Celebrities and the dictators they love

Steven Seagal, known for his macho action films in which Russians are the bad guys, is said to be best friends with murderous Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

That seems like a stretch for an actor who calls himself an ardent Buddhist in addition to being a super-patriotic law enforcement groupie. More than a decade ago, Mr. Seagal, now 70, was sworn in as “Reserve Deputy Chief” at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana, that is, say until he was forced to resign following an internal affairs investigation that resulted in a sum of $1. million lawsuits filed by his employee, swimsuit model Kayden Nguyen. The lawsuit accused the actor of sex trafficking in addition to groping her.

Steven also joined a “posse” (civilian force) owned by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona (“on loan from Louisiana,” he claimed, denied by JPSO) and starred in his own series. A&E reality show, “Steven Seagal: Lawyer.” (The sexual abuse complaint and his subsequent resignation brought that streak to a swift end.)

A few years later, Mr. Seagal moved his obsession with law enforcement first to Hudspeth County in West Texas and then to Dona Ana County in New Mexico (regardless of the strength that would have it).

Taking part in a cockfight bust on behalf of Sheriff Joe, Mr Seagal, full of bravado and comically dressed in SWAT gear, drove a tank into Jesus Llovera’s house – and killed the family’s pup.

This resulted in another trial.

And what happened to the roosters “rescued” by Mr. Seagal?

The batch of them was euthanized.

Yet despite his love of law enforcement, this aikido-trained actor (who directed a film called ‘The Patriot’ in 1998) is buddy-buddy with the Russian dictator – a friendship that remains strong even after the death. brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

In November 2016, by presidential decree, Mr. Putin granted Mr. Seagal a Russian passport (and therefore citizenship).

Their bond is said to be a mutual love of Japanese martial arts, although what they really have in common is narcissism. (Earlier in the year, Mr. Seagal had been granted Serbian citizenship.)

Steven returned the favor to Mr Putin on ‘Good Morning Britain’, a popular British TV show, hailing the Russian tyrant as ‘one of the great world leaders’ and even went so far as to support the bloody military incursions of her boyfriend in Ukraine. as “very reasonable”.

Mr Seagal has also indulged himself with the world’s second most brutal dictator, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, whom Steven says he had “long dreamed of meeting”.

As Vlad Putin’s Stooge No. 1, Mr Lukashenko rules with an iron fist, regularly assassinating his political opponents and allowing Russian forces along his southern border to stage attacks on western Israel. Ukraine.

MIGRATION TO MOSCOW

A few years ago, Mr. Seagal clashed with the US government, specifically the Securities and Exchange Commission, for “illegally touting a digital asset offering.”

Translation: As a company’s “brand ambassador” for Bitcoin2Gen, Steven publicly endorsed and promoted its digital investment product without disclosing that he received payment from the company, which defrauded investors of $11.4 million. (Like the title of his 1988 film, maybe Mr. Seagal thought he was “Above the Law.”)

The actor has also had a run-in with the IRS, which over the years has imposed liens on his various properties.

Mr. Seagal “settled” the SEC case for $330,000. But now the actor is behind on his payments, having coughed up just $75,000, perhaps explaining why he – according to Bloomberg – left the country, and now, having sold his 5,329-acre ranch to Montague, California (Shasta Valley) five months ago exiled himself, his wife, Erdenetuya (from Mongolia), and his 12-year-old son, Kunzang, to be near his putrid pal Putin in Moscow.

Four-time married Mr Seagal – cited by ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast members as the worst host they’ve ever had – was last seen and heard from (earlier this month) in the Donbass region of Ukraine, now occupied by the Russians, where he promulgated Putin’s propaganda to journalists about so-called Ukrainian “Nazis”.

Newsweek magazine reported, “Seagal is channeling what’s left of his star power into popularizing pro-Russian narratives and making unsubstantiated claims about the war.”

We contacted Mr. Seagal for comment, but he did not respond.

The ubiquitous MR. PENN

When fellow Hollywood star Sean Penn ventured to Eurasia, he at least had the good sense to do so in Ukraine, where he claimed to be working on a documentary. On the very day Vladimir Putin’s army invaded, Mr Penn was photographed hanging out in Kyiv with that country’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Mr. Penn then made a stage exit to Poland with thousands of Ukrainian refugees, walking halfway after abandoning his car. (No further word on his documentary.)

Last Monday, Russia exacted revenge on Mr. Penn for his Ukrainian adventure by adding his name to its list of US citizens permanently barred from entering Russia.

It is comforting to know that Hollywood covers both sides of this conflict.

