Hollywood Publicist Ronni Chasen Killed in Beverly Hills
Known for her savvy handling of Oscar campaigns and dedication to her clients, Chasen was shot in her car after attending a premiere.
Ronni Chasen, a longtime entertainment industry publicist, died on November 16, 2010, after being shot multiple times in the chest while driving on Whittier Drive near Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills. She was 64.
According to news reports, Chasen’s Mercedes-Benz crashed into a street light, causing the air bags to deploy. She was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at 1:30 a.m.
Police have only begun to investigate the crime, which left Hollywood in a state of shock. Chasen had reportedly killed shortly after leaving a party for the premiere of the upcoming movie Burlesque.
Her public relations firm, Chasen & Company, released the following:
Los Angeles, CA (November 16, 2010) -- Tributes have been pouring in from the elite of the entertainment and media arenas for Ronni Chasen, one of the industry’s preeminent press agents, who was tragically killed in the early morning hours of November 16, 2010. A funeral service for Ronni Chasen will be held on Sunday, November 21, at 11:00 a.m. at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, located at 6001 West Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90045.
Over the course of her remarkable, decades-long career, Ronni Chasen earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues and the loyalty of her clients, to whom she was passionately devoted. Her work was an integral part of her life, and her love for her profession showed in her zeal for everything she did. Bringing more than 35 years of experience to bear, she approached her job with an extraordinary blend of old-school public relations and cutting-edge marketing. Her singular enthusiasm and indefatigable spirit endeared her to everyone with whom she worked, and it was common knowledge in the industry that it was impossible to say “no” to Ronni when she set her sights on something—never for herself, always in the interests of her clients.
Her impressive client roster ranged from Oscar-winning filmmakers and composers—all of whom are expressing grief and shock today—to international production companies, record labels, film festivals and fashion houses. She was also a sought-after awards campaign consultant, who had worked with virtually every major studio, as well as independent film companies. Over the years, she was also a mentor to many aspiring publicists, who went on to have successful careers of their own.
Born and raised in New York, Ronni Chasen began her career in public relations in the theater. Moving to Los Angeles, she headed publicity for American International Pictures and then served for 10 years as Executive Vice President of Motion Pictures at the prestigious Rogers & Cowan agency. She later held the post of Senior Vice President of Publicity for MGM.
For almost 20 years, Ronni Chasen enjoyed her greatest success as the head of her own boutique agency, Chasen & Company, where she worked with a broad range of personal and corporate clients.
Under her leadership, Chasen & Company became well known for its inventive campaigns for a diversified list of films, recently including Alice In Wonderland, Crazy Heart, Brothers, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, He’s Just Not That Into You, I Love You Man, Doubt, The Wrestler, Sweeney Todd, There Will Be Blood, Babel, Dreamgirls, Little Miss Sunshine, Walk the Line, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As an awards strategist Chasen contributed to over 150 Oscar nominations and numerous wins, including seven Best Picture winners: The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, No Country For Old Men, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Chicago, Shakespeare in Love, and Driving Miss Daisy. In 2000, Chasen & Company was honored to handle public relations for the 72nd Academy Awards produced by Richard D. Zanuck and Lili Fini Zanuck.
In recent years, Chasen & Company music clients garnered more than 65 Grammy nominations, winning in six major categories, including the prestigious “Album of the Year” (for 1995’s Jagged Little Pill). Ronni was regarded as the premier publicist for many of the world’s leading film composers, including Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, Ennio Morricone, Elliot Goldenthal, Thomas Newman, Harry Gregson-Williams, James Newton Howard and Jan Kaczmarek.
She continued to work in the legitimate theatre, where she was involved in the publicity campaigns for such shows as Mary Poppins, Randy Newman’s Faust, Julie Taymor’s The Green Bird, The Lion King and Thoroughly Modern Millie, as well as the ballet Othello and the opera Grendel.
Chasen was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the American Film Institute, NARAS, and Women in Film.
