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General Noriega's reckless threats and attacks upon Americans in Panama. And that is why I directed our armed forces to protect the lives of American citizens in Panama and to bring General Noriega to justice in the United States.
Everything Gary was writing about was in Panama, and it was really dirty. It was about the government agencies like the CIA looking the other way as they shipped cocaine from South America and Central America into the United States. And the money that Gary was writing about was being put in Panamanian banks.
In 1988, the US Drug Enforcement Agency accused Noriega of drugs trafficking.
I tell the North Americans, he says.
To stop threatening me because I do not fear death.
That's the sound of the US invasion of Panama, a sort of baby war that really only lasted two weeks. The US. Went in to grab the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and he hid out in the Vatican Embassy, which the US. Military then surrounded, blasting it with rock music in order to get the strongman to surrender. It was the first use of weaponized rock music in war. Add in the CIA's alleged involvement in money laundering, crooked banks, the role of drug cartels, and, well, the situation in Panama really was fertile ground for a movie script. Exterior streets of Cologne. Day. Wendy has a hard copy of the earliest draft of The Big Steel, the one that Gary wrote in the months before his disappearance at his office desk in their Montecito beach house. Here's a voice actor reading from Gary's script. It begins like this the streets are jammed with raucous, passionate demonstrators. A flatbed truck carrying a live Panamanian band rolls through the crowd. This is where the tambourito music comes from. Banners boldly proclaim viva Panama and viva Noriega. To be clear, this is not the final version of Gary's script that disappeared with his laptop, which was with him in the SUV on the drive back from New Mexico.
But already in this earlier draft, panama and the politics of the invasion are front and center. Street conversation is heated. The atmosphere is dangerous. A mob of men march down the center of the street, forcing traffic to the sides, carrying pro Noriega banners and placards. With the Panamanian leaders enlarged photo, they are hollered at by supporters and detractors alike. It's a volatile environment. This was the environment Gary hoped to bring alive when he took on the remake of The Big Steel. It was the producers who came up with the idea of setting the fictional story amid real events of the US. Invasion. One of the producers we spoke to even today requested we not use his name or voice. He said it was truly painful losing Gary and he wants to keep those events in the past. But he did expand upon their interest and investment in exploring real events in Panama. So this is what he told us as voiced by an actor.
We were embellishing on the fictionalized nature of what was going on with Panama because Panama was a cesspool of all kinds of insidious shit on a global scale. This is all against the background of the canal being turned back to the Panamanians about America dealing with Noriega, who was a narco terrorist and the CIA having dirty hands in all of South America and Central America.
If Gary d'vor really was, quote, embellishing on the fictional story with true tales of, quote, insidious shit that America and the CIA got involved with in Panama who are his sources? Who was Gary's guide into this dark, dangerous underworld?
Gary wrote a script on Panama. He should never have written it. And it did have classified information in it which she couldn't have gotten a hold of any other way except for having been able to get to classified information. Okay? And, I mean, I can put all the dots together because I was there.
From Campsite Media and Sony Music Entertainment. You're listening to Witnessed. Fade to Black, episode Three panama. I'm Josh Dean. As much as anyone who just shows up in Hollywood Gary was risking everything for his chance to write and direct The Big Steel. For Gary, basing the adaptation of The Big Steel on real events dovetailed with his long held desire to write something meaningful.
He agreed to do it for scale as long as he could direct it.
He'd wanted to direct for a long.
Time and he used to think about it all the time. I mean, it was when I'm directing this, when I'm directing that.
Like a lot of screenwriters who appear successful Gary wasn't necessarily happy. By the time he met Wendy, he had a career that others envied. But it wasn't exactly the career that he wanted. When producer Julia Phillips wrote about Gary DeVore and her tell all you'll never eat lunch in this town again she writes about the two of them meeting with actress Kathleen Turner, then a major star. Gary and Julia were trying to recruit the star for a script of Gary's that had a powerful message one he cared about deeply. But first they had to overcome the soul crushing ambiance of La Dome then a hot restaurant in Hollywood. Here's our producer, Megan Donnis, reading from Julia's book.
We pick La Dome as a place to have dinner because it's infinitely more low profile than Spago or Mortensen. Lots of Euro trash and rock and roll here at night. Besides, the food is better. Gary and I come early so I would get my regular chair at my regular table back to the wall, surveying all that passes before me. It's the outfits and the surgery I love to see bad taste, round pointy breasts and tight faces.
