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Phil Spector (film)

Phil Spector is a television film directed and written by David Mamet. The film is based on the murder trials of music producer, songwriter and musician Phil Spector and was released in the United States by HBO Films, premiering on HBO on March 24, 2013.[1] It stars Al Pacino as Phil Spector, Helen Mirren as defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden, and Jeffrey Tambor as defense attorney Bruce Cutler. It focuses primarily on the relationship between Phil Spector and Linda Kenney Baden, his defense attorney in 2007 during the first of his two murder trials for the 2003 death of Lana Clarkson in his California mansion, and is billed as “an exploration of the client-attorney relationship” between Spector and Kenney Baden.[2]

Phil Spector
Phil Spector (film) - poster.jpg
Written byDavid Mamet
Directed byDavid Mamet
StarringAl Pacino
Helen Mirren
Jeffrey Tambor
Theme music composerMarcelo Zarvos
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Michael Hausman
Editor(s)Barbara Tulliver
Running time92 minutes
DistributorHBO Films
Original release
  • March 24, 2013 (2013-03-24)

The film was controversial for fictionalizing aspects of the case and for neglecting significant evidence presented by the real life prosecution, leading to accusations that the movie was created as an advocacy piece in Spector's favor. Spector was not involved with the film, and according to his lawyer, "certainly doesn't regard the film as an accurate portrayal of what went on because it's not. It has invented events." Although it is based on real people and an actual event, it opens with an unusually worded disclaimer that states "This is a work of fiction. It's not 'based on a true story.' ... It is a drama inspired by actual persons on a trial, but it is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the trial or its outcome."


Suffering from an illness eventually revealed to be pneumonia, attorney Linda Kenney Baden (Helen Mirren) arrives at the law office of Bruce Cutler (Jeffrey Tambor) in Los Angeles. Cutler's law firm is providing the legal defense for music producer Phil Spector (Al Pacino), who is accused of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in his home on February 3, 2003, by firing a handgun into her mouth. Spector's defense is that Clarkson committed suicide, and he recently has switched attorneys and retained Cutler's firm.

Kenney Baden and Cutler argue the evidence for and against Spector. Kenney Baden believes that Spector is guilty and that a jury will convict him, citing the grand jury testimony of five women who claim Spector pulled a gun on them and demanded sex, outtakes from a television interview in which one of Spector's associates claims that Spector felt he needed to have a gun to keep women from leaving his home once he got them there, and a statement by Spector's chauffeur that Spector emerged from the house on the night of Clarkson's death and said he had killed somebody. Cutler says he believes Spector is innocent and offers the arguments in favor of Spector's acquittal. He says that Spector had overcome a drinking problem and been sober for ten years at the time of Clarkson's death, that an audio recording of Spector talking to police officers responding to the report of her death sounds to Cutler more like a man angry at her for killing herself in his house than someone who had just committed a murder, that the relatively small amount of blood found on Spector's clothes indicates Spector was 10 feet (3 meters) away from Clarkson and had made a defensive movement at the moment of the shooting, that the angle of the bullet's path is inconsistent with Spector firing it, and that ample evidence exists that Clarkson was depressed and may have been prone to suicide. Cutler also describes a major contention of the defense case, which is that the lack of a blood spatter on the wall behind Clarkson indicated that the bullet did not exit the back of her skull, meaning that the bullet fired into her mouth should have caused her blood and brain matter to exit explosively through her nose and mouth and cause a massive blood spatter on Spector's clothes if he was standing close enough to her to fire the bullet into her mouth, but there is no such blood stain on Spector's clothes. Cutler also suggests that a jury will be sympathetic to Spector because of his genius in producing popular music over the years, but Kenney Baden counters that younger people have no memory of the reclusive Spector or the era of his recordings and that his flamboyance and eccentricity will cause a jury to view him merely as a murderous "freak." She also says that a jury will be disinclined to let another celebrity go free after the acquittals of O. J. Simpson and Michael Jackson. She believes that the only way to defend Spector will be to attack the sanity of Lana Clarkson in court, but she also believes that this strategy will be self-defeating, because it will make the jury sympathetic to Clarkson. Despite her belief in his guilt and misgivings about the strength of evidence for his acquittal, Kenney Baden agrees to take Spector's case, and Cutler begs her to find another way to defend him in court.

