MONTGOMERY, Ala., August 23, 2006 -- Colorful and energetic attorney Jim Parkman is at it again. Preparing for the case many in California call the "Ferrari Guy" trial, Parkman has had the opportunity to make several trips to the West Coast. As is often the case when Mr. Parkman ventures forth, a few good stories are bound to follow.
I sat down with him in his office in Birmingham to get an update on the case after which we talked about some of the events that have transpired during his several adventures to the land of movie stars and make believe.
On one occasion, Parkman's wife, Joy, took the trip with her husband. One day while out there Joy decided it was a good time to go shopping. So being the dutiful husband Parkman set off with his wife to Rodeo Drive and a trip to what he calls "some fancy boutiques." Parkman is on the cell phone when his wife opens the door of one inch leaded glass, expecting her husband to be close behind, and gets her hand caught in the door.
Parkman says his wife's hand was cut up real bad on the fingers and "blood was everywhere throughout this whole place."
The attorney says when he walked in he saw blood all over the floor and "it looked liked somebody had been shot." Parkman says his wife told him she didn't feel good and he got her to lay down on one of the "little sofa things that they had."
He says his wife was real weak and it looked pretty bad and she said to him, "I think I'm about ready to pass out." He gets a lady in the store to call 911 just to make sure everything would be okay. Parkman tells the rest of the story:
"The Beverly Hills Fire Department Rescue shows up. Now, let me explain this to you. They're all about 23 or 24 years old. All of them look like the Chippendales guys. All of 'em with abs, the six-pack abs, and all of them look like Tom Cruise, movie stars, Brad Pitt - looked better than Brad. There were six of them and they were all the same, same build, same everything.
And then of course they come over and they huddle around her you know and one of them that looked like Cary Grant says at his young age, 'Mrs. Parkman, how do you feel?' She opened her eyes and looked up and here were all these great looking Chippendale guys standing around her. And she goes into her acting thing, Gone with the Wind, 'Oh Scarlett I feel real sick right now I think I'm going to have to require some medical attention.' So they all are treating her and she's just smiling. I told the guys so they said,'We better take you in.' 'Oh, I need to go in with you. I need a ride back to that hospital.' (says Joy according to Parkman).
So we loaded her up in the ambulance, five of 'em in the back one of 'em in the front. I'm up front so we were riding along and I told the guys, 'You know what? I noticed something. There's not any discrimination that goes on with you with any old guys in your department is there? Not a one of you is under 25 and built. What's the prerequisite to get this job? He said,'We're here to try to make our patients feel comfortable.'"
Parkman tells the rescue guy. "Oh if you want to see an acting job, you ought to be in the back right now. I said,'You're going to get the Scarlett and Rhett treatment very good in the back right now.' So when we left the hospital that afternoon, I told her, by the way she didn't need medical attention after we got there. Idn't that a shock? No stitches for her hand, no nothing. Can you imagine that? I can't imagine why we didn't. And as we were leaving, I said, 'Well honey what do you want to do now. And she said, 'Let's go back to the same shop and call them all over again.'
"I found out now what it's like to live in Beverly Hills for real. How they really hire the folks out there."
Star Gazing and Contract Killer Eyes
Parkman says one of the most intriguing parts about California is getting to actually see the movie stars. He says he sees two or three every trip he takes out there. "It's interesting to me to see them in live and in living color as opposed to seeing them on TV or reading about them or seeing a picture in the paper. So I think it's kind of hilarious in a way to actually run across these people and see how much they actually look like themselves in real life as opposed to what you envision them after the makeup and the hair and everything. So we run across these people all the time."
One of the people Parkman has gotten to know as a result of his trips to California is actor James Woods. He says he ran into woods about 2-3 months ago at the Polo store on Rodeo Drive. Parkman describes Woods as "a great guy." He says he had a long talk with Woods at his residence and Parkman says he got to know Woods real well. And talk about irony.