As the first woman to win a producing Oscar, julia Phillips was a powerhouse. Foul mouthed, a cervic brilliant. And Gary had come along as her wingman to woo turn her into the deal.
Julia continues, kathleen is a big star right now, and she's out here to talk to all of the studios. She goes to meetings and they say, what would you like to do next? And she says, wish you were here.
That was the script Gary wrote, an anti war film with a strong female lead, which is why Kathleen wanted the role.
She is committed to this incredible script of Gary's called Wish You Were Here, a Vietnam horror story featuring a photojournalist and a 13 year old kid searching for his Mia father. The woman in the story, the photojournalist, has lost all control of her life in the horror that is Vietnam.
But Phillips rails at the studios are gutless. They're afraid of a film that's too difficult, a war movie with a female lead that also serves up a harsh critique of U. S. Policies.
Personally, having lived through the whole fucking era and having been against the war, I don't think you can say enough about the war. It's not a popular concept in Hollywood that has no more art, only commerce.
It didn't work out with Wish You Were Here, but that's precisely what Gary was trying to do with The Big Steel, make a movie that people would talk about because it had something to say about the US. Government and its policies. Up through his work on The Big Steel, gary had felt trapped in his career doing rewrites, in part because he was so good at it. But he didn't fight his way into Hollywood just to fix other people's movies. Here's wendy and gary's friend, TV writer phil combest.
You know, he was thought of in town as one a really good rewrite guy on an action film that really bothered him. And he got paid a lot of money, and he was happy about that. But he was a little bit of a frustrated writer in the sense that he had been put into that niche in Hollywood of being able to write action movies with humor really well.
Action movies with humor paid well, but they didn't satisfy Gary on any soulful level. Now he finally had his dream job, adapting The Big Steel and directing it too. The original was billed as a tough, terrific adventure that unfolds in the wilds of Mexico. The plot revolves around military vets pulling off a payroll heist. Gary's marching orders from producers were to set the remake in Panama during the, quote, small war, America had recently fought to ALS Noriega. General Noriega had long been a CIA asset who'd actually received training in the United States. What made this war a wee bit awkward was that before he was President of the United States, george Herbert Walker Bush was a director of the CIA. And in that capacity, he'd been friendly with Noriega. In fact, he protected Noriega from a corruption investigation by the United States government. In return for U. S. Support, Noriega let the CIA use his banks in Panama to launder money for secret operations in Latin America countries where the US. And the Soviet Union were jockeying for control during the Cold War. The problem was that General Noriega provided the same money laundering services to less savory characters too for instance, to international drug dealers like Pablo Escobar.
Noriega just pushed his luck. And just before Christmas 1989, his former protector and friend, President Bush accused him of betraying America's trusts. And then he went a step further. Bush moved to Al Snorega. But Gary's script puts a different spin on America's motive. And it wasn't about justice. Nor to protect the lives of American citizens. At least, this is what we understand to have been in later versions of the script. When Gary left for Santa Fe to make final revisions to his screenplay, he owned two computers the desktop in his office at home and the laptop that he brought with him. The laptop contained Gary's latest revisions of the big Steel. But Wendy did find two printouts of earlier versions in Gary's office. One was a 51 page version. It ends in the middle of act Two. This early version faithfully takes the original story of the army payroll heist and moves it to Panama. In this draft, Gary does include some choice lines mocking the politics behind America's invasion, as when the female lead Keeley.
Asks, you really think we'd invade Panama just to grab Noriega?
And to protect this fragile democracy, we'd.
Smoke the whole country. Gary's affection for writing strong women comes through in Keeley, who at every turn has a comeback. When told she cannot do something, Keely.
Snaps, Cannot is a morally degenerate word.
In this first draft, the details of the heist are vague and generic, and there's absolutely no mention of the CIA anywhere. Wenny and Gary's friend Phil Combest, who wrote numerous crime scripts for shows like Magnum Pi. Points out that a lack of detail is often by design in scripts for film and TV before the Internet.
Back when I would research a script, 90% of the time I would go to the children's section of the library and check a book out on trains or explosions. And that's what you can put in a movie. That's simple. Otherwise, you lose the people.
