Eyes Wide Shut review – chilling secrecy, quaintly soft-porn sex | Film | The Guardian

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Eyes Wide Shut, now on rerelease, is fascinating, flawed late Stanley Kubrick, his final film before his death in 1999 at the age of 70. It was adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s Traumnovelle, or Dream Story, published in 1926 and originally set in Vienna. The film is a tale of sexual obsession among modern-day Manhattan’s wealthy and powerful classes and I originally valued it for its satirical potency, formal control and dreamlike self-possession, all of which are bound up in a certain kind of deadpan absurdity and soft-porn seriousness.

Tom Cruise plays Bill Harford, a well-off New York doctor with a fashionable clientele and a magnificent apartment in Central Park West, happily married to beautiful Alice (Nicole Kidman) a former art gallery director, now a stay-at-home mum to their young daughter. (In the book, they are Jewish, an important part of the doctor’s alienation. Not here.) Unsettled by each other’s flirtatious behaviour at a swell party given by a wealthy patient, Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack), and by a consumption of champagne and weed, they later have a furious row in which Alice defiantly confesses her lustful thoughts for a certain other man in her past, and Bill then finds himself on a nighttime odyssey, searching for extramarital adventure and gatecrashing a sinister masked orgy, to which he gains admittance by murmuring the (ironic) password “Fidelio”.




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This revival comes with a brief documentary short about the film, Never Just a Dream, with interviewees including his longtime collaborator, executive producer and brother-in-law Jan Harlan — but not his widow Christiane, and not his most important collaborator, screenwriter Frederic Raphael. It might be time to reissue Raphael’s 1999 memoir of working with Kubrick, Eyes Wide Open, in which Raphael amusingly hints that the tense mood of Cruise’s cab ride out to the creepy orgy mansion was inspired by his own minicab journeys from St Albans railway station to the famed seclusion of Kubrick’s Hertfordshire country home for script discussions.

The title, Eyes Wide Shut, was Kubrick’s, and in my original piece, I wondered whether it related to the idea of imaginary sexual transgression being as potent as real, waking transgressions. In dreams you see and know things clearly, with your eyes wide shut. It’s only now that I can see another comparison that was always under my nose: Malcolm McDowell’s eyes being clipped wide open in A Clockwork Orange, being forced to watch something horrible. There are other visual echoes, such as the eerie emptiness of the elevator lobbies like those in The Shining – which are part of the film’s artificiality and theatricality, mocked a little by the film’s denigrators at the time, but a part of the hallucinatory effect. Then there is the party scene at the beginning, like something from The Shining, where Alice meets her predatory Hungarian suitor (Sky du Mont) who could almost be a ghost. Kubrick’s use of Stravinsky’s Waltz from his Jazz Suite shows his sweet tooth for mainstream classical-music themes, and his predilection for softcore female nudity is a characteristic thought a bit dated in 1999.

Perhaps what we felt was contrived was that orgy scene, although it is disquieting and strange in the Hammer-horror way that originally impressed me. But by 1999, Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho had upped the ante on these ideas of Manhattan super-wealth and depravity, and in comparison, Eyes Wide Shut seemed a tad quaint. Yet now, in the age of Epstein, we can see that it was not so far-fetched to imagine elaborate clubs in which the rich and powerful can disport themselves and exploit the vulnerable. What comes across even more strongly about Eyes Wide Shut now is its chilling emphasis on ruling-class secrecy. This film inspired Jonathan Glazer’s Birth (2004), itself underappreciated at the time.

Cruise and Kidman heartfelt and fervent performances (although the flickering black-and-white moments showing her imagined sexual indulgence don’t work). There are tears, and Cruise in particular lays himself open in that fiercely committed way that he tries everything as an actor. Did their actual marital disputes resemble what happen in this film? Maybe. They were divorced two years after this came out, with much gossip about whether the film had accentuated their discontents. Pollack’s performance as Ziegler is thrillingly cynical and disillusioned.

Eyes Wide Shut is released in the UK on 29 November.

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VP Osinbajo never led prayers for the death of Buhari at RCCG – VP’s aide Akande | Showbiz Nigeria

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Special Adviser to Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande has denied claims made by a newspaper columnist, Festus Adebayo, that Osinbajo recently visited a branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and led members of the church in prayers for the death of President Buhari.

Adedayo, in a piece published in the Tribune which was titled ”The Trial of Brother Osinbajo”, alleged that he received information that Osinbajo, who is a Senior Pastor with the RCCG, had, in a gathering with members of the church, prayed for the death of the President when he was away on medical leave. Adebayo alleged that a confidante of Buhari, who was at the gathering, informed the President of Osinbajo’s prayers rendered against him and this has led to the breakdown in the relationship between Buhari and Osinbajo.

When Buhari went on his earlier UK search for health remedy to an undisclosed ailment, it was a top gossip in the seat of power that Osinbajo, engrossed in a prayer session with his Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) accomplices in his home state of Ogun, and frantically being prayed for, for God to make him president by one of the pastors who starred at the prayer session, didn’t know that a strong ally of Buhari – unbeknown to the ally that such “prayer coup” was ongoing – had entered their midst, innocently there to pay obeyance to the VP.

Still with their eyes closed, the prayer warriors nearly prayed that the ground should swallow them when, upon opening their eyes, they saw the president’s ally with them. If you were praying the VP into the office of the president, with the VP shouting thunderous “Amen” to your prayer, weren’t you praying for the boss’ death? That was the first infraction against the laws of power the VP was said to have committed. And one of the reasons Osinbajo hounded and still harangues the ally till today.

The second foot Osinbajo reportedly hit against the stone was said to be his role during Buhari’s AWOL shuttle to his infirmary. That Walter Onnoghen, allegedly primed to package Buhari inside a judicial casket during the 2019 elections, emerged acting Chief Justice of the Federation through his acting pen angered Villa power apparatchik, so much that they imputed a political Judas into Osinbajo’s act. The removal of Lawal Daura, erstwhile Director-General of the Department of State Services on August 7, 2018 also rankled these owls. If Osinbajo stepped on their mamba’s tail by this act, he fiddled with their lion’s tail subsequently when, at a conference of Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN), he unabashedly said that, before Saturday, January 12, Buhari was not aware of Onogohen’s trial.

What this did was to populate and give official imprimatur to the belief that Buhari was just a mere scarecrow decorating the patio of Aso Rock. He wore Omoyele Sowore’s activists’ bandana. More stinging to this set of people known as the cabal, was the fact that Osinbajo sidelined all of them in his decision-taking during the period, was already strutting hither thither like an accursed turtle-dove which, to them, added to the coup-prayer session, was an apparent indication that he was sure Buhari wouldn’t come back and the clock was ticking for the cabals at the Villa” he said

Reacting to Adebayo’s claim, Laolu in a statement released today, denied Adebayo’s allegation and asked the journalist to present evidence to back up all his claims.

Mr. Festus Adedayo’s article above is a sad descent into the gutter by this gentleman. When a professional columnist of Adedayo’s age and experience puts his reputation behind outright fiction and absolute mischief, usually it is a sign that the poor fellow is compromised. This is the sad reality we face today and it is truly troubling.

But let us give Mr. Adedayo the benefit of the doubt. Let us assume that he has some facts to support the reckless insinuations and innuendoes in his article.

He should then be able to answer the following questions.

He claimed that the Vice President, together with some Redeemed Church ‘accomplices’, gathered to pray at some place unstated in his home State of Ogun, at a date that was not indicated, for the purpose of interceding for the VP to become President, and by extension, hoping for, or seeking the death of the President.

So where exactly in Ogun State did this prayer session take place, and when? Was it in a church, in which case there would likely be an audio recording? Who are the prominent pastors or other persons involved that can testify to what transpired – what are their names? Who is the “strong Buhari ally” who made a surprise appearance at the gathering and brought the story back to Mr. President? If, as Adedayo claims, the VP has been hounding and haranguing this Buhari ally since then, why is it so difficult for him to cry out and publicize his strange discovery.

Who primed Onnoghen to “package Buhari inside a judicial casket” during the 2019 elections? And to whose benefit? If, for any reason, the Buhari election was nullified by the judiciary, how would that benefit his running mate, since they contested on the same ticket?

These asinine stories put together by Mr. Adedayo betray a more evil motive. The Vice President’s commitment to the service of the Nigerian people under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is unrelenting. But there is a desperation in some quarters to create a division between the President and the Vice President. It appears that they need some well known press names who are prepared to write anything. But for what reward? One wonders. They clearly found one here, as the writer’s jaundiced article bumbled from the realm of baseless claims to outright fiction.

We do not expect an apology from Mr. Adedayo to the Vice President. This is the style of these professionals gone rogue. They are prepared to smear others and stick to their vile stories. Their conscience seems unperturbed by their reckleness. But, again, we give him the benefit of the doubt, let him answer the questions we have asked” he said

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Bocas House Restaurant Owners File Lawsuit to Stop Enchufado Rumors | Miami New Times

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In Miami’s fast-growing Venezuelan community, there are few things worse than being known as an enchufado. It’s a scarlet letter worn by those believed to have enriched themselves through political connections to the regimes of Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro and the late Hugo Chávez.

Ask enough Venezuelans expats in Florida, and they’ll tell you the state is practically crawling with them. A suspected enchufado‘s business ties, alleged wealth, and proximity to corruption in Venezuela are all fair game and scrutinized through social media, WhatsApp chats, and internet blogs — on certain occasions operating on little more than suspicion.

For years, enchufado rumors have been swirling around brothers Carmelo and Levin de Grazia, the owners of the Florida-based Bocas House restaurant chain. But the de Grazias appear to have finally reached their limit — earlier this month, the two filed a defamation lawsuit against three South Florida residents who allegedly spread gossip on blogs and social media accusing the pair of laundering money for corrupt Venezuelan officials through their restaurants.

According to the civil complaint filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, the ordeal began at the end of August when an anonymous Venezuelan blog, UltimaHora24, published an article claiming the de Grazia brothers and their cousin Horacio were using the restaurant chain to launder portions of the estimated $1.2 billion embezzled by officials in the Maduro regime from Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. The article was then reposted and shared on social media by two more anonymous blogs, Expresa and VozDeAmerica. (The original article has been taken down from the UltimaHora24 website but is still available on internet archives.) The brothers claim “upon information and belief” that all three of the websites are owned and run by Doral resident Gerardo Jose Gils Dams.

