Morgan Freeman, Joe Roth, Amy Pascal and many others send their tributes to Ronni Chasen, shot dead coming home from a premiere on Monday night
The Hollywood community reacted in grief and horror to news of the apparent murder of veteran publicist Ronni Chasen, a familiar figure at industry events throughout the awards season and a tireless advocate for the movie industry.
Comments and tributes poured into TheWrap from longtime colleagues, clients and friends.
Many expressed fear at the apparent randomness of the attack, coming as the awards season and its near-nightly social activities in all reaches of the city.
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Morgan Freeman sent the following statement to TheWrap: “I had the extreme pleasure of working with Ronnie on "Driving Miss Daisy." We've been friends ever since. She is someone I greatly admired and she will be remembered.”
"I am deeply saddened by the news of Ronni’s unexpected passing. Ronni Chasen is a legend in this industry, and I feel honored to have had the opportunity to work with her. Our thoughts are with her family, her friends and her team at Chasen & Company," said Rich Ross, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios.
"Ronni was a dear friend and cherished member of our community," Sony chairman Amy Pascal wrote TheWrap. "She was at our premiere last night and so full of her trademark energy and love of life. We are heartbroken, shocked and completely devastated."
Joe Roth, a client and friend, wrote this to TheWrap: "I"m shocked. She was my friend for 35 years. Ronni was a dogged champion of movies and we all will feel her loss. It's inconceivable, actually."
"All of us in personal publicity are devastated by this tragic loss,” wrote Kelly Bush, the CEO of Id-pr. “Ronni was a terrific publicist, blazing a trail for women in this business, like few others. I greatly admired and respected her. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and staff."
“Ronni Chasen was a press agent extraordinaire,” said longtime publicist Vivian Mayer. “She never called herself a publicist. She was everyone’s best friend, and my mentor, my sister. She loved the entertainment business."
PMK principal Heidi Schaeffer had just returned from holidays in Europe with Chasen.
"It's incomprehensible," she wrote. "I've lost a dear friend and our industry has lost a true original. Although short in stature she was a giant among us. I had just gone with Ronni to Paris and then on to the film festival in Ghent, which she so proudly represented. She always told me what a marvelous festival it was, and that was no exaggeration."
Schaeffer said they saw Chasen's client, screenwriter Ronald Harwood and old friends Yanou Collart, Beatrice Wachsberger and Dany Jucaud.
"In Ghent we celebrated her birthday at a beautiful gathering and she spent time with another client she was nuts about – Elliot Goldenthal. The photos are in an album I made for her – but hadn't given to her yet. I'm grateful to have had a friend like Ronni. May her soul rest in peace," wrote Schaeffer.
"Ronni was smart and quirky and talented and the world will be a lesser place without her," publicist Howard Bragman told TheWrap.
“Ronni was one of my best friends. Worked together for 15 years. She was my mentor and a wonderful partner," said Jeff Sanderson, who worked with her at Chasen PR, in a preliminary statement.
“Ronni was one of a kind, a truly special woman who cared about those around her and those she worked with,” said Michelle Robertson, a publicist who worked with Chasen on Warner Brothers” and many other movies. “I admired her and will remember the many laughs we shared together and her loyalty to her friends.”
"I've known Ronni for years. We weren't that close but she was a colleague and there wasn't a mean bone in her body,” said Fredell Pogodin, a longtime publicist working mainly with Oscar-winning foreing films.
"It's really an unspeakable tragedy. The industry lost a fantastic lady last night. Always elegant, extremely bright and funny, and a complete pro, she was a complete pleasure to work with. It's really a terrible, terrible loss for everyone who knew Ronni," said Simon Halls, a partner at Slate PR.
Ronnie was someone who loved what she did," another longtime publicist Melody Korenbrott wrote to TheWrap. "She loved her work and her clients. She was one of a kind and that no one could ever fill her shoes. We will all miss her but she will never be forgotten."
Wrote crisis PR specialist Steve Jaffe: “Susan and I were shocked to hear of the murder of our dear friend and my colleague, Ronni Chasen. She was a great lady and so dedicated to her work. We had just talked to her about one of the many films for which she was doing the pre-awards pr, "Get Low." This was her time of the year to shine. She loved her work and she loved film people. We will miss her.”
Added Oscar strategist Lisa Taback: "I am devastated as are so many of us. Not only was Ronni a good friend but she inspired all of us to aim higher with our work endeavors and to honor our friendships. She was a graceful, funny woman and the loss is immeasurable."
Chasen's office released these tributes on Tuesday afternoon:
“Ronni was a loving and caring person who treated her clients like they were her own family. She was my sister and best friend and we shared so many wonderful times together.”
– Larry Cohen
“There was no one like Ronni Chasen. Passionate. Dedicated. Tenacious. Loyal. Lovable. She was an iconic publicist who loved her clients and always strived to do her best for them. To me she was not only my colleague and mentor for over 18 years, but also my dearest friend and a part of my family. I will feel her loss every day, but she will always be a part of my life.”
– Jeff Sanderson
"Ronni was loved and respected by everyone. She was part of the fabric of an industry that meant everything to her. Her work was her playground. Ronni loved every minute of what she did and in return. Her clients were equally dedicated to her. Ronni was my best friend, me mentor and my sister and she will be dearly missed by me as well as everyone in the industry."
– Vivian Mayer-Siskind
“Lili and I are shattered by the unthinkably sad news about Ronni. She worked with us on every picture we made since The Verdict and has been a loving and dear friend for so many years. To think of not being able to get her on the other line of the phone is unimaginable. She was the best publicist in the business in our opinion whose tireless and determined energy combined with her love of movies made her one of a very special breed. We can't tell you how much we will miss her."
