The New York Times' Pellicano scandal reporting duo of David Halbfinger and Allison Hope Weiner is back, this time with a scoop in Thursday's edition that's audible, too: the recordings that the indicted Hollywood P.I. secretly made of his own telephone conversations with billionaire investor and one-time MGM/UA owner Kirk Kerkorian's superlawyer Terry Christensen. And the audio and transcripts are posted on the NYT website. Maybe this latest embarrassment will cause Christensen's L.A. law firm to rethink his status: I'm still floored that this lawyer -- accused in a two-count indictment of paying Pellicano at least $100,000 to record phone conversations between Lisa and her attorney -- is still managing partner and even acting spokesman for Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro. The reporters write that, on the tapes, Christensen "repeatedly said he told the billionaire — then locked in a legal dispute with his ex-wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian — what the private detective was learning from what prosecutors say were his wiretaps." According to the NYT, the recordings make clear that Kerkorian, according to Christensen’s assurances, was grateful for intimate information that helped his case:
“Tell me that the old man has a smile on his face,” Pellicano said in 2002.
“He does, O.K.? He’s happy,” Christensen said. “Our jaw is still hanging down."
The NYT says the recordings also show how Kerkorian and his lawyer pushed the private dick to investigate movie producer Stephen Bing, whom Kerkorian suspected of being the biological father of his ex-wife’s daughter. Meanwhile, prosecutors are probing NYT access to stuff which are supposed to be under a court protective order. Oh yeah: Christensen denies all charges.
Excerpts and Audio: The Pellicano Case
Following are excerpts of calls between the private eye Anthony Pellicano and Kirk Kerkorian’s lawyer, Terry N. Christensen, about a legal fight with Kerkorian’s ex-wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, as transcribed by The New York Times. Digital recordings of the calls were turned over last year by prosecutors to defense lawyers as part of the discovery process. Prosecutors said the recordings were recovered from Pellicano’s computers. The recordings included date and time stamps placing them between March and May of 2002.
Pellicano and Christensen, both of whom have pleaded not guilty to wiretapping and conspiracy charges, are among five defendants whose trial is set to begin Aug. 22 in Los Angeles. (Through a lawyer, Christensen denied that there was any “reliable evidence of wiretaps involving the Kerkorian-Bonder litigation,” and said the charges against him were “totally unfounded.” Pellicano, who is in jail, declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Kirk Kerkorian.)
(NOTE: Both the transcripts and audio clips have been edited to delete profanity. All audio files are in mp3 format.)
May 14, 2002, at 2:18 p.m. (Audio Clip) As Anthony Pellicano and Terry Christensen discuss winding down the wiretap of Lisa Bonder Kerkorian’s phones, Pellicano asks if Kirk Kerkorian has been pleased with his work.
AP: All right, tell me — just make me feel good, tell me that the old man has a smile on his face.
TC: He does. O.K.?
AP: Is he happy?
TC: He’s happy. I mean come on, look what’s been done here in the last week. This is great.
AP: Look what we’ve been doing for him, man. Jesus.
TC: Yeah. Yeah.
AP: He’s got the best [DELETED] outfit he could have.
TC: Our jaw is still hanging down over — some stuff that doesn’t even count still blows your mind. You know what I mean?
AP: Oh, sure it does.
March 18, 2002, at 11:13 p.m. (Audio Clip) Christensen hires Pellicano to find out how Lisa Kerkorian became pregnant with her daughter.
TC: All right. So monetarily –
TC: If there were proof of exactly how she got pregnant –
TC: Be it from a lab or – and exactly how that happened – or if there were proof of exactly who the father is –
TC: That would be worth $100,000.
AP: Well it should be worth a lot more than that. But yes, O.K. Because, you know, he’s got to pay the expenses for all of this.
TC: Well, keep in mind that it doesn’t get him out of anything.
AP: It’s something he wants to know.
April 27, 2002, at 12:41 p.m. (Audio Clip) Pellicano tells Christensen that he listened as Lisa Kerkorian discussed trying to get more money from Kirk Kerkorian by capitalizing on his desire to spend time with her daughter.