Venezuelan journalist Angie Perez is also named as a defendant. The brothers’ suit says Perez shared the article on her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages and also uploaded her own Instagram post with a photo of a private jet in Opa-locka that she claims belongs to Levin de Grazia.

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The lawsuit claims the campaign to defame the restaurant owners was orchestrated by Cesar Gonzalez, a former co-owner of Bocas Group and former manager of a now-closed Bocas restaurant in Coral Gables. The civil complaint details an elaborate plot that supposedly involved Gonzalez paying Dams to make the posts and then, using intermediaries, requesting $70,000 from Levin de Grazia to take them down. (The suit suggests Perez’s alleged involvement was limited to reposting the articles and making her own social media posts and does not link her to any attempts at extortion.)

In a public statement, Levin de Grazia said the enchufado accusations are an attack on his livelihood.

“Bocas has never lent itself, nor will it ever, for money laundering. On the contrary, the origin of the funds used for the foundation and the growth of the restaurants is completely lawful, auditable, and has been fully declared to the competent authorities in the United States of America,” he wrote. “It is an unfortunate reality that entrepreneurs who work hard sometimes face attacks from disgruntled former partners.”

An administrator with Expresa tells New Times the site is run by a decentralized network of journalists who did not know or have any relation to Dams. Likewise, an administrator from VozDeAmerica says the site has no relation to Dams and did not even know about the lawsuit.

No contact information is provided on UltimaHora24’s website. Perez declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by New Times. Gonzalez has not responded to a message sent via Twitter, and Dams could not be reached for comment.

In 2015, Levin de Grazia opened the first Bocas restaurant, Bocas Grill, in Miami. In less than four years, Bocas Grill and its sister franchise, Bocas House, expanded to five other locations. Bocas Management Group also owns four other restaurants in the Miami area: Francisca, Kitchen of the World, Laborejo, and La Fontana. Additional Bocas Group restaurants are currently under construction.

A post shared by Levin De Grazia (@levindegrazia) on

The de Grazias are expats from San Cristobal, Venezuela, where their father, Americo De Grazia, serves as an opposition lawmaker in the country’s national assembly. Carmelo de Grazia, Levin’s brother, lives in Caracas, according to the lawsuit.

The sudden success of the restauranteurs stirred suspicion among many Venezuelan expats, particularly on social media, where Venezuelans wondered publicly how Levin de Grazia got the funding to open so many restaurants in such little time. Levin de Grazia took notice. In a 2017 WLRN article, he likened an anonymous Instagram post accusing him of money laundering to a witch hunt and said the gossip could ruin his business. “No Venezuelans here want to go to a Chavista restaurant,” he said.

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The business grew, but the rumors kept spreading. The lawsuit claims the accusations have left the plaintiffs subject to “hatred, distrust, ridicule, contempt or disgrace.”

The growth of whisper networks against suspected enchufados has coincided with a jump in federal indictments against former Venezuelan officials and individuals with Chavista ties residing in or hiding assets in the U.S. There’s no doubt there are plenty of enchufados around, but proving those accusations can be difficult.

The Miami-based Veppex group (an acronym for Politically Persecuted Venezuelans in Exile, in Spanish) recently launched a platform where individuals can anonymously submit information on suspected enchufados. The group says they forward all credible-seeming accusations to the Department of Justice and other federal agencies.

“In cases where one is looking to denounce an enchufado, the best thing to do is get in touch with U.S. authorities, so that they can investigate,” says Veppex president José Colina. “Because in the end, you’re going to need to have proof.”  

Manuel Madrid is a staff writer for Miami New Times. The child of Venezuelan immigrants, he grew up in Pompano Beach. He studied finance at Virginia Commonwealth University and worked as a writing fellow for the magazine The American Prospect in Washington, D.C., before moving back to South Florida.

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Pendulum : Social Media And President Buhari’s Imaginary Wedding Of The Century By Dele Momodu

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Fellow Nigerians, these are very interesting and humorous times indeed! Barely one week after the Big Brother Naija show was concluded, ending our light relief, some restless Nigerians have started their own nebulous reality show in earnest. To say Nigerians are well endowed with fecund imaginations and fantastic creativity would be an understatement. This is why rumourmongering is big business in this climate.

Let me reassure you that it didn’t just start today. Many are blaming the proliferation of social media and the affordability of internet data for this unusual surge in the wild speculations and stories flying everywhere today, but I wish to disagree with this theory. This is a major aspect of my research work at The African Studies Centre, University of Oxford.

Society Journalism is not new to Nigeria or Africa. This genre thrives on wild rumours and fertile imaginations. It was once described as junk journalism. And society loves junk generally because it is like fast food. People love to read and hear and discuss society people. Society people or newsmakers themselves love to gobble up junk stories, no matter how ridiculous they may be or sound. More often than not, the stories are untrue, but society still feeds on them.

Let me take you down memory lane. In May 1989, a wild rumour surfaced that nearly sent the government of President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida packing. The content of the rumour was so bizarre, but even intelligent people still believed the story. It was what led to what was tagged THE SAP RIOTS. SAP was the acronym for Structural Adjustment Program which President Babangida had introduced at the time. Then came the news, which was made believable by the participation of the famous social critic, Dr Tai Solarin, who swore by Jove that the story was impeccably true. What was it all about? It turned out that this tale was what he had learnt from a brief but hasty trip to a public toilet where he had overheard a conversation in which the lurid allegations were made.

It was reported that while Nigerians were being asked to tighten their belts and lives, Babangida’s family allegedly owned some of the most exclusive and expensive boutiques in Europe. Since there was no social media to help project, propel and distribute the gossip, the promoters had to improvise by typing the tales by moonlight on stencils and printing them as leaflets.

Unlike today, that was a time when we had no social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, it therefore remains a mystery how they were able to make those leaflets go so viral in 1989. From Lagos to Edo State and around the South West axis, the stories developed wings and began to spread across Nigeria like wildfire in harmattan. The more people tried to douse the fire, the higher the fire took a major leap of its life. And sadly, people believed the campaign of calumny against the government of the day which led to the youths taking to the roads and streets screaming “Babangida must go…” Anyone who said anything contrary was instantly considered an enemy of the people and friends of the looters. The situation was not so much different as it is today, but social media has since made such stories readily available to a willing, gullible and sometimes ignorant market.

I was away from our office at the Weekend Concord newspaper when the news broke on a horrible Wednesday. I returned on Friday afternoon by which time the first edition of the tabloid had gone to bed and already printed. The screaming headline was BLACK WEDNESDAY IN LAGOS. I immediately disagreed with my boss, Mr Mike Awoyinfa, that the headline was rather weak for a Saturday paper. He then challenged me to come up with a better headline and I picked up the challenge and came up with my own: RUMOURS THAT FUELLED THE RIOTS! My Editor was over the moon with his Deputy Editor, Mr Dimgba Igwe (now of blessed memory).

The next problem was how to write a good story to justify my new headline without getting into trouble with the military government of the day. Trust me, I offered to be the lamb of God who would carry the sins of the world. Interestingly, this was 30 years ago, in 1989. I ordered a bottle of beer and raised one of my legs on the table while I pumped the alcohol into my brains to emit some powerful words for one of the biggest stories of my journalism career. That was when the famous columnist, May Ellen Ezekiel, who had just lost her job at Quality magazine and was now working on her own publication, Classique magazine, but kept a column in Weekend Concord, which I edited, sauntered in and saw me drinking while writing. First it was strange, and almost sacrilegious, to find anyone drinking in the main offices of Concord newspapers, except at the popular Bush Canteen, earmarked for such purpose, and then to be writing a satanic story at that. May Ellen approached me and said “shuo, what’s going on here?” I explained the delicate story I was working on and she was excited too. That was the day her respect for me quadrupled and she started making moves to headhunt and poach me to her magazine, to which I fell yakata about a year later.

Fortunately, that evening, our Chairman, Chief Moshood Abiola, returned from a trip to Europe and brought us copies of the Ebony magazines which was allegedly supposed to have carried the stories of the Babangida’s outlandish ownerships of expensive shops and choice properties abroad while Nigerians languished in excruciating pains. Nothing of the sort was ever published by Ebony. That was not the type of gossipy stuff Ebony would normally disseminate. So, I first regurgitated all the fictional anecdotes before revealing that we had laid our hands on recent editions of Ebony and nothing of the sort was contained therein. And we published a bromide of the Ebony on the cover to prove the authenticity of our claims. I believe our second edition on Saturday morning reportedly sold over 80,000 copies in Lagos and its environ alone. And I earned a double promotion that May 1989, when I moved straight from Staff Writer to Literary editor. Six months later, I was promoted News Editor, and it was such a meteoric rise for me. Our Managing Director, Dr Doyinsola Hamdat Abiola, who had handpicked me for the job at weekend Concord as a pioneer staff, from my former post at the African Concord magazine, was very proud of her decision.

Thus, you can imagine how I feel today, 30 years after, with another round of incredible fictionalisation, this time, about a former military ruler, now a civilian President, Muhammadu Buhari. The difference this time, I must reiterate is that the youths of today are much more audaciously creative, and largely emboldened by their smartphones from where they can operate even more clandestinely and incognito.

No one knows how the rumours of President Buhari’s supposed whirlwind romance with one of his new Ministers surfaced and blew out of proportion such that everyone is talking about it authoritatively. Different versions of invitation cards have been designed and printed online. Some people claimed the wedding was definitely taking place and procured their own “aso ebi”, a special uniform dress for special guests, friends and relatives. By Thursday night, I had reached out to several impeccable sources within and outside the Presidential villa and was told categorically that no such event would take place on Friday, October 11, 2019. I also confirmed that the supposed bride was not even anywhere near Nigeria. She was away overseas on national assignments.

But some new videos, purportedly showing the supposed arrival of the reportedly estranged First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, who has made England her new home and base these past months, were going viral. One of them was a loud voice lamenting how some parts of the villa had been locked up and the woman in the video was practically stridently lamenting and soliloquising about how she was being treated shabbily. “Enough is enough” was her bitter assertion in that particular video. There were other videos of the new bride dancing and being sprayed with crispy notes in what looked like a traditional wedding party. All the videos of the alleged returnee wife and the supposed incoming bride turned out to be old footage obtained from God knows where and how.

