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My Dark Days With Phil [Spector], by filmmaker Vikram Jayanti, in this week’sNewsweek
It’s a story as old as justice. The crazy man crying out, “It’s not fair!”—his calls falling deaf ears.
Now it’s Phil Spector’s story too, about to be twice-told anew, once in his last-chance appeal being considered by a federal court and again by David Mamet in a new film to air later this month. Both argue that whatever happened to cause the bloody and gaudy 2003 death of actress Lana Clarkson—at Spector’s home, a gun owned by the legendary music producer discharged in her mouth—Spector should not have been convicted. Innocence is not the question. The right to a fair trial is.
It’s a story I also have told. A month before the start of his first trial—which ended in a hung jury—I started making a documentary film with Spector, as complicated and self-destructive a man as you can imagine. He’d been a celebrity for almost 50 years, since writing and performing his first No. 1 hit song “To Know Him Is To Love Him” at 18 years old and going on to develop his hallmark Wall of Sound. As a producer, he had dominated the ’60s charts, later producing Let It Be (the final Beatles album), George Harrison’s and John Lennon’s first solo albums, and the most successful Ramones record. In all that time, he never let a filmmaker near him—until the eve of his first trial. The result was my feature-length documentary The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector, which intercut no-holds-barred conversations between Spector and me in his castle with the trial footage from the courtroom.
There were many surprises along the way, the first being that Spector’s castle, where Clarkson died, was in blue-collar Alhambra on the outskirts of L.A. and not in Beverly Hills or Malibu. As Spector told me, when he decided to leave his Beverly Hills mansion, he wanted to live in a castle. His real-estate agent found two for sale and the one in Alhambra, atop the town’s only hill, took his fancy.
But if Alhambra was a surprise, the possibility that he’d finally shot and killed somebody was most definitely not. After all, the world had been hearing stories about his gunplay and mean temper for more than 30 years. He’d even been reported to have taken a shot just past John Lennon’s head after they’d made the Rock & Roll album together, to encourage Lennon to hand over the acetate master recordings. He’s said to have pulled a gun on the Ramones, and on Leonard Cohen—who became even more of a hero to me when he told my journalist friend Chris Goodwin that he’d responded by saying something along the lines of, “Oh, Phil, you’ve been pulling guns on everyone your whole life and you’ve never shot anyone yet and you’re not going to shoot me either, so just put it down.” And Spector was so taken aback that he did.
[Photo of Phil Spector, 1975. By Mark S. Wexler/Corbis]
This story out of Little Falls, MN is tragic:
According to the complaint, Smith, 64, told police that he heard someone breaking into his house at noon on Thanksgiving. He showed police the window he says Brady, 17, and his cousin, Kifer, 18, used to enter his house, which he said had been broken into several times before. Lange, his friend, said he kept his valuables downstairs.
Smith told police he armed himself with a rifle and a handgun and waited downstairs until he saw the first person’s feet, then legs, then hips.
He said he fired and the first victim, Brady, tumbled down the stairs. While Brady looked up at him, he shot him in the face, according to the complaint.
“I want him dead,” he told investigators.
He put Brady’s body on a tarp and dragged him into his basement workshop and sat back down i his chair.
Several minutes later, he heard more footsteps and saw Kifer coming down the stairs. He waited until he saw her hips, then fired. She also fell down the stairs, but then his rifle jammed and Kifer laughed.
That angered Smith. “If you’re trying to shoot someone and they laugh at you, you go again,” he told police.
He then pulled out the .22-caliber, nine-shot revolver that he was wearing, and fired “more shots than I needed to.” He dragged Kifer into the workshop, placed her next to Brady and noticed she was still gasping for air.
“Smith stated at this point he placed the handgun under the woman’s chin and shot her … up into the cranium … a good clean finishing shot.”
There’s self-defense and then there’s cold-blooded execution.
In August 2006, Sean Shevlino pulled on a hoodie, went to a Piggly Wiggly near his house, waited until the coast was clear, and hopped the counter…
The New York Post has an incredibly dark complaint warrant detailing an NYPD cop’s plans to kidnap, murder, cook, and eat his girlfriend—and nearly 100 other women for money. WTF.
Why do women steal babies? “The kidnapper desperately wants the baby, so she’s not looking to abuse the child but to love her. Most snatched babies are well cared for,” says Dr. Phillip Resnick, director of forensic psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Women like Ann Pettway, who was sentenced this week to 12 years in prison for kidnapping infant Carlina White 25 years ago, are simply blinded by narcissism—and a total lack of empathy.
Marlow profiles Pinkberry co-founder Young Lee, who stands accused of beating a homeless man with a tire iron.
Clad in a bespoke suit, bow tie, and designer glasses, Young Lee is a paragon of Angeleno hipness. The urbane 47-year-old is the visionary co-founder of the Pinkberry chain of frozen yogurt shops, responsible for the stores’ trademark, pastel-colored minimalist décor—replete with $500 Philippe Starck Victoria Ghost chairs, $300 Le Klint lamps shaped like yogurt swirls, and natural pebbles lining the floor. His passion for aesthetics extends to his 4,799 square-foot 4-bedroom Malibu mansion—an architectural marvel boasting a Boffi kitchen, Toto bidet toilets, and a walk-in closet filled with Hermès. He owns a fleet of luxury cars, including a Rolls-Royce Phantom, Ferrari, and a Mercedes G Wagon. He looks like he’s in his early thirties, and enjoys puffing on expensive cigarillos.
But Lee isn’t front row at a runway show or gracing a red carpet. On Jan. 30, he’s seated inside the uninviting environs of the Los Angeles Superior Court, where Lee is being arraigned on charges of assault with a deadly weapon for reportedly chasing down a homeless man on the side of the road and brutally beating him with a tire iron.
[Photo: Al Seib-pool, Los Angeles Times / AP Photos]
Craig Soignet, the father of the girl who roiled a small town in Texas when she refused to cheer for the boy she told police had raped her. The girl was kicked off the cheer squad.
Mobster code of ethics.
Barbie Nadeau is back on the Amanda Knox case. Today: how Foxy Knoxy’s American supporters could hurt her chance of appeal.
Hilary Shenfeld, on Good Samaritan laws