In her hotel room, Kenney Baden watches a television interview in which another Spector associate claims that Spector cannot distinguish sex from love, that Spector in his younger days was a powerful man who became accustomed to using that power to seduce many of the female recording artists for whom he produced music, and that later, as his career waned, Spector became obsessed with retaining his sexual power over women, even hiring private investigators to follow his former wife, Ronnie Spector (Linda Miller), constantly. Kenney Baden discovers that Spector's father Ben had committed suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide in 1949 when Phil was ten years old. She visits Spector's home to gain firsthand knowledge of the scene of Clarkson's death and encounters Spector for the first time. He immediately launches into a lengthy, rambling monologue discussing what he views as his unfair treatment compared to that of other celebrities, the lack of public appreciation of his seminal role in the creation of the music industry and of his empowerment of African American artists, and the importance of his work as a producer on a large number of popular songs, all the while dropping the names of celebrities he worked with or knew well. As he speaks he gives her a tour of his home, and she sees the room in which he kept a large collection of guns until the police confiscated them, as well as his large collection of wigs. Kenney Baden is cold, and Spector gets a blanket, which he drapes over her tenderly. Kenney Baden tries to focus him on the facts of the case against him, and, aware that he has spoken to the press and accused the prosecutor of Nazi tactics, asks him not to discuss his case with anyone. She asks him about Clarkson, and he says Clarkson was depressed and was drunk and on drugs when she allegedly killed herself. Kenney Baden says that toxicology reports do not support this contention, but Spector angrily rejects the findings of the reports. Spector asserts that the case against him is contrived to punish him for being too powerful and explains that he keeps to himself not because he is an unlikable eccentric, but merely because he craves privacy. He concludes by saying that he takes prescription drugs that make his hands shake too much for him to play the piano anymore, much less aim and fire a gun.

Driving to Spector's arraignment, Kenney Baden continues to search for a defense strategy, discussing the case with the Cutler firm's private investigator, Nick Stavros (John Pirruccello). Kenney Baden opines that the chauffeur's statement is the prosecution's only hard evidence, and that of her two options – putting Spector on the stand or breaking the chauffeur on the stand – only the latter is practicable. Stavros responds that he thinks that the police have threatened to charge the chauffeur as an accessory to murder for helping Spector get Clarkson to his house on the night of the shooting, and therefore the chauffeur probably will not break. While the prosecution makes its opening statement to the jury, Kenney Baden notes Spector scribbling musical notes on a pad of paper. Among a crowd of angry protesters outside the courthouse, one young woman hurls red liquid at Spector to symbolize Clarkson's blood.

Cutler's law firm lays out its case and the prosecution's case to a focus group, which votes to convict Spector, and Cutler says it is because Spector is a wealthy figure without redeeming qualities who people of lesser means will be inclined to side against. The attorneys also view a television segment in which a younger Spector casually interrupts an interview at a recording studio to enter the studio with a gun and threaten the musicians, firing two shots into the ceiling, before returning to the interviewer. Cutler and Kenney Baden argue about the case, Cutler accusing her of working even though she is becoming too sick to work and suddenly becoming convinced of Spector's innocence because he gave her a blanket and won her over during her visit to his house. Cutler says that the prosecution will present ballistics evidence to counter theirs, and that the only way to win is to attack Clarkson, but Kenney Baden counters that the prosecution's case is in reality a retrial of O. J. Simpson and that the prosecution cannot prove Spector's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt thanks to the defense's argument about the lack of a large blood stain on Spector's clothes. She also says that the case is really about bias against "freaks," that from her own childhood experiences she understands how unfair society is to unpopular people, and that Spector should not be convicted merely because of that bias, regardless of his past behaviors and transgressions. Her newfound commitment to Spector's defense and combative attitude quietly please Cutler.

Another focus group Kenney Baden and Cutler observe sees an interview with Spector in which he angrily asserts that the women who have accused him of pulling a gun on him are doing it merely to gain publicity for themselves and that the prosecution is simply trying to punish him for being "the most successful music producer in the history of the world." He also expresses sorrow over Clarkson's emotional suffering and death, and proclaims his innocence. The focus group then sees video of the young woman throwing the red liquid at Spector outside the court house from 10 feet (3 meters) away while Spector assumes a defensive posture, hears the defense's contention that the amount and pattern of paint that spattered on his clothes mimics that of the blood on Spector's clothes after Clarkson's death, and sees an animation of the defense's theory that there should have been a much larger amount of blood on Spector's clothes if he had pulled the trigger. Kenney Baden later watches a video of an interview with Spector's ex-wife Ronnie Spector in which she asserts that the press's adulation of Spector during the period of his greatest professional success secretly tormented him because he wondered whether he deserved the adulation. In the hallway outside the Cutler firm's offices, Kenney Baden encounters a focus group member who says that the animations of how the bullet traveled and how the blood would have spattered are merely "cartoons" that prove nothing.

