You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Chasen: Biz mourns pro with old-school flair

H'wood loves gossip, but not this time

Chasen remembered as loyal and tenacious

The Nov. 16 death of Ronni Chasen was shocking to Hollywood folk for many reasons. The ever-energetic publicist seemed to be at every industry event and hangout over the past 30 years, and it was hard to grasp her absence going forward. The circumstances of her death were troubling, too, as she was shot in the chest five times in her Mercedes on a quiet residential street of Beverly Hills.

It seemed a classic case of Hollywood miscasting: The wacky and lovable best friend from a romantic comedy had somehow ended up in an urban thriller.

The violent and mysterious ending seemed at odds with most folks’ image of Chasen. With her teased blonde hairdo, distinctive fast delivery in her N.Y. accent, and her worldweary-but-upbeat attitude, she was a petite woman with the energy of someone half her age (though you’d have to guess what that would be, because she was adamant about keeping her age a secret).

She was a publicist who seemed to never sleep, to know everyone and to steer every conversation sooner or later back to her work and her clients.

One of her longtime clients, composer Hans Zimmer, recalled spending time with Chasen during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Governors Awards ceremony Nov. 13. “She knew everybody in the room,” Zimmer said. “She took Chris Nolan over to the next table and introduced him to George Lucas … and I thought, ‘There’s my friend Ronni, introducing two great directors to each other. She’s on top of her game.’?”

She was also a link between the PR past and its future. She was among the last of the old-school Hollywood press agents who politely but persistently refused to take “no” for an answer. And she fostered the next generation, hiring and tutoring PR newcomers, while mentoring the next generation of young artists and execs.

While she would occasionally express exhaustion or discouragement, the moment would quickly pass and she would start talking about the business. One of the ironies of her death was that it came just as awards season was picking up steam, because she was a fixture during the four-month period, working on campaigns for her clients.

The day after her death, Daily Variety printed a rare full page of remembrances from studio execs (Rich Ross, Amy Pascal), longtime clients (Richard Zanuck, Joe Roth, Irwin Winkler), colleagues and business rivals. Reading them, she would have rolled her eyes and made a self-deprecatory wisecrack, but she would have loved it.

In a town fueled by gossip and schadenfreude, speculation was surprisingly muted about the circumstances of her death. The guesswork may be fodder for cable news and bloggers, but Hollywood is basically a small town, and people have circled the wagons; they have been more interested in mourning than in conjecture. The general message was clearly that respect must be paid. She was relentless, which made her effective, and she loved the industry: She may have been a pushy broad, but she was our pushy broad.

More Film

  • Film Constellation Boards Werner Herzog's Japan-Set

    Film Constellation Boards Werner Herzog's Japanese Film 'Family Romance'

    London-based sales house Film Constellation has boarded Oscar-winning director Werner Herzog’s Japanese-language film “Family Romance,” which will have its world premiere in the special screenings section at the Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Herzog, the movie was shot last spring and summer in Tokyo and Aomori, Japan, with non-professional actors (Yuichi Ishii, Mahiro [...]

  • Avengers Endgame Box Office: Can It

    'Avengers: Endgame' Expected to Shatter Box Office Records

    “Avengers: Endgame” has its sights set on world domination. Disney and Marvel’s upcoming superhero epic should light the box office on fire when it launches this weekend, with the hopes of setting domestic, international, and global records. In North America alone, “Avengers: Endgame” is expected to earn between $250 million and $268 million in its [...]

  • Katie HolmesAT&T Presents: Untold Stories Luncheon

    Katie Holmes, Kal Penn Help Decide Winner of $1 Million Filmmaker Grant

    Tribeca Film Festival and AT&T gave one young filmmaker a million and one reasons to rejoice at the “Untold Stories” third annual competition. After a nerve-wracking 10-minute long pitch in front of over 850,000 live stream audience members and a panel consisting of celebrities and industry leaders, filmmaker Kate Tsang was awarded $1 million on [...]

  • Reed Hastings seen on day one

    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' Compensation Jumps 48% to $36.1 Million

    Netflix chief Reed Hastings is being handsomely rewarded for calling the shots at the streaming giant. His compensation package, which is largely in the form of stock options, climbed 48% in 2018 to $36.1 million. That’s up from $24.4 million in the previous year. Hastings’ salary is a relatively modest $700,000, but his stock options [...]

  • Emma Thompson to Star in Extinction

    Emma Thompson to Star in Extinction Rebellion Climate-Change Satire (EXCLUSIVE)

    Emma Thompson will play a climate-change activist in “Extinction,” a timely satirical short film that will include footage of the Extinction Rebellion group’s ongoing wave of action in London. Two-time Oscar winner Thompson has herself been involved in the high-profile London-based protests. She addressed crowds over the weekend from Extinction Rebellion’s signature pink boat, which [...]

  • First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’

    First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’ Feature Documentary

    Diego Maradona waves to raucous Napoli fans before heading into a media scrum and press conference in the first clip from the feature documentary about the soccer superstar. “Diego Maradona” is the third film from the team behind the award-winning “Senna” and “Amy,” with Asif Kapadia directing and James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin producing. They [...]

  • Raising Hell: The Life and Times

    Film Review: 'Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins'

    One of the more entertaining as well as insightful political commentators of the past half-century is paid a suitably entertaining tribute in “Raise Hell.” A long tall Texan too amusingly outrageous to draw real resentment from most of her targets, Molly Ivins nonetheless aimed stinging criticism at political figures both national and in her native [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content