Sunday, August 7, 2011
Defiant Helen Mirren arrives on the set of Phil Spector film following warnings to pull out or face 'serious consequences'
Team: Mirren takes on the role of Spector's lawyer Linda Kenney Baden, pictured with Spector at his 2007 trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson
The group, Friends of Lana Clarkson, have enlisted Hollywood publicity agent Edward Lozzi to organise a protest campaign and claim to have influential supporters who will stop actors who take part in the project being considered for prestigious awards.
Spector, 71, is serving 19 years-to-life after being convicted in 2009 of shooting 40-year-old Miss Clarkson at his mountaintop home six years earlier.
The eccentric producer, who worked on The Beatles’ final album, Let It Be, in 1970 and is played in the new film by Al Pacino, also allegedly terrorised other women, holding them hostage at gunpoint.
Getting to work: Helen Mirren and co-star Al Pacino discuss filming on set
Controversial: Al Pacino stars as Spector in the film, which is understood to be sympathetic to his side of the story
Linda Kenney Baden claims there is evidence Miss Clarkson was so depressed by setbacks in her career that she used a revolver owned by Spector to shoot herself.
Mr Lozzi said the group he represented – called The Friends of Lana Clarkson – was ‘dismayed’ at Dame Helen’s involvement in the film, conceived by controversial New York writer and director David Mamet who has called for Spector to be freed.
Mr Lozzi described the film as ‘an insensitive attempt to portray the loathsome, lying, gun-abusing convicted murderer of our friend Lana Clarkson with some kind of sympathy’.
Arrival: Mirren arrived in New York last night to start filming
Mr Lozzi – a Press aide to former US President George Bush – said that his group would mount a boycott of HBO unless the studio drops the project.
And he warned that influential backers would lobby judges of the Emmy awards, asking them not to consider Dame Helen or any other actors who take part in the film for awards.
‘We have great respect for Helen Mirren,’ Mr Lozzi said. ‘What we hope is that when she reads this script and sees Lana is being trashed, she will speak up and say, “This is not right.”
Al Pacino pictured for the first tim in character as record producer Phil Spector, who is currently serving 19 years to life
‘Helen Mirren probably didn’t know about The Friends of Lana Clarkson when she agreed to take the role – it would have been just another job to her. But now that she is aware, we ask her to examine her conscience.’
The group has sent a letter to Dame Helen, warning the 66-year-old, who won a 2007 Oscar for her portrayal of the Queen, that she should ‘do the right thing’ and demand script changes or face damaging ‘consequences’ including ‘no Emmy nominations’.
The letter adds: ‘Know that we are very serious.’ Mr Lozzi claims the campaign has already forced Bette Midler – who was initially cast as Mrs Kenney Baden – to drop out, although the actress said she had injured her back. ‘Maybe her back does hurt but I think what persuaded her to quit was she didn’t want to hurt her image,’ Mr Lozzi said.
The film was conceived by director David Mamet, who has called for Spector to be freed.
Dame Helen was also in the spotlight yesterday after beating much younger contenders to be named Body of the Year.
She pushed Elle MacPherson and Kelly Brook into second and third place in a poll of 2,000 women. They were asked by the LA Fitness gym chain to name the women they felt were more comfortable in their own skin.