Producer Joel Silver paid $ 1.7 million to Wynn Casino in Las Vegas to cover Ron Meyer’s gaming debt in July 2014. Several sources confirmed this to Variety.
At the time, Meyer was the vice chairman of NBCUniversal and Silver – his close friend – had a distribution deal with the studio. A few months earlier, Silver had received a $ 4 million advance payment from NBCUniversal for cutting the proceeds of “Non-Stop,” an action film starring Liam Neeson.
NBCUniversal became aware of the casino transaction for the past two weeks, prompting the studio to ask attorney Daniel Petrocelli to look into it, according to a source who had spoken to Petrocelli about the matter.
According to a source who viewed an email confirming the transaction, Silver’s payment was specifically designed to cash out Meyer’s marker at the casino.
Anthony Pellicano, the former private investigator who worked as a negotiator for Silver, confirmed to Variety that Silver made the payment to the casino on Meyer’s behalf. He also confirmed the exact amount of the payment: $ 1,736,000. But he said the payment had nothing to do with Silver’s $ 4 million advance on “non-stop” revenue.
“One had nothing to do with the other,” Pellicano said. “The amount of money Joel Silver sent to Wynn Casino did not come from Joel Silver and had nothing to do with his advance payment.”
Pellicano said that the funds came to Silver from a third party he did not want to name and that Silver only passed the funds on to the casino. He said the third party has no connection with NBCUniversal. He didn’t explain why Silver would agree to serve as a passage for the funds.
“There is a great long story with all of this that I am not going to tell you,” Pellicano said. “There are other things going on. It’s a matter of convenience. It’s not a scary thing. It’s easy. It’s a shelter. That’s all.”
Meyer and NBCUniversal declined to comment on the story. Petrocelli, an outside litigation attorney at O’Melveny and Myers, responded on behalf of the company but declined to discuss the situation.
“I represent NBCUniversal on a variety of matters and I won’t be discussing any specific one,” said Petrocelli.
“Non-Stop” was the first film produced under Silver’s NBCUniversal deal. Silver produced the film in partnership with StudioCanal and it was released in February 2014. That month, NBCUniversal Silver made the $ 4 million available as an advance on its backend profits. The film grossed $ 222 million worldwide.
According to Pellicano, NBCUniversal ended up taking back about three-quarters of the advance, leaving about $ 1 million unrequested.
Meyer was one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood until he stepped down in a sex scandal last August. He co-founded the Creative Artists Agency and worked for NBCUniversal for 25 years.
His gambling problems have been documented before, most recently in Powerhouse, the 2017 book that records the history of CAA. Author James Andrew Miller wrote that Meyer repeatedly “faced enormous debts, one million dollar in the hole”. The book also reports that Ray Stark, the legendary independent producer who died in 2004, once loaned Meyer money to pay off a debt.