You’d think that in a town that now has more than its share of hardened, high-profile celebrity criminals, that at least one of them would be suitably punished. O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake basically wore signs around their necks asking the jury to convict them based on the evidence. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie all take turns taunting the legal system and basically getting away with it.
Today, Phil Spector, the legendary music producer with really bad hair, essentially got off, too. Judge Larry Paul Fidler has declared the Spector case a mistrial and dismissed the deadlocked 10-2 jury this afternoon. They actually reached a 7-5 impasse on Sept. 18 after nearly two weeks of deliberation.
Spector should have been the scapegoat, because not that many people cared about this case.
The record producer has been on trial since March for the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson, charged with second-degree murder. He has always maintained that Clarkson shot herself while visiting him at his Alhambra, Calif. mansion, but a plethora of prosecution witnesses testified that Spector knew his way around a revolver.
Now, instead of being bombarded with promos of the new fall shows, all I’m seeing on TV this afternoon are breaking news clips of Spector — looking freakier than ever — staring into space as the judge and his defense attorneys ponder what’s next. And, oh, wait, now there’s a helicopter shot of him arriving back at his home.
This can’t be happening again can it? L.A. law, you gotta love it.
Right now there’s no telling how the case that few people cared about in the first place will end. According to the local news talking heads, Spector could be tried again or he could just go back to scaring the people in his immediate circle. Either way, it’s a major victory for his defense team because apparently they have created enough reasonable doubt to stump a jury that includes an NBC “Dateline” senior producer.
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Just think of the book deals he’s going to get.
Well, at least it makes a good story
Sometimes I think the judicial system here intentionally blows these cases because it makes for better screenplays. I mean, if Spector had been convicted, that’s the end of a very dull story. Now that he may go free, that gives a writer a better premise to work off of.
Slideshow: Phil Spector’s life and times Spector has had three sets of high-profile attorneys, starting with former Simpson Dreamteamer Robert Shapiro. Next up was Leslie Abramson (of Menendez brothers fame), who was replaced by Bruce Cutler, best known for defending mobster John Gotti. He was fired last month and replaced by Roger Rosen. Then there was Spector’s wife mouthing off at the judge a couple of weeks ago, his bad assortment of wigs, and a chauffeur who testified that he saw Spector run out of the house just after the shot had been fired with a gun in his hand.
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Hell, if the movie is done well, it could eventually evolve into a franchise. Everybody’s got a story to tell.
I’m thinking Harrison Ford could play the 67-year-old Spector and perhaps Martin Scorsese would consider directing. Maybe Zac Efron could play Spector during his teen years. And how about former “O.C.” star Mischa Barton as Clarkson? It might be hard to get Efron, but I think Barton’s schedule must be freeing up right about now.
How lovely would that be?
What would be really cool though is if all of this would just go away quietly. I’d rather vaguely remember Spector for the fabulous music he once helped to create with The Beatles and The Righteous Brothers; as well as guiding the solo careers of John Lennon, George Harrison and Tina Turner.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all just let it be?
It doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon though. Just after the judge declared the mistrial, one of Spector’s attorneys suggested that they all come back after 60 days. Fidler, however, disagreed. He, too, wants this to go away. Maybe the thought of continual exposure to Spector is scaring him, too.
It could take weeks, months and maybe even another year for the purveyors of L.A. law to decide what to do with the music producer.
I think, however, that everyone involved with the judicial system in this joke of a town should go on holiday. Find a spot where nobody knows your name. And instead of taking time out to relax and rejuvenate, use that time to repair and reflect on what went wrong — again.
Miki Turner is an entertainment columnist for MSNBC.com. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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