Source: People magazine
May 29, 2001
With the post-Golden Globes party in full swing at Trader Vic's in Beverly Hills on the night of January 21, FOX television producer Bill Cipolla slipped away to use the men's room. "I was stopped in the hallway by an army of guys in tuxedos, and I thought they were simply waiting in line to use the bathroom," he says. "So, we're standing making small talk and waiting and waiting and waiting, until finally Russell Crowe emerges from the bathroom and all these guys fall in around him." In all, Cipolla recalls, six, perhaps eight, tuxedoed escorts attended the Aussie superstar. At the time, says Cipolla, who has covered his share of Hollywood award events, "I thought, 'That's a long way to go for a star to use the bathroom.' "
Now it all makes sense. On March 6 the FBI confirmed reports that the Oscar-nominated Gladiator star was the target of an abduction threat. The feds subsequently declined to comment on a British press report of "gangsters" bent on extorting millions of dollars in ransom. Instead FBI spokeswoman Laura Bosley said simply, "We have to investigate until we reach a conclusion. I couldn't tell you what the outcome will be, but it's continuing." As for those undercover guys outside the men's room, an FBI source says, "It's common knowledge that the FBI was at the Golden Globe Awards."
With no evidence yet made public of either a threat or a plot, skeptics are having a field day. After all, Crowe, 36, is the same star whose highly publicized affair with Meg Ryan , 39, costar of his latest film, Proof of Life, ended last December, around the same time the film tanked in the U.S. Now, just when Proof is hitting screens in Europe and Australia, comes word of the mysterious threat -- a plot twist seemingly straight out of Proof, in which Crowe plays a hostage negotiator working in South America. "Call me a cynic, but the timing is extraordinary," says a top British security source.
Usually tight-lipped, the FBI is taking pains to put out the word that the Crowe threat was no prank. "This is not a publicity stunt," says Bosley. "We wouldn't expend the resources unless we believed there was a credible threat."