Kenney Baden arranges for, and witnesses, a live ballistics laboratory test that supports the defense's contention about the blood stain and further convinces her of Spector's innocence, and the Cutler firm hires a medical doctor to testify as an expert witness that Clarkson's gunshot wound was self-inflicted. Kenney Baden decides that a live demonstration in the courtroom similar to the laboratory experiment will convince the jury to acquit Spector. A court hearing determines, however, that the demonstration is inadmissible under the rules of evidence because it merely illustrates a theory. Informed of this, Spector angrily declares that it makes no sense that he would have thrown his life away over an actress working as a cocktail waitress just to demonstrate his "power" over women, laments that in earlier times the police simply would have accepted his explanation of her death and would not have arrested him, and demands to testify in his own defense at his trial. Kenney Baden tells him this would ensure his conviction and asks him what really happened on the night of Clarkson's death. He tells her that he was drunk and Clarkson was on drugs and alcohol when he brought her home and, after Clarkson asked to see his gun collection – which he says many women found exciting – he discovered her with the gun in her mouth. He says he shouted "No!" at Clarkson, startling her and causing her to flinch and accidentally pull the trigger. Kenney Baden arranges for another experiment which supports Spector's contention that startling someone in the manner Spector claims he did could cause that person to flinch and pull the trigger. Observing the experiment, Kenney Baden believes it is the key to Spector's acquittal. Cutler opposes the idea, saying that bringing into the courtroom the plastic skull used to model the defense's theory of how the bullet traveled will convince the jury that Spector is a monster, and that in any event under the rules of evidence Spector's version of events is not admissible unless he takes the stand and testifies about them. Cutler then turns the case over to Kenney Baden and leaves for New York City, which angers Spector even though Kenny Baden reminds him he had agreed to Cutler's withdrawal in a court hearing. Spector says he did not understand the implications of the hearing and accuses Cutler of leaving just to star in a reality television show, saying he expected more loyalty out of Cutler.

After he calms down, Spector expresses complete confidence in Kenney Baden's ability to defend him and agrees to testify in court. She stages a mock trial to prepare Spector for it. When the mock prosecutor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) asks about statements Ronnie Spector made, Spector flies into a rage, ending the mock trial with a lengthy rant about how cowardly and ungrateful Ronnie Spector is, how much she owes him, and how mistreated he has been all his life. Kenney Baden advises him that he cannot rant in the trial and must control his behavior, just as he does in other aspects of his life. He promises to be prepared, sober, and on his best behavior at his trial the next day because, although he does not care what anyone else in the court room thinks about him, he does care what Kenney Baden thinks. He thanks the mock trial participants for their help and Kenney Baden both for working to defend him even though she is sick and for being someone he can talk to. After Spector leaves, Kenney Baden tells Stavros that at the trial she plans to change Spector's image in the public eye from an "oddity" to a "beloved eccentric" who is an innocent man. At her hotel, Kenney Baden encounters a woman who criticizes her for defending a "terrible man" and asks her what she will do if Spector is acquitted and "kills the next girl." Kenney Baden tells the woman that her husband is cheating on her, and when the woman says that it is not true, Kenney Baden replies that Spector, like the woman's husband, deserves the benefit of the doubt unless proven guilty.

Spector's trial begins the next morning. He arrives at the court house wearing an outlandish wig which raises eyebrows among onlookers. When Kenney Baden criticizes his appearance, Spector claims it is an homage to Jimi Hendrix, who "suffered and was persecuted," and asks her to accept his expertise on costumes and how to put on a show, which she admits. He says he is ready to testify and, if asked, to explain his appearance in court as he did to her. As the trial begins, Kenney Baden crosses out all of her notes on what to ask Spector during his testimony, calls the medical doctor the Cutler firm hired as an expert witness to the stand instead of Spector, and quietly tells Spector that he might testify the next day, depending on how things go. In Cutler's law offices that evening, Kenney Baden watches television coverage of Spector's limousine arriving at his home. She asks Stavros, "Why does the monster live in a castle?" and "Why does the Minotaur live in a cave?" and tells Stavros the Minotaur does it to keep himself from doing harm. She also tells Stavros that she believes that Spector is innocent. When Stavros asks her if she is sure, she says, "No, but I have a reasonable doubt."

