Category Archives: Roman Polanski

. . .and his encounter with a corrupt judiciary

In Munich, the cry is ‘Take me to your liter’

It’s Okoberfest, and there’s a helluva lot of drinkin’ goin’ on.

First, a video that nicely captures the spirit[s] of the festivites from vlogger iamdelaney featuring the music of Skrillex and their song Bangarang:

Spiegel has the numbers, including the Bierleichen body count:

The first week of this year’s Oktoberfest is over, and as ever, the half-time statistics are almost as overpowering as the high-octane Munich beer served in the tents.

A clear picture is already emerging: there are more visitors, and they’re drinking a lot more beer, and that is having predictable consequences.

The number of Bierleichen, or “beer corpses” — a term referring to people who have drunk themselves into a state of unconsciousness — jumped by almost 20 percent to 445, most of them aged 30 or under, according to the Red Cross.

Visitor numbers to the famous folk festival have increased to 3.6 million from 3.5 million at the same time last year, thanks to sunnier weather, the organizers said. And the all-important statistic — the number of one-liter Mass glasses of beer guzzled — rose by almost six percent to 3.6 million, up from 3.4 million last year, the Bavarian capital of Munich said on Sunday.

At this rate, the festival could top last year’s all-time record beer consumption of 7.5 million liters — which would be an impressive feat given that the 2012 Oktoberfest has a fifth less space than usual due to an adjacent agricultural fair which ended on Sunday.

Read the rest.

One suspects that a good part of that increase in consumption falls into the category of dancing in the face of the economic storm.

And a journalist’s brush with Oktoberfest fame

The first time we ever became, fleetingly, an international media celebrity was back in 1979, and Oktoberfest was the reason.

Our newspaper, the late, great Santa Monica Evening Outlook, has published a UPI photo showing Polanski surrounded by beautiful women seated at an Oktoberfest table in Munich.

When the judge overseeing the prosecution of the famous director on sec crimes charges involving a 13-year-old model saw the photo on Sunday’s front page, he erupted, because he’d allowed Polanski to travel to Europe only to seek funding for a new feature film.

At issue was the caption, supplied by the wire service, declaring Polanski had come to Munch solely for fun.

When we walked into the office Monday morning, we were met by Polanski’s attorney with a subpoena, compelling our testimony about the origins of the caption. We did some digging and found out the “just for fun” quote  came not from the director but from a hotel desk clerk who hadn’t ever talked to Polanski.

Our testimony helped keep the director out of the jail cell where the judge had intended to send him pending the trial.

We were briefly featured on network news that night as we walked out of the courtroom and into a forest of microphones, and in countless news stories in papers around the world.

By the following day the newspaper stories were fishwrap and and the newscasts fleeting memories.

For more about the Polanski case and our curious role in one of the celebrated scandals of the 1970s, see here. Or watch Marina Zenovitch’s compelling documentary, Roman Polanski, Wanted and Desired.


Polanski makes an apology, 37 years later

The world-renowned director has issued a belated apology to Samantha Geimer, 36 years after he fled the United States after a Santa Monica judge wrongly decided to send him back to prison after serving a prison sentence for statutory rape.

We’ve written extensively about the case, and about the outrageous conduct of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Laurence J. Rittenband.

But Polanski admitted in court that he had sex with the then-13-year-old Geimer at actor Jack Nicholson’s Coldwater Canyon home during a photographic session for the French edition of Vogue.

In a plea bargain accepted by the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, and Geimer’s family, Polanski agreed to be incarcerated at the state prison in Chino under the guise of a psychiatric evaluation.

The state psychiatrist, a court-appointed psychiatrist, and the Los Angeles County Probation Department all agreed that Polanski shouldn’t receive additional incarceration, but after hearing complaints from the wives of friends who belonged to the Hillcrest County Club, Rittenband decided to send Polanski back to prison, in violation of both judicial ethics and the plea bargain.

