Times Pam & Tommy Lied To You

In 2022, Hulu debuted "Pam & Tommy," a finite series based on a real story lived by real people. In the mid-1990s, "Baywatch" star and sex symbol Pamela Anderson (portrayed in the show by Lily James) met heavy metal drummer Tommy Lee (played by Sebastian Stan) of Mötley Crüe. They quickly fell madly in love, got married, started a family ... and also made a very intimate tape of themselves doing what adult married people do, on a boat in Nevada's Lake Mead. Lee then so offended a man renovating his home that the guy stole the couple's safe, found the tape inside, and got it into the hands of adult film distributors. "Pam & Tommy" is all about the fallout of that leak, as well as the many personal, legal, privacy, and financial issues it stirred up.

Reality is far too messy and disjointed to ever inspire a completely accurate narrative project. Filmmakers must consolidate and truncate events to fit everything into a time slot, and keep it entertaining. They may also make things up when they see fit, entitled as they are to some artistic license. "Pam & Tommy" employs these tactics. Many times throughout the eight-episode limited series, what happens on screen isn't really what happened. Here are some moments when "Pam & Tommy" wasn't totally honest.

Rand Gauthier wasn't a goofy carpenter

The saga of the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee tape began with Rand Gauthier. Seeking revenge and monetary payback for being cheated out of thousands of dollars owed him by the couple for work he did on their home, Gauthier stole their private Hi8 tape and allowed it into the world at large. In "Pam & Tommy," he's portrayed by Seth Rogen as something of a doofus — fascinated with world religions and the concept of karmic justice, but also a less-than-fit schlubby guy with a mullet. The real Gauthier wasn't such an everyman. According to Rolling Stone, he had "gleaming tan muscles, broad shoulders, an eager, trusting smile" and a squeaky, surfer voice. In other words, he was a macho stud type, befitting his background as an adult film actor, which is depicted in "Pam & Tommy."

The miniseries also states on several occasions that Gauthier worked as a carpenter, first and foremost. While Anderson and Lee recall him installing their security system, they also refer to him as a carpenter, which he calls himself when gaining entry to the Anderson-Lee home to retrieve his tools. He even shows off his carpentry knowledge and skills, discussing the scarcity of Madagascan pine and removing nails, respectively. But Gauthier wasn't a carpenter — his work as an electrician – which Rolling Stone also corroborates — is what brought him into the home from where he'd steal a fated videocassette.

He didn't stumble on the tape days after he stole the safe

In showing how Rand Gauthier stole the safe that contained the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee tape, the makers of "Pam & Tommy" got some details right, and fudged a few others. For example, Rolling Stone confirms Gauthier really did dress up like Lee's giant fluffy white dog, concealing himself in a furry rug, to sneak onto the property. How he got the safe out didn't quite go as depicted on screen. The episode in question shows Gauthier enter the couple's garage and simply see the safe he knows is full of valuables like guns and jewelry. In actuality, according to Rolling Stone, Gauthier had to undo a large recording console weighing hundreds of pounds and several racks of tall and heavy equipment in order to gain access to the carpeted wall that hid the safe.

Once he had loaded the massive safe into his van and taken it to a remote location, Gauthier did spend a lot of time cutting it open to get to the valuable items inside. During that period of discovery, he found the unmarked Hi8 tape of Anderson and Lee. In the series, Seth Rogan's Gauthier is seen finding it by mistake in his apartment, having ransacked the safe and dumped its contents on the ground. He nearly steps on the tape and destroys it — but Gauthier really found it right away.

He didn't work alone

Early in "Pam & Tommy," Rand Gauthier works on an elaborate bedroom project for Tommy Lee at his home, with and alongside the general contractor, a shy guy named Lonnie (played by Larry Brown). Lee owes both guys a lot of money for the job, but Lonnie makes Gauthier do all the negotiating. He's not much of a resource or a support system for Gauthier, who hatches a revenge scheme to break into the home Lee shares with Pamela Anderson to get back at him for not paying him and sticking a gun in his face when he attempted to retrieve his tools. In "Pam & Tommy," Gauthier shares all of his plans with Lonnie, initially an accomplice who later backs out and then disappears from the narrative entirely. Gauthier ultimately executes the burglary of a heavy safe and the getaway all by himself.

Events didn't transpire this way in reality. According to Rolling Stone, Gauthier worked with a general contractor not named Lonnie but Troy Tompkins, and he actually went along on the tool recovery mission and was also held at gunpoint by Lee. Some sources allege that Tompkins drove the waiting getaway van for Gauthier.