Before Gary disappeared, when he started telling people his script would include real details of embarrassing illegal CIA actions in Panama, phil was dubious for another reason.
Truthfully, the CIA involvement of Panama is pretty much mean. I don't know what he could have discovered.
Despite his skepticism, it wasn't like Phil could dismiss Gary's enthusiasm either.
Gary was good. Gary was a very good rider, and he's a very smart guy. Maybe he had know, an angle that nobody had seen before, and that was what was going to work, that he had a totally fresh angle. I don't know.
Phil's on speakerphone here with Wendy when he remembers another detail, a trip Gary made about three months before he disappeared.
Remember when Gary went to Miami? You didn't really know about it, and he supposedly met with somebody there.
He was very evasive about why it was in fact, didn't even know about it at first. And I never thought about it the entire time that I knew Gary that he would like, what are you working on now, man? Oh, I'm doing something about Panama. And that was it. He clearly didn't want to talk about it.
Eventually, Phil did get Gary to speak.
I said, hey, how was Miami? And he didn't deny it or anything. He just said, oh, man, it was hot down there.
Wendy later used a private detective to retrace Gary's trip, but could never determine who he met with in Miami. But shortly before that trip, Gary had sent a fax to producers. This is the second important document that Wendy found when she searched Gary's office. She showed it to us. Gary sent the fax a little after 10:00 a.m on February 14. Valentine's Day. It's 19 pages long, typed in eleven point font, single spaced with 49 individually numbered paragraphs that rebreak the first two acts of the script. The note attached to it reads, here's the revised first act and the first pass at the second act. There are a couple of things that don't work in the remake that we liked in the original. The money stolen in this version is not US. Army payroll. It's a Panamanian bank. And now the American protagonists in Gary's version are using the US. Invasion as cover to rob from the Panamanians, not the army. Gary's revised treatment is also filled with details that seem to have come from sources who were there on the ground. For instance, Gary's characters now have knowledge of US. Intelligence operations during the war.
In his new outline, the characters have lines like, after the invasion, there need to be men in position to report any persistent pockets of pro noriega political or military resistance.
The US. Has a number of intelligence operatives scattered around the country to keep information flowing back to SOUTHCOM.
That's a reference to the US. Command that actually did control the war. And now, in the revised treatment, the bank that's being robbed has more specificity, too. It's the Panamanian Bank of nations. And the sum of money that the Americans are after now is also highly specific. 53 million in this treatment. Halliday the male lead tells Keeley, I'm.
On a four man army intelligence team sent in to rob the bank and confiscate money belonging to Noriega and the cartels.
It's the first time Gary ties the money in the Panamanian bank to drug cartels and Noriega. Then on page twelve of Gary's treatment, he writes graham wants to know who they are. Guys who used to work for the government in intelligence circles, guys who used to work for the government is often euphemism for CIA officers. On the next page, Gary writes that the men robbing the bank in his script are, quote, CIA agents. The treatment stops at act two. And by the end, it's clear that Gary's big change to the story is that he was switching it from soldiers who were stealing an army payroll to rogue CIA officers robbing cartel drug money from the bank. What made this new information so explosive to Gary is that he seemed to believe it was true, that his script would reveal a real story of an actual heist done by CIA officers. This is what it seems Gary meant when he told people his script would blow the lid off the CIA. The question is, who was Gary's source for this inside information on a squad of rogue CIA bank robbers? One of the things Wendy found and handed over to the authorities was Gary's handwritten daybook planner.
In a 1998 La Times article called without a Trace, the reporter describes that in Gary's day planner, DeVore had written down Chase Brandon's name and phone number frequently in the final weeks before he disappeared. And on May 6, 1997, the month before he vanished, gary wrote a more detailed entry, seemingly based on information that someone inside the CIA could have been providing him undersecretary for international narcotics makers. Chase crime and Narcotics Center. CNC largest center in CIA espionage. Agents work with local police, government, etc. Do cover work on problems locals won't handle airfields, burn labs, fuel storage. The La Times article reports one more strange thing an entry where Gary had written Chase Brandon's full name, then scratched out his last name as if he were hiding traces of the man's existence in his own private day planner. To Wendy, this all begged the question who the hell was Chase Brandon and why was he in her husband's life?