– Richard D. Zanuck
"Today is a tragic day…we lost a Hollywood legend and a dear friend. Ronni made a positive mark on this industry for over 30 years. She was my Hollywood sister, and was in a class of her own."
– Nadia Bronson
“I'm profoundly sad, devastated, mad, incredulous and lonely. Ronni was the best. And in a town where "the best" is used much too casually, she was truly singular. She really cared, she had a heart of gold, she was a fighter and a total pro. She knew everything and everyone, and for twenty years she told me to tuck in my shirt, to smile at the camera, to have a shave and not say anything foolish. She protected me, fiercely and brilliantly in choppy waters that she navigated with grace and style. I only just saw her at the "Governors Awards" last Saturday night. She was radiant, she knew everybody in the room. She took Chris Nolan over to the next table and introduced him to George Lucas. I was watching her standing there listening to them and I thought ‘there's my friend Ronni, introducing two great directors to each other. She's on top of her game.’ I adored her and she adored me. You can't imagine how much I miss her already.”
– Hans Zimmer
"Ronni was a woman of remarkable intelligence and integrity and a very good friend."
– Sir Ronald Harwood
"Ronni was one of the great women of our business. Beyond all of her skills and her gifts as a collaborator, she was a spectacular person – warm, wise, compassionate, hilariously funny, and utterly authentic. She will be loved and missed for many, many years by everybody lucky enough to have known her."
– Scott Rudin
"Ronni was a warm friend, a great advocate of mine and many others. I know my friend Bono will be shocked because he loved her, too. It's a great lost for artists in the film and music industries."
– Jim Sheridan
"Ronni was a character, and a force of nature, a strategist and collaborator extraordinaire but, more importantly, the most wonderful kind of friend. When I suffered a debilitating personal loss several years ago, Ronni provided an extraordinary amount of comfort. She ended each of our conversations with "I love you", which maybe she did with everyone, but it made me feel great. I hope she knows how much she was loved."
– Nancy Utley
“Ronni was one of a kind, a truly special woman who cared about those around her and those she worked with. I admired her and will remember the many laughs we shared together and her loyalty to her friends.”
– Michele Robertson
"Ronni was not only a consummate professional, but she was a trusted friend and colleague. I always admired her charm & enthusiasm and find this news utterly shocking and tragic."
– Harry Gregson-Williams
"Ronni Chasen knew Hollywood. She understood how it worked. She was neither star-struck, nor star-blind. She grasped the rules and quite a few of them she had a hand in making. She came to the right place at, heaven knows, the right time, and that very distinctive, wonderful, ironic voice, the flicking hair and all the rest of her, will live in me to my dying day. In a way, it seems almost fitting that she spent her last night on earth at a premiere, if it wasn't so cruel and unjust that it should be her last night. I cannot over-state how useful, even crucial, her sensible and grounded words have been to me over the years, and how supporting her affection and warm friendship, for which she also had a real talent. I know I will not be able to replace her in this life. She was one of the principal architects of my own progress and I am only desperately sorry that she won't be here for the rest of the story. My heart goes out to all those who loved her, of whom I am most certainly one."
– Julian Fellowes
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of my dear friend Ronni Chasen. I have had the honor of working with her for over 15 years. She was one of a kind. I loved her. I miss her.”
– Diane Warren
"Ronni was one of the kindest and most loyal people I have ever known. She was my friend for close to thirty years and I'll miss her more than I can ever say."
– Charles Shyer
"Ronni was my friend for 35 years. Her ideas and energy made the stars shine. She was the pro in appropriate. What a loss."
– Mace Neufeld
“We were all together last night, and Ronni was having the best time doing what she enjoyed most. She was tireless; her spirit was unstoppable. I’ve known Ronni through my whole career. When she represented you she was an unshakable support. Ronni always stayed focused and as much as anyone I’ve ever known, she genuinely loved her work. Her enthusiasm was unyielding and I was always amazed by her ability to bring newfound excitement to every movie. She had a unique ability to take things in stride, look at good or bad news in a matter-of-fact way. We’d review the facts and she’d say, 'Let’s move on to the next.' As a publicist she was simply the best in the business. Her instincts were infallible. Ronni was also a wonderful friend. She knew everyone and everyone adored her. She was always decent and fair. When we all said goodbye last night, little did we know it would be our last. I am in shock; that this could happen is incomprehensible. Only a few hours ago we were celebrating. I’m glad she was happy last night and that she was in all her glory. I loved Ronni and she meant a lot to me.”
"Ronni was a wonderful woman, a great and loyal friend and a devoted and talented colleague.
She loved movies, but more than that, she loved the people who made them. This is a very sad day in Hollywood."
– Nancy Meyers
"The last words she spoke to me the day before her murder, and the last words of every conversation I have had with her during the nearly two decades of our close professional praetorship, were her saying, 'I love you.' Ronni was a tireless, uncompromising devotee to music and music makers world-wide. This wretched murder is inconsolable. It's also a murder of a measure of hope for aspiring talent who will never be benefited by her sisterly guidance."
– Elliot Goldenthal
“I had the extreme pleasure of working with Ronni on 'Driving Miss Daisy.' We've been friends ever since. She is someone I greatly admired and she will be remembered.”
– Morgan Freeman
"All of us in personal publicity are devastated by this tragic loss. Ronni was a terrific publicist, blazing a trail for women in this business, like few others. I greatly admired and respected her. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and staff."
– Kelly Bush