Heidi Fleiss Hollywood Madam

on February 09, 1996 by Kim Williamson
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   Known for his "Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer," British documentarian Nick Broomfield comes to La-La Land to record the story of Hollywood's newest madam, whose infamous "black book" became a center of Tinseltown speculation and who was eventually found guilty of conspiracy, tax evasion and money laundering. In talking with a number of the case's key players--including alleged Fleiss lover/pimp/blackmailer Ivan Nagy, the late Madam Alex (whose call-girl practice Fleiss usurped), Fleiss ex-best friend and ex-employee Victoria Sel-lers (daughter of Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland), a mysterious Israeli figure named Cookie and even former L.A. police chief Daryl Gates--Broomfield brings a certain BBC mentality to his efforts, but he forces a sometimes unsavory point-of-view on the already none-too-tasteful proceedings.
   Some scenes--like one in which he surreptitiously tapes Fleiss, and another in which he shows Gates counting his cash appearance payment--seem unscrupulous rather than investigative. Other footage feels padded, especially Broomfield's predilection toward including lengthy shots of driving to and entering interviewees' residences. And, in the end, the Fleiss affair itself doesn't seem worthy of feature-length treatment; odd for a documentary, the film has more of a this-will-sell and less of a this-must-be-told feel to it, and CBS' "60 Minutes" would knock the story off in a fifth the time. Still, the subject has a catchy currency that could draw moviegoers who find other docs too dry, and a past run on pay network Cinemax isn't likely to significantly shift audiences away from the theatrical venue.    Directed and produced by Nick Broomfield. An In release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 107 min.
Tags: Nick Broomfield, An In release, Documentary, mysterious, British, money, conspiracy
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