Posted by Danielle Berrin
Looks like the long talked about merger between William Morris Agency and Endeavor is finally happening, after rumors swirled for months.
According to the L.A. Times, “Driving the merger is a punishing economic climate in which fewer jobs for actors, directors and writers and a contracting market for TV shows mean lower commissions and fees for the agencies that depend upon them for their bread and butter.”
However there are devilish details that have threatened to derail the deal all along: How many agents would be let go (WMA has 300, Endeavor 75)? What would the new agency be called (William Morris Endeavor was one option)? Who will run the show (WMA CEO Jim Wiatt or Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel)?
According to the Hollywood Reporter, William Morris’ board will have to downsize and make room for Endeavor reps: “Among the strongest contenders to be on a combined board, other than WMA CEO Jim Wiatt and president David Wirtschafter, are COO Irv Weintraub, motion picture head John Fogelman and New York-based literary co-head Jennifer Rudolph Walsh.” (I interviewed Irv Weintraub, a finance wiz and Jewish community macher about a year ago.)
Last night, I heard that William Morris has confirmed to its clients that the merger is happening and will be announced next week. With that, WMA will lay off 50% of their television department though they’ll retain their name, that century-old brand recognition. But it sounds like Jim Wiatt will have to defer to the cocksure Ari Emanuel when it comes to deal making.
Still, another dilemma remains: Apparently a client merger is problematic too. WMA brings everybody’s favorite anti-Semite Mel Gibson to the table and Endeavor reps Larry David, who has reportedly said he will not work through the same agency as Gibson. So what happens now??
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April 23, 2009 | 2:28 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Among Hollywood’s most sought-after publicists, Howard Bragman, 53, has a celebrity clientele that includes Stevie Wonder, Ricki Lake, Mischa Barton and Ed McMahon. In 1989, he founded Bragman Nyman Cafarelli Public Relations and Marketing (BNC), which became one of the premier PR firms in the country before it was sold in 2001. In 2005, he founded Fifteen Minutes, his own boutique agency, where he specializes in entertainment, crisis management and the gay/lesbian market.
Here, he talks to me about the Facebook and Twitter craze, how even Mother Teresa could have used a publicist, and what Israel should do to buffer its image.
Jewish Journal: Your new book, ‘Where’s My Fifteen Minutes?’ makes the point that anyone can become famous. Is this a good thing?
Howard Bragman: Well, the reality is that even 10 years ago, public figures were actors, politicians, athletes and other ‘celebrities.’ With Facebook and Google and iPhones and the world we live in today, we all have a public image, and that’s my main premise here.
JJ: You’ve said that if a person doesn’t take the opportunity to define their own image, somebody else will do it for them and they probably won’t like the results. So as a publicist, is it your job to control that process?
HB: A publicist no longer has the luxury of control; what a publicist can do is manage. If you do something stupid in public, somebody’s going to capture it on their phone and it’s going to get out there.
JJ: How do you manage reputations in the viral age of Facebook and Twitter?
HB: People’s careers can fall apart so quickly now. They can get into trouble in a matter of minutes. Look at Mel Gibson when he had his reported anti-Semitic moment.
JJ: How would you have handled that?
HB: Sometimes somebody has something that’s so bad you can’t fix it. What you can always do is help the client understand what they’re going through, help ease the pain.
JJ: Could a publicist have helped Bernie Madoff?
HB: No, I think he was terminal. I think his shonda was so great that there was no hope for him. I think that’s between him and his lord, and he better pray that wherever we go from here, there’s a place of great forgiveness.
JJ: This month, there’s a story in Vanity Fair about New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. In his case, he refused to speak with the investigating journalist and the story wound up being very unflattering to him. Isn’t it better for image branding to establish camaraderie with a journalist?
HB: What I help celebrities understand is that stories are going to have nuance to them; except for your bar mitzvah and your wedding day, nothing is all roses and chocolate cake. It’s not in any journalist’s best interest to write a totally positive story and present a bouquet of flowers. Nobody’s that wonderful. I’m sure even Mother Teresa had a pimple once.
JJ: She befriended a Haitian dictator. And had questionable donors.
HB: Everybody makes a decision. I don’t think Dick Cheney cares what the press says. He’s transcended it. There are some people who relish the negative, like Ann Coulter. She’s a hater, and she thinks it sells books.
JJ: Your book is all about Hollywood. Does it have any relevance for someone living in an area that’s less metropolitan, like your hometown of Flint, Mich.?
