Ronni Chasen: Murder and The Media

December 7, 2010

Ronni Chasen was a Hollywood publicist and friend of mine for almost 30 years. On November 16, she was shot to death, execution style, in her car as she was driving home. Last week, I read an article that ran in “USA Today” on December 3 that so upset me that I wrote the following Letter to the Editor:

“Re “Calif. Killing is real whodunit” (12/3):

Ronni Chasen was my friend for almost 30 years and also represented me as a publicist from time to time. William M. Welch’s reporting about Ronni was disgraceful.

Mr. Welch described Ronni as “the queen of air kisses…She called people ‘darling’, hugged them and smooched the air as large jewelry swung around her neck….her abrasive New York accent didn’t hold back her ability to schmooze….”

That smarmy portrait of an innocent woman who was just viciously murdered is in poor taste and inaccurate. I grew up in Hollywood and have also worked in the industry for almost 35 years. Ronni Chasen was a total pro in every sense of the word. She was indeed one of the most down-to-earth, genuine people in a business that is infamous for artifice. She had no airs at all. If you were her friend, you were a friend for life, no matter which turns your career took. I found that out firsthand when Ronni was always there even when my own career went off the rails for a while.

All that, Mr. Welch, is why even her competitors loved and admired her. And why her death is so particularly shocking and depressing to everyone in the film industry.

Ronni Chasen just died in a horrifying hail of bullets. As a famous namesake of yours once asked, Mr. Welch, “Have you no sense of decency?”

Stephen Simon, West Linn, Oregon

The Welch I was referring to was Joseph Welch, the famous attorney who uttered those lines to Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954.

Ronni Chasen did everything she could to stay out of the limelight, always making sure that the focus was directed to her clients. She was a consummate professional and terrific human being in every sense of that description and she deserves better than to be reduced to a convenient stereotype by some reporter trying to be clever.

If you are a public figure, the media considers it their right to say just about anything it wants to about you, and the courts have supported that right.

Ronni was killed in a truly horrific and public manner so the media can probably get away with saying just about anything they want; however, just because they have  the right to do it doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Shepard December 7, 2010 at 9:06 am

Thanks for your response to those cruel comments. The concept of common decency seems to be foreign to increasing numbers of people. Incidentally, the link to the Joseph Welch article needs to be corrected, it’s missing the first two characters, “ht”. The full URL is:
http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Have_you_no_sense_of_decency.htm
Best,
Bill

Reply

Stephen Simon December 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm

oops…thanks so much, Bill, for both the support and the correction!…hugs…Stephen

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