In the years since, the details of the case have been revealed, most notably in Maria Zenovich’s documentary Roman Polanski, Wanted and Desired, is which we appear.

But in all the years since the events in Santa Monica, Polanski has kept silent about the case.

Until now.

From Scott Roxborough of The Hollywood Reporter:

Director Roman Polanski publicly apologized to Samantha Greimer [sic], the woman he sexually assaulted 33 years ago, in a new documentary that had its world premiere Tuesday at the Zurich Film Festival.

“She is a double victim: my victim and a victim of the press,” the Oscar-winning director says near the end of Laurent Bouzereau’s Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir.

But those hoping this new documentary would provide further evidence for or against Polanski in the case that led him to flee America back in 1978 will be disappointed. The film, shot while Polanski was under house arrest in Switzerland two years ago awaiting possible extradition, offers little new information not already in the public record.

Read the rest.

We agree with Polanski.

Polanski was guilty of a crime, and plead guilty, serving a sentence in state prison. Geimer and her family were relentlessly pursued by the press, especially the Hollywood foreign press corps. One reporter offered esnl $25,000 for a location where they could “ambush” the teenager for photos and an interview. We declined.

Geimer and her family were the subjects of endless and often scurrilous tabloid speculation, as was Polanski himself.

Neither the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office nor the courts will acknowledge the great miscarraiges of justice that led Switzerland to deny extradition after they arrested Polanski on an Interpol hold after he arrived in the country to receive the Lifteime Achievement Award from the Zurich Film Festival — an award he finally received last night to a standing ovation.

Polanski on film: ‘Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown’

From 2006, an interview with Roman Polanski that explores his approach to film, and the making of what esnl considers the most trenchant film ever made about power in the Golden State:

Let’s be clear: It didn’t start with the Rupester

Phone hacking? Wiretaps? Bribes to public officials? And all to gather tawdry scoops on celebrity scandals and crime victims? It all started with Rupert Murdoch, right?


In our 46 years in the news business, everything we’ve see unfolding in Britain with Murdoch’s media empire we’ve seen before, and much closer to home.

We’ve written a lot about the miscarriage of justice that was the Roman Polanski case, and how pressure from his pals at the Hillcrest Country Club led Judge Laurence J. Rittenband to renege on a plea and sentence agreed to by all parties involved in the case.

We’ve also mentioned that we were offered $25,000 — a lot of money in 1977 — for details on the young woman at the center of the case. The very American tabloid in question wanted an ambush photo and details of her private life, information we could’ve provided but didn’t.

But it doesn’t end there

Let’s begin with a story reported 11 July by Molly Hennessy-Fiske of the Los Angeles Times:

UCLA Health System has agreed to pay $865,500 as part of a settlement with federal regulators announced Thursday after two celebrity patients alleged that hospital employees broke the law and reviewed their medical records without authorization.

Federal and hospital officials declined to identify the celebrities involved. The complaints cover 2005 to 2009, a time during which hospital employees were repeatedly caught and fired for peeping at the medical records of dozens of celebrities, including Britney Spears, Farrah Fawcett and then-California First Lady Maria Shriver.

Violations allegedly occurred at all three UCLA Health System hospitals — Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital and Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, according to UCLA spokeswoman Dale Tate.

The security breaches were first reported in The Times in 2008.

Read the rest.

UCLA, is of course, a public institution, funded by California taxpayers.

Back in the early 1990s, we knew a fellow who freelanced for television tabloid shows, regularly feeding them updates on, among other things, celebrity hospitalizations. Here’s what he told us:

“You know how I do it? I go to the hospital employee parking lots and I look for the oldest, rustiest, most beat-up car, then wait around to shift change and see who gets in it. I follow him until he stops somewhere, then I find out if he’s got access to patient records. If he does, I slip him some cash and promise a lot more when he gets me what I want.”

We also talked to a fellow who had installed a wiretap on the phone lines of so-called “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss, and listened to tapes of famous Hollywood stars and producers talking to Fleiss and her stable of prostitutes.