April 22, 2009 | 3:33 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Ticking off religious groups when you make a movie about religion is de rigueur in Hollywood.
The latest religious riff is between Catholic League president William Donohue and director Ron Howard, who are sparring over Howard’s movie “Angels and Demons.” In response to Catholic protests, Howard posted a defense of his film entitled “It’s A Thriller, Not A Crusade,” on The Huffington Post. In it, he argued that the film is not anti-Catholic and people should still see it. Donohue responded to Howard’s treatise by accusing the film of anti-Catholic propaganda and calling Howard “delusional.”
Nice try guys, but this tension is really child’s play compared with the polemics that surrounded “Passion of the Christ.” Can we get Mel Gibson to comment? Please?
And while I completely appreciate Howard’s defense of his film - it’s a movie! It’s fiction!—there is someone Catholics can get mad at: The author. Millions of people have bought Dan Brown’s book, but have they read it? Not exactly a sparkling portrait of the Catholic faith. But a really fun read!
April 20, 2009 | 9:08 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
If I were 13, I’d probably be swooning over Zachary David Alexander Efron. There would be photos of his heart-melting face plastered all over my bedroom (the way it was for Russell Crowe) and I’d have devoted countless diary entries to my unrequited love for him, hoping upon hope that—sigh—someday I could move to California and meet him. But my high-school heartthrob days have long since passed (don’t feel pity, I had Leo) and my heart will go on. I’ll leave this cutie (cute, like in a little brother way) for the generation who has already claimed him—that is, if “High School Musical” co-star/girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens lets him out to play…
But just how Jewish is Zac Efron? According to Wikipedia, Efron was “born in San Luis Obispo, California and later moved to Arroyo Grande, California. His father, David Efron, is an engineer at a power plant, and his mother, Starla Baskett, is a former secretary who worked at the same power plant as Efron’s father. Efron had a self-described “normal childhood” in a middle class family, and has a younger brother, Dylan. Efron is of Jewish ancestry and is an agnostic, having never been religious.”
Before he starred in the smash success, High School Musical, Wikipedia weighs in on how he fared in real-life high school:
“He has said that he would “flip out” if he got a B and not an A in school, and that he was a “class clown”. Although self-described as not academically gifted, he remained focused enough to achieve an overall GPA of 4.3. Efron’s father encouraged him to begin acting when Efron was eleven. He subsequently appeared in theater productions at his high school, worked in a theater called The Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville, and began taking singing lessons. Efron performed in plays such as Gypsy, Peter Pan, Or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, Little Shop of Horrors, and The Music Man. Efron was recommended to an agent in Los Angeles by his drama teacher, Robyn Metchik (the mother of actors Aaron Michael Metchik and Asher Metchik). He was later signed to the Creative Artists Agency.”
Efron graduated from Arroyo Grande High School in 2006, and was then accepted into the University of Southern California, but he deferred his enrollment while he worked on film projects. He plans to return at some time. Efron also attended Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, a community college located in Santa Maria, California, which provided him with the opportunity to perform as a “young player” during the years of 2000 and 2001.”
One thing Wikipedia doesn’t tell you: “Efron” in Hebrew means “lark,” as in the singing bird.
At a tender 21-years-old, hasn’t been around long. His already epic career began in 2002 with some unmemorable TV appearances. He then played a recurring character on the WB series “Summerland,” but it was quickly canceled. Alas in 2006—just three years ago—he won his breakthrough role starring in Disney’s “High School Musical.” There, Efron played a high-school Basketball hunk who spends most of his time capering through the hallways, canoodling with his lady-love and exercising complete social authority over his classmates. The Disney Channel Original Movie became the most successful in the cable channel’s history and begot two sequels (with rumors of a third in the works), with High School Musical 3 enjoying the rare made-for-TV privilege of a theatrical release. Ever since, Efron has expeditiously ascended the ranks of Hollywood stardom, having won another hunky, dancing lead in John Waters’ “Hairspray” and yet another lead in “17 Again” which opened this past weekend and topped box office charts (yes, he surpassed my beloved Gladiator in box office appeal, but what do you expect when the NY Times publishes such hateful drivel as this story?)
In an interview with Elle magazine last summer, Efron was candid about his newfound super-fame: “At first it was mostly kids who recognized me,” Efron said. “The Past eight months it’s completely turned around. It’s been moms and dads. And Mrs. Robinsons. Wink, wink.”