My investigations further revealed that the First Lady was also out of the country. I therefore, tweeted that there was no way such a wedding would take place in secret, but many still disagreed with me. President Buhari is a man well known for his strong convictions and would not hide behind one finger, if and when he decides to take another wife. It is not an offence against his culture and religion to marry more than more wife, so there is nothing that can stop or discourage him, if he really wants another wife. What I find odd and strange is that his handlers allowed the silly rumours to fester beyond redemption. A simple statement would have killed the unbridled rumour in its infancy.

By yesterday afternoon, the rumour came up with renewed vigour as the day of reckoning loomed with some people running commentaries like football commentators from the “wedding venue”. I have never felt so entertained and titillated in my life. My name even came into one of these spoofs. These guys are downright hilarious!

Someone created the account, Uncle Demola @OmoGbajabiamila, and ran this commentary:

“Burna Boy is giving us ‘when the gbedu de enter body’ “…

“Oshiomhole don off shirt.”

“LMFAOOOooo… Chris Ngige is doing breakdance to Burna Boy’s song. Anambra people can disappoint sha!”

“Adebayo Shittu is finally here.”

“When Baba see strippers, E just de shout ‘Astagafurillahi, Astagafurillahi, Astagafurillahi!’ “

“I’m hearing noise outside. Let me go and check what’s happening.”

“There is a serious problem outside between Rochas and DSS.”

“Apparently, Rochas Okorocha came with a giant statue of Buhari and he wants to bring it inside but the DSS guys won’t allow it. Where’s Abba Kyari FFS???

Rochas just came in and he’s complaining bitterly about the DSS guys not allowing him bring the statue in.”

“Wait! Dino Melaye has been allowed to enter as Naira Marley’s backup singer. Smart man!” #BUSA19

“Naira Marley has not even started singing, Lauretta Onochie is already twerking… DSS, heissss DSS. Do your job naaau!”

“Shehu Sani is on low cut. Baba wan disguise enter. ABBA Kyari catch am. DSS is taking him away already!”

“Apparently, someone told Dele Momodu that the party had been called off. So, he didn’t bother to come. Baba dey Twitter now de lament as e see say groove don begin.”

“LMFAOOOOooo… ABBA Kyari don bounce Dino Melaye.”

“Elrufai don show!!!”

“Goodluck Jonathan came with his own Sapele water. Ijaw man himself. Hennessy na like Sprite for am.”

“Garba Shehu de in charge of Barbecue.”

“Be like Femi Adeshina de suspension.”

“…Dem don wake Ganduje, make E come go sleep upstairs. Be like Baba don de snore.”

“Amaechi and Wike are also here but the two of them are on handcuffs so that there won’t be any fighting between them.”

“Akeredolu with this his baggy trousers sha. Who is his tailor nitori Olorun?”

“Buhari has collected the mic from Naira Marley. Looks like he doesn’t like the Soapy song. Not sure Abike Dabiri will like this!”

“Rauf Aregbesola is drinking Malt.”

“Fashola is calling NEPA boys to bring light. Be like fuel don low for gen and Mele Kyari nor remember to buy fuel.”

“Femi Gbajabiamila is here on a Gucci up and down. Iyalaya anybody!”

“Femi Otedola and Dangote are forming big boys. Nonsense!”

“I think I have been reported. The DSS guys are looking at me wan kain…” That’s the narrator, Uncle Demola himself.

For me, that was the height of comic relief that attended this silliness and maybe it came at the right time of acute stress everywhere. It certainly alleviated my feeling of gloom and doom. The solution is certainly not to ban or criminalise fake news. That was not done in 1989 by the more authoritarian, dictatorial military regime of Ibrahim Babangida. It should not be done now, when we are in a constitutional civilian democracy! For me, as a journalist, the freedom of speech guaranteed by the constitution is sacrosanct and, in any event, there are extant laws available to deal with any abuse or infraction. Any new law will only be used by those keen to muzzle critics and presumed opponents of government like the so-called “wailing wailers”!

My conclusion is that nothing can ever shock Nigerians again so that even if this story had been true, we would have taken it in our stride. Our proclivity for absorbing shocks is infinitesimal. The world is waiting and watching how alleged family feuds, rebellion and relationships involving the leadership, domestic and other staff would end eventually.

Will this national drama ever lead to a denouement? Time will tell.

The post Pendulum : Social Media And President Buhari’s Imaginary Wedding Of The Century By Dele Momodu appeared first on TheNigerialawyer.

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How Would You Like $2 Million to Steal Elvis’ Coffin?

Wednesday, August 24, 1977

Thing was, none of them had given much of a fuck about Elvis while he was alive.

When you got right down to it, all Dead Elvis meant by the last week of summer was a congested Memphis, what with all the out-of-towners and news vans bunched together at the gates of Graceland to pay their respects and leave behind bouquets and teddy bears.Shit was everywhere, just take a look on the TV.

What they were always sayingfifty thousand Elvis fans cant be wrong?News claimed over thirty thousand of those fans showed up, just to wait in line, see his body laid out at the Memphis Funeral Home. Rumor was that a few of the Beatles had even flown in all the way from England. Burt Reynolds and Ann-Margret, too. President Carter had to call in the National Guard, for Chrissakes.

Raymond Bubba Green wondered who was supposed to clean up all that shit. Taxpayer money, or cons handed Graceland details as Community Service.

To Bubba, there was only one thing that Dead Elvis meant: money.

The way the man from Cincinnati told it, it sounded like the King of Rock and Roll was worth more dead than aliveor at the very least, his body seemed to pay by the pound.

Bubba Green, who at 25 had been expelled or suspended from every school hed ever attended throughout Tennessee, had grown accustomed to a life in and out of county lock-up, usually for selling drugs or for using them. By August 1977, he had grown more than accustomed to living for heroin, the same drug that had killed his Rhonda less than a year ago.

Theyd met right after Bubbas stint in Angola, that Louisiana state penitentiary named for the plantation and cotton fields that once occupied the land. Never married but thick as the thieves they were long enough for the State of Tennessee to label them as common-law. It had been Rhonda turned Bubba on to the harder drugsthe chippingBubba first figuring if she was going to be doing it, better she be supervised than unsupervised.

While Bubba was finishing up another jail stint, Rhonda took off for Dallas.When he was sprung, Bubba got word shed been raped and killed in a roadside motel room, left to be found the next morning by housekeeping.

We was not as good for each other as we should have been, Bubba told people later, but regardless, you know, I loved her.

Back on the street by August of77, Bubba hadnt much time for grieving. Let the world mourn Elvis, let him mourn Rhonda when he could. He had bonds to make, and Rhonda had taken what little money was left when she split for Dallas.

Bubba was thinking about just thatthe girl, the money, the debtwhen Blue Barron called him up Wednesday afternoon.

Bubba, you looking to make some money? Blue was a local bondsman Bubba had come to know all too well. He knew Bubba was looking to make some money, knew he was always looking.

Good, said Blue. Meet me at the Luau.

Like everyone in Memphis, Bubba Green knew the gaudy, Polynesian-themed exterior of the Dobbs House Luau on Poplar Avenue. Its sugary, fake island food was cheap and popular with the local college kids and the students from East High School across the street. He parked his motorcycle and, once inside, let his eyes adjust to the dim lighting of the large dining area.

Tiki torches flickered around the tourists lined up at the buffet. Mounted wood carvings shaped into sinister grins and framed stills of Elvis in Blue Hawaii were mounted along the walls. Blue Barron was seated at a family-sized wooden table under hanging plants and bamboo tufts. He was sitting next to another man. This one Bubba didnt recognize. White, looked big, husky, although he was sitting. Both men had their hands folded on the table top. They watched Bubba walk in and waited while he pulled his trucker cap low and sat down across from both. Neither spoke until Bubba was settled.

Are you interested in making a million dollars?It was the big one beside Blue, the stranger. He said it more than he asked it.

Bubba didnt know if hed heard that number right, looked at Blue, who just nodded.

I am mostly certainly interested in making a million dollars, Bubba said.

There was a pause before the large man leaned in.Well, what would you do for two million dollars?

Bubba could hear it now in his speechhe was definitely a Yankee. Well, sir, Bubba said, my mama aint safe for two million dollars.

The man said he was from Cincinnati. Just about all he said, so Bubba thought of him as just thatMr. Cincinnati.

Bubba Green followed Mr. Cincinnati down Union Avenue to the Holiday Inn, the one in walking distance to Beale. There, he parked his bike on the side, saw the man lumber up the metal staircase leading up to the second story of the two-story hotel, then unlocking the door to one room and standing outside the threshold for Bubba to see him. Got any weapons on you? Mr. Cincinnati asked, raising Bubbas arms up in a frisk just inside the door.

Yessir, a knife, Bubba said, making eye contact and slowly handing over a butterfly knife from his right back pocket.

Wait here, the man said, pointing for Bubba to take a seat on the edge of the sparse rooms twin-side bed. Bubba folded his hands on his lap and studied the green carpet and the ugly gold geometric shapes in the design, the white Venetian blinds, the writing table: an ashtray loaded with Mr. Cincinnatis cigarette butts and a small Holiday Inn stationery pad and matching pen.Crumpled balls of the stationery littered the desk.

He listened to the sounds of Mr. Cincinnati in the bathroom, not sure what was going on inside but hearing movement like the shower curtain being slid, followed by some exhausted grunting. The man emerged, each hand clutching an identical brown suitcase.He tossed both onto the bed behind Bubbas back. Look here, he said, flipping a case open.

Bubba had already decided the money had to be counterfeit.All that cash in one place? Had to be fake.

Bubba stood beside him, on his toes to crane over the larger mans shoulder.He stepped aside for Bubba to see: maps and large, full-color photographs, mostly aerial views of Shelby County. It was easy for him to make out the shape of Memphis, the grid of its arteries punctuated by the muted tint of bayous and the blue wall of the Mississippi River to the west. There were more papers stacked underneath, and Bubba caught on to the bold type at the bottom of one enlarged, color map. Forest Hill Cemetery. The name was familiar, Bubba remembered it from the news.

Mr. Cincinnati pulled out tighter diagrams of the cemetery property, these with hand-drawn lines linking A and B points. White tape lines met at a specific mausoleum in the center.

The man began to sift through the other contents, handing Bubba papers in bunches, explaining as he went along. There were copies of receipts for a casket weighing 948 pounds; a nine-pound brass lock made special in Oklahoma City; the dimensions of a large, plexiglass bubble. Take a look through these, he said. Bubba leafed through the stack and the man bent to open the other case. Look here, he said and lifted the lid.

Bubbas eyes nearly teared up.He was looking down at stacks of paper-belted hundred-dollar bills, each belt marked with 1,000 in black, felt-tip pen.

