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Sarah Palin Trounces Gawker; Songbird Baez Falls From Tree

James Hirsen By Wednesday, 24 November 2010 01:00 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Hollywood Horror Over Mystery Murder of Top Publicist
2. Joan Baez Takes Treehouse Tumble
3. Judge Orders Cops to Stop Harassing Superheroes
4. Sarah Palin Wins First Round Against Gawker
5. Mysterious Powder Sent to Bristol Palin c/o ‘DWTS’

1. Hollywood Horror Over Mystery Murder of Top Publicist

Hundreds of Hollywood insiders paid their respects to Ronni Chasen, murdered publicist to the stars.

Chasen was shot to death in Beverly Hills as she drove home from a party following the premiere of the Cher-Christina Aguilera film “Burlesque.”

Chasen, whose funeral Sunday drew nearly 1,000 mourners who spilled from the chapel at Hillside Memorial Park and into an adjacent tent, was MGM’s senior vice president of worldwide publicity in the 1990s before launching her own firm, Chasen & Co.

Known as a top publicist for her Oscar-season campaigns, she promoted “Alice in Wonderland,” “Crazy Heart,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Doubt,” “The Wrestler,” “There Will Be Blood,” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Most recently, Chasen was working on 20th Century Fox’s Oscar campaign for Michael Douglas in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”

Like a classic movie plotline, her death is shrouded in mystery.

A 911 call center received word from neighbors near the intersection of Whittier Drive and Sunset Boulevard that a late-model, black Mercedes-Benz had jumped the curb and knocked down a cast-iron streetlamp.

When the police arrived, they found Chasen slumped in the driver’s seat. The steering wheel airbag had inflated and blood was coming from her nose and chest. Alive but drifting in and out of consciousness, she later was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

She sustained five gunshot wounds to her chest, which resulted in the complete loss of control of her vehicle, according to police.

The New York Post reported that Chasen was fearful; she told a friend that someone had been tailing her since the Oscars in March.

This month, six Hollywood casting agents at major studios, including Warner Brothers and Fox Studios, received telephoned death threats. So reports Backstage.

A motive for the Chasen shooting has not been established, as the investigation continues.

2. Joan Baez Takes Treehouse Tumble

Joan Baez sustained only minor injuries in a recent fall from a treehouse.

You may be wondering what the folk singer-songwriter was doing in a treehouse in the first place. She apparently had it built for sleeping purposes but specified construction without walls so she could be close to the birds when she nodded off.

The 69-year-old icon was climbing down from her bedroom perch when she plunged 20 feet to the ground. She was treated for her injuries and released from Stanford Hospital.

In addition to her music, Baez is known for her peace, environmental, and social justice advocacy.

Her first endorsement of a political candidate took place in 2008, when she wrote a letter to the editor at the San Francisco Chronicle backing Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential run.

Obama already had acquired lots of endorsements from tree huggers, but this was his first from a tree sleeper.

3. Judge Orders Cops to Stop Harassing Superheroes

Movie franchises, video games, television shows, and the medium that launched the genre, comic books, have zapped us right into an Age of Superheroes.

One might think that Spider-Man, Superman, and Batman could fend off any rogues, scoundrels, or desperados headed their way.

Well, apparently not in the City of Angels. A throng of superheroes, a.k.a. look-alike street performers, recently needed the protection that only our legal system can deliver.

The superhero street performer tradition has burgeoned into a beloved tourist attraction on Tinseltown’s famed thoroughfares. The roving artistes are known as the “Hollywood Characters.”

Four of them, Matthias Balke, Melissa Beithan, Paul Harrell, and Terrell Tomey, have sued in federal court, alleging that Los Angeles police officers arrested them wrongfully and harassed them. The lawsuit indicates that the superheroes actually have stopped taking to their street stages because they feared arrest or police harassment.

U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson cited First and Fourth Amendment rights of the performers to express themselves on the public sidewalk, as long as they are not panhandling or blocking the walkway.

Judge Pregerson noted that “the court is further sensitive that although costumed performance may not be a traditional form of speech, it is without doubt a protected one.”

Although we often take it for granted, our right to freely express ourselves is one of the most precious things that our founding superheroes fought for.

4. Sarah Palin Wins First Round Against Gawker

It all started last week, when online gossip-monger Gawker published images of 21 pages from Sarah Palin’s latest book, “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag.” For bad measure, they added the book’s dedication page.

The next day, Palin posted the following on her Twitter page: “The publishing world is LEAKING out-of-context excerpts of my book w/out my permission? Isn’t that illegal?”

Gawker refused to take down the excerpt, despite having received a letter demanding that action. Instead, the site posted a taunt with the title “Sarah Palin Is Mad at Us for Leaking Pages From Her Book.”

The post instructed Palin to read pages on fair use as it pertains to copyright law, adding that she might “skip the totally boring reading and call one of your lawyers.”

“They’ll walk you through it,” Gawker wrote with a sneer.

The site posted links to definitions of the fair use doctrine. But because Sarah’s publisher, HarperCollins, did call its lawyers, a federal judge taught Gawker a little something about the law.

On Friday, HarperCollins filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court. On Saturday, a judge ordered the site to take down the pages and also to quit “continuing to distribute, publish or otherwise transmit pages from the book,” at least until the matter can be heard on Nov. 30.

Consequently, the Gawker story has vanished from the site. HarperCollins has asked for monetary damages to be determined. Gawker must also give the material it used to the publisher so it can be destroyed.

5. Mysterious Powder Sent to Bristol Palin c/o ‘DWTS’

In other Palin-related news, the blogosphere has been full of conspiracy theories related to the dancing success of Bristol Palin, daughter of the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate. Bristol is appearing this season on ABC’s mega-hit, “Dancing With the Stars.”

Conspiracy theories were fueled when, among other things, MSNBC news anchor Contessa Brewer suggested that tea partyers were jamming the phone lines to vault Palin over other contestants in the voting.

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel referred to the show’s most recently eliminated contestant, Brandy, as a victim of “Hurricane Bristol.”

Unexpected eliminations and late-night ribbing aside, some strange things have been happening this season.

For instance, a rural Wisconsin man, who apparently was enraged about Bristol’s “DWTS” routine, blasted his television with a shotgun, which ultimately led to an all-night standoff with a SWAT team. Steven Cowan was arrested the following Tuesday morning after officers coaxed him out of his home. He was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment.

According to court documents, when Palin began her dance routine, the septuagenarian Cowan jumped up and started swearing. He then allegedly left the living room, reappeared 20 minutes later with his shotgun and blew out the TV. Next, he purportedly pointed the gun at his wife, told her to go and get his pistols, and threatened to kill himself if she brought anyone back with her.

In another peculiar turn of events, a mysterious white powder was discovered in the mailroom of the “DWTS” studio late Friday.

CBS Television City, where the ABC reality competition is videotaped, had to be evacuated.

According to ABC, an envelope containing an unknown substance was delivered to the show’s production office during the evening hours. The Los Angeles Fire Department later advised ABC that the substance was talcum powder. The envelope was addressed to Bristol, according to TMZ.

The FBI is investigating the matter.

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The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at HollywoodHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Hollywood Horror Over Mystery Murder of Top Publicist 2. Joan Baez Takes Treehouse Tumble 3. Judge Orders Cops to Stop Harassing Superheroes 4. Sarah Palin Wins First...
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 01:00 AM
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