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Posts Tagged ‘Natalie Wood’

National Enquirer Publishes Explosive New Natalie Wood Claim

It apparently took five bylined reporters to wrangle a worrisome new circumstantial allegation about the weekend of Natalie Wood‘s drowning death off Catalina Island.

The tabloid spoke to 52-year-old interior designer Robin Butillo, who back in 1981 was roommates with someone she describes as a “close friend” of actor Christopher Walken. Hours after news broke of Wood’s drowning death, she says her roommate fielded a telephone call from the actor:

“In the phone call, it was clear that Chris was devastated by the tragedy. He was upset and confessed that a ‘sex secret’ had occurred, leading up to Natalie’s death.” Butillo added: “While it’s clear Chris had no involvement in Natalie’s actual death, he clearly felt the need to unload his sorrow on his friend.”

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Splendour Captain Recalls Early National Enquirer Tactics

A big complaint of Marti Rulli, co-author of the 2009 book Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour is that many journalists writing about the re-opening of the investigation into the drowning death of actress Natalie Wood have failed to actually read the book. She’s absolutely right on that point.

FishbowlLA has read the book. It is very cleverly structured, extremely well-written and though faithful to a single point of view (that of co-author and former ship captain Dennis Davern), full of details and context that would likely amaze many reporters. For example, how many of these journalists know about Wagner allegedly keeping Davern under the equivalent of house arrest for months on end after the November 29, 1981 incident, forcing the dutiful employee to stay at the Wagner residence and abide by a 10 p.m. curfew?

However, for the purposes of this item, the detail we want to share is a recollection from Davern about the ways in which the National Enquirer tried to get him to spill his story in the fall of 1983. After a snoop posing as a potential buyer of Splendour failed to get Davern to let him photograph the inside of the boat, this wining-and-dining individual—Peter Williams—brought along one evening a leggy, female accomplice. Per the book:

She, too, wanted “business-related” photographs of Splendour’s interior. Dennis refused, but Elizabeth invited him back to her apartment for dinner. “We were on the sofa in her apartment,” Dennis recounted, “and she put her hand inside my shirt… She started to take off her clothes, so I took off mine. We went at it…”

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EXCLUSIVE: Director Who Worked with Wagner, Walken Finalizing Release Deal

Last week, we told you about Life’s a Beach, the only film to have co-starred Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. Today, we were able to connect with the movie’s writer-director Tony Vitale, who explains that big things are about to happen with his never-released, beach resort-set R-rated comedy.

“The Canadian rights were recently sold first, but after further review of the film, someone wants to buy worldwide rights,” Vitale tells FishbowlLA via telephone from Los Angeles, where he has been based for the past 15 years. “So it’s a matter of us reacquiring the Canadian rights and then doing this new deal. I’m hoping it will be done by the end of the year.”

In the film, Walken plays Roy Callahan, the father of a bride (Rebecca, Christine Lakin) who stands up husband-to-be Darren (Darren Geare) at the altar. Distraught, the passed-over groom heads down to a Club Med type resort with a friend to try and recover. Among the more prominent guests at the resort are a married swinger couple, Tom and Felicia Wald (Wagner, Morgan Fairchild).

Wagner and Walken have no scenes together in the film, although they each worked on the project for about two weeks. That is not entirely by accident. “We were sensitive to that [their real-life connection] going in,” Vitale explains. “In the movie, Fairchild’s character eventually seduces Darren; she and Wagner have both been married multiple times. There’s also a big twist involving Wagner’s character.”

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The Comedy That Co-Starred Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken

The paths of Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken famously crossed in 1981 and have collided once again this fall, thanks to the re-opening of the police investigation into the drowning death of Natalie Wood. But did you know that the two also worked together in 2001?

NYU grad Tony Vitale‘s comedy Life’s a Beach (also known as Club Jungle Juice) is the only time Walken and Wagner signed on for the same film project. Among the movie’s producers are Paul Kessler and Diana Derycz-Kessler, the husband-and-wife couple that today own and manage the LA Film School. The comedy is set in a Club Med type resort and was shot on the island of Provinciales in Turks and Caicos.

