Continuing from yesterday – the weird coincidences between my script The Lourdes Kelly Story and the all-too-real murder of publicist Ronni Chasen in Beverly Hills last month.
When reading of the bizarre “suicide” of the person of interest at the Harvey Apartments near Santa Monica Boulevard and Western in L.A., reports said that other rumors regarding Chasen’s demise pointed to an art world fraud. (see comments section on that piece)
In The Lourdes Kelly Story, a feud between a high-powered female publicist and a crackerjack entertainment reporter ends in murder. The publicist’s fictional boyfriend is an art world conman whose most intense dream is to be a Hollywood screenwriter.
I met Brian in 1991, when I worked at Paramount and was tasked with helping put on a 50th Anniversary Celebration for the movie Citizen Kane. I got a call from him out of the blue. He said he was a staff writer on “The Wonder Years” and “was his name on a list or where would his tickets be sent?”
Not wanting to piss off an important writer, I put his name on a list and told him if we had any extra tickets I would call him back. I thought, at the time, as an aspiring writer, it would be good for me to have a writer acquaintance who had an actual writing job and connections.
I never checked his credential. Brian was the type of person who could sell you a sack of shit and not only have you believing that it was full of gold bullion but that it smelled like lilacs, too.
Of course, we did have a couple of extra tickets and Brian and his girlfriend made it to the CK party. After that, we developed a friendship. It evolved to the point where he was going to help me develop and hone my movie script; I would help him get a pitch meeting with Paramount brass who I interacted with (in my lowly way) every day (his script was about a Russian art theft…).
We would go to lunch, he would regale me with tales of WGA politics – he was involved somehow with them in administrating an early internet chatting protocol called a BBS.
He even gave me a script he said he’d written – it was a screenplay for Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One, which was odd, since it had already been made into a movie in 1965 with Waugh, Terry Southern and Christopher Isherwood as credited writers.
Then, one day all hell broke loose with the revelation in the trades that he had faked his WGA credentials and all his credits and was really just this Boston conman. He had apparently irritated the wrong person at the WGA, someone who actually had the interest and capacity to really check on his background. His crimes, lies, and the prison time, etc., all came tumbling out.
I remember calling his girlfriend that morning and telling her I just wanted to know “why.” I never heard from Brian again and I think he left Hollywood pretty much immediately.
In the Boston Herald piece, it says he died of kidney failure in 2004. Well, maybe. And perhaps that’s just a lie and he’s living the high life in Rio. I don’t know.
What I do know is that was the last time I ever trusted anyone in Hollywood, which is a valuable lesson to learn, even if it came a little later than it should have.
Yet – he was an absolutely delightful person. Pathological liar, maybe, but an engaging, smiling, articulate Irishman (you can’t tell from the B&W picture but his hair was mostly red). Wherever you are, Brian, I wish you well.