While the illegal tapes couldn’t be used, the leads they provided were.

The DADT tabloid rule

The rule of thumb in the business is don’t ask/don’t tell. Don’t ask how the scoops were obtained, and don’t tell your readers and viewers about the corrupt nature of the enterprise you represent. All that matters is the “get,” the fruit of the poisoned tree.

Just as in the case of Murdoch’s private eyes, most of these folks weren’t on the staffs of the tabloids, televised and tabloid, but worked on spec, feeding their scoops to the highest bidders.

Every single tactic practiced by Murdoch’s minions has long been practiced here Continue reading

More twisted reporting from the New York Times

Where to begin?

America’s “paper of record,” the one that offers us “All the news that’s fit to print,” has seen fit to print a lot of sheer rubbish these days.

The tradition that gave us Judith Miller’s war-mongering reporting — lie-based “reporting” that played a significant part in leading us into the Bush/Obama wars — continues to spin significantly to the right on so many critical issues.

Today, we’ll offer three examples, two from other bloggers and one from your truly.

Falsely reporting on the Argentine economy

From Dean Baker at Beat the Press:

NYT readers must have been stunned to see the second paragraph of an article on the prospects for shale oil in Argentina refer to “the country’s long-stagnant economy.”

According to data from the IMF, Argentina’s economy grew at almost an 8 percent annual rate from 2003 to 2008, following a severe recession in 1998-2002. The world economic crisis brought its economy to a standstill in 2009, but it grew by 9.2 percent last year and is projected to grow 6.0 percent this year. This is stagnant?

The Andrew Breitbart media manipulation scam

Brad Friedman at The Brad Blog has been doing an excellent job of debunking neocon media huckster Bretibart, the front man for the scammers who brought down ACORN and painted Shirley Sherrod as a virulent African American racist.

When the Times ran a smarmy profile of Breitbart 27 June, Friedman was quick to debunk. Here’s the introduction to his latest Times-skewering:

While we wait for the New York Times to hopefully correct last week’s puff-profile  on Rightwing scam-artist Andrew Breitbart, in regard to their demonstrably inaccurate statements about what occurred in his and James O’Keefe’s phony “pimp” hoax videos, I just noticed that the paper, which already corrected another point in the same piece, seems to be purposefully covering for Breitbart’s own original lie in their corrected text of the article.

At this point, they seem to be going out of their way to avoid calling Breitbart a liar, even if it means, impossibly, attempting to cover up for the very lie the paper states, he originally told them!

As we noted last week, the Times issued a correction to Jeremy W. Peters’ softball story, where he had originally reported that, in Breitbart’s selective clip from a speech by then USDA official Shirley Sherrod, audience members (according to Breitbart, but inexcusably never fact-checked by the paper before publication) “applauded” when she discussed her initial reticence in helping out a white farmer decades earlier.

In fact, as Media Matters first detailed on the day Peters’ NYTimes article was published — and as easily apparent to anybody who bothered to view the selective clip that Breitbart published at his websites under the inaccurate headline “NAACP Awards Racism” — the audience at the speech did not “applaud”.

Read the rest.

And, finally, esnl weighs in on another spin

The Roman Polanski case has become a cliche, invoked by the right on a regular basis to deplore variously the corruption of the French, the Hollywood Babylon stereotype, and, in the most virulent case, allegations of Jewish depravity.

Since the arrest of former IMF boss Dominque Strauss-Kahn, the Polanski case has been hauled out on a regular basis, invoking the full range of stereotypes, and always in flagrant disregard of facts already on the record.

The latest example comes from a column on the Strauss-Kahn case by Joe Nocera in today’s Times:

The man she says raped her — wealthy, famous and powerful — is on an airplane about to depart for his native land. This is the same country that, for decades, helped shield Roman Polanski from being prosecuted for statutory rape in the United States. The man in the current case appears to have left the hotel where the rape allegedly occurred in some haste. He even forgets to take one of his cellphones.