Rand Gauthier and Uncle Miltie didn't shop the tape to studios first

"Pam & Tommy" is accurate in showing Rand Gauthier approach Milton Ingley, or "Uncle Miltie" (portrayed by Nick Offerman), an adult film producer with whom he'd previously worked for as a crew member and actor. "Pam & Tommy" shows them pounding the pavement looking for a distributor. A small detail left out of the Hulu show was the part where they destroyed the original tape and left the remains near Six Flags Magic Mountain, according to Rolling Stone, and shopped around copies instead. 

Also slightly inaccurate in the Hulu series, their first stop was adult film studio Vivid Entertainment, where an executive rejects the chance to distribute the tape fearing legal repercussions from Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. This implies that Gauthier and Ingley were slightly incompetent and green, going to the biggest name in adult films. In reality, they first offered the tape to someone with experience handling something close to the task at hand before: Ron Jeremy, an X-rated-movie icon who in the '90s had produced a "reality"-based dirty movie starring John Wayne Bobbitt, the man whose genitals were sliced off by his wife and reattached by surgeons.

Pam and Tommy didn't wind up in Mexico together quite like that

In "Pam & Tommy," after Tommy Lee met Pamela Anderson in a Hollywood club, they hit it off, and while flirting and kissing in the parking lot after, Lee invites himself along to Anderson's impending trip to Mexico.  Lee bombards Anderson's answering machine with messages. She finally picks up on one of his persistent calls and makes it clear she does not want him to follow her to Cancun. Lee does wind up in Cancun, getting ahold of Anderson by calling every hotel until he locates her.

"Pam & Tommy" writers tweaked this meet-cute story to make it more dramatic and romantic. According to Mötley Crüe's autobiography, "The Dirt" (via Rolling Stone), Lee followed Anderson and her friend to their car, kissed her, and got her phone number. Then they parted, only for Lee to repeatedly call Anderson for six weeks. One day, Lee got a message on his machine from Anderson, telling him she wanted "to play" at an Los Angeles hotel at 5 p.m. that day. He raced over, after making a stop to buy $400 worth of adult toys, but Anderson didn't show up. Tired of waiting, Lee called Anderson at home at 10 p.m., and she picked up, telling Lee she was on the way to the airport for a flight to Cancun. Lee picked up a couple of friends and they caught a plane to Cancun, too, where Lee says he found Anderson on the sixth hotel he called.

Their Mexican rendezvous was a lot less chaste

The second episode of "Pam & Tommy" sets the scene of the couple's rapid coupling, wedding, and Mexican mini-vacation. The overall story is true, but some of the details were changed for the series. 

Pamela Anderson had told Tommy Lee that she's going to Cancun, and it turns out to be a meet-and-greet with representatives of TV stations that air her hit syndicated series, "Baywatch." According to the New York Post, Anderson's trip to Mexico was for a photo shoot. In "Pam & Tommy," Lee becomes irate when he, Anderson, and his friends are thrown out of a bar for not meeting the dress code, calling it "stuffy." According to "The Dirt" (via Rolling Stone), Lee wasn't technically thrown out, but he wasn't let in either. 

Lee and Anderson left the bar, and after partying at a dance club as depicted in "Pam & Tommy," they then went back to Anderson's well-appointed hotel room. In the episode, Lee later tells a friend that for the four days they spent pretty much in the room, they passed the time "exploring" their bodies, because he wanted to wait until they were married for intercourse. The real Anderson and Lee laid together as man and wife before they got married four days into their Mexico trip.

Pam and Tommy realized they'd been robbed in a different manner

In "Pam & Tommy," the moment of dreadful discovery for Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, when they realize almost all at once that their home has been burglarized and their privacy egregiously violated, arrives when a jubilant Lee runs to the garage to lock up the couple's first sonogram picture of their unborn child in their safe. This is when Lee notices the safe, which was previously just sitting out, is gone, along with everything in it. He's livid, they call the cops, and Anderson realizes that their tape of their erotic boat adventures was in the safe along with her wedding bikini, guns, and jewelry.

It didn't quite happen like that in real life. Lee told Esquire that not long after he noticed the safe was gone in early 1996, a representative of Internet Entertainment Group called him. "He said he had bought the tape and was going to broadcast it on the internet." Not long after, Lee recalled eating dinner and watching TV with Anderson one evening "when we heard our names being mentioned on some news show," and then seeing footage of "a dude at Tower Video stocking the shelves with videotapes. And we knew just what they were."

Pamela Anderson's medical emergency didn't happen when the series says it did

"Pam & Tommy" is sympathetic to both sides of the war over the release of the intimate Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee videotape. It suggests Rand Gauthier had a right to enact vengeance after Lee refused to pay him for his construction work, fired him without cause, threatened him with a gun, and wouldn't let him have his own tools back. "Pam & Tommy" also shows the immense toll the theft of the private video had on Anderson's emotional and physical well-being. After she and her husband realize their tape has been stolen and copies are being purchased and viewed by who knows how many people, Anderson experiences such high levels of stress, anxiety, and mortification that she suffers a miscarriage of a joyfully awaited pregnancy.