As the film ends, text appears which reads, "On September 26, the jury reported itself dead-locked, ten to two in favor of conviction, and incapable of reaching a decision. The Judge declared a mistrial. On October 3rd, the Prosecution announced that they would retry the case. Due to her illness, Linda Kenney Baden was unable to participate in the second trial, whose jury, on April 13th, 2009, found Phil Spector guilty of Second Degree Murder and sentenced him to nineteen years to life in California State Prison, Corcoran where he resides today."




In an interview in 2013, Phil Spector′s writer and director, David Mamet, explained that, although he enjoyed Phil Spector's music, he knew nothing about Spector and paid little attention to the murder case against him until 2010, the year after Spector's conviction for murder in his second trial, when he viewed Vikram Jayanti′s 2009 BBC documentary The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector.[2] The documentary included a compelling interview with Spector that took place just before his first trial in 2007 and news footage of the trial itself,[2] and Jayanti said he intended it to leave the audience with the impression that the charges against Spector were unproved.[2] Mamet said that the documentary gave him an idea to dramatize the story of Spector's first trial by depicting Spector as “a mythological character"[2] and "a man avowed by all to be a monster"[2] like "the Minotaur.”[2] Mamet also said he found it challenging “to take an irrefutable proposition – the guy′s obviously guilty – and see if I could refute it”[2] by writing a drama about Spector's case. In a 2013 interview, he described the resulting film as "not a documentary...It’s basically a fable. It’s the fable of the Minotaur, or the fable of beauty and the beast. It’s the attraction and repulsion between the young virgin, Helen Mirren, and the Minotaur, Phil Spector."[3]

Mamet drew on court transcripts for portions of the film, and the movie discusses key pieces of evidence that actually were used at Spector's trial. In 2013 interviews, Mamet asserted that "none of the facts in the case have been misrepresented...none of the testimony has been misrepresented”[2] and that the film quotes actual court documents verbatim.[3] However, Mamet also claimed that Phil Spector is otherwise "purposefully hypotethical,"[3] that in the film "almost everything is hypothetical,"[3] and that "the reason it’s not a true story is that that didn’t happen."[2] He explained that Phil Spector is “a fiction about what might happen backstage at the defense team if I were the lead defense attorney. I would say, okay, here are the facts, here’s what I think we should do; here’s an alternative version that makes sense to me.”[2] Mamet said his script addresses the question, “′How might the facts suggest reasonable doubt to a jury of 12 people?′ Which is very, very different, of course — and this is the point of the film — from innocence."[3] Both Mamet and Mirren said that Phil Spector is a mythological story,[4] which Mamet said is about the fictional version of Linda Kenney Baden "coming to grips with the notion of what is reasonable doubt and what is prejudice.”[4]

Mamet called Spector "a fascinating speaker, and like a lot of us autodidacts, he was very interesting to listen to, because his mind ranged wide and unfettered by any system." The dialogue he made up for the fictional Spector in the movie represented Mamet writing in the way he believed Spector spoke.[3]

Cast and crewEdit

The production of Phil Spector was announced in 2011.[5]

Phil Spector originally was supposed to star Bette Midler as Linda Kenney Baden, but Midler left the project ​2 12 weeks after filming began[3] after suffering a back injury and, according to Helen Mirren, having to be carried off the set.[6] Mamet recalled that the loss of Midler put completion of the film in jeopardy, as it could have led to the loss of Pacino and of the locations and sets as well,[3] and that Mirren's willingness to take on the role on short notice saved the film.[3]

In a December 2002 interview with Spector biographer Mick Brown, Spector stated that he had a lifelong dream that his favorite actor, Al Pacino, one day would portray him in a movie about his life and career.[2] In an article in The Telegraph written at the time of Phil Spector′s premiere on television in the United Kingdom in June 2013, Brown noted the irony of Pacino later portraying Spector, but in a film about his murder trial rather than about his life and career.[2]

Linda Kenney Baden served as a consultant for the film,[7] and Mamet said in a 2013 interview that he discussed the Spector case with her at length during production of Phil Spector to ensure it depicted legal thinking and procedures accurately, although she declined to discuss her conversations with Spector, which were protected by the attorney-client privilege.[2] Mamet also said that he attempted to visit Spector in prison before filming began, but Spector refused to see him.[3][2]

