The Encino mansion known as the M&C Estate—owned by a convicted sex offender named in the lawsuit against Bryan Singer—was home to the wild gay sex parties where Hollywood bigwigs allegedly preyed on underage boys. It was also used to film a 1998 pilot for Digital Entertainment Network described as a "gay pedophile version of Silver Spoons," starring an as yet unknown Seann William Scott.
Chad's World was intended to be the flagship show of the doomed Digital Entertainment Network (DEN), the Internet video company founded by convicted sex offender Marc Collins-Rector and his boyfriend Chad Shackley. (Both were named in the lawsuit that Michael Egan brought against Bryan Singer. Shackley's younger brother Scott went to high school with Egan, which is how the teen got involved with that whole scene.)
While Collins-Rector, Shackley and 17-year-old executive vice president and former child star Brock Pierce were able to raise nearly $100 million in capital, they weren't able to deliver the technology they'd promised their big-name investors (like seeing a lamp in a video, and having the ability to click on it and buy it). Instead, they weirdly devoted most of their attention to Chad's World, a scripted drama about a young gay boy who goes to live with his wealthy older brother and his rich boyfriend. It seems to be based on the lives of Collins-Rector (portrayed by Seann Williams Scott) and the Shackley brothers.
The endeavor was covered in a 2007 Radar magazine story about DEN.
Filmed at the M&C estate, Chad's World was the founders' most personal creative effort. Co-written by Collins-Rector, produced by Pierce, and loosely based on Shackley's life, it featured one of the boys who would later accuse the DEN founders of molestation.
Chad's World starred a 14-year-old actor named Brian Stark as Chad, and Seann William Scott—who shortly thereafter won a starring role in American Pie—as Jim, a California entrepreneur based on Collins-Rector. While the film's production quality was more in line with down-market porn than network programming, the producers doled out a mind-boggling $12 million in salaries for the series.
"Chad's World was the first signal that maybe things weren't right [with the company]," says Winter. "It was definitely, um, ahead of its time."
It felt like a "gay pedophile version of Silver Spoons," adds another industry observer who saw the pilot and five unaired episodes. "I first thought it was some sick fantasy of theirs," he adds. "When I found out about the molestation charges, I realized that it was more a case of art imitating life."
The show heavily features the infamous M&C Estate and was filmed around the time that Egan says he was sexually assaulted by Singer at the mansion.
Egan was one of three teens (along with Alexander Burton, who appeared in Singer's first X-Men movie) who sued Collins-Rector in 2000 for sexual abuse. From the same 2007 Radar piece:
One of the alleged victims was identified as Mike E. The slim, dark-haired 14-year-old, who attended a small private high school in the Valley, befriended Chad's brother Scott, who led him to DEN. Mike had an interest in acting, so when Collins-Rector outlined the possibilities for stardom offered by the site, the boy began spending time at the mansion, where there was one key rule. He recalls: "If you were going to sleep over, you had to get into either the pool or the hot tub—and you had to be naked to do so." In an exclusive interview, Mike E. confirms having been forced to engage in anal and oral intercourse with Collins-Rector, Shackley, and Pierce while under the influence of drugs that he claims were fed to him without his knowledge. At the same time, he says, Collins-Rector and Shackley were pushing him to become a legally emancipated minor. Although Ronald Palmieri, Collins-Rector's lawyer at the time, dismisses the allegations, saying, "There was never any such discussion that I know of," Radar has obtained correspondence sent by Shackley to Palmieri's law office requesting an update on the status of Mike E.'s emancipation filing.
Shortly after the molestation allegations surfaced in 2000, Collins-Rector, Shackley and Pierce fled the country and lived undetected for two years in Spain before they were picked up by Interpol. Collins-Rector eventually pled guilty to eight counts of child enticement and wasn't required to serve jail time. Egan and the other boys were awarded a civil judgment, but Collins-Rector has reportedly avoided paying it. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
Shackley—who met Collins-Rector, then 31, on an Internet bulletin board when he was just 15—is now living in Michigan and apparently enrolled in college.
Pierce has since struck it rich.
As founder of IGE (Internet Gaming Entertainment), Pierce has made a killing selling broadswords, battle axes, and other assets to enthusiasts of multiplayer online games like EverQuest and World of Warcraft. Headquartered in Hong Kong, the company hires gamers—thought to be Chinese nationals working in virtual sweatshops—to rack up items inside the games and sell them for real-world dollars to participants who have more money than skill. While not illegal, such deals do run afoul of game rules and are detested by many players.
It's rumored that Collins-Rector is involved in Pierce's IGE, which does an estimated $250 million a year in business.
Daniel Cheren, a lawyer who represented three of the boys in their civil suits, openly voices his suspicions about Collins-Rector's involvement, and suggests that money from the new venture should go to the victims. Among other indications, when IGE first surfaced, it listed an address in Marbella, Spain, the town where the trio hid out. Paperwork for the company's incorporation in the United States was filed by Matt Rector, Collins-Rector's brother, along with Collins-Rector's former business partner, attorney Randy Maslow—then IGE's executive vice president.