Have you ever seriously pissed off your in laws? A couple of years ago, I started investigating a murder in my wife's family. Why would I do something so stupid? Well, partly because I've come to suspect that the woman who was killed is haunting the house I grew up in.
There was a weight in the beard, like somebody was in it. I woke up because my bed was shaking. So it would be like shake shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake.
But mainly because I think someone in the family might have got away with murder. And my in laws, well, they're not exactly thrilled about it.
You are deconstructing an age old story.
We're going to be more traumatized by.
This podcast than we were about the murder. I'll tell you that.
There is going to be blowback.
I'm Tristan Redmond, and from wandery and Pineapple Street studios, this is Ghost Story, a podcast about the things that come back to haunt us. Follow Ghost story on the Wandery app or wherever you get your podcasts. You can binge all episodes of Ghost Story ad free right now by joining wandery.
Plus, why, hello there. Welcome to Radio Rental. If you're new around here and haven't heard, I'm your host, Terry Carnation. On Radio rental, we play tapes of the scariest true stories you've ever heard. That's right. We've got real scary stories told by the people that actually experienced them. We've got stories of paranormal peril, near death experiences, stitches in the spacetime continuum, and more stories like these.
This person was looking for me. They start to take these long strides towards me. I was freaking out.
We started seeing it everywhere we went. It would be sitting there watching us.
I've never ran so fast in my life.
And it's all set right here at Radio rental, the video rental shop of your worst nightmares. Radio rental is available now. Listen, one week early and ad free on tenderfoot.
Are a loser. Losing is your business. It's what you do best.
I've won a lot of fights. Really?
You've been on your back more than I have.
That's Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones in a classic Gary divorce scene from Backroads, a 1981 film that few have probably seen and few probably will, because it's not a great movie. It shouldn't have been that way. Backroads began with an acclaimed original screenplay by Gary DeVore. It's one that he wrote in his 30s after he'd quit Hollywood and was living with his wife, Maria Cole, in a farmhouse in Massachusetts. Gary developed it from an original idea, and when he returned to Hollywood in the late 70s, after his marriage to Maria had ended, the script became a sensation in the film industry. Gary sold it to Martin Ritt, one of the great directors of the 20th century. And Sally Field, who just won an Oscar, signed on to star. But Backroads became one of those films with all the right ingredients that just never gelled. And failure of this film would help set Gary on the path to becoming the rewrite king for action films. But Backroads also serves as a compelling example of how the CIA can crop up anywhere in a person's life. It was on this film that Gary first met CIA officer Chase Brandon.
Gary's best friend, David Debin, tells the story of visiting the set in Alabama in 1980.
They were shooting in Mobile, and I came down just to see how it was going. CAFs were staying at the hotel and there was a pool there.
It was common for Gary to bro out with his male leads like arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean Claude Van Damme. And it was heading that way with Tommy Lee Jones on back roads until.
At some point, Gary and Tommy Lee got into some kind of an argument about something, I mean, just out of the know, one of those arguments that just snaps and some people are more ready to have them than others. And the two of them left the pool area and proceeded to have a fist bite.
In old cowboy movies, when two macho guys meet, they always have this big swinging fistfight and then become best friends. According to Devon, that's exactly what happened to Tommy and Gary. And when Tommy Lee Jones had an on set romance that ended with a wedding, after final rap, cast and crew were invited. Tommy asked two men to stand up for him at his wedding gary DeVore and Tommy's cousin, a CIA officer named Chase Brandon.
And that's how Gary met Chase, the.
Same guy who later showed up at Wendy's house. In the days after Gary vanished in.
The CIA's clandestine service, he lived undercover for 25 years. Retired from COVID assignments back in 2006, he still continues to consult with several intelligence community agencies, the Department of Defense, and numerous state and federal law enforcement organizations. In his final assignment, Brandon was a senior staff officer for the director of the CIA, serving as Agency spokesperson and the CIA's official liaison to the entertainment industry. Here he is, back on coast to coast. Chase, how are you? Hey. Good morning, George. How are you?
That's Chase Brandon appearing on coast to coast, a syndicated radio show that airs in the wee hours. It's basically this conspiracy theory love fest. In 2012, sandwiched between alien abductions and paranormal paranoia content, chase opened up to host George Nori about his work in the Agency.
