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April 26, 2024 5 mins

Thousands of young people, dreaming of stardom, head to Hollywood. A few make it, but so many more are victimized by predators who specifically prey on the most vulnerable types. This is the story of the Digital Entertainment Network, aka DEN, among the first companies with plans to stream digital content to young adults. That blew up because of its owner's lust for young boys.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Did you see the docuseriies Quiet on the Set The
Dark Side of Kids TV? Well, if that shocked you,
then this story of what happened to a number of
young teen guys just trying to make it in Hollywood
masshock you even more. I'm Patty Steele. The Inner Workings
and the depravity of Den. That's next on the backstory.

(00:25):
The backstory is back. If you are young and obsessed
with the idea of making it in Hollywood, it's kind
of easy to see how people with money and connections
can look like a seductive path forward. Well that's what
happened to so many young guys back in the late
nineteen nineties when they were introduced to the men that
ran the Digital Entertainment Network otherwise known as DEN. DEN

(00:49):
was a pretty ambitious venture, an early attempt to revolutionize
how we consume media with internet based content. The guys
at DEN aimed their programming at teens and young adults,
with original programming streamed online, whose brand new thinking at
the time really quickly. DEN had a huge buzz in Hollywood,

(01:09):
not just for its pioneering technology, but also for its
insane parties. A list celebrities showed up at the nearly
thirteen thousand square foot mansion in Encino, California, the Den's founder,
Mark Collins, Rector, shared with his business and life partners.
They were Chad Shackley, whom Mark metwin Chad was still

(01:29):
in high school, and former child actor Brock Pierce from
the Mighty Dux flicks. Boys as young as thirteen, fourteen,
fifteen years old were invited into the Den's inner sanctum
for those parties. Among the Hollywood elite who partied there
and also invested in Den with the promise of meeting
the bright young stars of tomorrow were X Men director

(01:51):
Brian Singer, as well as legendary media mogul David Geffen.
So Den had a red hot moment in the spotlight
with those huge, huge investors, and at one point was
valued at more than one hundred million dollars. But pretty
soon the talk about what went on in that mansion
began to impact the business. Word was Colin's rector and

(02:13):
others were sexually assaulting those young teen boys. Finally, in
the summer of two thousand, a federal grand jury criminally
indicted him for transporting miners across state lines for sex
as human trafficking. Several young boys said that he had
plied them with drugs and threatened them with a gun
for refusing to have sex with him, and they said

(02:35):
that they were passed around at parties to powerful older
men like they were party favors. After his indictment, Colin's
Rector fled to Spain along with Shackley and Pierce, but
two years later they were nabbed by Interpol living in
the city of Marbea. Shacklei and Pierce weren't charged, but

(02:56):
Mark Collin's Rector was put in prison. Guns, eddies, and
child porn were found in the house. Mark fought extradition
for almost three years before returning to the US, where
he pleaded guilty. He had to register as a sex offender,
and he was sentenced to time served in that Spanish prison,
where he says he was tortured. A lot of folks

(03:18):
thought the sentence was way too light, but it effectively
ended his career At the time. He maintained he fled
from the US because he believed that David Geffen, his
investor and arguably one of the most powerful men in Hollywood,
wanted to destroy him. Geffen, of course denies all that
in two thousand and six, a US court gave Mark

(03:38):
special permission to go to the UK to get treatment
for a brain tumor. While there, he renounced his US
citizenship and has never come back to the United States.
From many years now, he's been living in a one
bedroom apartment in Antwerp, Belgium, quite a calmdown at the
age of sixty four. He now uses several names, including
Mark Collins and morgana On Phoenix says he tries to

(04:01):
create content of some sort as far as his cohorts.
While Chad Shackley now lives a very simple life in
his hometown of Bay City, Michigan, brock Pierce has had
a more colorful couple of decades. After separating himself from
Mark Collins, rector in Chad Shackley, he went on to
become an entrepreneur. In the mid two thousands, he was

(04:22):
semi connected to the late investment mogul and sexual predator
Jeffrey Epstein, but nothing nefarious turned up there. He's come
a long way since the Mighty Ducks and the Den, though,
after getting involved early in the cryptocurrency marketplace with Bitcoin,
it's now estimated he's worth two billion dollars. Not surprisingly,

(04:43):
he has little interest in talking about Mark Collins Rector.
Much like the Harvey Weinstein story and countless others we've
seen since the rise of the Me Too movement, the
story of Den highlights how predators can exploit Hollywood's allure
to abuse the most vulnerable. That's pretty heartbreaking. Sure. Hope

(05:11):
you're enjoying the Backstory with me, Patty Steele, and if
you would, I'd appreciate it if you would subscribe, And
also if you have a story you'd like me to
dig into and share, please dm me on Facebook at
Patty Steele or on Instagram at Real Patty Steele. I'm
Patty Steele. The Backstories a production of iHeartMedia, Premiere Networks,

(05:33):
the Elvis Durand Group, and Steel Trap Productions. Our producer
is Doug Fraser. Our writer Jake Kushner. We have new
episodes every Tuesday and Friday. Feel free to reach out
to me with comments and even story suggestions on Instagram
at Real Patty Steele and on Facebook at Patty Steele.
Thanks for listening to the Backstory with Patty Steele. The

(05:54):
pieces of history you didn't know you needed to know
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