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Thompson on Hollywood

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

Editor Sally Menke Died in Beachwood Canyon During Heat Wave, Dog At Her Side

Editor Sally Menke's body was found by searchers at the bottom of a Beachwood Canyon ravine Tuesday morning, her Lab at her side. She was 56, and had been hiking Monday in L.A.'s extreme heat (which broke the downtown record of 113 degrees Monday, as well as the thermometer recording that record), reports the LAT. I had the pleasure of meeting Menke last year at Lawrence Bender's Oscar party for Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, which she edited, along with all of Tarantino's films. It was great fun talking to her about how she and Tarantino debated the merits of whether to divide the film into five chapters or try to weave it into another narrative. Tarantino won that argument.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 28, 2010 4:58 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Oscar-Winner Patricia Neal Dies at 84 After a Tragic Life

Patricia Neal has died at her home on Martha's Vineyard, of lung cancer. She was 84. Neal started out strong as a Hollywood leading lady, a beautiful and powerful character actress in such films as The Fountainhead, co-starring her lover Gary Cooper, The Day the Earth Stood Still, A Face in the Crowd and Hud, for which she won the best actress Oscar in 1964.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 9, 2010 4:56 AM
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  • 6 Comments
More: Obit

Dennis Hopper's Summer of Love: American Dreamer

In a double-bill with Easy Rider, the rarely seen 16 mm doc American Dreamer kicked off a month-long Dennis Hopper tribute at L.A.’s Silent Movie Theater, which coincides with a major retrospective of Hopper’s art at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Amy Dawes covered the films and the Q & A with co-director L.M. “Kit” Carson.
  • By Amy Dawes
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  • July 12, 2010 2:37 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Wright, Working Title Take on Live-Action Little Mermaid

Here's welcome news you've all been waiting for: a live action adaptation of the Little Mermaid is in the works. The script is by Abi Morgan (Brick Lane) and director Joe Wright is partnered with Working Title (who also brought us Wright's Atonement and Pride and Prejudice). This is no Alice In Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella (just to name a few of the fairy tales in development or production). It's the original Hans Christian Anderson Little Mermaid - which is more darkly beautiful adult horror story than children's sing-a-long (a stage play adaptation at Little Angel Theatre Company, founded by Wright's father, was part of the inspiration). Wright may prove the right man to channel the spirit of Anderson's Little Mermaid without the happily-ever-after Disney ending that skews the story's legacy.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • July 8, 2010 5:33 AM
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Legendary Hollywood Agent Ed Limato Dies at 73

Hollywood talent agent Ed Limato died Saturday at home in Beverly Hills. He was 73. He had been in and out of Cedar Sinai in recent months.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 3, 2010 10:47 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Film Scholar Brunette Dies at Taormina

Film academic and critic Peter Brunette died of a sudden heart attack at age 66 Wednesday morning at the Taormina Film Festival. I knew him well. We'd do round tables together at Cannes, share post-screening takes standing by our mail boxes at the Palais, or hang in line at Telluride. He was an infectious film enthusiast, and a canny film writer. He paid for his festival jaunts with freelance income. During the year he was a full-time professor at Wake Forest University, where he was director of their film studies program and published several film books, on Michael Haneke and Wong Kar Wai, among others. I will sorely miss him.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 16, 2010 5:17 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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