After my 25 years in the clandestine service, I was given an opportunity to be the first ever overt spokesman for the COVID side of the Agency.
Chase Brandon is referring to the job he took in 1996 as the CIA's first, quote, Hollywood liaison officer. This interview is the first time he'd spoken in depth about this particular job, which he'd held at the CIA from 1996 to 2006, when he retired. So 1996, the same year that Gary began work on the Big Steel, was the same year Chase opened the liaison office for the CIA in Hollywood. As Chase explains it in this interview, the Agency felt mistreated by Hollywood.
We always fell into the category that was once described as yeah. CIA is an organization that's known by its failures.
Specifically, Chase and the CIA were ticked.
Off at the media, newspapers or news programs excoriate vilify the mission of the organization, accusing it of doing all kinds of conspiratorial, machiavellian things that are directed against somehow Americans and American. Interests and feature films and TV programs and other entertainment industry products that would invariably, as they always did, show CIA in one of two forms either a bunch of bungling, Cluso cops or outright ugly, venal, corrupt, traitors and rogue operatives, as they're always called.
And his job as liaison was to try and reverse that image and instead.
Show the heroism, the dedication, the loyalty, the patriotism, the risks that many of our officers, especially in the Clandestine Service take, and the tragedy and the pain of losing even one.
This would be Chase's official job in the Agency for the remainder of his career, where he would have an enormous impact on American film and TV through a series of agreements made with producers and writers, a steamy, creative relationship that we'll thoroughly unpack later in the series. What's significant about Gary's work on The Big Steel is that it was set in Panama, a geopolitical hotspot where Chase had also likely worked, at least according to a profile by British researcher Tom Sekker, who has written about the CIA's influence in Hollywood. What we can put together from his website and other sources is that he worked in Black operations for many years. He definitely served in Latin America. He would have been around during Operation Condor, the overthrow of Salvador Allende and his replacement with General Pinocchet, and the CIA instigated civil wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and possibly Honduras and Panama. In his interview with George Norrie, chase speaks enthusiastically about the work of the Agency.
The mission of the Agency itself is comprehensive and of extraordinary importance. The middle name of the organization, for Pete's sake, is intelligence. I knew the heroism, the dedication, the loyalty, the patriotism, the risks that many of our officers, especially in the Clandestine Service take.
But Chase is far less forthcoming about what he actually did while serving in the clandestine branch. This is the most secret side of the Agency, where its officers serve on the ground and at times really do carry out the kind of violent missions that are the stuff of Hollywood film fantasies. Chase not only served on the action side of the Agency in the early 80s, he was assigned to Latin America, then the hotspot of American diplomacy, where President Reagan had made his covert anti Communist wars a signature of his foreign policy. When Gary met Chase at Tommy Lee Jones'wedding, it must have seemed like an incredible stroke of good luck. Gary had recently been hired to work on John Urban's espionage thriller, Dogs of War, and here was Chase, a living, breathing, covert CIA officer. What a resource for a guy like Gary. And to Chase, Gary was probably an even bigger find than having his famous movie star cousin, Tommy Lee Jones. As we'll explain further down, the whole point of the CIA's Hollywood Liaison Office was to cultivate relationships with writers for the Agency, to get into their minds in the story process and influence their portrayals of the CIA.
From the inception of their screenplays and in Gary, Chase appears to have met and befriended his very first Hollywood screenwriter. Gary and Chase had already been friends for more than 15 years when Gary vanished. Yet it was only then that Wendy began to piece together the barest details of who this man was to Gary and what he'd been doing in his life.
It's 2011, and the Arab Spring is raging. A lesbian activist in Syria starts a blog. She names it gay girl in Damascus. Am I crazy? Maybe. As her profile grows, so does the danger. The object of the email was, please read this while sitting down.
It's like a genie came out of.
The bottle, and you can't put it back.
Gay girl gone. Available now. Have you ever thought about whose job it is to pursue fugitives, hunt child, abductors, or recover human remains? I'm investigative journalist Delia Diambra, and on my show, Dark Arenas, you'll hear first hand accounts from those who have chosen careers that enter some of the most dangerous spaces. The impacts of these jobs, and most importantly, why people stick with them day after day. Listen to Dark Arenas now, wherever you listen to podcasts. I mean, my memory of Chase Brandon is gary said to me when I was doing Back Roads, tommy Lee Jones'first cousin, his name is Chase Brandon came to the set, and we hung around a lot together, et cetera, et cetera.
