The revelations that Hollywood producer and chair of New Regency Films Arnon Milchan, the man behind Pretty Woman, Fight Club, LA Confidential, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, was a Mossad agent, a spy, and an arms dealer are just hitting the mainstream press, but in 2011, Joseph Gelman and Meir Doron wrote a book called Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycooon–Arnon Milchan which made very little splash on Amazon:
This is the story of a secret agent, of nuclear proliferation, billion-dollar high-tech defense transactions, ideology, patriotism, love, heartbreak, and the awe inspiring Hollywood career of a mysterious mogul. In a true story that puts James Bond to shame, Confidential details with nail-biting suspense how producer Arnon Milchan evolved from his youth into one of the most important covert agents that Israeli intelligence has ever fielded…Confidential is packed with stunning new revelations and opens a window into the world of a key covert operative, who evolved into a genuine member of Hollywood’s royal elite.
Here are some the quotes bolstering the authors’ claims and those of Milchan:
Arnon is a special man. His activities gave us a huge advantage, strategically, diplomatically, and technologically. In my present position as president, I am restrained from recommending any single individual for our highest defense-related honor, but undoubtedly, Arnon Milchan is worthy of such an acknowledgment, and that’s as close to a recommendation that I, as president, can give.
–Shimon Peres, President of Israel.
Never, never tell jokes about a man with easy access to weapons of mass destruction.
–Peter Chernin, former CEO of Fox Entertainment Group.
Arnon Milchan…is a loyal and generous friend who also happens to be a great longterm and trustworthy partner.
— Rupert Murdoch, CEO, News Corporation.
Creepy much? Milchan spoke to Israeli investigative documentary program Uvda (Fact) in an interview that will air this week on Israel’s Channel 2 (interesting timing with Iran nuke deal now agreed to). The program includes interviews with Russel Crowe, Robert DiNiro and Ben Affleck. Milchan was recruited by Israeli president Shimon Peres in the 1960s and became a liaison for the secretive Bureau of Scientific Relations and worked to further Israel’s nuclear program, handling clandestine deals involving Israeli military acquisitions in the 1970s He admits that the late producer Sydney Pollock was
a real partner
who helped him obtain arms and other military equipment for Israel and was fully aware of what he was doing. Milchan also used an unwitting Richard Dreyfuss in an attempt to recruit senior U.S. scientist and expert on nuclear weapons Arthur Biehl for Israel, inviting Biehl to Dreyfuss’ house on the premise that the two men would discuss music.
Milchan says of dual career:
I didn’t attach enough significance to the image I had created of myself. I should have confronted the image of an arms dealer. In Hollywood they don’t like working with an arms dealer, ideologically. [They don’t like working] with someone who lives off selling machine guns and killing. Instead of someone talking to me about a script, I had to spend half an hour explaining that I’m not an arms dealer. If people knew how many times I risked my life, back and forth, again and again, for my country. … And suddenly, to defend myself — ‘I’m not an arms dealer, I don’t sell guns, I don’t sell rockets’ — I should have been aware of that, of what I’ll go through, and said ‘F— you. You know what? I did it for my country, and I’m proud of it.’
Milchan’s choice of films doesn’t reflect a bias towards Israel or an attempt to brainwash the public, but still this is, well, creepy. Milchan’s latest film, starring Russell Crowe is the story of Noah, directed by Darren Aronsofsky.
I’m not an expert on espionage laws, but this raises some questions: Isn’t what Milchan did in the 1970s illegal? And will people ever take Chuck Barris’ claims of being a CIA assassin seriously?
Photo of Arnon Milchan: Screengrab