Check out these racy photos of Zac lying on the beach beneath a naked model…
And the corresponding story in Interview magazine where he chats with Oscar-nominated director Gus Van Sant (“Milk,” “Good Will Hunting”)
An excerpt from Interview:
VAN SANT: I wanted to ask you about this Richard Linklater film. Is it Orson and Me?
EFRON: Me and Orson Welles.
VAN SANT: Where did you shoot that?
EFRON: Rick was brilliant, because he found this great theater on the Isle of Man, which, after a little bit of work, looked a whole lot like the Mercury Theatre did in 1937. We took a beautiful theater and made it look rusty and old and dusty, and, once we filled it with extras dressed in 1930s attire, the place was very believable. It even smelled like an old theater. It was pretty neat because we were basically stuck there—you know, we couldn’t leave. There was nowhere to go on the Isle of Man. So we lived in that theater for several weeks. It was fun and exciting, but it was also kind of maddening. I went a little bit insane.
VAN SANT: The Isle of Man—they have a small community there.
EFRON: Yeah, so as soon as they figured out that we were filming there, everyone in the town knew. There was always a small group of onlookers out in front of the theater while we were filming. It was pretty funny.
VAN SANT: And so the play that they’re putting on in the film is Julius Caesar?
EFRON: Yeah. Orson Welles was doing Julius Caesar, but he had a unique adaptation. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but Stalin was Julius Caesar in the Orson Welles adaptation, so it put a whole new practical spin on the play at the time, which was really neat.
VAN SANT: Were there any Mercury Theatre players who were still alive that you met?
EFRON: I haven’t met any of them, but I know there aren’t many who are still alive. Norman Lloyd is still around. There’s a great documentary about Orson Welles, and it has to do with William Randolph Hearst and the making of Citizen Kane  . . . Welles was just hungry. He was actually doing radio to fund his theater, because, as you know, they were in the hole for most of their shows. So they were going from paycheck to paycheck just to run the Mercury Theatre.
VAN SANT: And then eventually Welles went off and did Citizen Kane.
EFRON: Yeah. I don’t think that was too long after.
VAN SANT: How old is Orson Welles in your movie?
EFRON: He’s in his mid-twenties, but he’s got the wisdom and the presence of a 50-year-old . . . Well, you know, a 30-year-old guy. [laughs]
VAN SANT: A friend of mine was Welles’s chauffer.
EFRON: Oh, really?
VAN SANT: Yeah. Welles was in his sixties, and he was in L.A. This was in the ’70s. My friend would drive him in some giant 1950s car that was painted turquoise. It was a convertible. The top was always down, and Welles would wear a huge 10-gallon hat and ride in the passenger seat, because I think he liked that people would see him and recognize him. There’s still a movie of his that we haven’t seen. I think it’s called The Other Side of the Wind. I hear it has a bunch of people playing Welles. John Huston plays him at an older age. Peter Bogdanovich plays him at a younger age. It’s his last unfinished film. I don’t know where it is, but I haven’t met anyone who has seen it.
EFRON: That’ll be interesting. People always have such a different way of playing him. They tend to go for the Citizen Kane interpretation.
VAN SANT: When is Me and Orson Welles going to come out?
EFRON: I think some time later this year.
Read more of the ‘Interview’ interview with Efron and Gus Van Sant here
April 20, 2009 | 5:47 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
It’s hard to decide which Nora Ephron is most famous for:
a) beginning her career by impugning the integrity of famous feminists, her alma mater Wellesley College and her employer at The New York Post
b) writing the most defining romantic comedies of her day (i.e. “Sleepless in Seattle,” “When Harry Met Sally”)
c) revealing the identity of Deep Throat, after divorcing her cheating second-husband Carl Bernstein (of Watergate fame)
No stranger to controversy, Ephron has always embraced taboo topics in her work. In 2006, she released a sparkling book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman” in which she used sass, humor and style to lampoon female aging.
The romantic comedies that made her a legend are now so passe: She’s onto more serious female portrayals. Next up is a Julia Child biopic, “Julie and Julia” about the incomparable female chef, starring the incomparable Meryl Streep.
Ephron talks to USA Today about casting Streep in the upcoming summer flick:
Director/writer Nora Ephron, who did the screenplays for Streep’s Silkwood (1983) and Heartburn (1986), says the actress basically did an informal audition for her a couple of Junes ago when they bumped into each other at New York’s Shakespeare in the Park.