After that first visit with Wendy, where Wendy thought Chase feigned emotion, she came to feel bitter.
He didn't come to say, oh, Wendy, I'm so sorry. Okay? He came in to go through Gary's computer. That's why he came.
But at the same time, Wendy felt some optimism that the CIA, the US. Government, was in her house helping.
I also had this tiny little bit of hope that they would actually tell me if they found something. I wasn't sure, but I was hoping.
Then that evening at dinner, when she and Gary's friends realized that Chase Brandon might have hacked into Gary's desktop computer, maybe in order to snatch his last draft of the big steal, it brought them quickly to the primal question what did they, Gary's closest friends, actually know about this guy? Gary's friend Phil Comvest recalled that it was very little was around the house.
Two or three times. Oh, yeah, he was there. I met him a couple times, at least maybe three times. And it was, you know, you don't pay any attention to stuff going through the house.
It was Phil who first remembered Gary telling him that Chase was somehow related to Tommy Lee Jones.
I guess it was his cousin or something that had been an operative for.
Gary's oldest friend, David Debin. He didn't need a lot of facts. It was simple.
Well, I thought that there was something fishy about Chase Brandon.
But David Debin did have a memory of Gary and Chase Brandon going back nearly a decade to the 1980s, when he and Gary were working on a TV movie. Together in those days, devin admits gary had issues with road rage.
Gary always drove with a baseball bat under his seat.
Under the seat of his yellow corvette.
Gary had a traffic fight on the hollywood freeway with some guy driving porsche, and he got into a pissing contest with this guy back and forth on the freeway, and the guy finally know, follow, you know, macho stuff. And gary got out and strode to the guy's car because the guy was in front of him and with a baseball bat and brandished it in a very threatening way.
And now this guy was filing charges against gary.
He's being charged with threatening with a deadly weapon, and gary was really uptight about what's going to happen as a result of this confrontation.
It was a major problem on films. Movie stars, the director, producers, and the writer are subject to morals clauses and other good behavior provisions that are required by the production insurance. Gary was terrified that a felony assault charge would potentially make him uninsurable for work on films.
So now I'm going to have to cut to several months later.
David is visiting gary's house one day, and the phone rings.
He remembers gary going into the bedroom and coming out with a big smile, with a look of freedom on his face and telling me, no more trouble with that guy with the porsche. No more trouble. I said, it's all taken care of. I had no way of knowing what had happened. When he went into the bedroom and.
Had a phone call, david had some thoughts.
He knew somebody in the police department that would get him off of that or some politician.
But david had never known gary to be friendly with high ranking LAPD officials or politicians, whom gary tended to view as slime balls. Even back then, gary had begun to tell david about another friend of his about chase brandon.
Knowing this guy in the CIA, I thought that that was who he was talking about, that the guy from the CIA got him out of that scrape, and that was that. So I just know he pulled a stunt and got away with it.
Like any good clandestine character, chase brandon seemed to have quietly, randomly, and covertly infiltrated gary's life. His was a face all of gary's friends could remember, but no one knew what he'd actually been doing with gary all those years.
I thought it was bizarre, and I actually at one point tried to convince myself in a moment that the way they must have known each other is because gary must have been writing something and needed some expert advice. I mean, writers reach out like that. I mean, I didn't think it was anything more than that.
And yet, unpacking everything they knew, the nature of their friendship remained a puzzle. Here's phil combest again.
There were little matterings of CIA stuff around gary all the time. I mean, he gave me a CIA coin for know and for this to happen, it's so much the trappings of what else could it be, I guess is the best way to put it.
By CIA coin, Phil is referring to a commemorative or challenge coin, like a poker chip that CIA bases produce for those who serve on them to be given as little tokens to their trusted friends. And Gary had one that he showed to Phil sometime in the early 90s. Chase Brandon never did speak to Wendy about the specifics of his relationship with Gary, nor would he cooperate with the investigators she hired. He supposedly later gave one interview to the FBI, but if a record of that exists, it's never been released. Therefore, Wendy was surprised months later to open the La. Times and see Chase Brandon's name in a major feature on Gary's disappearance. The article without a Trace ran on June 20, 1998, a year after Gary. In the first part of the interview, Chase Brandon confirms that he's the cousin of Tommy Lee Jones and that he met Gary after the production of Backroads. As for his career in the agency, Chase acknowledges having worked generally in Latin America and having recently become Hollywood liaison for the CIA, which in his interview, he describes as being a kind of public affairs officer. As for advising Gary on his screenplay, Chase recalled this to the La.