A few years before his Ukrainian adventure, Mr. Penn met Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, leader of the murderous Sinaloa cartel, at El Chapo’s secret hideout in Mexico to interview him for Rolling Stone magazine.

For such access, Sean used this criminal’s vanity against him because, as Mr. Penn wrote in Rolling Stone, El Chapo was “interested in seeing his life story told on film” and believed that Sean could play it.

And maybe the actor actually played him. Because shortly after Joaquin’s encounter with Mr. Penn, El Chapo was captured precisely where they had met – and a Mexican law enforcement officer indiscreetly told The Associated Press that meeting the actor had helped police locate the fugitive.

Mr Penn was so worried that murderous associates of the El Chapo cartel would blame him for their boss’ capture, his lawyers then tried to block the airing of a Netflix documentary about Kate Del Castillo, the Mexican actress who had organized the seven-hour Penn-Guzman. powwow. Visibly concerned for his safety, Mr Penn asked his lawyers to warn Netflix “that they will have blood on their hands if this film causes bodily harm”.

Ms Del Castillo claimed the actor tricked her and El Chapo by misrepresenting his intentions while critics called the resulting Rolling Stone interview superficial and self-indulgent.

Question: What happened to the movie?

Answer: Absent any further involvement or interest from Sean Penn, El Chapo would still be working on his life story at ADX Florence, a maximum security penitentiary in Colorado where he is currently serving a life sentence. .

What did Sean Penn do before El Chapo?

Well, this, according to the Washington Post: “In 2002, he went to Iraq. In 2003, after American troops invaded, he returned, this time to write about the experience for the San Francisco Chronicle. Penn enjoyed the experience of playing journalist enough to try again in 2005, this time in Iran. Reporting, he told The New Yorker, was like acting. (And maybe that’s what he was doing.)

Christmas 2005 found Mr. Penn in Cuba, a trip that led to a midnight meeting with Fidel Castro. From this experience, Mr. Penn managed to cultivate a close relationship with Hugo Chavez, the late dictator of Venezuela, who at the time was a sharp thorn in America’s side.

Sean even joined President Chavez on the campaign trail to help him get re-elected (unnecessary since the result was definitely rigged in his favor).

Other “Fidel fans” who have spent time with The Bearded One in Cuba include:

– Robert Redford: The Cuban actor/director and leader reportedly went diving together in 1988. They met again 16 years later when Mr. Redford was in Havana to promote his film on “Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries” . Fidel came to visit the actor at the Hotel Nacional.

Jack Nicholson called the Cuban dictator a “genius” after meeting him in 1998 and added: “we talked about everything”.

In 2002, Steven Spielberg said he spent “the most important eight hours of my life” having dinner with Fidel Castro until 2:30 a.m., explaining that they had discussed art, history and cultural exchanges.

We wanted to reach out to Mr. Penn for comment, so we searched our super-duper (and rather expensive) people-finding database to find that Sean is a ghost – as in, completely cleaned up.

DENNIS RODMAN AND HIS BEST FRIEND

And then there’s Dennis Rodman, the Basketball Hall of Famer who managed to create a “bromance” (Mr. Rodman’s term) with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

Mr Rodman said of his unique relationship with the 5ft 4in monster who continues to test nuclear missiles while threatening to one day launch them in the United States: “We laugh, we sing karaoke, we do lots of cool things together like skiing and horse riding.

On January 8, 2014, Mr Rodman even led a ‘Happy Birthday’ song to North Korea’s ‘dear respected leader’, telling reporters covering the event: ‘I love my best friend (Kim) “.

More recently, Mr Rodman wanted to use his charms on Vladimir Putin (whom he once called “cool”) to plead for the release of professional basketball player Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court for bringing a single gram of cannabis oil

in the country. But the US State Department has dismissed any such idea as it wisely continues to warn all Americans against traveling to Russia.

COAT AND CORKSCREW

Usually, it’s the A-list celebrities who are flattered. In these cases, these celebrities flatter murderous dictators. But do these despots entrust them with anything important?

When actors drape themselves in these sorts of plots, we recommend that instead of a dagger, they carry a corkscrew to make sure they’re well prepared when a bottle of fine wine appears.

We sincerely hope that in a year or three, Steven Seagal and Sean Penn will team up and make a Spielberg-directed film about their alien heroes, complete with a Dennis Rodman cameo.

Or maybe just choose (and star in) a film adaptation of my 2011 novel, “Cloak.”

Robert Eringer is a longtime Montecito author with extensive experience in investigative journalism. He welcomes questions or comments to reringer@gmail.com.

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