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Longtime Publicist Ronni Chasen Murdered, Casting Directors Threatened: What the Hell is Going On in Hollywood?

Earlier today the entertainment world was shaken by the murder of 64-year-old Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen. Chasen died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest received as she drove through Beverly Hills a little after midnight. Responding to calls about gunfire in the area, police arrived at the scene to find Chasen slumped in her Mercedes, which had struck a lamppost.

Chasen, who had represented the likes of composer Hans Zimmer and producer Richard Zanuck, had just attended the premiere and after-party for BURLESQUE, a new film featuring Cher.

Little is known about Chasen’s death at the moment, save that she was shot at least 5 times and police have yet to determine a motive for the crime.

The events are probably unrelated, but this item was published today by Backstage.com: “Casting Directors Receive Death Threat.” An excerpt from the article, written by Daniel Holloway:

On Nov. 7, five casting directors in the Los Angeles area received death threats via their office telephones. The recipients reached out to Teamsters Local 399 and were encouraged by the union to alert security personnel at the studios where they work and the local police.

Teamsters business representative Ed Duffy, who confirmed to Back Stage that the threats had occurred, sent a mass email to members of the L.A. casting community warning them of the phone calls and encouraging anyone else who has been threatened to come forward. On Monday, Duffy was contacted by a sixth casting director who had been threatened.

So just over a week ago, a number of LA-area casting people receive death threats. (Is this common? It’s hard to tell from the article.) Then very early on Nov. 16, Ronni Chasen, a high-powered publicist, was brutally murdered.

Again–the chances are these things are unrelated. Casting directors and publicists often deal with opposite ends of the movie-making timeline–the beginning of shooting and the premiere, respectively–but at the moment the death threats seem at the very least like an interesting coincidence.

[NYT]