AP: She’s got whiskey strength because she’s now saying to herself, O.K., he wants to see Kira and he wants me to stay in town — This is her exact words, by the way — How much money is he willing to pay me to get that? That’s her exact words, by the way.
TC: Yeah. Mm.
April 27, 2002, at 12:41 p.m. (Audio Clip) Pellicano tells Christensen about a conversation between Lisa Kerkorian and her father, in which the two talked about her settlement demands.
AP: And she called her father, you know what I mean, and her father says, you know, when she says 125,000, her father says to her, Well that’s a good number for you.
TC: Oh, she tells her father that’s what she wants?
TC: Did she really?
AP: Absolutely. Absolutely, 100 percent. But she [DELETED] — You know, the extent of her lies are just overwhelming. You know? And there’s no way except with my unique techniques that you would know this.
April 22, 2002, at 11:25 a.m. (Audio Clip) Pellicano talks to Christensen about tensions among Lisa Kerkorian and her lawyers, Stephen A. Kolodny and Robert S. Rein. (Kolodny confirmed there were tensions; Rein declined to comment.)
TC: You know, you told me that Kolodny was just shoving Rein down the drain.
AP: Yeah. Yes. That’s right, that’s right.
TC: But Kolodny’s made a comeback now, right?
AP: Yes, he made a comeback. He made a comeback — boy, you could hear the sigh of relief in his voice, too. And he says “Now, I got you back on center again, huh?” And she says, “Yeah, O.K., I’m back on center again.”
AP: And then she rips into Rein for two hours.
TC: This is — we seem to be giving them some rugged weekends.
AP: Oh, yeah, and I’ll tell you something. If we, you know, if we continue to get this kind of information with their strategy, we’ll really kill ’em.
April 27, 2002, at 12:41 p.m. (Audio Clip) Pellicano tells Christensen that he has heard Lisa Kerkorian talking to various people about wanting Kirk Kerkorian to die, and even talking about killing him. (Lisa Kerkorian’s lawyer, Steve Sitkoff, called it "ludicrious" to think she was ever a threat to anyone.)
AP: You know, all through these things, I didn’t want to mention this before but I think I better because I don’t know how much you tell him and how much you don’t, but, you know, she keeps waiting for him to die.
TC: That’s coming up too?
AP: Yes. Very, very often. And she talks about killing him.
TC: What do you mean?
AP: She talks about killing him. She says, you know, I gotta kill him. She says those things. Now whether she really means it or not, probably not. But does she say it? Absolutely. Absolutely says it. You know, and as a matter of fact, the other day Kim Clark said to her, you know what I mean, How’s his health? And she says, He’s healthy as hell. She says, you know, The guy just keeps going.
TC: Who said that? Lisa?
AP: Oh, wouldn’t it make it wonderful for her — And then — Oh, excuse me. Then she said that to the lawyer, she says, Well, what if Kirk dies? And then they said, Well, then the estate will continue. And she says, Well, that’s no good because Terry Christensen’s going to run the estate, he’ll keep this in litigation forever. — And she’s right.
April 29, 2002, at 10:23 a.m. (Audio Clip) Christensen returns to the subject of Lisa Kerkorian’s remarks about killing Kirk Kerkorian.
TC: You know, I’ve been thinking about the discussions about she ought to kill Kirk and stuff like that, you know.
TC: And how, maybe he’ll die —
AP: Even this morning, you know what I mean, and Deborah saying, you know, He’s gonna die, he’s gonna die, you just gotta wait him out.
TC: Right. But then also the discussion about, well, you know, Terry’s the executor and he’ll just cause us to litigate forever, that kind of stuff.
AP: Yes. Yes.
TC: Um —
AP: What about it?
TC: That doesn’t make my wife happy. You know, if this person is like murderous, you know, this is like very ugly stuff.
AP: Yeah, but Terry?
AP: You have me.
TC: Yeah, but — O.K. If I’m public enemy No. 2 — right? Or am I public enemy No. 1?