“It was before I even started writing the script,” the filmmaker says. “She asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Blah, blah, Julie Powell, Julia Child, 524 recipes.’ She went into Julia as we were walking out of the theater. She did her for a full 10 seconds. I think she even said, ‘Bon appétit,’ ” the late chef’s famous sign-off from her PBS cooking show. “I thought, ‘OK, look no further.’ “
Once Prada opened, Ephron says, “I knew if I could get her, not only would she be the best person for it, but she would also force the studio to make the film. She was a movie star at age 57 or whatever she is.”
The role is more of a stretch than usual for Streep, who is 59. Not only does her half of the plot begin with Child at age 37 in 1949 as a student at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, but the chef also was a strapping 6-foot-2.
How did Streep, who is 5-foot-6 or so, manage to create such a towering presence? “Meryl believed that in order to capture the essence of the character, you had to believe Julia Child is 6-foot-2,” Ephron says. “Actually, our ambitions were more modest. We made her 6 feet. We used a whole bunch of fabulous tricks. Everything we could think of. Ann Roth did amazing things with costumes.”
Naturally, the whiz at accents nailed the native Californian’s distinctive vocal inflections. A dark, matronly wig tops off the transformation.
The performance, Ephron says, “is not an imitation, it’s more of a habitation.”
April 20, 2009 | 4:22 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
If my story on SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg didn’t make it clear, let me be frank: The Screen Actors Guild engenders a political malice in its leadership that could rival any competitor in Washington. The downside is that SAG lacks the political savvy that actually gets things done. Which is why is has taken almost a full year for SAG to negotiate a contract that will serve its 120,000 members into the age of new media—or at the very least, for the next three years.
SAG contracts expired last June and it has taken until now for there to appear any glimmer of resolution. But alas, the Hollywood trades are reporting that a closely split vote by SAG’s national board approved a contract that its hundred-thou plus membership will have to ratify.
Over the course of 2008, SAG was scheduled to negotiate eight separate contracts. By 2009, Hollywood’s largest union had resolved a grand total of zero. After an epic year in which SAG saw its leadership humiliated, its sister/“rival” union AFTRA alienated, and its pesky stars assume a mostly ineffectual role, the day of resolution may be near.
Will SAG live to see its happy ending?
The biz is breathing a little easier now that SAG is on the verge of finalizing a film and TV contract with the majors.
But the end of this tortuous yearlong negotiation process hardly means the end of strife within the Screen Actors Guild. The battles that raged internally and externally over the contract only heightened the intensity of the political and ideological conflicts that engulf SAG’s various factions.
The stage is thus set for more brawling in the next few months as campaigning for the guild’s fall election of officers—including a possible successor to Alan Rosenberg as national prexy—and board members gets under way. The campaigning is sure to turn on two polarizing issues that go to the heart of SAG’s biggest headaches: the prospect of a merger with rival thesp union AFTRA, and the question of implementing qualified voting on guild contracts.
The fall election will be an important barometer of how SAG’s 120,000 members feel about the state of their union. But the political infighting won’t be settled even if there’s a landslide victory by candidates aligned with the Unite for Strength faction, the moderates who have effectively opposed the Rosenberg-led Membership First wing since UFS won seven seats on the national board last fall. SAG’s Balkanization is too deeply rooted to be overcome in one election. This predicament has led some longtime SAG-watchers to conclude that the guild is in danger of becoming “ungovernable” in its current state.
April 17, 2009 | 6:20 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Not since The Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy has America been so ripe for the ribbings of a new comedy team. Next week’s Tribeca premiere of “Whatever Works,” a film that unites Woody Allen and Larry David—two of the zaniest, brilliant and comedic Jews in showbiz—is bound to bemuse, delight and exasperate. The topic is love. The backdrop is New York. And the star is neurotic. Of course it’s Woody Allen—but better, with Larry David standing in as his alter ego.
The film’s message is that sometimes, the wrong love is the right one. An apropos theme, from two minds that are routinely accused of flagrant nihilism. But that’s not how they see it. It’s realism, Allen explains. “As long as you’re not hurting anybody … or doing anything that’s causing any mischief or hurting anyone or anything awful, that whatever works to get through your life is fine. All the nonsense about what one should be doing and shouldn’t be doing and what’s quote unquote appropriate according to what I call the appropriate police—it’s nonsense. It’s a tough scuffle through life,” Allen tells The New York Observer. He co-wrote the script more than three decades ago with Brooklyn Jewish comedian Zero Mostel, but after Mostel’s death, buried it in a drawer. Years later and sick of London, Allen turns to Larry David to resurrect his artistic affair with New York. And from early accounts, David does so with a bubbling swirl of angst, cynicism and ribaldry.
