. And yes, at the center of everything is jailed private eye Anthony Pellicano.
Two days ago, a curious announcement emanated from the law firm of Bert Fields. Howard L. Weitzman and nine other attorneys were leaving the firm of Greenberg, Glusker, et al., to start their own firm.
Talk about rats deserting the ship. Fields has acknowledged talking to prosecutors in the Pellicano case and to a grand jury as well. His name is all over the Pellicano story as the P.I.’s former employer. Fields insists he knew nothing of Pellicano’s wiretapping, blackmailing and illegal investigating.
Weitzman perhaps thinks he’s slinking away before worse things happen to Fields and Co. But before he and his pals leave for greener pastures, let the record show: It was Howard L. Weitzman who brought Pellicano to Los Angeles from Chicago in the first place. The Pellicano story begins with Weitzman, who used the detective to dig up dirt when he defended John DeLorean in the early 1980s.
This is the very same Howard Weitzman, by the way, who was O.J. Simpson’s defense lawyer for two whole days in June 1994.
If you recall, Weitzman mysteriously resigned from the case and handed it over to Robert Shapiro. Simpson had flown to Chicago, learned of the murder of his ex-wife and her friend, and then flew home. He immediately met with Weitzman. Legend has it he told Weitzman enough of the story that the attorney decided to pass on defending Simpson.
Only the year before, in 1993, when Michael Jackson needed a criminal attorney, Bert Fields —his entertainment lawyer — had turned to Weitzman. Weitzman in turn brought along Pellicano.
When Weitzman got out, and passed Jackson’s criminal matters to Johnnie Cochran, Pellicano stayed on the case. Weitzman continued to defend Jackson in other cases, however, including some brought by former Neverland employees.
Nevertheless, after representing Jackson, Weitzman appeared as a commentator last year on the E! channel’s nightly re-creation of Jackson’s 2005 trial.
It didn’t seem to matter that he’d represented Jackson or that he was now partnered in the firm of another former Jackson lawyer, Bert Fields. Was it a conflict of interest to appear on TV and talk about your former client? Apparently no one thought so.
Weitzman has obviously been planning an escape from Greenberg Glusker for a while. In an interview with a legal trade paper called The Recorder on March 21 — a mere two weeks ago — he equivocated about leaving Fields’ firm. He told the paper he was “taken aback” by their inquiries that he was leaving to start a new firm.
“I haven’t solidified anything,” he said. He wrote to them in an e-mail: "It's not my practice to comment on rumor and speculation, although having my own firm again sometimes seems appealing."
Of course, Weitzman had once had his own firm. Before the whole Jackson-Simpson business, he’d his own firm for 22 years. In 1991, he joined Katten Muchin and Zavis, the firm that came to represent Michael Jackson in his cavalcade of legal actions both civil and criminal.
After the Simpson and Jackson scandals wrapped, Weitzman left the practice of law. For a decade, from 1995 to 2005, he stayed out of the Hollywood limelight.
But in May 2005, less than a year ago, he returned to the business by partnering up with his old pal, Bert Fields. Now it’s over. To combine two clichés: Weitzman sees the writing on the wall because he knows where all the bodies are buried. He helped Fields bury them, after all.
Last year, during the Jackson child molestation trial, I told you all about tapes made by former (and since deceased) National Enquirer reporter Jim Mitteager. He taped every phone conversation he ever had, and when he knew was dying, he willed them to investigator Paul Barresi.
Barresi, who once worked for Pellicano, has transcribed all of the conversations, put them on computer and cross-referenced them. And the words that come up all the time: Fields, Pellicano, Weitzman, National Enquirer. It’s amazing how all these names are connected.
Meantime, you've probably read that film director John McTiernan was indicted for lying to prosecutors about his involvement with Pellicano — he used him to spy on film producer Charles Roven, they allege.
In the Hollywood is a small town category: Roven is now a partner in Mosaic Media Group, which was formed by three companies including Gold/Miller Talent Agency.
A former Gold/Miller exec, Peter Safran, figures in the lawsuit recently brought by “Scary Movie” producer Bo Zenga, who was — according to prosecutors — spied on and wiretapped by Pellicano.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame has announced its inductees for this year. Since I’m on the nominating committee, I’m happy to say that the selections of the larger group-wide vote are excellent. A few of my own choices even got in this time!
The inductees are Thom Bell, the composer of so many Philadelphia soul hits by the Spinners and the Stylistics, among others; country’s Mac Davis and Will Jennings; and journeyman Motown writers Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby.
The latter pair contributed to the creation of many early Stevie Wonder hits including “My Cherie Amour” and “Uptight (Everything’s Alright).” It’s expected that Wonder will attend the June 15 event in New York and induct them…
Meanwhile, Stevie’s right-hand guy, Brian LaRoda and his brother Barrett are putting finishing touches on the 2nd annual Tobago Jazz Fest happening on April 21-23. Their special guest performers include Sting, Patti LaBelle, Natalie Cole, Johnny Gill and Vanessa Williams, among others. Sean "Diddy" Combs is set to make some kind of appearance. This is going to be a hot weekend on an exotic island — kind of like “Lost” except with air conditioning and champagne. You can read all about it at www.tobagojazzfest.com...
Sad news about the passing at age 65 of rock 'n' roll great Gene Pitney, whose “Town Without Pity” is a classic. Luckily, he was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year before it was too late. There are so many other veterans like him who need to be inducted before any more mediocre stars of the '80s wedge their way in. I’m thinking Motown’s Mary Wells, Billy Preston, Carla and Rufus Thomas, Chubby Checker, etc…
Oh, yes, and Katie Couric’s going to CBS. FYI, in case ya missed it…