AP: You’re public enemy No. 1.
TC: Oh, [DELETED].
AP: But, Terry, you have me.
TC: Yeah. That’s good.
AP: And I know everything that’s going on. And obviously they don’t know I know.
AP: Nobody knows except you and me.
TC: That’s for sure. All right, well — but that, those comments and that discussion was pretty disgusting. And I’m thinking that I should probably, you know, give Kirk a heads-up on it.
AP: Which one?
TC: Uh —
AP: You lost me. You mean the one about the going on forever?
TC: They ought to kill him.
TC: I mean those were Lisa’s words.
AP: I ought to kill him.
AP: Right. You do — Listen, you’re the boss. You do what you want to do.
May 10, 2002, at 8:41 a.m. (Audio Clip) Pellicano argues that the mediator between Kirk and Lisa Kerkorian, Deborah A. Simon, should not be trusted. Pellicano says that after Kirk Kerkorian spoke to Simon, the mediator told Lisa Kerkorian about the conversation, boosting Lisa Kerkorian’s spirits. (Simon did not return calls seeking comment at her home and office.)
AP: Well, listen, if he sat down with me for an afternoon that faith would go right up in smoke. And maybe you’re being too kind in the way you present things to him. You know?
AP: That’s your business, it’s not mine.
AP: And I don’t want to interfere with that by any stretch of the imagination. But, boy. Just, it’s not going anywhere. You understand what I’m saying? It’s just not going anywhere. As long as she gets fed, and she, I mean you could — the elation was overwhelming.
TC: Well, I will let —
AP: O.K. now . . . apparently she had —
TC: I will let Kirk know the emotional high that Lisa got out of Deborah’s call.
May 14, 2002, at 2:18 p.m. (Audio Clip) Before shutting down the wiretap of Lisa Kerkorian’s phones, Pellicano asks if Christensen has told Kirk Kerkorian about a particularly surprising conversation he’d monitored.
TC: I mean it was like phenomenal. Just phenomenal.
AP: Did you tell him about that?
TC: Yeah, oh, sure.
AP: He must have got a big — he must have [DELETED] his pants over that.
TC: He just couldn’t believe it. You know, neither of us. We both were saying, What? What?
AP: It just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
TC: Yeah. You just can’t — you can’t deal with that one.
April 28, 2002, at 8.50 p.m. (Audio Clip) Pellicano describes a conversation between Lisa Kerkorian and Kolodny, her lawyer, about the biological father of her daughter. Pellicano grows angry as he reports that she used the term “candidate” to describe Stephen Bing. (Through a lawyer, Bing declined to comment.)
AP: She didn’t say to Kolodny, He is the biological father. She said, There’s another candidate.
AP: So let me ask you a question, if she —
TC: Well —
AP: Wait a minute, if she knew he was the biological father, why would she say he’s another [DELETED] candidate? Why would she say that?
TC: Am I hearing this correct? Are you yelling at me?
AP: No, I’m not yelling, I’m [DELETED] — I wanna kill this [DELETED] woman.
April 28, 2002, at 9:23 p.m. (Audio Clip) Christensen tells Pellicano he has no particular desire to antagonize Bing, but that Kerkorian’s desire to find out who is the biological father is the most important thing here.
TC: Listen, if you had been able to come up with the – the artificial insemination by now, I’d be thrilled. I don’t want Steve Bing to be part of this. But you know something? Kirk —
AP: What are you telling me, if I would — Are you telling me I’m not trying?
TC: No, no, I know you’re — I’m just saying if you’d been able to. I’m not saying you’re not trying.
AP: I haven’t been able to yet. I will.
TC: I — Listen, I don’t want anybody to go through this, O.K.? And I don’t want anybody in Lisa’s life. But Kirk is going through this and he’s been [DELETED] defrauded, O.K.?
AP: There’s no question —
TC: And I am not resting until this is put to bed. And it’s not gonna be put to bed until we find out who the father is. I’m going to find this out.
AP: I absolutely —
TC: And you’re going to help me.