Times I remember talking to Gary about a lot of elements of Panama and Noriega's regime and the drug money that Noriega was alleged to have had stashed in safes in his offices.
As Chase says he knew, the plot of the big steal involved money that.
In DeVore's script, soldiers stumble across and.
Steal where Gary had left behind the outline, which described a bank heist by rogue CIA officers. Chase told the La. Times that he and Gary had discussed the CIA's efforts to help with law enforcement in Panama, not break the laws.
Saying, quote, I may have mentioned a couple things about the agency's role in providing increased U. S. Intelligence efforts to provide support to U. S. Law enforcement.
And then an unexpected personal reflection where Chase describes Gary's emotional state before his disappearance.
Gary was very happy. He had reached a point where he was about to direct a movie. He was excited about that. The guy had the world by the coattails. His disappearance and probable death is just a horrible, horrible thing to come to terms with.
It's near the end where Chase's interview really goes off the rails. He just volunteers something truly unexpected.
But I think in my own sense of what logically happened to Gary is that he was driving this new high profile, flashy Ford Explorer with all the package options on it, and that is a vehicle that law enforcement people will tell you is a highly sought after car for carjackers. My sense was Gary was one of those people who met a horrible, tragic quirk of fate.
Wendy and the investigators working with her were floored by this. Why was Chase Brandon, an official CIA representative, telling the La Times that Gary was dead and suggesting to authorities that it was time to move on from their search and investigations?
When things started to fall into place that I had no idea about, it started to make more sense that Chase had been around and how can I put this? He was around without being helpful. And a person with his background, you would think would have been very helpful unless they were not supposed to be.
As Wendy and Gary's friends pooled what information they had, it became clear to them that Chase seemed to be Gary's main source in the CIA. Now those friends began to wonder if Gary had maybe been playing with fire all along.
So it's a little weird because this thing with the CIA, you don't want to get involved with those people. You don't want to get involved in a negative way where they're not happy with something you've done. And that was with Gary. He didn't care. He'd challenge anybody. When guy got into something, he just put his arms around it and he did it. And he worked it until nobody could breathe anymore.
Next time on Fade to Black the.
Fucking camera in the back of the damn restaurant that he stopped at, at that Denny's in the parking lot was broken. Had we been able to look and see if he was taken? And in another car, there's a mystery on the Caribbean island of Bernada. So I just want to ask to be clear.
Did you ever see the body of Maurice Bishop?
40 years ago, the remains of the Prime Minister went missing. And we've been trying to figure out what happened.
I can tell you, in my words, this thing stinks.
I'm Martine Powers with the Washington Post. The empty grave of Comrade Bishop is out now. Follow and listen wherever you get your podcasts.
Witnessed. Fade to Black is a production of Campsite Media and Sony Music Entertainment. In association with Stowaway Entertainment, the series was co created, written and reported by Evan Wright and Megan Donnis. Megan Donnis is the senior producer and Shiba Joseph is the associate producer. The executive producers are Evan Wright, Jeff Singer, and me, Josh Dean. Niall Casson is the consulting producer. Studio recording by Ewan Leitramuan, Blake Rook and Shiba Joseph. Sound design, mixing and original music by Mark McAdam and Erica Huang. Additional engineering by Blake Rook. Additional music by APM and Blue dot session. Additional field recording by Devin Schwartz. Fact checking by Amanda Feynman. Special thanks to the voice actors in this episode megan Donnis david Eichler mark McAdam sarah McAdam anthony Pacillo blake Rook and Devin Schwartz. And our operations team doug Slaywin, destiny Dingell, ashley Warren and Sabina Mara. The executive producers at Campsite Media are vanessa Gregoriatis, adam Hoff, Matt Cher and me, Josh Dean. If you like the show, please take a minute to rate and review it, which really does help other people find it. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time.
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