Several months have passed since Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen) enacted the brazen heist at the heart of Pam & Tommy and begun utilizing the internet to distribute the illegally acquired sex tape. “The Master Beta” opens with a montage depicting the global reach of this business model before cutting to Pam (Lily James) and Tommy (Sebastian Stan) finding out she is pregnant. “Guess what, f***ers? I’m gonna be a dad! On purpose!” announces the elated rock star to his bandmates. Unfortunately, this celebratory mood will be short-lived when they find out their most intimate moments are being watched by complete strangers.
The two stories merge when the couple finally discovers the theft of the safe and everything within. Up until now, Rand has merrily been going about his illicit business by “harnessing the power of the web.” While he isn’t rolling in as much cash as he might’ve expected from this venture, he does have enough money to pay Erica (Taylor Schilling) back $400 — though not enough to cover the divorce. When he visits her on set the title card informs us it is now January 1996 and another figure is lurking trying to introduce these adult entertainment stars to the world of webcams. The VHS revolution transformed this industry, but that has nothing on what is going to happen online over the coming years.
Bootleg copies of the stolen tape are being sold at Tower Records before Pam and Tommy even know the tape was first made available online. The couple head to a public library to use the internet facilities so they can confirm what they already fear to be true.
“The Master Beta” depicts the firestorm that follows — including the loss of their baby. In reality, Anderson had a miscarriage in 1995; the series has altered and compressed events to fit the narrative (it should be noted once again that the actress did not participate in the production).
We are going to separate fact from fiction in the limited series Pam & Tommy. This episode-by-episode guide continues with the discovery of the stolen safe, the lengths the paparazzi went to in order to get a snap of the couple and the reason why a biker gang got involved.
When did Pam & Tommy realize their safe was missing?
In 2022 it's hard to fathom that a news item could appear about a stolen sex tape a month before the couple even realized there had been a theft, but this is exactly what happened to Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.
Reporter Amanda Chicago Lewis (whose Rolling Stone article was adapted to create the series) remarks in that 2014 deep dive the Daily Mail’s end of 1995 review “mentioned that a video of the two having sex on a yacht was supposedly on sale in Los Angeles.” The discovery of the missing safe wasn’t made until the middle of January when Lee was dismantling the studio and he “saw nothing but empty space where the safe had once been.” Lee recalls this discovery in the Mötley Crüe autobiography The Dirt, but in the series, it is when the father-to-be goes to put the sonogram image in the safe that he realizes it has been stolen. Anderson was pregnant at this time but with their first son Brandon (who was born in May 1996).
The couple did hire the high profile (and recently back in business) private detective Anthony Pellicano (played by Don Harvey). While he doesn’t speak to Uncle Miltie (Nick Offerman) before he flees to Amsterdam in Pam & Tommy, Pellicano did catch up with the “money guy” in real life. Similar to what actually happened, the PI quickly deduces that one of the contractors who had done work in the Malibu house had the opportunity and also the motive — rather than any of the famous people Tommy says has a grudge against him. However, Miltie didn't rat out Gauthier, as he claimed he got the video from the couples’ interior designer Guerin Swing.
How intense was the paparazzi?
Very. It began as soon as they returned from their whirlwind trip to Cancun, which Lee describes in The Dirt (and was depicted in the second episode).
“The moment we walked off the plane at LAX, the s*** storm hit. The airport was swarming with f***ing photographers. We fought our way to my car and drove to my place. I glanced up at the hill overlooking the house and dudes with cameras were camped out everywhere.”
Both Anderson and Lee had been in high profile relationships before, but Lee calls this attention “a whole other level of stalking” that even included the extreme low of chasing the ambulance Anderson was in when she suffered a miscarriage. Tabloid photographers continued to take photos of Anderson when she went to the hospital in October 1995 (when she was pregnant with Brandon).
While Lee had several run-ins with photographers (including getting arrested for pointing a sawed-off shotgun at one) the moment Anderson smashes up a car belonging to a paparazzi after she has lost their baby at the end episode 4 is pure cathartic fantasy.
What is Tommy’s connection to the biker gang?
The third episode showcased the involvement of the mob, and in “The Master Beta” Rand has several close calls with a biker gang who have been sent to destroy all copies of the tape — and to find Rand. Chicago Lewis explains this connection to a biker gang in Los Angeles is through Mötely Crüe’s head of security, who was a former Hells Angel, although Gauthier told her they were “a Mexican gang called the Bandidos.” Pam & Tommy opts for the first choice and the group turns up at Miltie’s studio after a visit from Tommy.
This episode also shows the bikers using an image of Rand on the cover of an adult movie he starred in, but they initially identify the wrong guy as the thief. This sounds somewhat implausible or an invention by the writers, but Chicago Lewis reports this event really happening. Once again this story is stranger than fiction.
More Pam and Tommy Fact vs. Fiction
Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.
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