Who Is Alan Roberts, the Director of ‘Innocence of Muslims’? We Think His Real Name Is Robert Brownell
Early yesterday morning VICE was anonymously furnished with documents that link a California resident man named Robert Brownell (aka Robert Brown)— to the pre-production of Innocence of Muslims, the F-grade anti-Islamic film that has resulted in the killing of US ambassador Christian J. Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, and widespread protests in the region, as well as violent protest at and around the US embassies in Sanna, Yemen and Cairo, Egypt. He is a man who has, as of yet, not been named in association with the film.
The documents clearly state that in 2009 and 2011 Robert Brownell purchased pre-production services related to Desert Warrior, which has been widely reported as the working title of the film that the world now tragically knows as The Innocence of Muslims. A second card issued to Robert Brown was used to purchase additional services from the same company.
The documents also include Robert Brownell’s address in Tarzana, California, (or at least his address when the purchases were made in 2009; it’s now up for sale), phone number, and “contact information,” which lists yet a different name—Alan Roberts.
If you’ve been following this story closely, you know that Alan Roberts was listed as the film’s original director alongside a man who produced—and some reports suggest ended up directing—the film: Sam Bacile, aka Sam Basselley, aka Nakoula Bassely Nakoula.
Peoplefinders.com lists a 65-year-old man named Robert Alan Brown in North Hollywood, California, as having the aliases Roboert [sic] Brownell and Alan B. Roberts. His “business associations” include Alan Roberts Entertainment (which I believe is or was located at this building here and which as far as I can tell has never handled the production of a single movie, at least not one that made the IMDB). A cross-search on Nexis’s public records database seems to corroborate that Robert Brownell, Robert Brown, and Alan Roberts are all the same person.
So for now, exactly who directed this scourge of humanity—and whether or not it had multiple directors and producers—is still unclear, but I have a feeling it won’t be that way for long.
As I see it (and to make things streak-free clear, this is only my personal theory), there are two ways this can go: 1) Robert Brownell/Robert A. Brown is an unlucky guy who had his identity stolen by the person who paid for aspects of pre-production concerning the film (which isn’t out of the question considering that Nakoula Bassely Nakoula has gone to prison for identity theft, among other things), or 2) Robert Brownell/Brown and Alan Roberts are the same person. Multiple calls to and voicemails left on the number listed for Alan Roberts in the documents were not returned. And to my ears, the voicemail greeting states, “Hi, thanks for calling. I’m sorry I’m not in to take your call but if at the sound of the tone you leave me your name and telephone number, I’ll be happy to get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for calling and have a great day,” spoken in the even-cadenced voice of a middle-age man. Is this Alan Roberts? Robert Brownell? Robert Brown? Will we ever know?
The documents also list a purchase made by a second (or possibly third) party:Jimmy Israel, who says he had minimal involvement in the film, the script of which he says was drastically different from the YouTube clips that have been denounced by members of the cast and crew and sparked widespread outrage in the Middle East. The accounts through which this information was obtained are registered to two users: Jimmy Israeal—and wouldn’t you know it—Adenob Basseley (whose address is listed as being in Hawaiian Gardens, CA, which would match up with the AP story that listed Nakoula Bassely Nakoula’s approximate location).
After innumerable dead-end calls and emails to Steve Klein, various cast and crew members, and completely unrelated people who happened to have the same names as people associated with the film, I attempted to contact Terry Jones (whom Motherboard interviewed yesterday) whose associate told me he was too busy to answer one follow-up question. When asked to relay the question she said, “No, nu-uh, we have never heard of a Robert Brownell or Robert Brown.” I pressed her: “Are you sure Terry has never heard of this name?” She said no. It seemed to me that if Robert Brownell played more than a cursory and unmemorable role in the film’s production, no one was going to own up to it.
The only other people to speak to me on the record were model and Desert Warrior/Innocence of Muslimscast member Tim Dax (who respectfully declined an interview with a “:)” and “Way too much!”) and, completely unexpectedly, Jimmy Israel—the only name without “Brown” in it that appeared in the leaked documents mentioned above.
Judging from our conversation, Jimmy seems like a very nice man. But if he does know Alan Roberts, or is friendly with someone named Robert Brownell, he did not spill the beans. (But if you have any information about this person or persons and are willing to share it with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
VICE: I was sent information that suggests you purchased pre-production services for Desert Warrior/Innocence of Muslims.
Jimmy Israel: I don’t deny that, but I will only speak for myself. No one else.
Then the original person came back. I worked two days on this job and that was it.
What was your official position on the production? Do you know if you’re credited in the film?
No. When Sam Bacile came to me he wanted me to produce the film, and I said OK. I am not a director; I am a producer. But I was going to—I wanted to direct the film. The original person who introduced me to Sam came back and said he would do it, so Sam went with him. So I worked two days and that was it.