Sara Vilkomerson spoke to the two middle-aged, Jew-hunks for her story in The New York Observer.Ordinarily gun shy, Allen opens up: “I can’t ever say I’ve been happy with my films,” he said quietly. “It’s always the same story: I set out to make them and I’m setting out to make, you know, the greatest thing ever made. Citizen Kane or Othello. But by the time I’ve finished, when the compromises set in, and I’ve screwed this up artistically and I couldn’t get that actor and I didn’t have enough money for this, and I guessed wrong on this joke … by the time I put the picture together, I’ve gone from being sure that I was going to make the next great American masterpiece to just praying that it won’t be an embarrassment.” David explains his outlook: “..I suspect I’m probably more pessimistic about the smaller things: The relationship won’t work out, Obama will lose, the Yankees will lose, the movie will bomb—things like that. People won’t watch ball games with me because I’m so pessimistic. I’m no fun to be around.” More from “The Unshine Boys”:
So, a new Woody Allen movie starring Larry David filmed right here in New York City. Could there be a more deep-fried mix of talent, comedy and neuroses? For most of us, Woody Allen is as quintessential New York as the Chrysler Building. Many New Yorkers grew up with a vision of this city spun by Annie Hall and Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters, where the skyline always twinkles and romance lurks around every limestoned corner; where brainy, nervous men charm young and naïve beautiful women in grand prewar apartments lined with bookshelves; where there are country weekends with lobsters to chase and always—always—love to find and fail. And then there’s Larry David, another Brooklyn boy made good, co-creator and writer of Seinfeld, which defined New York all over again in the ’90s, with its exquisite, endless examinations and sweating of the small stuff—soup Nazis, being master of the domain, parking garages and puffy shirts. Since his 1999 HBO special Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the still-airing series that followed, he’s made performance masterpieces of excruciating situations. The news that he was to star in Mr. Allen’s latest had some rubbing their hands in anticipatory delight, others sharpening their knives, all anxious to see if Mr. David could pull off the ultimate as a Woody misanthropic paradigm. ... The title refers to a rather pragmatic philosophy when it comes to our treacherous human hearts, namely that if you should find something or someone in your life that makes you happy, go with it—regardless if it might appear, at first glance, to be all wrong. “I do believe in that strongly myself,” Mr. Allen said. “As long as you’re not hurting anybody … or doing anything that’s causing any mischief or hurting anyone or anything awful, that whatever works to get through your life is fine. All the nonsense about what one should be doing and shouldn’t be doing and what’s quote unquote appropriate according to what I call the appropriate police—it’s nonsense. It’s a tough scuffle through life,” he said. “A tragic situation. Whatever gets you through—as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else—is fine.” Whatever Works has its fair share of dark corners, but audiences may be pleasantly surprised at its ultimately sunny rom-com message. It’s strange to think that Mr. Allen wrote this film decades ago, long before we learned far too much about his own private romantic struggles (though its doctrine is an easy leap from his infamous “The heart wants what it wants” remark to Time magazine in 1992 amidst the Mia/Soon-Yi scandal). “I think my philosophy has been consistent over the years, and it appears either persuasive or idiotic depending on how good the film is,” he said. “If I make a film and the film itself works, then I feel people come away saying, ‘Gee, the philosophy here makes sense.’ And if I make a film where I’ve struck out and I’ve made bad artistic choices and the film is not good, then they think, ‘His ideas are stupid and narcissistic and irrelevant.’ But really the ideas have always been the same … it’s just that I’ve failed artistically.” ... “I don’t know Woody that well, but it’s pretty obvious it’s at least a bit of some of who Woody is,” Mr. David said. “He must have seen something in me to make a passable stand-in for him.” Mr. David said he had brought Annie Hall home recently for his 14-year-old daughter to watch. “She couldn’t get through it because [Woody’s character] reminded her too much of me. She can’t watch me, either. As far as I know, we’re the only two people she’s said that about.”
April 13, 2009 | 10:29 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
For a time, Phil Spector was considered one of the most successful producers in rock and roll history. Though he produced some of the most effervescent music of his generation—the Ronettes “Be My Baby,” the Crystals “Da Do Ron Ron,” the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” and perhaps most notably, John Lennon’s “Imagine”—the Bronx-born Jew battled crippling inner demons.