Mamet and Barry Levinson both were executive producers for Phil Spector.[4]

Historical accuracyEdit

Although Phil Spector is based on real people and an actual event, it opens with an unusually worded disclaimer that states "This is a work of fiction. It's not 'based on a true story.'...It is a drama inspired by actual persons on a trial, but it is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the trial or its outcome."[7][8][9] In reviewing the movie, NPR′s David Bianculli wrote that opening disclaimer demands attention and, given Linda Kenney Baden's role as a consultant for the film, that "..even though her [Kenney Baden′s] exchanges with the real Phil Spector are protected by attorney-client privilege, you get the feeling — at least I do — that Mamet may not be winging it as much as he claims to be with that disclaimer."[7]

In an article in The Telegraph written at the time of Phil Spector′s premiere on television in the United Kingdom in June 2013, Mick Brown, author of Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector, addressed issues related to how fictional – and how historically accurate – the film's depiction of people and events is. In Brown's view, the movie selectively included evidence supporting Spector's defense and glossed over or ignored prosecution evidence.[2] Specific examples of inaccuracies that Brown cites are:

  • The fictional Bruce Cutler's assertion at the beginning of the movie that a magazine article – a real-life article based on an interview Brown had with Spector in December 2002 – that appeared in the Telegraph magazine had been faxed to Spector on the day of the shooting and had "set him off" is incorrect.[2] The article was not published until after Clarkson's death.[2]
  • The fictional Cutler's assertion in the film that Spector had been "cold sober" for ten years prior to Clarkson's death is incorrect.[2] Spector began drinking again two months before her death.[2]
  • The fictional Linda Kenney Baden declares in the film that she will not "attack the girl," i.e., Clarkson, in court to defend Spector.[2] In fact, Kenney Baden's defense of Spector did include attacking Clarkson in court,[2] and the real Kenney Baden showed a video of Clarkson in blackface imitating Little Richard during the trial, unlike the fictional Kenney Baden, who rejects it.[2]
  • The film emphasizes the defense's real-life argument about how Spector pulling the trigger in Clarkson's mouth would have created a massive blood spatter on his clothes and that no such blood stain occurred, and this was a major part of Kenney Baden's defense. However, the movie ignores the prosecution's ballistics evidence that Spector pulling the trigger at arm's length would instead have resulted in a misting pattern of blood stains that was found on both Spector's and Clarkson's clothes, consistent with Spector pulling the trigger.[2]
  • In real life, the defense countered the prosecution's evidence that Spector told his chauffeur that he had just killed somebody by arguing that the chauffeur simply misheard Spector. In the movie, the Nick Stavros character introduces a fictitious theory that corrupt detectives were coercing the chauffeur into his testimony about Spector's statement, but in real life the chauffeur never wavered in his statements about what Spector said.[2]
  • Brown claims that the film's depiction of Spector's arrival at his trial in an outlandish wig is a "distortion," but he declines to give a reason for this opinion.[2]


The film has received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator site Metacritic has given the film a score of 60 out of 100, signifying "mixed or average reviews".[10]

In his June 2013 article in The Telegraph, Mick Brown wrote that "Phil Spector is a masterfully executed piece of drama. The dialogue crackles in vintage Mamet fashion, and the performances are uniformly excellent. In his jittery, trembling demeanour, and his flights of self-aggrandising, wounded rhetoric...Pacino seems to be channelling Spector, albeit a Spector possessed of Mamet’s considerable erudition and articulacy."[2] Reviewing Phil Spector for TimeOut, Ben Keningsberg wrote that the film makes "an essentially Socratic argument about the legal system’s potential to try someone on perception," and that the real pleasure in watching the movie came from seeing Pacino and Mirren deliver Mamet's dialogue, which he described as including many "treasurable retorts."[11] NPR reviewer David Bianculli wrote that Mamet's dialogue is "crisp and thought-provoking" and that Paccino and Mirren "make the most of it," and that he was "impressed and entertained" by the movie, although he warned that no viewer should trust it for its depiction of events, saying that the movie's opening disclaimer might as well have been Mamet saying, "Don't anybody sue us. I'm just making stuff up, using names and a few bits of court testimony that are in the public record."[7]

