Mirren defies warning over Phil Spector film

Aug 2, 2011
Rachel Helyer-Donaldson

Friends of Lana Clarkson warn of ‘serious consequences’ as Mirren turns up on set of Phil Spector trial movie

British actress Helen Mirren turned up for work on a controversial new movie about the jailed music producer Phil Spector yesterday, despite threats that there will be "serious consequences" over her involvement. A pressure group that claims to represent Spector's murder victim Lana Clarkson has targeted those in the film that, it argues, portrays him in a positive light.
The HBO TV movie stars Al Pacino as Spector and explores the relationship between the legendary 'wall of sound' producer and his defence lawyer Linda Kenney Baden, played by Mirren. She replaces Bette Midler, who pulled out earlier this month after she apparently hurt her back.
Spector, 70, is currently serving a 19-year sentence for shooting Clarkson, a struggling actress, at his Los Angeles mansion in 2003. A five-month televised trial ended without a unanimous verdict in 2007 but a second jury in 2009 found Spector guilty of second-degree murder.

During the trials the once-celebrated pop producer made headlines for his flamboyant wigs and notorious soundbites, reportedly telling one journalist that Clarkson had "kissed the gun". Kenney Baden, meanwhile, claimed there was evidence that Clarkson was so depressed by her failing career that she used a gun owned by Spector to shoot herself.
The Friends of Lana Clarkson, the campaigning group which claims to have the ear of some influential Hollywood insiders, describes the film, written and directed by David Mamet, as "an insensitive attempt to portray the loathsome, lying, gun-abusing convicted murderer of our friend Lana Clarkson with some kind of sympathy".
The campaigners say they will stop any actors who take part in the project from being considered for the Emmy television awards.
Friends of Lana Clarkson have also enlisted press agent Edward Lozzi, a former aid of President George W Bush, to spearhead the campaign. Yesterday he said the group was "dismayed" at Mirren's involvement in the film.
"We have great respect for Helen Mirren," Lozzi said yesterday. "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'."
The group has already sent a letter to Mirren, warning the 66-year-old Oscar winner that she should "do the right thing" and demand script changes. The letter also warns of "consequences" and adds: "know that we are very serious".
Lozzi also claimed that the campaigners were responsible for Midler pulling out of the film, despite the actress saying she had a herniated disc and that she was "heartbroken" she could not do the role. Lozzi said: "Maybe her back does hurt but I think what persuaded her to quit was she didn't want to hurt her image."
Last night Mirren's spokesman confirmed that the actress had received a letter sent to her by the protestors but ruled out the possibility that the actress would quit the role. He said: "She's in the movie. She's not dropping out. That's all she's saying."

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