Before Mr. Cincinnati uttered another word, Bubba had already decided the money had to be counterfeit.All that cash in one place? Had to be fake. If not, this meeting was some kind of sting, Blue setting him up for another skip of his, needing an easy fall-guy. Who did he know, or who had he borrowed from who could rope him into some RICO thing?

Bubba had served enough time, he decided hed never be anyones fall-guy.

But he also considered the bills looked real enough to pass along on the street.Rent, smack, bonds, and a ticket out of Memphis.

He felt Mr. Cincinnatis eyes on him, watching him look down at the money. If all that money is real, Bubba now thought, this Yankee is carrying it around, he ought to be more afraid of more than just my little old knife.

Im going to ask for 10 million dollars in ransom for the body, the man said.He was cool, calm, and collectedeven the way he said the words like ransom and the body, like they was everyday words in a normal, everyday sentence.

Right in that there briefcase was a million dollars in belted bills, Mr. Cincinnati explained. It, along with another briefcase just like it, he went on, was all Bubbasbut only if he could execute a single task: smuggle the body of Elvis Aaron Presley out of its final resting placethe little cemetery just off Elvis Presley Boulevard.

Forest Hills Cemetery, Lot #796A; about four and a half miles from Graceland.

The mausoleum constructed for Elvis Presley was a massive building, more than double the size of the single-family shack in Tupelo, Mississippi, that had been his childhood home. This was a monumentairy rooms housing six vaults, a palace of many chambers. Elvis was the one directly to the left, Corridor Z: 9 feet long and 27 inches high. All white, columns and tile. You walked in, all you heard was your own footsteps and breathing, the echoes of eternity billowing throughout a maze of granite and marble.

On August 18, the burial started with a long procession down the street bearing Elvis namea white hearse leading 17 white limousines, all booked at a moments notice by Elvis daddy, Vernon Presley himself. Police had to carry away screaming fans attempting to charge his sons hearse on foot. The copper coffin, weighing nearly a thousand pounds, was carried by the six people who were the closest the performer had to friends: road manager Joe Esposito, members of Elvis entourage, the self-proclaimed Memphis Mafia, and Dr. George NichopoulousDr. NickElvis longtime personal physician, known to get the King anything required for nearly twenty years of maladies: road fatigue, dehydration, high blood-pressure, and the twisted colon that brought on the fatal heart attack.

Before the crypts gates were locked, a cylinder with Elvis' name, birth, and death dates was placed in the casket, ensuring easy identification during the Rapture.

A small service was held at the mausoleum for a select group of family and professional VIPs, those who had known Elvis Aaron Presley in real life. They, too, were enough in number to line up for hours. Vernon was the last out, kissing the coffin and promising his famous son that Daddy would be with him soon.

Vernon saw to it that Elvis was buried wearing a white suit and a blue shirt, and had personally brought his sons beloved TCB ring into the mausoleum to slide on his finger. Between the booking of the limos, the custom casket, and the all-important emblematic ring, Vernon had demonstrated that his son wasnt the only Presley who could take care of business in a flash. Nine-year-old Lisa Marie helped her grandfather place a metal bracelet on her fathers lifeless wrist. Lastly, before the crypts gates were locked, a cylinder with Elvis' name, birth, and death dates was placed in the casket, ensuring easy identification during the Rapture. Elvis hated waiting in lines.

The crowd long gone, five workmen then cut through the three-thousand floral bouquets strewn among the lawn and entered Elviss tomb. They went in pushing a wheelbarrow full of sand and carrying a five-gallon bucket of water and cement, churning into a double slab of concrete to seal the crypt.They then covered it all over with a large marble sheet, Elvis name and lifespan to be chiseled later.

Like every other newscaster in Memphis, Russell Ruffin covered the death of Elvis Aaron Presley, just as he had covered every related update to come out of Graceland since word of the death first broke. That day, Russ and his crew had been two hundred miles outside Memphis, covering a routine legislative meeting that dispersed as soon as a civic employee entered the boardroom to announce Elvis had just been pronounced dead over at Memphis Baptist. Russ led the caravan back to WMC-TV Memphis Midtown studios on Union Avenue.

After moving down from Nashville in late 1975, the 36-year-old Ruffin learned quickly that working for the NBC Memphis station would mean covering just about anything having to do with the citys favorite son. Not that he was complaining; Russ had grown up an Elvis fan himself, seeing Jailhouse Rock in theaters as a kid and painting sideburns on the sides of his face, strutting them around school before puberty allowed the real thing to grow in.

Around the newsroom, Russ was privy to all the Presley gossip that long predated the death. It had been rampant throughout Memphis pretty much Elvis entire career, as hed bought Graceland only a year after signing with RCA in 1957. Superstardom in a year, and with it, one of those heavenly mansions Jesus mentioned.

Russ was quickly told the one about Elvis presumably breaking up a real bar fight right here in town, telling a shocked drunkard, Why dont you pick on someone your own size? just like in one of his own movies. He then followed up on sightings of the King flying over Graceland in a private plane, surveying his kingdom below and amused at the sight of the crowd, unaware he was watching from above. Russ had looked into rumors Elvis had nearly been arrested for driving a go-kart down Elvis Presley Boulevard, saved only from the indignation of handcuffs by flashing the badge given to him by Richard Nixon.Elvis always had it on him.

And then there were all the Cadillacs. Russ covered each of those, too.

Russ had arrived in Memphis just in time to cover the third of Elvis widely-publicized stays in Memphis Baptist Hospital, always under the banner of road fatigue or exhaustion. The truth about the prescription drug addiction would only come out later during Dr. Nicks trialthe scandalous affair finding Nick forever branded a pharmaceutical rubber-stamp for high profile patients like the late Presley and his darker contemporary, Jerry Lee Lewis.

It was during that stay in Memphis Baptist that the King got the bug to bestow his riches upon select members of an adoring public. See, if Elvis saw you on TV and didnt like you, hed pull out the small revolver always in his right boot and blast a hole right through the screen projecting your moving image. But if he saw you and he liked you, liked your face, then Elvis would pick up the gold phonethe one next to the couchand dial a few numbers, have a new car sent to your house. That July, hed bought a total of 13 Cadillacs from the local Madison dealership, then sent them out to random worthy citizens throughout Memphis. With love, Elvis Presley.

Or so Russ had heard. He was still working as a general correspondent for the network, hadnt made weekend anchor just yet, the day Elvis called up the station room and asked for him by name.

Russ snatched the phone from his station managers hand, immediately recalling the one about Elvis buying some lucky Denver news anchor a brand new Eldoradohis reward for airing a human interest piece on him, making the performer sound more like Mother Teresa.

Mr. Ruffin, an unfamiliar voice spoke back to him. Joe Esposito here. Mr. Presley is next to me and he really enjoyed that piece you did You did a great job demonstrating his generosity

Presley had handed the receiver to his loyal road manager before Russ could get on the line. Insult to injury: the Cadillac wasnt for any WMC-TV anchor.No, Elvis wanted the address for a girl Russ had interviewed earlier that day, one going through hard enough times she deserved a new Eldorado.

You wouldnt happen to have her address, now would you, Mr. Ruffin? Elvis sure would appreciate it.

Might as well get a story out of it. Russ had grabbed a mic and a cameraman, rushed to Memphis Baptist anyway. They got as far as Elvis private door, eye-to-eye with an off-duty cop and Esposito himself. He haggled for a few minutes of taping, promising a piece for that evenings broadcast: something about the outpouring of flowers, cards and, yes, teddy bears, all Elvis fans had been sending.

Good enough for Esposito, but Elvis was a little too tired at the moment to talk to the camera. Russ ended up reporting from beside the door, while over his shoulder, Elvis bare feet dangled off the edge of the bed, out-of-focus.

That was a year ago. By August 1977, Russ had earned a second title as weekend anchor and was a recognizable face around Memphis. Recognizable enough for an FBI informant to obtain his home phone number, letting him know someone was planning to steal Elvis Presleys corpse later that week.

Thursday, August 25, 1977

Two days wasnt all that much time for Bubba to plan for such a large-scale body-snatch, but it looked like Mr. Cincinnati had done his homework, making it all that much easier. He had a few names to get the ball rolling and would use his own promised payment for deferred expensesincluding the team he would need. Giving it some thought, he had the makings of a skeleton crew before the day was out.

He knew a safe-cracker, one who owned a set of cutting torches that could get through the mausoleums iron railing. If memory served, Mike also had his own acetylene torches and oxygen tanks, like those scuba divers go out in the islands. Over the phone, he had tipped Bubba to an appliance store downtown, said they didnt keep such a close watch on their loading docks early in the day.He could hotwire one of the appliance truckswould be ideal, pick up whatever the hell it was Bubba needed help lifting.

He promised Mike 75 grand but considered upping it to as much as an even hundred if all worked out and Bubba was feeling generous. He considered the fact they still needed two additional sets of hands to get the casket from the crypt and into the truck box. Two more workers meant further dipping into Mr. Cincinnatis briefcase. But Bubba had seen on the news that it took four pallbearers to carry Elvis casket; scaling back to only four was pushing it, he knew, but no way around it. Hed have to pay off three.

There was another old boy from the neighborhood, always needed cash for junk. Bruce Nelson was five years older than Bubba. They had scored together, for a while during the Rhonda years. They hadnt spoken since Bubba had come back to Memphis, but he called him up, offered him 40 grand right over the phone. Maybe 60, same conditions as Mike.

Counting it out in his head, Bubba told himself he wasnt necessarily being greedy. If he was in line to score two million for putting everything together, no reason he was expected to give it all away. He considered the outstanding bonds, the ones Blue Barron knew this type of one-time score would cover, and then some.

After that, Bubba thought, he would contact a few smugglers he knew from Angola. Theyd be heading to the Caribbean once they got out, he remembered, and remembered the offer was open to sail along.Get him far away from Memphis and its ghosts.

For that, Bubba needed every cent he could squeeze.

Bubba ended his Thursday night with a beer, knowing he had a well-equipped box man in place, and some needed extra muscle. All he needed now was a wheelman, the getaway driver to high-tail them out of the cemetery, allowing Mike to casually join the other truckers on the freeway, their thousand-pound cargo secure in the box.

Bruce suggested Bubba contact Ronnie Lee Adkins. Bubba recognized the name from high school. They had never been friends, Ronnie was a year behind.

Bruce vouched for him, handed his home number to Bubba.

