You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Chasen remembered as loyal and tenacious

More than 550 mourners remember slain publicist

Ronni Chasen was remembered as a brilliant publicist, as well as a loyal and funny friend, at a memorial service Sunday morning at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City. The attendees easily numbered more than 550.

The mood was predictably somber as the overflow crowd of actors, directors, producers, composers, journalists and fellow publicists entered the chapel. TV news crews and photo-graphers were not permitted on Hillside grounds (they were crowded outside the gates), and reporters were discouraged from note-taking inside.

Among the attendees were executives Amy Pascal, Sue Kroll, Jeff Blake, Mike Medavoy and Nancy Utley; producers Bruce Cohen, Donald De Line, Mace Neufeld, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Joe Roth and Richard Zanuck; composers Hans Zimmer, Diane Warren and Elliot Goldenthal; directors John Landis and Norman Jewison; actors Robert Forster and Eva Marie Saint; plus retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

The tragic circumstances of Chasen’s death — she was killed early Tuesday while driving home from the “Burlesque” premiere — were not ignored, but the emphasis was on her life and work. The result was an hourlong collection of anecdotes and reminiscences that often provoked both laughter and tears.

Producer Lili Fini Zanuck confirmed what many were already thinking — that Chasen’s death “literally stopped the show … the industry came to a standstill,” something she said she hadn’t seen in Hollywood in the past 30 years. She said she thought Chasen would be shocked at the turnout but that she would be much angrier about the number of media outlets reporting her age.

Longtime friend Vivian Mayer-Siskind called her the definition of grace and elegance and cited the strength and tenacity that made her the best publicist in Hollywood. She knew a good film from a bad one but she could sell them both, Mayer-Siskind said.

Chasen also rewrote publicity history, she added, by putting composers on the map, a reference to her niche market of representing composers and songwriters including Zimmer, Warren and Goldenthal, often helping them win Oscars, Golden Globes and Grammys over the past 20 years.

Chasen’s brother, director Larry Cohen, regaled the crowd with stories from her childhood, including engineering her first celebrity encounter with Dale Evans at Madison Square Garden in the early 1950s. He thanked those present for their support during what he called the terrible ordeal of the previous week.

Fellow publicist Kathie Berlin, who started at Rogers & Cowan about the same time as Chasen, attempted to debunk tabloid rumors about her death and added that her friend was now upstairs, changing the seating arrangements.

Jeff Sanderson, who had worked with Chasen for the past 16 years, praised her as “generous, loyal and tenacious” but also cited her “soft, vulnerable and tender side.”

Composer Zimmer, at the end of the service, said simply, “My heart is broken.”

Members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale sang an a capella arrangement of “Path to Heaven,” from Chasen client Harry Gregson-Williams’ score for “Kingdom of Heaven.” Rabbi David Baron presided over the services with Cantor Ilysia Pierce. A reception followed at Sony Pictures Studios.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Plague Season 2 Spanish TV

    Telefonica, Atresmedia to Create Content Factory Behemoth

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — In a game-changing move for Spanish-language production Telefonica, Europe’s third biggest telco, and Atresmedia, the original co-creators of “La Casa de Papel,” are uniting to create a new joint contents production giant. Aimed at gaining more scale and uniting talent relations – writers, directors and producers – the 50/50 joint venture will [...]

  • KKR-Backed German Media Conglomerate Finally Has

    KKR-Backed German Media Conglomerate Takes the Name Leonine

    The KKR-backed German media company formed through the merger of Tele München Group, Universum Film, i&u TV, and Wiedemann & Berg Film has been given the name Leonine, it was revealed Friday. Fred Kogel, CEO of Leonine, said: “When choosing the new brand as our company name, the following aspects were decisive for us: it [...]

  • Scattered Night

    San Sebastian New Directors Jihyoung Lee and Kim Sol Talk ‘Scattered Night’

    After taking the Korean Competition Grand Prize and the best acting award (Moon Seung-a) at the Jeonju Intl. Film Festival, “Scattered Night” now heads to San Sebastian’s New Directors selection. An intimate portrayal of a family whose members are deeply isolated from one another, the film follows two parents overwhelmed by their responsibilities, their own [...]

  • Johnnie To Quits Taiwan Golden Horse

    Johnnie To Quits Golden Horse Awards as China Builds Pressure

    Leading Hong Kong film maker Johnnie To has dropped out of the Golden Horse Awards, where he was set to be president of the jury deciding the prize winners. The awards, which take place in and are organized from Taiwan, have long been considered the most prestigious prizes in Chinese-language cinema. However they are currently [...]

  • Zeroville

    Film Review: 'Zeroville'

    I’m tired of hearing how some novels are “impossible to adapt.” Balderdash! Just because some books don’t lend themselves to being translated from page to screen doesn’t mean that the attempt ought not to be made. Just ask James Franco, who’s shown a speed freak’s determination to tackle some of the unlikeliest literary adaptations of [...]

  • Red Penguins review

    Toronto Film Review: 'Red Penguins'

    “Red Penguins” is a cautionary tale with particular resonance in the context of our current bizarre intertwining with Russia, the country that interfered in the last U.S. presidential election and is led by the POTUS’ apparent BFF. This wild tale of attempted transnational commerce just after the demise of the USSR in the 1990s chronicles [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content