Earlier today, Spector was convicted of murdering B-movie actress Lana Clarkson, who had achieved something of a cult status after starring in exploitation films. Unable to find much acting work at age 40, Clarkson took a job as a hostess at the House of Blues to make ends meet. It was there that she met Spector, who promptly invited her for a drink at his mansion. Hours later, she was found dead in his foyer from a gunshot fired in her mouth.
Though he pled not guilty, Spector has over the years, fessed up to insurmountable private pain.
According to a story in the Telegraph, Spector was unleashing demons just a month before the murder:
“People tell me they idolize me, want to be like me,” Spector said in an interview with the Telegraph magazine in December 2002, just five weeks before the killing of Lana Clarkson. “But I tell them, ‘Trust me, you don’t want my life’. Because it hasn’t been a very pleasant life. I’ve been a very tortured soul. I have not been at peace myself. I have not been happy.”
The Telegraph story also attributes his suffering to a toxic (but Jewish) upbringing:
Much of this unhappiness could be traced back to his childhood. Spector was born into a working-class Jewish family in the Bronx, New York, the son of a steelworker. When he was nine-years-old his father committed suicide, leaving him to be brought up by an overbearing mother who alternately smothered and bullied him.
Spector is due for sentencing on May 29 and was denied interim bail. The Associated Press reports that second-degree murder carries a penalty of 15 years to life in prison with the use-of-a-gun adding three, four or 10 years in prison.
Read more about The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector in the Telegraph:
Spector was a visionary who dreamed of creating a sound never before heard in pop. He approached making records like a general waging war, assembling armies of musicians and singers to create the dense, echoing ‘Wall of Sound’ that would become his trademark. Spector became, uniquely, a bigger star than any of the artists he produced - ‘the first tycoon of teen’ in the memorable phrase of the writer Tom Wolfe.By 1966, Spector’s reign at the top of the American charts was over. When his most extravagant production ever, Ike and Tina Turner’s River Deep Mountan High, failed to dent the American charts, he was crushed. He retired to his mansion to brood; married his protege Ronnie Bennett, the lead singer of the Ronettes, and, consumed with jealously, kept her a virtual prisoner in the home. In 1970, his career was briefly given a new lease of life when he was invited to finalise production on the Beatles’ last album, Let It Be. .
Through the Seventies, Spector worked only intermittently, producing albums by Leonard Cohen, Dion DiMucci and, finally, in 1979, the Ramones. By now his reputation for waywardness had all but eclipsed any acknowledgement of his extraordinary accomplishments as a producer. Stories abounded of his drinking, of scenes in restaurants, of, most ominously, of his prediliction for guns. He would habitually wear a shoulder-holster around the home, and he seldom left home without one. Recording with John Lennon he let off a live round into the ceiling of the studio. Recording Leonard Cohen, he approached the singer clutching a bottle of Jewish ritual wine in one hand and a pistol in the other, which he shoved into Cohen’s neck, whispering ‘Leonard, I love you.’
Cohen with admirable aplomb, simply moved the barrel away, saying ‘I hope you do, Phil’.
He also displayed an apparently pathological fear of being left alone.
Stories abounded of him refusing to allow visitors to his mansion to leave, locking the doors and warning that his guard dogs would savage them. A central plank of the case against him was the testimony of five women who claimed that a drunken Spector had threatened them with guns when they tried to leave.
Read Amy Wallace’s story about the rise and fall of Lana Clarkson:
Ms. Clarkson, 40, had starred in a number of films made by the king of the B-movies, the producer and director Roger Corman. Her occasionally topless roles in films like “Amazon Women on the Moon” and “Barbarian Queen” had won her a cult following. But she had to work as a hostess at a Sunset Strip club to pay the bills. And it was at that club, the House of Blues, where the police say she met Mr. Spector the night she died.
Just days earlier, the actress had delivered a new set of photos and resumes to her agent, who was lining up auditions for television sitcoms. “We were getting ready for pilot season,” said the agent, Ray Cavaleri. “She realized she was no longer the ingenue. But she was fine with it. She said, ‘Now I can go for the comedy, go for the more character kind of roles.’ ”
“She had to take the job at the House of Blues because she needed the money,” Mr. Cavaleri said. “But she looked at it as a positive. She was working one of the
private rooms, so she was networking, meeting the top people.” After 20 years in the business, Ms. Clarkson knew that Hollywood is all about relationships. And as a B-movie queen searching for a mainstream job, she also had to know this: She needed all the help she could get.