Ronni Chasen

November 20, 2010 by staff 

Ronni Chasen, (AP) – The slaying of a prominent movie publicist shortly after she left a film premiere stunned Hollywood colleagues and residents of this tony community.

Ronni Chasen had attended the premiere of the new Cher film “Burlesque,” whose soundtrack she was pushing for an Oscar nomination.

She was shot multiple times in the chest about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday and her Mercedes-Benz crashed into a light pole on a street of multimillion-dollar homes south of Sunset Boulevard.

“I heard the ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ of gunshots, ran up to the window, and there was the back of the car,” Nahid Schekarchian, who lives in an apartment above the crash site, told The Associated Press.

She said her son and a neighbor ran down to the car and found Chasen, who was struggling to breathe and bleeding from her nose and chest. The front passenger’s window was shattered.

Chasen was pronounced dead later at a hospital.

Police had no motive or suspects and said no threats had been reported against the 64-year-old Chasen. The mystery deepened later in the day when police seized computers from her West Hollywood firm, Chasen and Co.

The killing rocked the Hollywood community, where Chasen was a revered figure after promoting the Oscar-winning film “Driving Miss Daisy” and other major movies and stars over the years.

Chasen had been working with 20th Century Fox on a supporting actor Oscar campaign for Michael Douglas in “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps,” according to Allen Berry, a publicist for the actor.

“I had the extreme pleasure of working with Ronni on ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’” Morgan Freeman, who was nominated for an Oscar for the film, said in a statement. “We’ve been friends ever since. She is someone I greatly admired, and she will be remembered.”

Fellow publicist Howard Bragman called the killing bizarre.

“She wasn’t a shady character,” he said. “It’s a small community and she was one of the fixtures in it.”

Bradley Turell, a longtime colleague of Chasen, came to the site to mourn his friend.

“Ronni was a positive force of nature,” he said during an interview by The Associated Press and KNBC. “She was just great at what she did, a supreme sales person and a great lady.”

Motorists slowed or briefly stopped as they passed by the rare scene of street violence in Beverly Hills. A small bouquet of autumn flowers lay atop the shattered foundation of the light pole.

Chasen was involved in Hollywood publicity since the 1970s. She also promoted “On Golden Pond,” which won Academy Awards for best actor, actress and screenplay in 1981.

In recent years, she worked with a number of music clients, including Janet Jackson, composer Hans Zimmer, producer Glen Ballard and Diane Warren, who wrote the song “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” which Cher sings in “Burlesque.”

Bragman said Chasen had a unique way of doing business.

“She was not a woman who was a slave to the fashion of the day,” he said. “She played to her own vision and integrity. She was very bright, very successful.”


AP entertainment writers Derrik Lang and Anthony McCartney contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS that victim was pronounced dead at a hospital, location was on a street south of Sunset Boulevard and time of shooting was early morning.)

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