Don Simpson: Let me count the ways

Don Simpson: Let me count the ways
Hollywood superproducers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer on location with director Michael Bay

Article by Luke Ford on Don Simpson’s outrageous appetite for prostitutes

In 1985, Don Simpson was introduced to Elizabeth Adams aka Madam X, a procurer for Hollywood and other high fliers from 1971 to 1992. Simpson used three to five of her girls a week.

“Don didn’t date. He fucked,” said Susan Panetz, who worked for Simpson and Bruckheimer in 1983 and 1984. “The girls were professionals. They came in at ten o’clock and they were out by two.”

Simpson said: “When you meet a lady and she says, ‘Would you like to make love?’ well, the first thing I like to do is fuck.”

Film producer Michael London once traveled to New York with Simpson and Bruckheimer. They went out on the town. “Jerry went straight to the bar and started talking to this woman. Don went to a sofa, in the back of the room, and sat down alone. After a while, we left Jerry at the bar with the woman and split.”

Simpson said: “Jerry will ask nine women to sleep with him, and nine will turn him down in a row. The tenth woman says yes, and he goes home with her. Me, I ask one girl to go out with me, and she says no, and I want to go put my head in the oven.”

London: “Simpson told me he hung out with hookers because he couldnt’ bear to risk rejection.”

Simpson’s Bel Air home on Cherokee Avenue was the place to meet beautiful women in Los Angeles during the 1980s. Jerry Bruckheimer, Steve Roth, Steve Tisch, Jim Berkus, Craig Baumgarten, Jim Wiatt, Paul Schrader and composer Paul Jasmine hung out there for the girls and drugs.

Several of Heidi Fleiss’s girls got bit parts in Don Simpson movies.

Don’s friend Lynda Obst credits him with creating the high concept movie. “He created the three-act structure that we all use, the one that Robert McKee and Syd Field use and take credit for. Don made up this logarithm. There is the hot first act with an exciting incident, and the second act with the crisis and the dark bad moments in which our hero is challenged, and the third act with the triumphant moment and the redemption and the freeze-frame ending.”

A July 11, 1989 Los Angeles Times story by Michael Cieply broke the story of a sexual harassment suit against Simpson by Paramount secretary Monica Harmon. She’d worked under Simpson and Bruckheimer for 21 months between 1986 and 1987. She filed suit October 12, 1988, asking for $5 million in damages. She claimed that Simpson made her witness illegal drug use in his Paramount offices, made her schedule appointments for him with hookers, and played pornographic films in front of her in his office.

Harmon alleged that Simpson used cocaine in his office infront of partner Jerry Bruckheimer and Richard Tienken, the manager of Eddie Murphy. Don “left a pile of cocaine in his office and in his office bathroom and ordered Harmon to clean it up before it was discovered by others.” Don “maintained lists of girls he used as prostitutes and required Harmon to keep and update the lists.” He “required Harmon to schedule his appointments with some of the prostitutes.” Simpson “played pornographic videocassettes in the office.” And, “as a condition of Harmon’s employment, she was required to read lurid and pornographic material.” Simpson regularly called Harmon things like “dumb shit,” “garbage brain” and “stupid bitch,” as in, “You fucked up again, you stupid bitch. You cannot do anything right.” These tirades gave Harmon headaches and sleeplessness.

Other Simpson-Bruckheimer employees confirmed most of Harmon’s charges. “Don was Caligula,” said an assistant. “Everyone knew he used hookers. He had a whole section of his Rolodex marked ‘Girls’. They’d come to the office the next day, and Monica [Harmon] would have to pay them. This was common knowledge. His tastes were very special, and he was into S&M.”

Simpson-Bruckheimer responded by playing hardball. They hired nasty litigator Bertram Fields to file a $5 million countersuit against Harmon. They hired private investigator Anthony Pellicano to dig up dirt on Harmon. Eventually she gave in and walked away. She’s never spoken publicly about her ordeal.

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