Enron's former chairman will be watching movie closely

Times Staff Writer

An attorney for Kenneth Lay has warned that the former Enron chairman may seek legal remedies from CBS and "other responsible parties" if the network's fact-based movie about the company depicts him as "cunning, unfeeling and greedy."

The made-for-TV movie, "The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth About Enron," will air Sunday and is based on Brian Cruver's book "Anatomy of Greed," about the Houston-based company's financial collapse. Lay, played by Mike Farrell, is seen only briefly in the film, which explores the story from the perspective of Cruver, an MBA graduate who spent eight months at the company before being let go -- along with thousands of others -- when Enron filed for bankruptcy.

Michael Ramsey, an attorney for Lay, wrote CBS and producer Robert Greenwald asking to see the film but said Friday that he has not heard back from either. Ramsey said that seeking a legal injunction to prevent the broadcast would be fruitless and beyond that referred to the letter, which states that Lay "is prepared to take whatever action is necessary to obtain compensation for the extraordinary damage you will do him" and any "adverse consequences he suffers."

The network is promoting the movie, directed by Penelope Spheeris, as being based on facts -- "some well-known, others not at all" -- while providing "an insider's view at one of the biggest scandals of the decade."

However, Ramsey's letter questions Cruver's ability to offer firsthand knowledge of facts surrounding Lay's role at Enron, adding that descriptions of the film suggest elements were "fabricated for supposed entertainment value."

In response, CBS issued a statement saying that "the allegations are unsubstantiated. There is a factual basis for the depiction of Mr. Lay, and we believe that the movie is accurate and fair."

Some of the changes made for the film included altering the company's "E" logo for copyright reasons. Brian Dennehy also portrays a corporate insider, Mr. Blue, who is a composite character representing several Enron officials.

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