Mystery surrounds killing of Hollywood publicist

It was a scene befitting a Hollywood true crime drama: A prominent Beverly Hills publicist was gunned down in her Mercedes-Benz after attending a movie premiere, sending the luxury car careening into a light post near Sunset Boulevard.

Police said Ronni Chasen was shot in the chest several times and killed in an attack that stunned Hollywood, where she was a revered figure after promoting the Oscar-winning film "Driving Miss Daisy" and other major movies and stars over the years.

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 firm, Chasen and Co.

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."

Witnesses said they heard gunshots in the serene Beverly Hills neighborhood and called the police emergency dispatcher before going outside to help.

"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 daughter-in-law called police and 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.

The killing took place after Chasen attended the premiere of the movie "Burlesque," which the trade publication Variety said she was promoting for Screen Gems to position the soundtrack for an Oscar nomination.

Chasen "was at our premiere last night and so full of her trademark energy and love of life," said Amy Pascal, co-chair of Screen Gems owner Sony Pictures. "We are heartbroken, shocked and completely devastated."

Chasen was struck down in the midst of her busiest time of year — Hollywood's award season, when the movie studios mount expensive campaigns to promote their better films for awards consideration using spin-specialists like Chasen.

She also was 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.

Chasen's other clients included movie producers Irwin Winkler and Richard D. Zanuck.

Morgan Freeman said he had the "extreme pleasure" of working with Chasen on "Driving Miss Daisy."

"We've been friends ever since," the actor said. "She is someone I greatly admired, and she will be remembered."

The crime scene was marked with yellow police tape stretched between two trees on a grassy parkway among stately homes south of Sunset. An orange cone marked the spot where the light post had stood, and a small bouquet of yellow and red flowers was next to the curb.

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."

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."

Stephen Jaffe, a crisis management consultant, said he and his wife, actress Susan Blakely, knew Chasen for at least 25 years. The Hollywood awards season was always a busy time for her, Jaffe said.

"She would always call us this time of year to come to really incredible events," he said, explaining Chasen would often arrange screenings followed by intimate gatherings of filmmakers and guests.

"This was an absolutely shocking and inexplicable event that has hurt us," Jaffe said of the shooting.

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."

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Arts and Entertainment
A shared vision: Cerys Matthews has been familiarising herself with Dylan Thomas’s material, for a revealing radio programme
arts + entsA singer, her uncle and a special relationship with Dylan Thomas
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?