Hollywood justice, how it’s Dunne
WHEN Vanity Fair crime writer Dominick Dunne was sent to cover last year’s murder trial of music producer Phil Spector, Australian filmmaker Kirsty de Garis had a front-row seat to witness celebrity justice.
‘‘I’d never been in a courtroom before apart from, you know, in grade 3 when we went on a school excursion,’’ says de Garis, who spent months filming Dunne for her debut documentary Celebrity: Dominick Dunne.
‘‘It was like being in a theatre. There was something unreal about it,’’ she says of the controversial mistrial.
‘‘Even Spector, who was famous a million years ago, he did kind of emit this aura of something different about him and he kind of shuffled around with bodyguards and they had a special parking permit and went in through the ‘out’ door, that kind of thing.
‘‘He did, I suppose, get special treatment.
‘‘I don’t know if that affects their justice system or not but it does seem notoriously difficult to convict celebrities of murder in California.’’
Though the truth may have been hard to come by in court, Dunne, 83, a one-time television producer turned Hollywood outcast and champion of victims’ rights after the murder of his actor daughter, was more forthcoming.
‘‘Covering him covering Phil’s trial was such an organic introduction into his personality and how he works and also his past because Los Angeles was a city of so many ghosts for him,’’ de Garis says.
Before he picked up a pen at 50, Dunne had been an unlikely World War II hero, a successful Hollywood producer and a shameless social climber.
He threw lavish parties for the rich and famous, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Natalie Wood, Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow.
But then came his fall from grace, the breakdown of his marriage and the end of his showbiz career— until he emerged years later as a writer and social commentator.
‘‘He’s hugely charismatic and I think for anybody who’s interested in old Hollywood, as I always have been, he was a fantastic raconteur,’’ de Garis says.
Dunne’s ability to weave his extraordinary life into his stories has made must-reads of his dispatches from some of America’s biggest celebrity trials.
Court in the act: celebrity crime writer Dominick Dunne and (left) Australian filmmaker Kirsty de Garis.