Remington Chase and Stefan Martirosian should be on top of the world. In the last two years, they have produced a dozen films, including Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg as a Navy SEAL fighting for his life in Afghanistan. Two years ago, no one in the industry had heard of them, but now they mingle with A-list stars. By their own estimate they have become the biggest independent financiers in the business, plowing $100 million in cash into production, plus another $200 million in bank loans.
Salmon P. Chase
In the week before Christmas, just before the premiere of Lone Survivor, they're having coffee at Urth Caffé in Santa Monica — and sitting down for their first in-depth interview.
But Chase and Martirosian aren't here to talk about the bravery of the Navy SEALs or about working with Peter Berg. Instead, they want to quash a story about their pasts.
And no wonder. Their backgrounds include convictions for cocaine trafficking; ties to the Russian oil business, the Armenian government and the African diamond trade; and stints as federal informants. Most disturbing are allegations that they orchestrated a contract killing in Moscow — allegations that the Moscow police took seriously enough to investigate.
Chase and Martirosian say they can explain everything. (They've brought along a Hollywood publicist to help.)
Spoiler Alert: Seven pages later the two movie producers / crooks are still talking about their post-Soviet connections and crimes; here's the ending:
Throughout the conversation, Maxine Leonard, the publicist, has been quiet, occasionally looking down at her phone. But as the conversation progresses, her eyes grow wider and wider. Finally, she simply has to interrupt.
"Can I just stop right here?" she asks, in a very polite British accent. "This is all just kind of incredible, amazing stuff. You don't want any of this — nobody wants any of what I've been listening to for the last 30 minutes, anywhere in any kind of like print story about you guys being involved in Hollywood making movies."
They try to allay her worries, but she is not kidding around.
"Any of this stuff coming out," she says, "is horribly damaging."
|Stefan Martirosian & Remington Steele:|
a study in different quality dye jobs
By the way, for the purposes of estimating social mobility over the centuries via surname analysis, it should be noted that Remington Chase isn't actually descended from Lincoln's treasury secretary Salmon P. Chase, in whose honor the Chase gigabank was named, nor does he have ties to the Remington gun company, nor to the Remington Steele TV show. Nor does Remington Chase look much like Pierce Brosnan, but if you assume he does based on a series of murky associations in your mind that you haven't really thought through, Remington Chase probably wouldn't object.
In truth, he's had lots of names (such as William Paul Elliot and William Elliot Westwood), and Remington Chase is just the cool name he was using when he went into the history books as a big time movie producer.
Take note, Dr. Clark.
Note to Hollywood publicists like poor Ms. Leonard who are hired to represent career criminals: Insist that your clients only be interviewed while wearing dresses. Guys like Stefan and Remington will no doubt initially object, but they will thank you in the long run.