$450K for Hollywood Cocaine Whistleblower

This might seem a little inside baseball, but any time a guy in the movie business is nicknamed “Cokey the Clown,” I’m covering it. So Andrew MacDonald, a visual effects guy who was working for Ascent Media Group, recently won a $450,000 settlement against his former employer, saying they wrongly terminated him after he blew the whistle on one of his superiors’ cocaine use. Wait, cocaine? In Hollywood? INCONCEIVABLE!

It comes more than three years after MacDonald spoke up about Alex Frisch, best known as the visual effects supervisor on the Pirates of the Caribbean films, who according to court papers was known in the office by such nicknames as “Power Donut Man” and “Cokey the Clown, Our Fearless Leader.”

I’m assuming that’s supposed to read “Powdered Donut Man” because Power Donut Man sounds more gay porn-related than coke-related. Also, those nicknames are pretty crappy for people who tell stories for a living. “Get it? Cokey the Clown? Because he does coke? Great nickname, right? And this guy over here, I like to call this guy ‘Charlie T-Shirts,’ the old t-shirt wearin’ sonovabitch!”

Frisch has denied such behavior, telling The Hollywood Reporter that allegations of coke abuse were a “lie” and that MacDonald’s accusations have been “very painful.” Frisch wasn’t a party to this litigation.

Whatever you say, guy, we’ve seen the movie.

MacDonald sued AMG in September 2010, 18 months after he met with one of the company’s top executives at the Buffalo Club in Santa Monica. At the meeting, MacDonald was to finalize an employment agreement with AMG, which the previous autumn had merged the visual post production studio RIOT with Frisch’s Method Studios. Following the merger, Frisch became the director of creative visual effects at Method, the top creative slot at the combined studio, and MacDonald was to be the number two.

But MacDonald says he was concerned about Frisch “and his open and notorious drug abuse at the office during working hours.”

MacDonald says he was told not to undermine Frisch, and the AMG executive at the meeting asked if he had proof of the alleged drug use. MacDonald asked whether he needed to videotape the bathroom, which he says was meant as a joke, but the comment led to another meeting the following day with AMG’s in-house lawyer. There, MacDonald was accused of actually videotaping the bathroom, then charged with lying, then terminated. [THR]

Man, have you noticed work pissing contests have a tendency to turn people into autistic robots? Working in HR must be terrible. “And on March 23, Mr. Jenkins told me, in full earshot of the other employees, ‘Yeah, Jenkins, and if your aunt had balls she’d be your uncle!’ This transphobic attitude clearly constitutes a hostile work environment…”

Isn’t complaining about cocaine in Hollywood sort of like complaining about cigarette smoke at an AA meeting? It kind of goes with the territory. I’m reminded of Fox head Tom Rothman trying to gnaw his own face off at the Golden Globes earlier this year:

Anyway, this guy’s going to be bummed when Tarantino’s Coke Wizard turns his $450,000 into a pile of lizards.