Entertainment behind the scenes
UPDATE-Former prosecutor, filmmaker at odds over statement on Polanski in documentary
A retired L.A. prosecutor has admitted that he lied when he said in a documentary film that he advised the judge in Roman Polanski’s 1977 case to send the director to prison.
The documentary in question, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” is cited by Polanski’s defenders as evidence that he was the victim of judicial misconduct.
In the 2008 HBO documentary from filmmaker Marina Zenovich, former prosecutor David Wells said that he told the late Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Laurence Rittenband that Polanski deserved prison time, instead of being released on the 42 days already spent in custody under a deal with prosecutors.
But Wells recanted his account of those events from more than 30 years ago, in a brief interview with the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
“That was not true,” Wells told the paper. “I like to speak of it as an inept statement, but the reality is that it was a lie.”
Wells’ also spoke to a writer with news website The Daily Beast, which was first to report his comments on Wednesday.
And here’s the update: Zenovich said in a statement on Thursday that she was “perplexed” by the timing of Wells’ latest statement that he lied in the documentary, noting that the movie has been widely available since June 2008, and that Wells has voiced little displeasure with what he said in the film until now, after Polanski’s arrest in Switzerland.
“Mr. Wells was always friendly and open with me,” Zenovich said.
“At no point in the four years since our interview has he ever raised any issues about its content. In fact, in a July 2008 story in The New York Times, Mr. Wells corroborated the account of events that he gave in my film. I am astonished that he has now changed his story,” he said.
Polanski’s supporters say that because Wells was not the assigned prosecutor in the case, and because his alleged conversation with the judge took place behind closed doors, it shows that Polanski’s case was mishandled. Wells has previously distanced himself from his statements in “Wanted and Desired,” but his supposed involvement in the case is not the only instance of judicial irregularity that the documentary film presents.
Will this change anything in Polanski’s case? If anything, it makes the future seem a little more bleak for the “Chinatown” director, because a leg in his defense has just been kicked out, or at least kicked loose.