Friday, August 26, 1977

Want to tell me where were going?

Ronnie Lee Adkins, behind the wheel of his beige Chrysler, Bruce Nelson in the passenger seat. Bubba Green sat alone in the back, watching the storefronts and street signs along Elvis Presley Boulevard through the window on his left.Ronnie looked up at the rear-view mirror, waiting for a response.

Just drive and Ill tell you where to go, Bubba said, not looking up when he said it.

Ronnie Lee Adkins had been the first to show up at the chosen meeting pointthe parking lot of a laundromat on Unionhis Chrysler idling as Bubba and Bruce pulled up along either side on their bikes. The men got in silently, Bruce finally saying, Howre you, brother, once the doors were shut.From the backseat, Bubba studied the back of Ronnie Lee Adkins head, watched his hands stay gripped on the wheel even while parked. He thought this was a good sign, a solid first impression. He didnt mention the fact that he recognized Ronnie from school.

'Bubba, I gotta ask you. We been circling Elvis Presleys cemetery for any particular reason?'

Bubba determined not to reveal to Bruce or Ronnie exactly where they were going just yet. Both had agreed to the job based on the money, tonights mystery tour being part of the deal. He was playing close to the chest, and thats exactly why his plancobbled together in less than 48 hourswas going to work out just fine. He was playing it smart for once. Hell, hed only needed Mr. Cincinnatis map of the cemetery interior and the casket schematics. Other than that, Bubba knew the streets of Memphis good as anyone else.

So far, it looked like Ronnie Lee Adkins did tooand he took directions just fine. Bubba told him to turn onto the expressway, then sat back and folded his hands in his lap. He watched the Memphis streets pass by, all lit up, as quiet as the city gets, then went over the steps again in his head.

Mike would be sitting tight in the appliance truck on Route 69Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Expresswaywaiting in the shadow of the Kerr Avenue underpass just west of the cemeterys rear entrance. His industrial cutters and locksmith gear were stashed in the trucks cargo box, along with a mobile generator just in case the trucks battery couldnt supply enough juice to drill through the concrete.

As soon as Mike saw the Chrysler, he would park at Forest Hills west entrance, while the other three went around to Elvis Presley Boulevard on the east side. Theyd hop the fence on either side of the property, then Mike would use his flashlight to help them all meet in the middle. According to the map, Elvis crypt was in the center.

Only Mike was told the last part of Bubbas 48-hour plan. First thing tomorrow morning, hed call the man from Cincinnati through Blue Barron, have him meet in the parking lot of Poplar Plaza Shopping Center just after dawn.

Mr. Cincinnati, Bubba told Mike, would be bringing those briefcasesboth of them.

Ronnie took the car onto Elvis Presley Boulevard. Again he looked up into the rear-view mirror. Where from here? he asked.

Eyes still out the window, Bubba mumbled to keep circling around Kerr Avenue and Hernando Road, keep a lookout for the appliance truck.

Half a dozen passes already the last half-hour. No Mike. No truck. More circles. An hour passed. Bubba tugged on the brim of his trucker cap. Where the fuck was he?

You got a way to call your boy, check in on him? Ronnie asked.

Naw, Bubba said, giving a quick glance away from the passing streets.He dont get that truck, we just try again tomorrow.

Ronnie looked over at Bruce for a response, got nothing. He turned south on Hernando, all three men in the car glancing to their right, checking for a big, white truck one more time. Again nothing, just the darkness of the overpass shadow.

Bubba, I gotta ask you, Ronnie said, one arm over the other on the wheel as he made the turn passed Forest Hills iron gates. We been circling Elvis Presleys cemetery for any particular reason?

Before hed been handed a seemingly never-ending stream of Elvis Presley assignments, Russ Ruffins usual stories included community affairs and local politics. Both areas went hand-in-hand with the Memphis crime beat, ensuring not only the guards at Graceland knew Russ face on-sight, but so did the cops and bailiffs at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center, local District Court, and the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Hed always dealt well with law enforcement. Back in Nashville, Russ had covered the local polices acquisition of their first Kevlar vests. The broadcast got him an invitation to the Press Clubs Gridiron show, an annual event for statewide news VIPs, all gathered together in a grand ballroom to rib each other, safely out of the public eye. Taking the stage, Russ demonstrated the bulletproof vest using a starters pistol.

Word spread about Russ Press Club appearance, and he got coerced by a network cameraman to recreate the stunt out in the studio parking lot. The cameraman was itching to test out the stations new video camera unit and already had a gun in the trunk of his car. They loaded a blank, but the velocity of the blastall the finite debris hidden in the fresh Nashville air, instantly ignited and shot at the speed of soundsent Russ reeling, slamming him against a brick wall.

The clip found its way onto one of Dick Clarks blooper specials. So far, that was the extent of Russ national exposure.

He moved to Memphis the following year, having taken enough bullets for one team. That November, he dodged a larger one. A few buddies linked through his NBC affiliate invited him to French Guyana, where they were covering California Congressman Leo Ryans visit to the Peoples Temple Agricultural ProjectJonestown.

'Hey man, dont use my picture. Im undercover.'

Russ knew it was a big story and packed his bags. He made it to the airport but missed his flight. None of his buddies returned.

After that, covering news out of Graceland didnt seem so bad, or covering the Memphis crime beat. It was never boring, and there were benefits to all the sheriffs knowing who he was, he could be trusted. Russ ended up with a lot of tips that way, all the cops and robbers both recognizing his face.

Like the first week of August, when Russ and a cameraman were on a routine assignment outside Shelby County Court.

He had his shirt-sleeves rolled up, the mic in his hand, watching the fresh arrests being escorted out of the courthouse. After all these months, Russ had started recognizing some of the faces. One in particular looked familiara white twentysomething male, sporting a days-old scruff and a dirty pair of jeans and tee shirt. Looked like a drop-out, his long hair falling down his face.

The kid stopped right in front of Russ, leaned in close to his ear. Hey man, he whispered. Dont use my picture. He nodded to the cameraman. Im undercover.

He hadnt seen him since, but Russ never forgot a face. Or a voice.

The last Friday of August, Russ was home with his wife. Penny had dinner ready just as soon as he had walked in, and they were already clearing the plates when the kitchen phone rang. He wasnt expected back at the station until early the next afternoon and was looking forward to a quiet night at home.

Is this Mr. Ruffin from the TV news?The mans voice was familiar, but Russ couldnt place it. I had to get your number from the station, the man said. I told them I had an Elvis story for you.

Another Elvis tipit never seemed to end.

Well, sure, Russ said, looking over at Penny drying the dishes alone. How may I help you, sir?

There was a pause on the line before the caller spoke again. Well, you helped me out a few weeks back and I thought Id help you out now, tooyou know, with a story.

Russ craned over to the countertop and reached for a pen and small pad, the phone cord twisting around his body. And how is that? I helped you out?

You were at Shelby Court a few weeks back, the man said. I asked you not to use my picture. I was undercover, working with Memphis PD

There it was, the drop-out with the hair. Of course.

Well, the man continued, my name is Ronnie Lee Adkins. You were good to me, and I want to give you a scoop on somethingsomething going down at Forest Hills Cemetery tomorrow night.

Saturday, August 27, 1977

If this Adkins fellow was telling the truth, Russ considered, that gang of misfits better be strongand be bringing plenty of gear for the heavy lifting.

He had said as much to Penny, placing the phone back in the cradle and reading her his notes from the strange phone call. For the past two weeks, Russ had covered the death of Elvis Presley from every possible angle, including the interment at Forest Hill. He knew intimately the near-impossibility of anyone getting through those gates, let alone driving off with a casket of that weight.

He turned to Penny. These fellas would need a crane to pull this off.

Russ also knew from contacts within the Memphis PD that Shelby County deputies were working in rotation, guarding the mausoleum itself.

He hadnt enough time to wait for Saturdays shift. Right after the call with Ronnie Lee Adkins, Russ dialed his closest squad contact, Captain Tommy Smith. Listen, Tommy, I just want to make sure that you guys are aware of this, Russ had said.Before I run with this, I need to make sure Im not holding any information that could get one of your boys hurt. He repeated everything hed been told by Ronnie Lee Adkins. When he was through, Smiths answer surprised him enough that Penny froze cross the room just seeing his own reaction.

Yep, the grave robbery? Captain Smith had said. We know all about it.

Russ called ahead to his station manager at WMC-TV Memphis studios and requested a crew for a live feed later that night.

While working in Nashville, it was routine to chase down hot leads with the use of 16mm film; as an anchor here in Memphis, Russ now benefited from access to the NBC affiliates more modern equipment, namely its expensive live van.Still, hed have had to call dibs on it, since there was only the one for the entire network.

By the time he punched into his Saturday shift, Russ been on the phone with Memphis PD all day, pumping the officers for updates and keeping his name associated with the exclusivity of the story. The latter had proved easier than expected: You know, since I brought this to you guys, I was hoping we would be allowed to get up close, watch the arrest

The cops had agreed, but by Saturday afternoon, even they werent sure of the break-ins possible time. Theyd heard from their informant, but there had been no word on the time.

Not knowing didnt endear the story any further to Russ station heads, none of whom wanted their only mobile unit wandering the streets of Memphis with no guarantee of a scoop.

Russ made a deal with the manager: the stations best cameraman, Bernie, drove a white Crown Vicone that could pass for an unmarked squad vehicle.Russ grabbed him on his way out the door at 9 p.m. Hed ride to Forest Hill Cemetery with Bernie, and the mobile van would follow behind.

'Bubba! Dont move, man! Somethings wrongwe aint alone!'

Russ looked at his watch. He had the live crew for an hour and a half. After that, any grave robberies would have to be taped and edited for a later airing.

Climbing into the passenger seat of Bernies Crown Vic, Russ tuned the newsrooms communal police scanner to the familiar Memphis PD frequency, prepared to sit back and listen intently for signs of life.

He told Bernie to head towards Elvis Presley Boulevard.

Bubba Green had no choice but to consider the previous nights attempt as a dry run; no reason to tell the others it was a bust.At least now all three knew the lay-out: the streets and the checkpoints.

It was nearly midnight when, again in the backseat of Ronnie Lee Adkins Chrysler, Bubba finally spotted the appliance truck in the shadow of Route 69.