Here is our response, posted as a comment to the article here:

France did not shield Roman Polanski from prosecution. Polanski plead guilty and served the state prison sentence agreed [by judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, and the young woman and her family]. He fled after the judge, acting in violation of the state judicial canons, reneged on the agreement after receiving criticism from the wives of fellow members of the Hillcrest Country Club.

The judicial breech of ethics was the reason the Swiss refused to extradite him.

The facts of the case were laid on in Marina Zenovich’s documentary, Roman Polanski, Wanted and Desired, and in my own accounts based on my coverage of the case as the only reporter then covering the Santa Monica court on a daily basis. My own accounts are here.

I would add that the prosecutor in the Polanski case, Roger Gunson, agreed that the judge acted improperly.

In every case in today’s examples, the real facts were readily accessible. Perhaps the Times should change it’s motto to “All the news we see fit to print — and spin.”

The bankster buster invokes Roman Polanski

We have to give a thumbs up to the mainstream press’s handling of the inevitable Roman Polanski references made when prosecutors invoked the auter when arguing against bail for IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn, charged with sexually assaulting a maid in a Manhattan luxury hotel.

Take Jennifer Peltz of the Associated Press, who wrote that Manhattan Criminal Court Supervising Judge Melissa C. Jackson

ultimately decided Strauss-Kahn was too much of a flight risk to set any bail, after underscoring that she was keeping her considerations circumspect. When a prosecutor [Chief Assistant District Attorney Daniel Alonso — esnl] brought up the case of Roman Polanski – the film director whom Switzerland has declined to extradite for sentencing in a 1977 California child sex case – Jackson courteously but firmly cut off that discussion.

“I will note that Roman Polanski has nothing to do with this,” she said. “I am trying to be objective, and I am not going to judge this individual on the basis of what happened with Roman Polanski.”

Read the rest.

It’s refreshing to see that Peltz and other MSM reporters got it mostly right, unlikely the so many bloggers, who have written repeatedly that Polanski had fled to avoid trial [Andrew Breitbart, that leading mouthpiece for neocon propaganda being a notable example].

But none of the stories have reported that Polanski had already served the prison sentence agreed to by all parties, including the district attorney’s office, the family of the young woman, and the judge himself. Polanski fled, as we’ve noted many times before, because the judge was breaking the agreement after Polanski had already served his time, more time than recommended by the state’s own psychiatric experts and the probation officer assigned to the case.

But why let the facts get in the way of a good story, right? Or a celebrity analogy.

Now for the banker himself.

We’ve read repeated allegations from bloggers of left and libertarian bent suggesting that Strauss-Kahn was the target of a setup of the only viable candidate to oppose French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Strauss-Kahn, we are told is a socialist, and therefore the logical target of a takeout.

Perhaps. But then what kind of genuine socialist heads the IMF, the financial enforcement arm of the Washington/Wall Street power nexus? And what kind of real socialist stays in $3,000-a-night luxury hotel suites?

As for the French Socialist Party, consider her the “Old Gray Mare” we used to sing about when as Baby Boomer gradeschoolers: “She ain’t what she used to be.”

Today’s French socialist party bears as much resemblance to its founders as Barack Obama does to, say, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Though, like FDR, the French socialists do like their luxury.

We don’t preclude the possibility of entrapment, but we Strauss-Kahn’s own background suggests a certain nonchalance, at the least, towards women.

And what kind of socialist is a fellow when folks like odious neocon apologist Ben Stein rise to his defense?

We’ll keep an open mind on the Strauss-Kahn case, as well as an open ear for more Polanski references.

Now online: Roman Polanski, Wanted and Desired

Here’s a link to the Marina Zenovich documentary featuring, among others, esnl. It’s a fascinating story, and depicts a grave and gravely misunderstood miscarriage of justice by a flawed and deeply corrupt judge.

We’re the guy in the red vest.

Click here to play.