Friends of slain actress Lana Clarkson protested outside a screening of the HBO film Phil Spector on Thursday, charging the Al Pacino-toplined project with implying that she committed suicide.
Clarkson was found dead in 2003 inside the Alhambra mansion of record producer Phil Spector, who in 2009 was convicted of second-degree murder in her death and sentenced to 19 years to life in prison.
One of the protesters, veteran publicist and former Clarkson rep Edward Lozzi, told The Hollywood Reporter the group initially hoped to stop the film from being made, but had refocused its efforts on ensuring that Phil Spector receives no Emmys.
"To see that this film was going to be made was a slap in the face," Lozzi says. "We were so happy Phil Spector was in prison."
Lozzi and two other men stood outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art holding signs reading: "HBO’s ‘Phil Spector’ murders the truth. No Emmy for the film that hurts people alive today."
The true-crime biopic from writer-director David Mamet stars Pacino as Spector and Helen Mirren as defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden. Lozzi, who says he has seen the film, claims it focuses too strongly on Spector’s defense, which centered on the assertion that the actress ended her own life. According to Lozzi, the film strongly suggests Clarkson killed herself because she was depressed that she had turned 40.
In his review of the film, THR chief TV critic Tim Goodman opined that Phil Spector attempts to plant a reasonable doubt about Spector’s guilt in the minds of its viewers.
"Even though the movie is loaded with enough to satisfy those who believe Spector did it, as Mirren’s role is written and Pacino’s performance hints at, the film seems eager to suggest Spector was found guilty mostly of being a freak," Goodman wrote. He added: "That have-it-both-ways storytelling doesn’t make Phil Spector a great legal movie, but it allows two exceptional actors and a talented writer a chance to play with reality."
In a 2011 Financial Times interview, Mamet suggested Spector might be innocent. "Whether he did it or not, we’ll never know, but if he’d just been a regular citizen, they never would have indicted him," Mamet was quoted as saying.
Lozzi said there are about 50 core members of the group that the protest represented, Friends of Lana Clarkson, which has the goal of protecting the actress’ legacy.
Another member of the group, Paul F. Fegen (a magician who goes by the stage name The Fantastic Fig), said he used to throw parties Clarkson would attend. "I knew her as a very nice, sweet girl. She would never commit suicide," he said.
THR has reached out to HBO and Mamet's rep for comment.