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The Hulu series Pam & Tommy has reopened old wounds for Pamela Anderson. In telling the story of her leaked sex tape with then-husband Tommy Lee, Anderson has spoken out against the drama telling her account without her participation or consent. The TNT series Rich & Shameless also has a documentary, The Crime Against Pam & Tommy, about the same events, and Anderson did not participate in that either. 

Pamela Anderson smiles as she's led into The Crazy Horse
Pamela Anderson | Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

The Crime Against Pam & Tommy director Jenny Popplewell joined a Television Critics Association Zoom panel for Rich & Shameless on Feb. 14. Popplewell explained how the documentary sought justice for Anderson, even though Anderson did not get involved. Rich & Shameless premieres this summer, but a sneak preview of The Crime Against Pam & Tommy airs Feb. 19. 

Pamela Anderson won’t talk about the sex tape anymore 

Popplewell offered Anderson and Lee the chance to tell their side of the story in The Crime Against Pam & Tommy. They declined, but Popplewell felt she found others close to the story to represent Anderson’s defense. Anderson’s VIP co-star Natalie Raitano spoke on Anderson’s behalf. 

We reached out to Pamela Anderson right at the start and to Tommy and asked them if they would like to be involved. And we heard back through their representatives that no, it’s just a period of their time that they’re not interested in looking at again. But, there were people that we invited into the film who were very close to Pam and Tommy, who had been their best friends during that era and were able to speak on their behalf, championing their story and making sure that people understand that they had absolutely no part in this. They tried for years to stop this tape getting out. 

Jenny Popplewell, Television Critics Association panel, 2/14/22

The Pamela Anderson sex tape was not a joke 

Popplewell said that reporters still brought up the sex tape to Anderson as recently as five years ago. Popplewell lamented that those reporters did not appear to be sympathetic to Anderson. She hopes The Crime Against Pam & Tommy changes people’s view on the leaked sex tape.

So Pam has given interviews for many years and stated that she has never seen the tape, that she didn’t release it, that she didn’t make any money from its release. I still think that we didn’t really listen. We didn’t really acknowledge what she was saying. Still, when I look back at archival interviews in 2015, 2017, it’s still kind of a joke, people still laughing at her or with her or assume she’s laughing with them. I think that’s been quite a key part of this film is to turn that dial up and say it wasn’t a laughing matter. We needed to take her seriously. This was revenge porn before we knew it was revenge porn. I think that’s what this job is going to do. It’s going to settle that truth for her. Maybe it won’t be brought up again in interviews to be laughed at.

Jenny Popplewell, Television Critics Association panel, 2/14/22

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Milton Ingley released the sex tape, but he has since died. His daughter, Helen, spoke to Poppplewell for The Crime Against Pam & Tommy.

“Until I worked on this, I had absolutely no idea the lengths they went to and the lengths the people in this film went to to ensure that it was seen by the public,” Popplewell said. “I don’t know if this could happen today, but it’s quite an extraordinary tale of a domino effect where this tape goes from one hand to the next, and each person comes up with a new plan as to how to get this out there despite legal battles from Pam and Tommy.”

‘Rich & Shameless’ didn’t expect to have an exclusive 

Popplewell said she’s not surprised Hulu beat her documentary to air. She thought the story was too big not to have multiple versions. Popplewell hopes both series vindicate Anderson.

“I welcome another way to correct the narrative for Pamela,” Popplewell said. “I think the more people that know the truth, the better. Whether that comes in drama form or documentary, I think that’s good. So I was excited that it was going to be and is so high profile but also, at the same time, not too surprised that we wouldn’t be the only people telling their story.”