Bubba had felt furious all day. Seeing Mike in place at the underpass, the anger finally began to subside. He hadnt been able to get him on the phone until late last night, Mike apologizing, going on and on that the appliance store employees had still been working the loading dock late into the night. He couldnt have lifted any of the trucks until today, he insisted, but tonight should be fine. Sorry, brother

He had Mike recite the plan back to him over the phone, then quizzed him on the smaller details. Satisfied, Bubba hung up and called the other two, letting them know tonight was a go.

Ronnie careened off of Hernando Road south towards Forest Hill. Bubba turned his head and watched the headlights on the appliance truck flash on and off, as Mike took off the opposite direction, north on Person Avenue.

Theyd worked it out so Mike would bust his way into the cemetery through the back. Hed find Elvis massive mausoleum first, then signal the others with his military high beam. The assortment of cutting tools would be more than enough to bust the iron gate and all that marblebut theyd still have to cut their way through the fence to haul the casket itself out and into the truck.

There would be no way to cut through that undetected while they were inside doing their business, as any passing car would see the truck waiting by the west entrance. Bubba figured theyd have to bust it last on the way out.

Ten minutes to midnight. Bubba leaned forward, pointed to the coming turn street. Pull up right here like last night, he said to Ronnie, then to both Ronnie and Bruce, Wait hereIll hop in first, make sure Mikes in place.

Bubba pulled his cap low on his head as he exited to the roadside. He looked around, then hopped the cemetery fence.

Russ knew he was losing his chance at a live feed after the first half-hour had passed. It was too quiet, parked there in Bernies car outside the Forest Hill gates, even with the staccato bursts of muffled directives shooting from the scanner. With the car radio off so they could listen to the police communications, it was the first time Russ hadnt heard so much as a second of Elvis music in the past two hours.

Russ, did you hear that last part?Bernie reached over and turned up the scanners volume nob.

What did I miss, Bernie?

A Chrysler was just pulled over near the cemetery I think I heard an officer on the two-way ask his dispatcher if an undercover was in the car.

Russ bolted upright.What did he say?

Very possibly.

It had to be them. Russ rolled down the window of the Crown Victoria and saw Hernando Avenue coming up ahead. Were going to lose the van any minute now, he said, his voice against the wind. Lets head towards the cemetery and keep an eye.

Bernie was back on Elvis Presley Boulevard in five minutes. He turned off the ignition.

It was nearly 10:30 p.m. Bernie, Russ said, lets keep that scanner cranked until they call back the van.

Bubba hit the ground running.

Hed instructed Ronnie to turn the car off, not let it idle. Best be safely inside the cemetery and set up with Mike at the crypt before hollering for the others.Scaling the cemeterys gate was easy enough, Bubba landing on his hands and one knee bent. The felt the grass cool under his hands and through the rips in his jeans. He looked up into the darkness and the sea of headstones. His eyes adjusted, and the stones slowly glowed a dull, pale gray against the black of the grass and the towering oaks and maples over a century old. Mikes flashlight would be simple to spot through the 200-acre abyss.

According to Mr. Cincinnatis aerial schematics, Elvis mausoleum should be west from his entrance over the fence. Staying low to the ground, Bubba looked around, inching his way towards the cemeterys center.

He froze in place. Was that movement up ahead? Bubba didnt see the beams of a flashlight, nothing but the dark swaying of the trees against the lighter darkness of the sky. But he could swear something had moved among the darkened shapes up ahead.

Finally, a lighta flashlight.

Mike setting up camp at the wrong fucking grave

He watched then as the small white beam vanishedthen appeared again, off to the left. He froze again. It was unmistakablenow there were two flashlights.

Either Mike wasnt alone, or it wasnt Mike at all.

There was no more time for silence: Bubba turned around on the spot, burning his knees against the ground as he scurried back towards the fence a hundred yards away.

Bubba!

He looked up, seeing the outline of Ronnie and Bruce in front of the gates railings and against the lights of the street behind. Theyd climbed their way inside, were both whooping and hollering, their hands in the air, making a scene.

Bubba! Ronnie called out again, his hands cupped to his mouth. Dont move, man! Somethings wrongwe aint alone!

Bubba climbed to his feet and ran towards the fence, noise and chaos be damned. Run, boys! he yelled, following behind as all three hopped back onto the street and made for the Chrysler. Ronnie ran around and took his place behind the wheel, gunning the engine before all the doors had slammed shut.

Just go, man, Bubba barked.Go straight and just keep on goin!

Ronnie took a right onto Person Avenue instead, lightning fast.

What you doin, man? Bubba cried.I said straight!

Didnt matter now. The beige Chrysler pulled onto Person, stopping short just as the inevitable came into the view for all three men: a barricade of at least half a dozen black and whites, all flashing their red and blue lights and cutting off any chance of passing through.

With them was an NBC news team.

For the better part of the last two hours, Russ had sat in the passenger seat of Bernies car, fidgeting with the wire of his mic, twirling it around his fingers like the tail of an animal. Every few minutes, Bernie double- and triple-checked the video camera on his lap.

As expected, the station had called back the mobile van. That was almost an hour and half ago. As they watched it drive off back to the network studios on Union, Russ and Bernie made themselves comfortable, both fearing a long stakeout.

Finally, five minutes after midnight, the fuzzy voice of a police two-way: Its going down.

Lets move! Russ said, unspooling the microphone wire between his fingers.Bernie revved the engine and sped to Elvis Presley Boulevard.

What with the lights and the shouting, Bubba couldnt tell just how many squad cars were actually settled in the trap, cutting off their escape. They all swarmed, taking each side of the Chrysler, pulling the boys out at once. All Bubba felt were the fists raining down.

Everything seeming to move in slow-motion, but those Miranda Rights being spouted, those were in real-time. As the officer spread Bubbas legs and laid his hands on top of the cars hood, he watched Ronnie being taken to one car and Bruce manhandled into another.

Bubba felt himself cuffed and thrown into the backseat beside Bruce. Through the window, Bubba watched Ronnie slink down in the backseat of the other vehicle.

Some reportera tall, blond fellow Bubba recognized from the weekend newswas aiming his microphone into Ronnies window, trying to get him to speak while some police were shouting at him to back off, step away from the vehicle. A cameraman was with him, the weight of a huge video unit pulling his shoulder slightly down. The two men looked tied together by electrical wires.

Bubba let out a defeated breath.There would be no money now, he knew.

There would be no Caribbean trip or paid-off bonds and loans. Matter of fact, now thered probably be a bunch more.

Fuck.Hed never get out of Memphis.

More reporters outside the window now, plus the cops and curious nobodies snooping arounda sea of snarls and grotesques. Bubba sucked wind back through his throbbing lungs slowly, each breath a little labored and deliberate.

While he focused on his breathing, Bubba wondered if Mike had gotten out of the cemetery all right, hoped he had hightailed it in the appliance truck and was already miles away. He hoped Mike would make it to Texas, where Mike claimed he had family and friends waiting for him with open arms.

'I aint no cop.' Ronnie said it low, his muscles tightened against the blade.

During the ride to Shelby County lockup, Bubba also wondered something else. Something like an itch that had been itching since Ronnie had taken it upon himself to break the silence of the night, yelling through that cemetery fence.

Bubba wondered why Ronnie was taken to a different car.

Then he wondered how Ronnie had somehow landed them directly into a barricade of waiting police cars.

POLICE CLAIM FOILING ELVIS BODYSNATCHERS!

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)Police on a stakeout at Forest Hill Cemetery captured four men after a chase Monday, foiling what authorities said was a plot to steal Elvis Presleys body and hold it for ransom.

But one of the men was freed for lack of evidence, the other three were charged with trespassing, and a police official said the plot might be hard to prove.

In a statement, Memphis police said information was received several days ago that a group of people was going to enter the cemetery, break into Presleys mausoleum, steal the body and try to ransom it.

Acting on the tip, police kept the mausoleum under watch.

On Saturday night, the statement said, suspects were seen near the cemetery but did not attempt to enter Forest Hill.Police were later informed, they said, that this had been a trial run.

The stakeout continued Sunday night, and early Monday morning, four suspects were arrested near the cemetery after having entered over the back wall, bypassing security guards, approached the mausoleum and shook the door when they were apparently frightened off.

Police Director E. Winslow Chapman said three of the men were arrested after a brief chase. The fourth was arrested at the emergency room in Baptist Hospital, where Presley was taken after he died on Aug. 16. Chapman said the fourth man apparently had sprained an ankle running from the cemetery.

Chapman said the police believe the men intended to use conventional burglary tools to break into the mausoleum, but he said no tools were recovered, although police searched the cemetery grounds and the route of the chase. The case against them would be weak without the tools for evidence, Chapman said.

Tuesday, August 30, 1977

Locked up again, facing felony charges of attempted grave robbery, body snatching, and trespassing.

A public defender had told Bubba in no certain terms: If it all stuck, grave-robbing would get him 99 years, but dont worrythe botched attempt would only get him 33.

Bubba thought: in the grand scheme of things, what the fuck was the difference?

The public defender went on, You could go up there and shoot an kill a guy, rather than let him testify against you, put your gun down, call the po-leece, tell 'em you just shot and killed 'em, come get 'ya, and youll get 30 years Or you can let him get on that witness stand, testify against you, and you get 33 yearsif they convict 'ya.

Bubba had made the error of asking what had happened to dear old Ronnie Lee Adkins. Lawyer told him, also in no uncertain terms: Leave that Adkins fella alone.

But that wasnt what Bubba heard. The way he saw it, the lawyer just confirmed Ronnie was worth more dead than alive.

Bruce knew where Ronnie lived, had his address written down. Having used what little money he had left to post bailBlue Barron always won in the endBubba went round to Bruce, told him the new plan, to be implemented immediately.

Were gonna put the fear of God into Ronnie, hed told Bruce. Let him think his life is on the line, he gets up on that stand and throws us all under a bus.

They rode over in Bruces car, playing it cool and getting Ronnie into the front seat of the car, in the passengers seat for once. Bubba got in back and instructed Bruce to drive them down Poplar Avenue all the way downtown.He told him not to stop until he could see the marshes and the Mississippi River out in front.

Parked, Ronnie felt cold steel come whip around under his chin.

You messed up real good, Bubba hissed, pressing the tip of his butterfly knife tight against Ronnies Adams apple. He ran it slow along the scratchy grain of Ronnies stubble. Real good, informing on the wrong people this time. Didnt you? he said.

Behind the wheel, Bruce kept a lookout for tourists. They came down here sometime to get a nice view of Mud Island. Ronnie kept his mouth tight, let Bubba keep talking. See, youre worth way more to me now dead than alive, Bubba said. Lawyer told me so. And I listen to the law, now on.

