Attorney Marty Singer is a Hollywood institution of such magnitude that it’s surprising no one has attempted to adapt his life for film or television. Then again, he’d probably get a cease-and-desist before we saw a single frame.
This is precisely why the high-powered lawyer for a laundry list of stars (Michael Jackson, Tom Hanks, Britney Spears, Matt Damon, Justin Timberlake, Demi Moore and Katy Perry to name a few) merited a profile in this year’s Vanity Fair Hollywood issue.
The David Margolick piece is full of gems, including all the proverbial bodies Singer has buried for his clients, the one exclusive club he couldn’t crack for a while, and a fantastic lawsuit over bitchy neighbors and rare birds.
Here are nine highlights from the showbiz consigliere Singer’s VF treatment:
Love Letters From Charlie Sheen, Sharon Stone, Scarlett Johansson
The story opens with a delicious recounting of an annual snoozefest called The Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Entertainment Lawyer of the Year Gala. But it wasn’t a snooze in 2012, when the prize went to Singer.
The event swelled to 400 attendees in the Beverly Hills Hotel’s grand ballroom, and the speeches were beauties.
“A lot has been said about my past exploits, but trust me, I never screwed any hooker as hard as Marty screwed Warner Bros.,” Sheen reportedly told the crowd of his apocalyptic exit from “Two and a Half Men”.
“Marty Singer might be the only person who’s f—ed more people in Hollywood than I have,” Sheen reportedly added.
Stone said “you call Marty because Keyser Söze is a fictional character,” referencing a part in “The Usual Suspects” played by Kevin Spacey, who was an allegory for the devil.
Johansson, who deployed Singer to help thwart a nude photo hack, called him “a real-life superhero.”
Singer’s claim to fame is the barking letter template he uses for news agencies and other institutions questioning the veracity of reports about his clients, or just threatening legal action. (Vanity Fair admitted to getting a few over the years, and TheWrap has as well).
When Margolick went to first meet Singer for the story, he languished in a Century City waiting room until Singer fetched him and apologized, saying he was “busy killing a story for a client.”
Marty’s Greatest Hits
While the wind-up on the Singer profile would seem to be the dazzling and menacing figure he’s cut for years in the industry, the heft of the story becomes about the one star case he could not carry over the finish line — the scorched-earth mess of Bill Cosby and his accusers.
This is not to say it doesn’t touch on some other of his famous battles: Tom Arnold vs Roseanne Barr, John Travolta’s gay masseur nightmare and Tom Hanks vs. the National Enquirer. Hanks got an apology for a story saying Hanks would divorce wife Rita Wilson.
But there’s one too good to be true, one that we must never forget: when
Enemies at the Club
The story is packed with references to upper-echelon hangout spots like restaurant Mr. Chow or landing courtside seats to Laker games, but Singer had to wait two years (two years!) for admittance to the Brentwood Country Club, where he now is finally free to play golf and hold up other players by taking phone calls on the green.
Keep Your Friends Close
The story goes out of its way to say that Singer does not socialize much with his clients, but he does have bold-named BFFs — Sylvester Stallone and Priscilla Presley.
Marty and the Press: A Survival Story
For all its flash, the story has a fascinating insight about how Singer and the press only appear at odds when, in fact, they live and die together. Margolick writes:
[The press] and Singer are conjoined organisms in the Hollywood eco-system, serving (and making lots of money for) one another: they manufacture plenty of billable hours for Singer, during which he occasionally feeds them a good story (usually in order to get another story quashed). When a camp for children with heart disease honored Singer at a dinner last spring, the National Enquirer sprang for a table.
About That Cosby Case
Singer and Cosby indeed parted ways with barely a word, and the VF piece goes a long way in suggesting that an early defense from Singer may have opened the door for the comedian’s accusers to accuse him of defamation when the statute of limitations would not allow authorities to pursue rape charges.
In a discussion of famous Cosby accuser Janice Dickinson, Singer reportedly talked the ex-model’s publisher HarperCollins down from a full-blown sexual assault accusation to nothing more than a dirty look:
Twenty years later, she said, [Dickinson] tried telling the same story in her autobiography, but fearing lawsuits from Cosby, her publisher, HarperCollins, which later published at least two of Cosby’s books for children, wouldn’t let her. Her ghostwritten book offered a sanitized–or, really, a fictionalized–account of the episode, in which an entirely sensate Dickinson spurned Cosby’s advances, and Cosby gave her nothing worse than a dirty look.
One of the most exciting things about a character like Singer is his singularity (zing!), but the magazine floats the possibility of competition in the water.
“He says he does not feel threatened by Charles Harder, a former Lavely & Singer lawyer who, having helped secure Hulk Hogan’s win over Gawker Media, could challenge Singer as the celebrities’ lawyer of choice,'” Margolick wrote of Harder, counsel to our current first lady.
“He’s got Melania Trump, and I don’t know who his other clients are,” Singer said of the suggestion. “We have not lost one single client to him to my knowledge.”
Most Importantly: How Much?
Singer is paid $950 per hour. The story notes that is likely to increase this year.