TOKYO - AUGUST 19: Actress Julia Roberts greets fans as she walks on the red carpet during the 'Eat Pray Love' Japan Premiere at Roppongi Hills on August 19, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan. (Image credit: Getty Images AsiaPac via @daylife)
According to federal prosecutors, on December 27, 2008, Anthony Johnson, 49, Philadelphia, PA, and Lashirelle Bryant traveled from Pennsylvania to Connecticut. In and of itself a mundane trip. In fact, Johnson and Bryant apparently traveled all that way in order to enter a lovely movie theater in beautiful Greenwich, CT - they were looking for chick flix. Well sort of. Stay with me.
While the movie was playing on the Greenwich silver screen, prosecutors alleged that Johnson was busy crawling around on the theater floor. Had his companion dropped her ring? No. Apparently, Johnson was busy stealing three credit cards from a female victim's purse. In fact, the Feds alleged that Johnson had specifically scoped out the theater as one presenting films geared toward women. A chick flix rip-off.
After the theft was accomplished, Johnson and Bryant then left the Greenwich theater, and Johnson used equipment to produce a driver's license in the victim's name but with Bryant's photograph. Thereafter, Johnson and Bryant (at Johnson's direction) used the fabricated cards to make more than $50,000 in unauthorized purchases, including gift cards, clothing, electronics, designer sunglasses, and a $10,000 Rolex watch.
SIDE BAR: Top 2008 Chick Flix. According to BettyConfidential.com, the top Chick Flix for 2008 were in no particular order:
Apparently not one to let his sticky fingered expertise languish, between April and August 2010, Johnson returned three more times to Connecticut and again stole credit cards from female theatergoers in Greenwich, Fairfield, and Colchester. By 2010, it seems that the lovely Ms. Bryant was replaced by a new ingenue. In the role of Johnson's accomplice, we introduce the vivacious Jamie McGowan.
After reprising his edgy character of the fabricator of stolen driver's licenses in his victims' names, Johnson used McGowan's photograph. In keeping with the tradition of asking new actors to inhabit prior roles, McGowan did her best to pick up where her predecessor Bryant left off - McGowan used the stolen cards and fake ID to purchase thousands of dollars in gift cards and retail items and also to make more than $5,000 in cash advances at the Mohegan Sun Casino.
SIDE BAR: Top 2010 Chick Flix. According to BettyConfidential.com, the top Chick Flix for 2010 were in no particular order:
Although their roles were somewhat convincing, in the end, our cast of characters got the thumbs down from the FBI and federal prosecutors.
On June 22, 2012, Bryant and McGowan each pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized use of an access device and one count of aggravated identity theft; and they are awaiting sentencing.
On October 16, 2012, Johnson was tried before a federal jury in Hartford, CT, which deliberated about two hours (slightly longer than most flix), and on October 22nd, found Johnson guilty of seven counts of unauthorized use of an access device and two counts of aggravated identity theft. At sentencing scheduled for January 2013, Johnson faces on the:
I give this case two out of five handcuffs.
While Eat, Pray, Love, And Steal was somewhat convincing, I found thatEat, Pray, Love, And Steal Some More was derivative and I left feeling that I had seen it all before - you know, sort of like the cast and crew were going through the motions for another paycheck.
Bryant and Johnson had a certain electricity between them as she chewed her buttered popcorn while he crawled around on hands and knees on a floor soaked with spilled soda - a veritable minefield of gum, black Chuckles, and the drippings from the toppings on hot dogs. I sensed a Bogie and Bacall thing between Bryant and Johnson. Sadly, I just didn't feel the same buzz with the scenes between Johnson and McGowan. Frankly, maybe it's me, but I sensed that Johnson missed Bryant and that the rumors of their break-up may have downplayed how broken-up he still is about losing his former co-star.
I know that there is talk of an Eat, Pray, Love, And Steal Some More Faster and Furiouser but that's supposedly going to be a 3D version. I keep hearing about Sony, Disney, Time Warner, Viacom - even something with General Electric. Hard to tell with Hollywood. Who knows who's starting what rumors and for what purpose?
There are also rumors of a whole new cast with some guy who plays a vampire or werewolf in another popular film series taking over Johnson's role; and there's similar gossip that some sitcom star may be leaving her show after a contract dispute, two DWIs, and a lot of on-set testiness with a married star fresh from rehab and a losing stint on one of those faux celeb dance shows.
If they were to ask me, once you got Sean Connery playing James Bond, leave it alone. I mean, seriously, George Lazenby? What were they thinking?