Tag Archives: Beverly Hills Police

Ronni Chasen, Lourdes Kelly, Brian McDevitt and my tenuous connection to the Gardner Heist speculation


Gardner Museum in Boston

Brian McDevitt

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 based this character on someone I really knew, Brian McDevitt. As the Boston Herald story tells it, McDevitt had always been a suspect in the still-unsolved Gardner Museum Heist.

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.

Ronni Chasen Murder Only Gets Stranger…


ah Hollywood

Since the horrible news of the murder of publicist Ronni Chasen last month, I was struck by some similarities between her death and a script I had written originally in the late 1990s, concerning a rivalry between a publicist and a reporter that ends with, well, a murder.

Except that in my script (The Lourdes Kelly Story), it was the reporter who got killed, not the publicist. But still, weird. Now, today, I’m reading about the related shooting last night and see that some of the speculation surrounding Chasen’s death have to do with possible art fraud.

OK. OK. Since the co-conspirator in my fictional story is an art world conman (boyfriend of the publicist), I’m thinking this whole thing is just really too strange.

Check out the logline and synopsis of The Lourdes Kelly Story from 2005:

Logline: The Lourdes Kelly Story is a contemporary dark comedy about a Hollywood publicity diva who, when faced with an imminent, disastrous news report about her boss, is forced to protect him and her reputation from her arch rival, Hollywood’s top female reporter.

Description: Contemporary Hollywood publicity queen Lourdes Kelly dukes it out daily with archrival and best friend, crack entertainment reporter Paula Rosenberg. Paula’s writing an expose of the studio’s latest theme park attraction – which just happens to commemorate the Holocaust! Lourdes knows full well this will ruin her boss, the studio, and her own perfectly-crafted reputation. You’d think she’d have her hands full destroying this story, when a sexy, mysterious writer –  Kevin –  arrives to steal her heart – and gain entrée into Hollywood.

Nosy Paula’s subsequent investigation finds Kevin implicated in an art world con-job, leading to lies, attempted cover-ups and ending with her murder at the Holocaust attraction on its opening night. So, it turns out not only Lourdes benefits from Paula being dead. Closing in, local law enforcement and Paula’s protégé at the paper struggle to solve the crime. With Lourdes about to lose her job, her new boyfriend, and possibly face incarceration, Lourdes’ unlikely assistant is arrested for the murder.

Successfully ruining all those around her with clever and precise manipulation, Lourdes Kelly gets away with murder, emerging stronger than ever as a force to be reckoned with.


Of course, I wrote this loosely based on composite characters I’d worked with for years in Hollywood public relations. I tried to shop it around town a bit, but at the time it didn’t seem anyone was interested in insider-Hollywood-backstage kind of stories.

The conman was based on someone real, however, and I’ll write about him tomorrow.