People often describe Hollywood as a strange beast, by which they tend to mean it has a closed, glazed expression, piercing eyes, and a vast, sore-infested underbelly.In fact an elderly Marlon Brando would be a perfect cast, and, if still alive, he was an extra of choice for director David Lynch, an auteur exiled and virtually alienated by the studios for trying to bring art back into the business – and almost bankrupting a fair portion of it – who in 2001’s Mulholland Drive produced some thinly veiled allusions towards the “execs” who spin the web of intrigue in those dusty corners of Hollywood that the cameras never reach.The result was that the industry cut him loose to the point that even the French shunned their beloved muse. Now, if you want the best in web TV, Lynch is your man.So, anomalies like this aside, and no doubt thanks to the wilful self-distortions it drip-feeds its consumers on personal rose-tinted voyages through its past, Hollywood is normally only seen from the neck up. But currently blowing is a landmark legal case that threatens to expose the whole hideous bodyshot.This is courtesy of Anthony Pellicano, self-professed “private investigator to the stars”, who has dug up dirt for clients as diverse as Hilary Clinton, Steven Seagal and Michael Jackson. The detective’s sordid exploits are too numerous to recount here – imagine a particularly lurid Raymond Chandler novel and you get the picture.But now, despite a spate of prison spells to deter him, Pellicano has gone a bridge too far. A botched blackmail by Pellicano of a journalist getting too close to all his secrets culminated in the FBI raiding his office and uncovering almost two billion pages of phone tap transcripts.The resultant grand jury investigation is now about to indict the industry figures they believe knowingly instigated wiretapping and witness tampering. And we’re not talking Joey extras. Managers, actors, businessmen and lawyers are being questioned, and in some cases subpoenaed, by the federal government in a widening grand jury investigation of suspected illegal wiretapping that has moved beyond Los Angeles and as far as New York.Those being investigated and hoping not to receive the call include former Disney President Michael Ovitz, Paramount Chairman Brad Grey, Universal President Ron Meyer and legendary entertainment attorney Bert Fields. All your basic dream merchants bathing in the same swamp of corruption, blackmail and corporate greed. It turns out that if you sell people a dream, you are probably the stuff of nightmares.Lavish and fantastical as his imaginings were, David Lynch never came close to rivalling this. So it seems that life – and a good sprinkling of investigative journalism – triumphs over art any day. But as we will probably now suffer a thousand preachy Michael Moor-esque documentaries, maybe gazing down at all the corpulent rot was a bad idea. It will only be reflected in the films we see.ARCHIVE: 3rd week MT 2005