Bruce cracked the window. Near silence where they were, the wind through the marshes and the soft lapping of the shore nearby.

We got friends, Bubba said, his grip on the knife and its place at Ronnies jugular frozen still. And they got friends, and you know, friends of friends. Way I see it, youre in a no-win situation. You agree?

He loosened his grip just enough for Ronnie to slowly nod without cutting himself against the blade.

Well, thats good, he said, real good, Ronnie. So, heres what were going to do: were going to drive you up to Baptist Memorial Hospital, drop you off, and youre gonna tell them youre a Memphis City policeman suffering chest pains the last few days. But you hear me? You fucking tell them youre a cop.

I aint no cop.Ronnie said it low, his muscles tightened against the blade.

Dont matter to me, said Bubba. Not at this point. But youre gonna tell them that, get pinched for impersonation.

Why would I do that?We all already facing charges, man.

Bubba tightened his grip again. I want you discredited, got it? You even think about turning us out on that witness stand, I want you seen as a lying sack of shit whose word aint worth nothing. Your testimony wont be no good. I already know youre a liarbut I want it on fucking record youre one.

He paused, listened to the stillness surrounding the car. Seagulls hung over the river. I mean, he said, flicking the butterfly back into its sheath, theres more truth in that than anything else, right?

ELVIS RETURNS HOME!

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)In death, Elvis Presley returned to his mansion in much the same manner as he went in lifewith secrecy and tight security.

Two white hearses carried the bodies of Presley and his mother, Gladys Smith Presley, from Forest Hill Cemetery to the grounds of Graceland unannounced Sunday night.

The hearses, escorted by eight Memphis policemen and five Shelby County Sheriffs deputies, traveled south without disruption down Elvis Presley Boulevard, three miles from the cemetery to the mansion.

The Presley family received unanimous approval from zoning officials last week for the transfer. Lawyers for the family said security and privacy were reasons for the request as well as the inconvenience caused to other families with loved ones at the cemetery by Elvis crowds.

About 100 fans watched as the hearses entered the mansion grounds from the rear entrance shortly after 7 p.m.

Tuesday, October 4, 1977

The story ran on WMC-TV on Sunday morning. It wasnt the live feed Russ had envisioned, catching the grave robbers redhanded, but hed still gotten the scoop Ronnie Lee Adkins promised.

Russ observation that the Crown Victoria closely resembled an unmarked squad car proved correct: The cops had waved them right through the Forest Hill gates. At Elvis mausoleum, hed leapt out and quickly struck a pose with the mic, reporting the nights events against the mausoleums marble wall.They used the cars high-beams to light the shot. Russ then shot a clip inside Elvis private chamber.

Elvis grave would always remain the only part of the Graceland tour that was free of charge.

Spliced together with Bernies footage of Raymond Bubba Green, Bruce Nelson, and Ronnie Lee Adkins being carted away, the completed clip aired as Sundays lead story. Phone calls started almost immediately, Russ NBC parents and the National Enquirer within the first few hours of its airing.

The Enquirer should have known better than push Russ and Bernie to hand over even a single frame to a competitive news source. But when it came to the honchos at their parent network, any footage shot with studio equipment was up for grabs. They handed over the raw footage, seeing every NBC affiliate in America use the material for their own coverage on the story.

Forget taking a bullet on Dick Clarks blooper reel. On August 29, Russ finally reached a national audiencejust as he had promised the station managers.

As he had expected, new of the attempted theft of the Kings body quickly spread, especially in Memphis. Only weeks after Elvis had been tucked and shelved in his mink-lined crypt, the botched grave robbery proved another excuse for Elvis wide-reaching constituency to gather en masse around both Forest Hill and the locked gates of Graceland.

Also as he expected, Russ had to cover it all for WMC-TV Memphis: the arrests, the aftermath, the eventual arraignment and, finally that October, the most unexpected twist of it allthe dismissal.

It was months later that Russ was again at Shelby County District Court, watching in disbelief as a judge announced that Green, Nelson, and Adkins were to be set free, let go, the judge declaring Adkins as too unreliable a witness to even take his word at face value.

Only Russ knew Adkins had been the tipster, the informant the one to call him at home, for Chrissake. No one in law enforcement would say it in a courtroom, but Russ wondered if the judge been fed instructions to let Adkins walk, his clandestine status within the Memphis PD earning him some form of immunity.

Or, Russ also wondered, had someone gotten to the judge?

Russ never got the answer, but he did cover every detail of the grave robberys strange aftermath. The same week as the delinquent crews dismissal, Vernon Presley successfully circumvented the longstanding zoning codes in Shelby County, granting him permission for the legal transfer of his beloved son and wife, Gladys, back to Graceland. He wanted them home, under the shade of the trees in the backyard, right there beside Elvis swimming pool.

The Presley family later called it The Meditation Garden, even put up a plaque.

Later on, after Graceland later became Memphis greatest tourist attraction, drawing thousands of fans from around the world to take the tour, see his shag-carpeted living room and his famed white porcelain monkey, his gold Cadillac and personal jets parked outside, and his sequined jumpsuits and matching capes, all under glass next to a television set hed used for target practice Even then, Elvis grave would always remain the only part of the tour that was free of charge.

Elvis loved visitors.

Before he and Penny moved on to Denver a few years later, Russ Ruffin decided that MemphisElvis Memphishad been good to him.

Years later, long after his Memphis days, Russ remembered something.

He had been finishing up breakfast with Penny, thumbing through that mornings newspaper and saw an article that jogged loose memory from 1977: It was right before the dismissal at Shelby County Court.

That week in September, Russ had received another phone call at home and hadnt thought about it in over 20 years. When it had happened, however, he had half-expected the call to be from Ronnie Lee Adkins, since another hearing was coming up.

It had been a weekday, Russ remembered, Penny out running errands when the kitchen phone rang.

This Russ Ruffin from the TV?

It wasnt Ronnie, it was another voice, a new one only slightly familiar. It sure is, Russ said, What can I do for you?

There was a pause, the voice taking a deep breath before going on. Well, you know who I am, but we aint ever actually spoke Names Raymond Green.

Russ had watched Bubba Greens arraignment the previous week. Russ reached for his pad and pen. Well, hello there, Mr. Green. Yes, I do know your name, and Ive been covering everything about your case, as you may know.

I do, he said. Listen Just so you know, it aint nothing like you heard.

Russ didnt say a word, let the man continue.

You know, my story I mean, said Bubba Green. What you seen in the newspapers. Nothing like you heard. I got a story for youafter my hearing.

But after the hearing, Bubba Green was gone. So was Ronnie Lee Adkins.

Russ remembered all of that, sitting in his kitchen in Denver, reading the newspaper and tearing out an article to show Penny across the table.

The story in the paper was about a former FBI informant changing his name in Witness Protection. Ronnie Tyler.

FBI WITNESS: PRESLEY CLAN STAGED GRAVE-ROBBING

Informant says pop hatched plot to move Kings plot to Graceland

(WorldNetDaily) MEMPHIS, Tenn.

August 15, 2002

An FBI informant involved in a plot to steal Elvis Presleys body shortly after the rock idol died 25 years ago claims the Presley family staged the grave-robbing to persuade Memphis officials to move him from the public cemetery to Graceland, now a $15 million-a-year tourist attraction, a veteran FBI agent told WorldNetDaily.

The late Vernon Presley, the Kings father and executor of his estate at the time, wanted his son buried on mansion grounds, but it was not an area zoned for burials.

So three weeks after Elvis died of a heart attack, he had lawyers for the Presley estate petition the Memphis Shelby County Board of Adjustment for a zoning variance. They cited what they called an attempted theft of Presleys body several days earlier and the expense of round-the-clock security.

Three men were arrested Aug. 29, 1977, near the Forest Hill Cemetery mausoleum where Elvis was entombed in a 900-pound copper coffin. One of them was Ronnie Tyler, who later became an FBI informant.

Tyler had been in cahoots with a crooked deputy sheriff, who swooped down and captured the thieves, said Ivian C. Smith, former head of the FBIs Arkansas office. The scheme had been hatched after the Memphis board had refused the Presley familys request to bury Elvis at Graceland, he said.

The Memphis board on Sept. 28, 1977 OKd Presleys request to move his sons body to Graceland. And the singer, dressed in a white suit with dark-blue tie and light-blue shirt, was reburied there Oct. 2.

After the theft, the county made an exception to the lawand Tyler was charged with misdemeanor trespassing, said Smith.

AUTHORS NOTE ON SOURCES

This article was written with the aid of Russell Ruffin, who was generous enough to offer a comprehensive interview regarding his participation in the original arrests of Ronnie Lee Adkins, Raymond Green, and Bruce Nelson.

Likewise, the Shelby County Historical Commission was patient and helpful in supplying details and fact-checking for dates and details regarding the numerous events and media coverage of Elvis Presleys death and burial in August 1977.

Quotes and details regarding Raymond Green are courtesy of Tri-Marq Communications and WTMJ Television, Milwaukee, which provided the only existing transcripts of Greens initial interviews.

Ronnie Lee Adkins, now Tyler, remains an active informant for the FBI, and his background information and current whereabouts do not fall under the guidelines of the Freedom of Information Act.

Other sources include:

Guralnick, Peter. Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley. Boston, New York, London, Little Brown and Company, 1999.

Smith, I. C. Inside: A Top G-Man Exposes Spies, Lies, and Bureaucratic Bungling Inside the FBI.Thomas Nelson Incorporated, Nashville, 2004.

Associated Press, Elvis Returns Home, October 4, 1977.

Associated Press, Police Claim Foiling Elvis Bodysnatchers, September 2, 1977.

McCabe, Scott. The Plot to Steal Elvis Body Gets Weirder, The Washington Examiner, August 28, 2012.

Sperry, Paul.FBI Witness: Presley Clan Staged Elvis Grave-Robbing, WorldNewDaily.com, August 15, 2002.

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Rosanna Arquette: They said I was a pain in the ass. Its not true

Ever since she was abused by Harvey Weinstein, Rosanna Arquette says she has lived in fear. She talks about harassment, the collapse of her career and the thin line between caution and paranoia

Celebrity

Rosanna Arquette sounds panicked. She thinks someone wants to stop our conversation taking place. For 30 minutes, a BBC publicist has tried to patch us into a conference call; now, Arquette has taken matters into her own hands and phoned me directly. This is what happens! All the time! she says, her voice rising. There are no pleasantries. Its as if we were already talking before I picked up.