While Anderson did indeed miscarry her first pregnancy with Lee, that didn't occur in 1996, during the videotape scandal. According to Entertainment Weekly, Anderson experienced that medical issue in 1995 and gave birth to a son, Brandon, in June 1996, around the time that "Pam & Tommy" takes place. As for Anderson's breakdown moment, when she takes an anti-theft device from Lee's car and smashes an intrusive fan's windshield, that's pure fiction.

Tommy Lee's professional indignities are fictional

A few moments throughout the "Pam & Tommy" miniseries establish that Tommy Lee is on a downward trajectory in terms of fame and influence. For example, he wistfully stares at plaques and awards congratulating Mötley Crüe on its album sales from many years earlier, dourly watches a Mötley Crüe "Behind the Music" that ties the band's decline to the rise of grunge, gets arrested after beating up a fan in the bathroom at The Viper Room, and gets livid when label Elektra Records demotes them to Studio B at their longtime recording studio in favor of rising alternative rock act Third Eye Blind occupying Studio A.

This point in "Pam & Tommy" takes place in 1996, so Lee couldn't have seen that "Behind the Music" episode because it didn't air until 1998. He really did get arrested at The Viper Room in 1996 (via the Chicago Tribune), but it was for accosting a photographer, not a fan. And Mötley Crüe likely never butted heads with Third Eye Blind. While both were Elektra Records acts, Third Eye Blind created its debut album at Toast Studios in San Francisco, among other studios. The album that Mötley Crüe would have been recording at the same time, "Generation Swine," was recorded at multiple studios, none of which were the same as Third Eye Blind.

Late in the series, as a sign that Lee's star is fading, a record store employee is shown placing copies of that very album, meant to be Mötley Crüe's "Generation Swine," into a clearance bin. That record wasn't a flop — it was certified gold for sales of 500,000 copies.

The real Rand Gauthier and Erica Boyer's story is much different than on-screen

Likely as a way to humanize and add layers to the complex character of Rand Gauthier, the real-life individual who stole the safe and sex tape from the home of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee and then pushed the tape into worldwide distribution, "Pam & Tommy" writers created a whole subplot involving the man and his former wife, an adult film star named Erica Boyer. Very little of the Rand-and-Erica subplot seems to be pulled directly from reality.

A flashback shows Gauthier meeting Boyer a half decade before the events of the limited series, when he's summoned to her apartment to perform some handyman tasks. According to Rolling Stone, their first encounter wasn't so random — they were set up on a blind date.

Later in the timeline, Gauthier, needing a place to hide when hired goons come looking for him, bunks with Boyer, now his estranged and soon to be ex-wife, and her partner, Danielle. In "Pam & Tommy," Gauthier seemingly hides with Boyer and Danielle for a few months. In the real world, Gauthier moved into the home of a different adult film associate not represented in the limited series, a director named Fred Piantadosi.

Rand Gauthier couldn't have accepted $10,000 for the original tape

According to Rolling Stone, Rand Gauthier ultimately settled his $50,000 debt to Butchie Peraino (played by Andrew "Dice" Clay in "Pam & Tommy") — a loan to cover distribution and manufacturing of the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee tape — by working violent collections. That is shown in "Pam & Tommy," as is an exchange between Seth Warshavsky of internet company Club Love and Gauthier. Because he needed the best quality video possible, Warshavsky offers Gauthier $10,000 for the original Anderson-Lee Hi8 cassette. In the show, because Peraino offered to clear his debt for $10,000, Gauthier accepts the deal. He retrieves the tape, hidden inside a ceiling panel in his former apartment, but instead of paying off Peraino, he gives the $10,000 to ex-wife Erica Boyer as a thank you/send-off gift. 

In truth, as per Rolling Stone, Gauthier and Warshavsky never had any sort of interaction. Also preventing the transaction from being factually feasible: At the beginning of the whole sordid true story, Gauthier and Uncle Miltie shopped around copies they'd made from the original tape, which they almost immediately destroyed. There was no "original" tape for Warshavsky to acquire, and thus no money for Gauthier to hand off to Boyer.

Because his debt was paid off in trade, Gauthier also probably didn't need to take the desperate move "Pam & Tommy" shows, like meeting with Lee late at night in a parking lot to ask for the sum he and his contractor were originally owed. The interaction, which ends with Lee lighting a stack of cash on fire, probably didn't happen.