I never thought I would live long enough to actually see such a thing, but ladies and gentlemen, a celebrity has been found guilty in a Southern Californian court of law. My friend John and I have an ongoing conversation about how celebrities are never found guilty of any major crime. Sure, you have your drunk drivers, which is serious don't get me wrong, but that is something that comes back conclusive after the breathalyzer and blood alcohol tests. Usually the celebrity admits that they were in the wrong and they head off to some spa/treatment facility and to then get a 'People' cover where they talk about their recovery blah, blah, blah. Michael Jackson continues to draw speculation and crowds (apparently he is planning a concert tour of Europe in order to stem off bankruptcy) even after he has had, what seemed to the casual observer, a prosecution slam dunk. Robert Blake got away with the old, 'I went back to the restaurant to retrieve the gun I left behind (it must have slipped between the booth cushions) and when I got back to the car my wife had been shot to death.' Lest we forget the all time favorite O.J. Simpson who was acquitted because a glove didn't fit. (BTW, am I the only one who finds it odd that many of Simpson's lawyers from his legal dream team have died, yet he lives on?) At least he is serving a nine year jail sentence for kidnapping amongst other crimes. Even Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle was declared innocent and that was during the Silent Film Era. Finally, after one mistrial, a celebrity defendant has been found guilty of a crime in which it would be hard to believe he was innocent.
Poor Lana Clarkson, she has finally achieved the immortality she strived for in life with her death. At most, her acting career garnered starring roles in XYZ level productions, the kind that required her to recite lines while naked and generally were straight to video releases. By the fateful night she met Spector, she was hosting at West Hollywood House of Blues. Somehow charmed by Spector (hopefully by his impressive track record as a record producer and not by his wig tricks) she accompanied him home to his mansion (which resembled a castle, read into that what you want). After a 911 call, Spector stated that it was an accidental suicide resulting with Clarkson's kissing the gun that took her life. Unfortunately for Spector, playing with guns in front of others was something he had before.
Oh, and he told the police, "I think I killed somebody."
Funny, I'm a follower of pop culture, yet I was unaware that the second trial had started. The first one was heavily covered in the press. If it wasn't for Spector's history as the creator of the 'wall of sound' and the producer of The Beatle's 'Let It Be' the shock value of the case alone would have made at least 'The Smoking Gun's' website due to Spector's spectacular hair gymnastics. Further, he kept hiring and firing lawyers who were celebrities themselves – Robert Shapiro, Leslie Abramson, and Bruce Cutler (John Gotti's go to guy). Why everyday would bring another 'Oh you got to be kidding' revelation about Phil Spector's life. It was just pudding in the pudding cake when Ronnie Spector (from the 'Ronettes') reported that he used to steal her shoes and lock her in the mansion for fear she would leave him…which she eventually did. His own son told tales about how his father would lock him in a room with a pot in the corner to be used as a toilet. I suppose I need not add that Spector gave the eulogy for Ike Turner and bad mouthed Tina during his speech and then bad mouthed Oprah Winfrey for supporting Tina. (Tina Turner and Oprah Winfrey…I can't think of what he might have said about Mother Teresa – that bitch.)
The second trial began on October 20, 2008 with little fanfare. It went to the jury on March 27 2009 and today, April 13, 2009, the jury came back with a guilty verdict and Phil Spector and his wig were packed up and taken into custody. He will be formally sentenced on May 29th. The only noteworthy bit about his 'wall of attorneys' was that he filed a lawsuit against Robert Shapiro, believing that the esteemed lawyer's inadequacy resulted in the murder charges being filed in the first place.
I suppose that there is a lesson here along the lines about how publicity in cases with a well known defendant tend to turn into circuses and then these circuses turn into bonanzas for the defense. While the latest Jackson case was going down, a friend of mine from Kansas happened to drive by and found herself in an Oz like atmosphere and thus left her mother and her children, much to the chagrin of her mother, to venture out and snap pictures of the insanity. It was just too much for her to resist. I mean come on the man admitted in an interview that he still shared his bed with adolescent boys in a sleep over scenario. This even after the first allegation in the early 90's basically ended all income he could have received from endorsements. There was no way, absolutely no way he could be found innocent…until he was. All of it is fun and games until you consider that the case was dealing with sexual child abuse. Didn't Jackson even show up once to court in his pajamas?
So I guess next time I see John we'll have something to talk about. For a while his 'name one celebrity who was found guilty of murder' was like 'what is the sound of one hand clapping' or that damn tree that falls in the forest when no one is there to listen. Heck, I think within this last week a former 'Power Ranger' was found guilty of murder as well (I don't know what color he was so don't bother asking). Thus, like the Bob Dylan song that graces the first few scenes of 'The Watchmen' "the times they are a changin'."
Westerfield © 2009