Why is it disconnecting every time? she asks. There is something strange here. Really strange. I dont understand whats happening. Why cant we get on the phone with each other? She laughs, a nervous sort of placeholder laugh.

I hesitate before going along with her idea that we have been sabotaged. I had assumed a minor technical hitch. Who would want to stop her talking to me? About a Harvey Weinstein documentary? she scoffs. A lot of people!

It would be easy to put Arquettes panic down to paranoia. But as the BBC documentary Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein shows, paranoia is an utterly reasonable response to what she has been through. Directed by Ursula Macfarlane, the film explores how Weinstein deployed power, right back to his school years. Along with fellow actors and former employees of Weinstein, Arquette contributes her own experience of his alleged sexual abuse. I guess you have to say allegedly, she says. Weinstein denies any non-consensual sexual encounters.

What Arquette didnt know, until one of the producers took the finished film to her house, was that the Israeli intelligence firm Black Cube had put together a profile of her for Weinstein. Phones and getting into computers and emails disappearing that stuff continues, she says (she doesnt suggest Black Cube is involved). She is grateful to Macfarlane for a great job. But a lot of people have made a lot of money on the backs of our pain, she says, with the same sad laugh. I think the word pain has triggered the laugh, and she could be crying.

Arquette was one of the first women to share details of Weinsteins abuse, with Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker and in the New York Times with Jodi Kantor, in October 2017. When the makers of Untouchable contacted her, Everybody was in so much fear, they didnt want to speak, she says. But how do you not?

Arquette
Star on the rise Arquette with Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985. Photograph: Allstar/ORION PICTURES

On camera, she tells of the time in the early 1990s when she arrived at the Beverly Hills hotel in Los Angeles for a meeting with Weinstein. As she does and this is something other interviewees in the film do she grabs her own wrist and jerks her body back, her hands rising defensively as she mimics his voice; acting, in short, as if Weinstein is physically there, and that she must also play his part.

Thats what trauma is, she says to be recurrently plunged back into the moment that Weinstein, in his white bathrobe, tried to draw her hand first to his achy neck, then his penis. What a relief it must have been to reach the safety of the lift.

I was never safe, she counters. From the moment I was told that I was supposed to have dinner with him and then I was told: Mr Weinstein will see you upstairs. My heart started racing. Mmmmm. She makes a sound, a sort of verbal malfunction, an alarm that wont stop. Of course she didnt feel safe. She doesnt feel safe now.

Arquette stayed rooted in the doorway of Weinsteins room. She did not go in. That would have been fucked. Game over! But before she fled, he warned her she says this in a deep voice Rosanna, youre making a very big mistake. She says he named two women whom he claimed had gone along with him in order to advance their careers. One has since told her own story, making it clear that she in fact rebuffed Weinstein, so Arquette sees no harm in naming her.

Gwyneth Paltrow, she says. He said to me: Look what Ive done for Gwyneth Paltrow. Gwyneth Paltrow was with Brad Pitt! She had a career! Theres no way she made a deal with Harvey!

But the claim must have weighed on Arquette because, she says, two years ago, when Farrows investigation appeared, she phoned Paltrow.And I said: I just needed you to know what he said to me.

And what did Paltrow say?

She laughed. She said: Yeah, Ive heard that!

Of course, many people had heard many things about Weinstein. Silence was never the problem. I told many people, Arquette says. Who? I told Jane Fonda years ago. She listened to me and she was concerned I talked. I didnt stop talking.

Weinstein
Weinstein in court in a clip from Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein. Photograph: Getty/BBC/LT2 Films LTD

Rose McGowan talked, too, because Arquette heard her account of being raped by Weinstein long before Farrows article in 2017; Arquette shared her own experience with a third party, who shared it with McGowan. All these semi-private conversations built a kind of common knowledge, and that was why Farrow knew to approach her, she says. But we were in such a fearful place. Even as she walked away from Weinsteins corridor and returned to the lobby in the lift, she thought: Hes going to take me down.

Arquette has appeared in more than 70 films but the notable ones are Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), The Big Blue (1988), Pulp Fiction (1994) and Crash (1996) all long ago. Well, like Mira Sorvino says, [Weinstein] took a big chunk of our time in our lives There was a significant drop in careers. Weve gone from the top of A-lists to bottom of the C-minus list within minutes. Gossip … A dinner party Be careful, shes a pain in the ass People listen to that. And its not true!

Pulp Fiction (produced by Weinsteins company Miramax) did come two years after the alleged assault; Arquette wanted to work with Quentin Tarantino. But I never made a penny from it, she says. Im the only famous actor who didnt have a back-end deal [a share of the profits]. And this was a time when I should have

You were A-list, I say. I hate saying that, she says. I suspect she finds it immodest.

She has no evidence that Weinstein warned others against her (though Peter Jackson has admitted to blacklisting Sorvino and Ashley Judd under pressure from Weinstein). And there was always work. Even if it was a bad television movie shooting up in Canada, she says with that same dry laugh. You have to pay the bills when youre a single mum. (Her daughter, Zo Bleu Sidel, is 24 and, according to Arquette: She can run circles around any Arquette as an actor. Zos father, restaurateur John Sidel, was the second of Arquettes four husbands. She has been married to Todd Morgan, an investment banker, since 2013.)

In Hollywood, Arquette always felt isolated. For a long time, she had no agent, though she has a wonderful one now. I never really played the game, doing what it takes to be a star, to keep your mouth shut. I wonder if the other Arquette siblings Patricia, David (whom she says she speaks to most often), Alexis and Richmond shared her sense of isolation? Well, I dont think Patricia does! she shoots back. Shes right there at the top of the field in the game right now.

The speed of her response makes me wonder if it was a competitive household growing up; all the siblings acted. But she says: Ive never experienced that in our family. Theres a pause. Wait a minute, what am I saying? My dad [Lewis Arquette] had a kind of weird competitiveness with me that I never felt was super-supportive. Everybody would say: Your dad is so proud of you! And Id say: Oh, he is? Well, thats nice! But he was a struggling actor who never really made it and then his kids all became, you know, stars.

Acting
Acting is in the family (l to r) Alexis, Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia and David, 2006. Photograph: SGranitz/WireImage

When her trans sister Alexis wanted to be a woman, I always had a joke. I said: You think you have a hard time getting work as an actor? Wait till youre a woman! We had a big laugh over that.

A long outward breath ripples down the phone. Im just trying to get my thoughts in order, she says quietly. Its really hard not to be paranoid when you find out that youve been spied on. She goes back to the earlier hitch with the phone call. So what happens is, I realise in myself, you get so triggered. The trauma of it. This high anxiety happens, along with a strong morning coffee, and you feel like: Whats going on here? She laughs again, but sounds more relaxed.

It was Arquette who, as the eldest sibling, launched the Alexis Arquette Family Foundation after Alexis died from an HIV-related heart attack in 2016. I felt really moved to do something, she says. Patricia contributed, got a couple of good donations. But the family appeared to disagree about which pronoun to use: Richmond chose he in his Facebook post, Patricia she.

This is whats so great about Alexis, Arquette says. Alexis was a they before the they pronoun existed. So which pronoun does the family use now? I go with what Alexis wanted and that was her choice, and her choice was it didnt matter, Arquette says. So we in our family say she. But at the end, Alexis, you know, had a beard. And I said, because Alexis was very ill, I said: Do you want to be buried in a beautiful, beautiful dress and be made up? Is that what you want? It doesnt matter, Ro. It doesnt matter. Male or female, Im just me. We got to have that conversation. So I know that Alexis would be they now, if she were alive.

Activism was always central to Arquette family life. Their mother, Brenda Denaut, was an activist. Alexis campaigned for trans rights. Patricia used her Oscars speech in 2015 to call for wage equality. Way back in 2002, Rosanna made a documentary, Searching for Debra Winger, about the shortage of film roles for older women. This is in our DNA, she says. I suspect even those words are part of the genetic makeup, because Patricia says exactly the same.

Arquette tries not to dwell on the kind of career she might have had. This is my karma. Its for the greater good that it happened to me, because what has become more important in my life is the activism, and being a voice for the voiceless. One of the voices for the voiceless, she amends. She is scrupulously modest.

The next step is the healing, she says. To this end, she is constantly working on her trauma in therapy, and talking with other women all the time, every day about their experiences. Dont these conversations require her to dwell in the moment of abuse?

Its not dwelling, she says. Its still really new. And we have to be diligent and on top of it at all times, because I think men think this is a phase women are going through, and were here to tell you, this is never going away. So many women have been abused, and its been normalised. We cant normalise this. Its not normal!

Still, I worry about the healing part. Arquette seems to feel all allegations of abuse personally. The day after the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, she woke up with shingles. Because the stress was so It was just too much when he got off!

And she finds it meaningful that Jeffrey Epstein died on her 60th birthday, as if their fates were entwined. Certainly, she spent her whole birthday dealing with a lot of women who were really affected by the fact that Jeffrey Epstein died. Thankfully, she had a total rocknroll love festival in her backyard later, attended by activists including Bamby Salcedo, Doctor Astrid Heger, Monica Ramirez and Joni Mitchell. Ellen Barkin was there in all her glory.

Patricia couldnt make it she was getting over the flu. But Arquettes daughter Zo gave a beautiful speech about how she appreciated me and I was always there for her, Arquette says. And Susanna Hoff from the Bangles played Eternal Flame and Walk Like An Egyptian and Take Me With U by Prince. Arquette is singing it now, quietly: I dont care pretty baby, take me with you

Still, the healing process cant have been helped by her recent tweet that she was sorry she was born white and privileged. Afterwards, she received so much abuse on social media that she contacted a really important person who does risk assessments on these sorts of threats. He wants her to be very careful about how I say things, she says, before launching into a clarification. Im defending what I said, and if it pisses people off Yes, just by the nature of the colour of my skin, I was born with privilege. And it is unfair. And thats what I meant to say … Why is it that I was born with privileges just because of the colour of my skin?

She is fighting on so many fronts. She flits from Weinstein to Epstein to Charles Manson to Kavanaugh, mostly in exclamatory bolts. Bearing in mind the threat specialists advice, I wonder if she ever considers …

Do I ever feel like I should shut the fuck up? she jumps in. I dont know how to not speak out. I think as a human being, its my job.

Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein is on Sunday 1 September at 9pm on BBC Two

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