"Lo and behold I left there. You know he's coming out with a new series, gonna play a lawyer. So you see what I've done for his career. So James if you're out there. Look what I've done for your career. I'll be expecting the royalty checks in the mail you know for helping you attain that role on Fox or whatever it's going to be on."
Parkman says Woods' show will be great and Woods will "do a great job. I can't wait to see it."
I remind the high-profile defense attorney that in this show "Woods is going from Jim Parkman to Steve Feaga," an assistant U.S. attorney in Montgomery and someone Parkman likes very much.
"Yeah, he's going to be a prosecutor isn't he?," says Parkman. "Well I can understand that. After he met me he's scared."
The defense attorney says the well respected actor is a "really down-to-earth and very intelligent."
Parkman says he enjoys meeting someone like Woods, "who really is nice and really is interested in what you do and of course we're more interested in what he does. But he's played a lot of lawyers through the years."
The man a lot of people have tried in vain to analyze in the courtroom got a little analysis himself from the veteran actor.
"Donald Watkins and I went out there and as he (Woods) was talking, out of nowhere James Woods looks at Donald and goes, 'You know what?' He says,'I always look into people's eyes to tell me the kind of people that you are, what kind of person you are.' And he says, 'Watkins, your eyes tell me that you're just this warm person that just loves everybody. And Parkman, you have these contract killer eyes.' And I went, 'What?' And he goes, 'Yeah! These eyes like contract killers for the mafia have where you just want to take people out and you just have no remorse for it whatsoever.' And I went,'Wait a minute! What happened to the warm and fuzzy look. I mean why does Watkins get the warm and fuzzy look and I get the contract killer eyes?' And he goes, 'That's just the way you look to me.' So I can't wait to see on the show if he has the warm and fuzzy look or the contract killer look in his eyes. We'll have to wait and see."
And believe it or not someone has suggested that this at least a little bit zany real L.A.(Alabama folks you know what I mean) lawyer might get some real analysis on the Dr. Phil show. Parkman says he could handle a discussion with Dr. Phil on the psychology of lawyers.
Movies in the Future?
Speaking of Donald Watkins, I asked Parkman whatever became of the movie that was supposed to be made about the lawyers and the HealthSouth accounting fraud case in Birmingham. Parkman told me,"You know we're still working on that. There are a lot of issues that we had to do. We certainly don't want to infringe on anybody else's territory or rights. We're working around that. At the same time we're still working on getting a script written that won't infringe on anything that we're doing. Hopefully that will work out too."
Well, if that movie doesn't work out Mr. Parkman tells me he got a call last week regarding the "Ferrari Guy", his client in L.A., Stefan Eriksson. The engaging counselor tells me someone called wanting to know if they had sold the movie rights to Eriksson's life. "They wanted to know if we had sold Stefan to anybody else. I told 'em 'no I hadn't sold Stefan yet.' It would make a great movie. I'll tell you that, without a doubt."
I asked the man, who had said to me a few months ago that he would have loved to drive the Ferrari at 200 mph before it was crashed, if he was going to request to be the stunt double so he could drive the car.
"Not in the wreck, no. I refuse to be the stunt double on the wreck. I'll let Stefan do his own wreck. I think I'll do the one where he runs down to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and just drives around real slow. I'll do that stunt double part. But I'll let him handle the rest."
I reminded Parkman of his words to me a few months ago about wanting to drive the Ferrari at breakneck speed and asked him if something had changed. "Yeah, I saw the Ferrari two months ago in the lot and that changed my mind as to my desire to go that fast. I think the car will do it. I don't think that's the problem. If it did I would like to ride with a great driver doing it and see. I think it would be a thrill. I really do. 'Cause I know the car could do it."
One thing's for certain. There's sure to be more surprises and adventures as the "Hick with a Heart" ventures forth in search of his Holy Grail. As they say in TV -- stay tuned!
Reported by: Helen Hammons