In the hours since the tragedy, tributes and memorials have continued to mount. Some of the remembrances have included:
“Lili and I are shattered by the unthinkably sad news about Ronni. She worked with us on every picture we made since The Verdict and has been a loving and dear friend for so many years. To think of not being able to get her on the other line of the phone is unimaginable. She was the best publicist in the business in our opinion whose tireless and determined energy combined with her love of movies made her one of a very special breed. We can't tell you how much we will miss her." - Richard D. Zanuck
“I'm profoundly sad, devastated, mad, incredulous and lonely. Ronni was the best. And in a town where "the best" is used much too casually, she was truly singular. She really cared, she had a heart of gold, she was a fighter and a total pro. She knew everything and everyone, and for twenty years she told me to tuck in my shirt, to smile at the camera, to have a shave and not say anything foolish. She protected me, fiercely and brilliantly in choppy waters that she navigated with grace and style. I only just saw her at the "Governors Awards" last Saturday night. She was radiant, she knew everybody in the room. She took Chris Nolan over to the next table and introduced him to George Lucas. I was watching her standing there listening to them and I thought ‘there's my friend Ronni, introducing two great directors to each other. She's on top of her game.’ I adored her and she adored me. You can't imagine how much I miss her already.” - Hans Zimmer
"Ronni was a woman of remarkable intelligence and integrity and a very good friend." - Sir Ronald Harwood
"Ronni was one of the great women of our business. Beyond all of her skills and her gifts as a collaborator, she was a spectacular person - warm, wise, compassionate, hilariously funny, and utterly authentic. She will be loved and missed for many, many years by everybody lucky enough to have known her." - Scott Rudin
"Ronni was a warm friend, a great advocate of mine and many others. I know my friend Bono will be shocked because he loved her, too. It's a great lost for artists in the film and music industries." - Jim Sheridan
"Ronni was a character, and a force of nature, a strategist and collaborator extraordinaire but, more importantly, the most wonderful kind of friend. When I suffered a debilitating personal loss several years ago, Ronni provided an extraordinary amount of comfort. She ended each of our conversations with "I love you", which maybe she did with everyone, but it made me feel great. I hope she knows how much she was loved." - Nancy Utley
“Ronni was one of a kind, a truly special woman who cared about those around her and those she worked with. I admired her and will remember the many laughs we shared together and her loyalty to her friends.” - Michele Robertson
"Ronni was not only a consummate professional, but she was a trusted friend and colleague. I always admired her charm & enthusiasm and find this news utterly shocking and tragic." - Harry Gregson-Williams
"Ronni Chasen knew Hollywood. She understood how it worked. She was neither star-struck, nor star-blind. She grasped the rules and quite a few of them she had a hand in making. She came to the right place at, heaven knows, the right time, and that very distinctive, wonderful, ironic voice, the flicking hair and all the rest of her, will live in me to my dying day. In a way, it seems almost fitting that she spent her last night on earth at a premiere, if it wasn't so cruel and unjust that it should be her last night. I cannot over-state how useful, even crucial, her sensible and grounded words have been to me over the years, and how supporting her affection and warm friendship, for which she also had a real talent. I know I will not be able to replace her in this life. She was one of the principal architects of my own progress and I am only desperately sorry that she won't be here for the rest of the story. My heart goes out to all those who loved her, of whom I am most certainly one." - Julian Fellowes
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of my dear friend Ronni Chasen. I have had the honor of working with her for over 15 years. She was one of a kind. I loved her. I miss her.” - Diane Warren
"Ronni was one of the kindest and most loyal people I have ever known. She was my friend for close to thirty years and I'll miss her more than I can ever say." - Charles Shyer
"Ronni was my friend for 35 years. Her ideas and energy made the stars shine. She was the pro in appropriate. What a loss." - Mace Neufeld
“We were all together last night, and Ronni was having the best time doing what she enjoyed most. She was tireless; her spirit was unstoppable. I’ve known Ronni through my whole career. When she represented you she was an unshakable support. Ronni always stayed focused and as much as anyone I’ve ever known, she genuinely loved her work. Her enthusiasm was unyielding and I was always amazed by her ability to bring newfound excitement to every movie. She had a unique ability to take things in stride, look at good or bad news in a matter-of-fact way. We’d review the facts and she’d say, 'Let’s move on to the next.' As a publicist she was simply the best in the business. Her instincts were infallible. Ronni was also a wonderful friend. She knew everyone and everyone adored her. She was always decent and fair. When we all said goodbye last night, little did we know it would be our last. I am in shock; that this could happen is incomprehensible. Only a few hours ago we were celebrating. I’m glad she was happy last night and that she was in all her glory. I loved Ronni and she meant a lot to me.” - Donald De Line
"Ronni was a wonderful woman, a great and loyal friend and a devoted and talented colleague. She loved movies, but more than that, she loved the people who made them. This is a very sad day in Hollywood." - Nancy Meyers
"The last words she spoke to me the day before her murder, and the last words of every conversation I have had with her during the nearly two decades of our close professional praetorship, were her saying, 'I love you.' Ronni was a tireless, uncompromising devotee to music and music makers world-wide. This wretched murder is inconsolable. It's also a murder of a measure of hope for aspiring talent who will never be benefited by her sisterly guidance." - Elliot Goldenthal
“I had the extreme pleasure of working with Ronni on Driving Miss Daisy. We've been friends ever since. She is someone I greatly admired and she will be remembered.” - Morgan Freeman
"All of us in personal publicity are devastated by this tragic loss. Ronni was a terrific publicist, blazing a trail for women in this business, like few others. I greatly admired and respected her. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and staff." - Kelly Bush