A (very) belated October 2010 premiere is listed for the film, which seems to have never been released because of bankruptcy-related complications. While cynics will no doubt make untoward jokes about the original title and poster art (pictured), FishbowlLA prefers to focus on this IMDb discussion board comment:

I was the captain of the sailboat and never saw the movie… I would like to know how to get it as well

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Natalie Wood Drowning ‘Ear Witness’ Was Threatened Three Days Later

Whenever a sensational story such as the re-opening of the police investigation into the 1981 drowning death of actress Natalie Wood breaks, it’s often possible thanks to the Internet to click right through to the heart of the matter. In this case, that would be the PDF of new statements submitted recently to the LA County Sheriff’s office by author Marti Rulli, boat captain Dennis Davern, the actress’ sister Lana and Catalina Island “ear witness” Marilyn Wayne.

Many of the stories hitting the wire this morning from Radar Online, the Daily Mail and other outlets are parsing info from this document. But not getting a lot of media attention, yet, is the fact that Wayne had a further connection to Robert Wagner beyond being moored just 50 feet away from the Splendour that terrible night and knowing him from various Southern California marinas. She was also working at the time as a stockbroker at an LA firm servicing Wagner; in her statement, she details a frightening subsequent office incident:

I had a “client box’” designed for clients to drop off their messages through a slot in the front. The boxes were opened in the back, labeled by broker name on each end. Three days after Natalie died, I found a scribbled message on a torn piece of paper in my box that read, “If you value your life, keep quiet about what you know.”

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Author Campaigns to Have Natalie Wood Death Investigation Re-Opened

As the 30th anniversary of Natalie Wood‘s tragic drowning death looms, Canyon News columnist Tommy Garrett has news of renewed efforts to get to the bottom of what happened off the coast of California on November 29, 1981.

Author Marti Rulli and the actress’ sister Lana are pushing to have the closed investigation re-opened. Over the weekend, their signed statements, along with those of four others, were sent to LA County Sheriff Lee Baca. Also included was a copy of an online petition asking for the death investigation to be re-opened. Writes Garrett:

The package includes [Captain] Dennis Davern‘s full witness account; a statement from Marilyn Wayne, who heard Natalie’s cries for help but was never interviewed by authorities; one from Roger Smith, the Coast Guard captain who recovered Natalie’s body and believes she lived hours through the night in the cold ocean; and one from a licensed, certified psychologist.

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New York Times Company Looking for Bunch of Bay Area Hires

When you think of the New York Times media empire, the Sonoma County seat of Santa Rosa, California is not usually the first place that comes to mind.

But today, in Mediabistro.com’s very own job listings, there are—count ‘em–eight different open positions being advertised in connection with NYT properties located in Natalie Wood‘s hometown. One is that of a weekly newspaper reporter with the North Bay Journal, while the other seven opportunities are all at the venerable Press Democrat. The 114-year-old daily has most definitely embraced the 21st century; among its current needs are an SEO/SEM Specialist and an SMO Specialist:

SMO Specialist duties include: ensuring all social media strategies and initiatives are in line with overall client marketing plan/objectives; contribute to social media collateral; stay current with all social media industry developments and best practices.

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New Book Celebrates Location Filming in Los Angeles

Once upon a time, the Hollywood film industry term “runaway” referred only to the character of a street urchin in a narrative. Not the idea that our city’s once prosperous production activities are being hijacked to Vancouver, Melbourne, Bucharest and beyond.

This week, as part of its “Images of America” series, Arcadia Publishing has released a wonderful pictorial trip down memory lane to that time when the great majority of studio movies were shot locally. Each chapter of Location Filming in Los Angeles focuses on a different corner of LA, using sepia tone photos provided by Marc Wanamaker, a founding member of the Hollywood Heritage Museum and owner of Bison Archives.

Assisting Wanamaker with text and liner notes for each photo were FilmRadar.com‘s Karie Bible, also the official tour guide of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and Harry Medved, author and long-time industry PR guru, currently for Fandango.com. From the get-go, the trio of authors sets the record straight as to just exactly when and how our local feature film industry got started.

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Robert Wagner to Help Reboot Charlie’s Angels

Showbiz 411 columnist Roger Friedman has a good Hollywood exclusive this morning. Robert Wagner, suave star of many delightful film and TV classics as well as a recent author, has been hired to voice the part of Charlie in a new TV version of Charlie’s Angels.

As Friedman notes, there’s a very good reason why Wagner might be involved:

Wagner’s participation in the new Charlie’s is no coincidence. In the real world, Wagner and the late Natalie Wood owned 50% of the original TV series through a deal with Spelling-Goldberg TV. A couple of years ago, Wagner sued over rights to the movies, too, but lost on appeal. It’s presumed his first deal, for the TV series, still stands.

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