Patterico's Pontifications


The Phil Spector Trial: Avenue of the Scars

Filed under: Crime,Current Events — Justin Levine @ 3:03 pm

[posted by Justin Levine] 

(Assuming you can’t watch the wall-to-wall coverage on television,) If you want the best radio coverage of the Phil Spector trial, tune in to Eric Leonard on KFI. But if you want the best print coverage of the trial, read Steven Mikulan over at the L.A. Weekly. He not only has a great grasp of the trial, but of the surrounding town and culture that envelops it.

Sample gems from Mikulan’s observations this week – 

The week’s most dubious highlight came when the defense played Lana Unleashed, Clarkson’s portfolio video designed to showcase her comedic talents. Prosecutors Alan Jackson and Pat Dixon begged Fidler to block the screening but the judge ignored their pleas. The video quickly made clear why Clarkson did not have her own Comedy Central show. Her self-written sketches, intended to demonstrate Clarkson’s range of characterizations and dialects, appeared desperately unfunny on the courtroom screen. She was dying up there — all over again.

It also became obvious why Spector’s lawyers fought to have the video shown. In one segment Clarkson performs a black-face impersonation of singer Little Richard selling a line of African-American cosmetics on TV. The sketch was nothing more than a coon show and seemed to drag on for hours as reporters kept an eye on the jury’s three black members, who watched with frozen expressions. (“Little Richard’s” cosmetic kit — called “Makeup Kit for Dummies” — included minibar bottles of liquor and plastic pieces of a black man’s face.)

Getting Lana Unleashed shown in open court was a stroke of sadistic genius on the part of attorney Roger Rosen, who, after winning Fidler’s approval to play the video, smiled that satisfied Rosen smile we’ve all come to know, as though he’d just dropped the dime on Anne Frank. Reviews of Rosen’s gambit, though, were mixed — Clarkson’s sister Fawn wept through the entire viewing.

Again and again one is struck by the level of self-delusion and manic optimism expressed about Hollywood and life in general — not only by Clarkson but by everyone in her world. The belief of Clarkson’s friends and associates, articulated in three and a half months of testimony, is a thoroughly Southern California credo that equates talent with self-esteem, eating right, exercising and becoming spiritual.

Read the whole thing.

[posted by Justin Levine]

9 Responses to “The Phil Spector Trial: Avenue of the Scars”

  1. Is it legal to shoot incompetent comedians in LA? How does Margaret Cho survive?

    Glen Wishard (b1987d)

  2. It may not be determinative, and it may be going on with both sides. But there is almost never any jury upside in lawyers showing their emotions. Real trial lawyers know that only amateurs mug for the jury, and they work hard to suppress every hint of that.

    Beldar (dae850)

  3. How was the tape relevant? To show she lacked talent and therefore was depressed? Sounds highly speculative in that there are plenty of talentless people in Hwd.

    sam (9c9706)

  4. Beldar,

    In any other jurisdiction I would say that “anybody who thinks that jurors do not take their duty seriously and decide according to the evidence and the law is betting against the house”. But this trial is taking place in LaLaLand. Anything can happen.

    nk (48899d)

  5. I saw the tape in the court room and it was hilarious. Being around humorlous dull people in that courtroom, and many still in shock of losing their beloved Lana, coupled by the false act of “neutrality by the media present ..what did you expect belly laughs and applause??? Get real. I’ve seen Clarkson’s work. She is a riot and a half.

    Clarkson fan (eb83a9)

  6. Looks like Spector is going to get off.

    What does it say about LA Justice when OJ, Robert Blake, and Spector all get off for murder?

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  7. “Looks like Spector is going to get off.”

    Why don’t you wait for the verdict, Chief?

    Patterico (f0b65c)

  8. Patterico,

    What’s your take on this case (speaking not as a DA, but knowing the info)?

    Knowing what you know, do you think he did it (again speaking as a private person and not a DA)?

    Personally, I think he did it (not knowing the evidence) but I think he’ll get away with it, just like Blake and Simpson did.

    If you can’t answer, just delete this post.

    thebronze (17f671)

  9. Let’s take a quick look at the key rulings in the case so far:

    Prosecution is permitted to bring in a succession of decade-old incidents which theoretically fall under M.O. or past similarities, but clearly are meant to dirty the defendant’s reputation and persona.

    Another judge previously barred testimony from a shady ex-N.Y. private investigator, but Fidler decides to let it in to further paint Spector as a woman-hating bastard.

    Despite Lana Clarkson’s alleged appearance in a madame’s black book, the possible sexual context is ruled too prejudicial. Despite the fact that his DNA is on her breast and her DNA is on his privates.

    Another decade-old alleged unshot “victim” previously ruled against is permitted to testify during the rebuttal. Thus the focus shifts from the forensic scientific evidence, which either shows Spector didn’t pull the trigger or at the very least makes it doubtful, gets dramatically upstaged by more drama.

    And note that I haven’t even mentioned Fidler’s complicity in keeping Henry Lee off the stand.

    So the most likely story of the event never gets told: A desperate, would-be actress (who earned all of $1500 from acting the previous year) is depressed, in debt, her last effort (“Lana Unleashed”) a dismal failure, and hates her job pulling out chairs for barely minimum wage at the House of Blues. She meets Phil Spector, and succumbs to his inept drunken invitation to come to “The Castle.” She gets hopped up on Vicodins and alcohol. She realizes he doesn’t want to make her a star, only wants sex. If so, she wants to receive maximum $$$, which doesn’t happen. So in the midst of drunken, Vicodin-laced, sexual and Hollywood drama and disappointment, a gun goes off.

    Realize, it is fired from the wrong hand for Spector to have pulled the trigger right-handed. The blood spatter indicates he is probably too far away. She is over 6-foot and strong, he is small, twenty years older, and drunk — also suffers from the shakes at his best.

    Reasonable doubt, definitely. Guilty verdict, probable. Reason — dirtying the defendant, crucial rulings favoring the prosecution, the defense never developing a clear, consistent theory of the case. (Why, oh why, did they keep arguing through the prosecution’s witnesses that Spector was NOT drunk???)

    nosh (56a0a8)

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