11.16.10

Ronni Chasen, a Hollywood Wonder Woman

Chasen, who was tragically shot early Tuesday in Beverly Hills, will be remembered as a driven PR woman who always delivered Oscar love to her clients—and as a beloved friend as well. Caroline Graham remembers her.

Ronni Chasen, who ran so many successful Oscar campaigns, was murdered last night. She was a motivated and highly successful public-relations character, not a woman with a murderous temperament as some are. Ronni actually delivered Oscars to more clients than anyone in the business. She did this by pure hard work and relentless campaigns on their behalf.

Ronni and her wonderful partner Jeff Sanderson at Chasen & Company always brought out every nominated star to the January Palm Springs Film Festival, the first of the big red-carpet events of the year. One year, to our amusement, we watched two women photographers knocking each other out for a place on the red carpet.

When she was murdered last night, Ronni was in the middle of her Oscar movie screening campaigns. At times she went to four films a night to check that all the screening rooms were full and that the Academy voters were in the front seats. Her clients never left her and included all the world’s best music film composers.

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Julian Fellowes, her beloved British client, was unknown here at the time he wrote Gosford Park in 2001. After Ronni’s intense Oscar campaign for him, he won the Oscar for his screenplay that year. “I gave her all the credit,” Fellowes said at the time. Peter Morgan would have won the Oscar for the screenplay of The Queen if he had hired Ronni and not relied on Miramax. He agreed with me when I pointed this out to him.

Hollywood lost their reel queen last night.

Ronni tended her Oscar voters all year long, making it her business to check that they had the film she wanted them to see at the top of their pile! She had learnt from Warren Cowan, whom she worked with for many years in his Beverly Hills office. Without Ronni’s force, the Oscar campaigns will definitely change and the movie screenings will not have her following.

Hollywood lost their reel queen last night after the premiere night of Burlesque. Ronni died five minutes from her apartment in Westwood. She was shot five times in the chest in her Mercedes, driving down Whittier Drive, a leafy dark street in Beverly Hills. A few houses from where Bugsy Siegel was murdered. Not far from where the Menendez brothers shot their parents.

Caroline Graham is founder of C4 Global Communications and former West Coast editor for both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Prior to working with Conde Nast, she was a prominent newspaper columnist and director of the Monaco Government Tourist Office.