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Thompson on Hollywood

Chasen Murder: Case Closed

Songwriter Diane Warren dedicated her Golden Globe award to her long-time publicist Ronni Chasen, who was shot and killed in the wee hours of November 16 by a lone bicycle-riding gunman, Harold Martin Smith, on Sunset and Whittier after the premiere of Warren's film, Burlesque. Smith later killed himself with the same gun on December 1. Many friends of Chasen's, Warren included, found it tough to accept the Beverly Hills police accounts of the murder. Why was the lone gunman so far away from his own neighborhood, why did he flee the scene without robbing Chasen, 64, and how did those five bullets shatter the glass and kill her?
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 20, 2011 2:54 AM
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  • 1 Comment
More: News, Obit

Postlethwaite Dies Too Soon at Age 64, Great Brit Character Actor

Pete Postlethwaite is a classic example of a great character actor whose face (with prominent nose and cheekbones) many would recognize without necessarily knowing his name. The British actor is dead at 64, after a 18-year bout with cancer. (A round-up of obits is below.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 3, 2011 7:09 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Pink Panther Director Blake Edwards Dies at 88, Video Clips

I grew up on the films of Blake Edwards, who has died at age 88. He is yet another example of a director whose kind we will not see again. Just as wife Julie Andrews was schooled in vaudeville, he possessed a range of skills that few can match today. Most impressively, he knew how to get a laugh from slapstick: the well-timed pratfall, the double take. No one else could have delivered the zany laughs in the best of the long-lived Pink Panther series, A Shot in the Dark. Edwards worked with the brilliant Peter Sellers to create the unforgettable klutz Inspector Clouseau, complete with clotted French accent and killer assistant, Cato, who could pounce on him at any moment, and with composer Henry Mancini, who scored almost all of Edwards’ films.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 16, 2010 5:46 AM
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  • 2 Comments

EXCLUSIVE: George Hickenlooper's Casino Jack Photo Diary

EXCLUSIVE: George Hickenlooper's Casino Jack Photo Diary
Director George Hickenlooper was working at the time of his tragic death (via accidental overdose) in Denver on October 30 at age 47. He was premiering his latest film, Casino Jack, starring Kevin Spacey in a story inspired by true events that is "so Gothic that at times," according to Hickenlooper, "if it were fiction, you would never believe it really happened."
  • By George Hickenlooper
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  • December 1, 2010 3:59 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Ronni Chasen Memorial: Friends Mourn Murdered Publicist

Ronni Chasen Memorial: Friends Mourn Murdered Publicist
Talk about an Influencer.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 22, 2010 1:11 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Chasen Tributes Pour In, Memorial Service November 21

It's been a tough day, not only as the death of Ronni Chasen meant the loss of a friend, but as the reality of her violent demise hit home. Also, many of us who spend time at late-night industry functions and drive home at night alone are thinking about how fragile our lives are. Chasen worked tirelessly, especially during Oscar season. How did she deserve to end like this? Tonight I will attend an impromptu get-together of her friends, after I do my best at a social media panel at the Egyptian. Here's the NYT.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 17, 2010 1:42 AM
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  • 3 Comments
More: Obit

Hollywood Publicist Ronni Chasen Found Shot to Death

On Saturday night, press agent Ronni Chasen came up to me at the Governor's Ball, kissed me on the cheek, asked me if I had greeted producers Dick and Lili Zanuck and Inception's Hans Zimmer and Chris Nolan, reminded me that she wanted me to interview composer Eliot Goldenthal for Julie Taymor's The Tempest, and told me to save the date for her Christmas party. I've known Chasen since she was a senior press agent at Rogers & Cowan in the 80s. She went on to run her own firm, Chasen & Co., which reps filmmakers and composers. Chasen, who was a diminutive but forceful blonde, kindly tutored me in the ways of Hollywood when I was fresh from New York. Her brother, director Larry Cohen, once shot a film in my upper West Side apartment. Chasen was one of those publicists who knew her job, loved her clients, and was able to suggest without being a nudge. She was, in short, a mensch. I am, like everyone else who knew her, in shock.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 16, 2010 6:32 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Beaver's Billingsley Gone at 94

The Cleavers were the suburban family I grew up with on black-and-white TV, and Leave it to Beaver's Barbara Billingsley, who played June to Hugh Beaumont's Ward, was my idea of the perfect Mom. Well, she's gone, at 94. I can still hear her soft, high plaintive voice: "Ward, I'm worried about the Beaver."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 16, 2010 10:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments
More: Obit, TV

Tony Curtis: A Life in Pictures

To go at 85 is to have lived a long and--in the case of Bronx-born Bernard Schwartz--productive life. High points in Tony Curtis's career include Some Like it Hot (channeling Cary Grant, kissing Marilyn Monroe, and making a very pretty woman, clip below), defining the groveling press agent in The Sweet Smell of Success, turning on Laurence Olivier in Spartacus, and challenging Sidney Poitier in 1958's The Defiant Ones, earning his only Oscar nomination.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 30, 2010 4:11 AM
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  • 0 Comments
More: Video, Obit

Bonnie and Clyde Director Arthur Penn Dies at 88

Theatre and film director Arthur Penn died in his Manhattan apartment Tuesday night of congestive heart failure, reports A.P. Penn died a year after his brother, photographer Irving Penn.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 29, 2010 9:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments

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