Pellicano And Ovitz Linked

The saga of Hollywood gumshoe-to-the-stars Anthony Pellicano has already spilled its share of ink in the national press but, according to, 75 percent of the recordings he made while working for celebrity clients haven’t even been heard yet by investigators.

That thought alone has much of Hollywood nervous. But one doesn’t have to be recorded by the private investigator to have been one of his targets.

Supermarket magnate and billionaire Ronald Burkle recently accused a New York Post gossip columnist of trying to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from him as “protection” from the poison pens of Page Six. In covering that story, The New York Times discovered it wasn’t the first time he was on the receiving end of a shakedown.

Burkle has told federal investigators that in 2002 Pellicano demanded $100,000 to $250,000 in exchange for not investigating him as requested by Creative Artists Agency co-founder and ex-Disney prexy Michael Ovitz, a former business partner of Burkle’s.

Ovitz has been subpoenaed to testify in Pellicano’s wiretapping case as a “person of interest,” not necessarily as a suspect.

The Times reports that Ovitz has claimed Pellicano investigated him on Burkle’s behalf, yet acknowledged paying Pellicano $75,000 to dig up dirt on about 15 people including Burkle.

Ovitz attorney Barth Williams told the paper that Ovitz never hired Pellicano to investigate anyone except those who were suing him – which does not yet include Burkle – and Ovitz neither knew of illegal activity by the P.I. nor asked him to commit any.

“Michael Ovitz never agreed to pay Anthony Pellicano to investigate Ron Burkle,” Williams told the NYT. “However, it’s not surprising that Mr. Pellicano would try to mislead Mr. Burkle in an effort to drum up business.”

The Times added that, in its review of case documents, it did appear that Pellicano was playing Ovitz and Burkle against each other in hopes of reaping a bigger payoff from Burkle.

In 2004, Burkle was reportedly told by another private investigator that Pellicano had been hired by Ovitz to dish dirt on not only him, but on top CAA partners Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane. Burkle then met with them and warned them their phones might be tapped, the FBI report said.

Despite knowing of Pellicano’s intentions, Burkle met him at the home of financier and movie producer Steve Bing, who had hired the gumshoe in his paternity dispute with actress Elizabeth Hurley. When asked why he would bother, Burkle reportedly said, “I thought if someone’s coming after you and you get a free meeting, it’s a good thing to do.”

It was at that meeting that Pellicano allegedly began to put the squeeze on Burkle, telling the Ralph’s magnate a few days later at a Beverly Hills Hotel poolside cabana that his “refusal” to investigate Burkle for Ovitz had cost him between $100,000 and $250,000.

Burkle refused to “cover” that lost income but apparently did Pellicano some non-monetary favors after that. Even after Pellicano’s 2002 explosives arrest, Burkle allowed him to use his La Jolla, Calif., retreat, gave him tickets to the Hollywood Bowl and arranged for Pellicano’s son to swim with dolphins at San Diego’s Sea World.

When asked why, Burkle told the Times, “He didn’t come after me. Not coming after me was a pretty big give.”