The Ronni Chasen Mystery: Making Sense of the Publicist’s Murder

Nov 17, 2010  •  Post A Comment

[The following is by Lynda Obst, one of the most prolific producers in the film industry, from “Flashdance” to “Sleepless in Seattle.” She also produced the TV  mini-series "The 60’s." This piece first appeared today on the website of "The Atlantic." We are indebted to Ms. Obst for letting us reprint it. As of 10 a.m., PT, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010, the police have not announced that they have any suspects in Chasen’s murder.] 

Into any large dysfunctional family, occasionally tragedy strikes, even horror. On the way home from working the "Burlesque" premiere for potential Oscar-winner for Best Song Diane Warren, the belle of the old-time publicists, Ronni Chasen, was gunned down and killed with five bullets to her chest.

All of us outside of her immediate family heard Tuesday morning of her death in the middle of our daily dramas, and were stopped in our tracks in utter shock. Ronni? Murdered? She had no enemies!

All day we checked industry websites for updates. It had to be random. Road rage? Even Beverly Hills isn’t safe? Could it be someone followed her home from the premiere because of her car? Everyone has the same Mercedes. No matter how bitter the Oscars got, no one would kill over them, and she didn’t rep stars, but producers, directors, composers, and songwriters. The mystery almost—but could never—matched the tragedy.

She hosted two parties I’ve been to in the past month, for both Dick Zanuck, the producer of "Alice in Wonderland" and "Black Swan." Most of her clients had been with her for years, and she was struck in the middle of her high season, meaninglessly, almost mid-voicemail to her office, working tirelessly for others.

How can this season be the same now? How can we know who to vote for for best composers at the Oscars—she would give me a list each year. Or foreign films, which she’d lobby for tirelessly, party after party, working the seating to make sure I’d meet the newest director in from Budapest?

Killed? The perfectly coiffed, asking nothing for herself, always worrying if you were happy, liked where you were seating, Ronni Chasen? Something is forever gone from these luncheons, the continuity between last decade and this, between innocent party hopping and real life. May you always know in heaven, Ronni, that we loved where we sat, if you sat us there.#


  1. I knew Ronni for 30 years. She was a true pro and a dedicated publicist to those who were lucky enough to have her rep them. I met Ronni in the late 70s when I was a staff writer for THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. What a fitting piece for Ronni you have penned Lynda. She will be missed

  2. I am still reeling from the news of the gruesome, untimely death of my mentor, Ronni Chasen. She truly had a selfless work ethic and knew that the practice of public relations could only be successful when it is done personally and passionately. Lynda’s essay captures so perfectly how all of us are feeling today. There’s a hole in all our hearts.

  3. Leave it to a Hollywood big-wig to reveal that she (and others) wouldn’t know who to vote for without someone telling them who to vote for!
    That REALLY validates the worth of these award shows!

  4. Leave it to a Hollywood big-wig to reveal that she (and others) wouldn’t know who to vote for without someone telling them who to vote for!
    That REALLY validates the worth of these award shows!

  5. I think she was making a point about how hard Ronni lobbied, not being literal.

  6. I wouldn’t call it a scam, more like hype. In the currency arena, the money appears to be so close to earning and yet it is so far away. Never trust anybody who is trying to sell you a method, currency trading is very difficult. I interact with your exact question on the pages below (see ‘falsly claimed advantages’).

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