|Longtime publicist Ronni Chasen (2nd from right) was found in her car, shot five times in Beverly Hills: Timothy Norris/Getty Images|
The premiere party for the movie "Burlesque" was just the sort of glitzy Hollywood affair that Ronni Chasen, a veteran movie publicist, loved, and as she had for four decades, she worked the room with relish. As celebrities, including Jane Fonda and the film's stars Cher and Christina Aguilera, mingled around a rooftop pool, Chasen moved among the revelers with a songwriter whose work she was promoting.
"She was happy-go-lucky and gossipy and fun, just like she always was," said Jim Dobson, a publicist who crossed paths with Chasen around midnight.
Less than an hour and a half later, Chasen was dead, gunned down in her Mercedes in an assault that baffled police and made a woman who spent her career touting others, the talk of Hollywood. When word of the slaying broke, some studios canceled meetings and conference calls that had been scheduled to strategize their Oscar campaigns — Chasen's specialty. One publicist set up a reward fund and others closed their offices for the day.
"I'm devastated by this," said Academy Award-winning producer Richard Zanuck, who had worked with Chasen since 1982 and had talked to her earlier in the day about the awards season campaign for his movie "Alice in Wonderland."
Detectives with the Beverly Hills Police Department spent Tuesday trying to piece together the final minutes of Chasen's life and discern a motive for the killing of a 64-year-old single woman who, according to friends, had no enemies.
"She was not a drinker. She never did drugs…. She had solid, really nice people as clients who became sort of her family," said New York publicist Kathie Berlin, a friend of 45 years.
(Click here to read the full story on the NY Times website. May GOD Rest her soul.)