In the New York Times, Alessandra Stanley had a more negative impression, saying that in the film "there isn′t much to provide dramatic tension" between Pacino and Mirren, although it is a credit to them that "they can sustain a story with so little traction," adding that the scenes between Pacino and Mirren seem "a lot like a revisionist re-enactment and maybe even absolution" for Spector, with "the facts of the case and characters...molded to allow viewers to doubt Mr. Spector′s guilt," although "there is not much anyone can do to make the audience care."[12] Stanley describes Pacino as playing Spector as "palsied, choleric, and monomaniacal, but not entirely repellent," with "an occasional flash of self-awareness in his eyes and a glint of humored reason in his grandiose diatribes," and that Mirren's portrayal of Linda Kenney Baden, while "refined and regal," is nothing like the real-life Kenney Baden, who Stanley described as a "bleached-blonde scrapper."[12] Los Angeles Times television critic Robert Lloyd found the film's opening disclaimer that it is not based on a true story "disingenuous, if not absurd, given the movie's title, its sprinkling of true facts, and a cast dressed and coiffed to look like the characters whose names they bear," and declared the film "a vexing piece of work" that is "well-crafted, with interesting Big Talent attached," and "better than most films of its kind, even as it remains unsatisfying as historical re-creation, philosophical meditation, or pure drama."[13] Lloyd felt that Phil Spector "plays as a brief for the defense, a one-sided argument for Spector′s probable innocence" that makes Clarkson "look pathetic" with no one speaking for her,[13] and that "Pacino doesn't attempt an imitation of his real-life counterpart...this Spector feels more Al than Phil."[13]


Controversy over the film broke out as soon as it was announced in 2011.[5] A group called the Friends of Lana Clarkson picketed the premiere of Phil Spector at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,[4] carrying signs asserting that the movie "murders the truth," and argued that the movie depicted Spector too favorably, calling it as “a love letter to a murderer.”[2] One of the group's members, Clarkson's former publicist Edward Lozzi, called Spector a "loathsome, lying, gun-abusing murderer"[5] and a "psychotic killer"[5] and said that the film was a "travesty"[5] and "a slap in the face"[4] that "seeks to destroy the reputation of Lana Clarkson"[5] and is not even-handed in its treatment of the cases for and against Spector.[4][5] Threatening that "there will be reprisals and consequences against those involved in this project,"[5] Lozzi said the group planned to write to every Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award voter in an attempt to ensure that Phil Spector and its cast and crew won no awards.[5] Discussing Phil Spector with the New York Post just before its premiere, Lozzi rejected the movie's opening disclaimer, saying "They are portraying real people and using their real names...You can’t have your cake and eat it too...The horror of it is, it’s a good movie...Five million people will watch it Sunday night and think there is reasonable doubt that Spector is guilty. The movie implies he wasn’t even in the room when he shot her in the head."[14]

Spector's wife Rachelle said that the movie was "cheesy."[4] She complained that the movie depicted Spector inaccurately[4] as “a foul-mouthed megalomaniac.”[2] At the time of Phil Spector′s premiere in March 2013, Spector himself had made no direct comments on the film.[5] However, Spector's lawyer, Dennis Riordan, said, "He {Spector] certainly doesn’t regard the film as an accurate portrayal of what went on because it’s not. It has invented events. He chose not to have any involvement with the film."[5] Asked if Spector planned to watch the premiere of the film on television, a prison spokesman replied, "No, we don’t have HBO here at the prison."[5]

In his June 2013 article, Brown claimed that when Phil Spector premiered on HBO in March 2013, "it achieved the rare feat of offending or upsetting just about everyone"[2] and that unspecified critics have termed it a "moral mess."[2] Brown wrote that "Mamet ignores the evidence that doesn’t fit his thesis, so that in the end Phil Spector becomes less an 'exploration' [of the relationship between Spector and Kenney Baden] than an act of advocacy,"[2] and he described the movie as "dishonest."[2]

In discussing the film, Linda Kenney Baden maintained that "The forensic evidence did not prove that he [Spector] committed this crime and that’s what the movie explores.’[5] Asked in 2013 whether he thought Spector shot Clarkson, Mamet responded, "I have no idea. And see, the point of the legal system is that nobody has any idea. That’s why the opposite of a guilty verdict is not 'innocent,' it’s 'not guilty.' In the wisdom of the American jurisprudence system, the onus is on the state. And if the state cannot prove its case, you’ve got to let the guy go free, whether or not, in the back of all our minds, we think that he actually did it."[3] Addressing his own view of the Spector case more specifically, Mamet told The Financial Times in 2011, "Whether he did it or not, we'll never know, but if he'd just been a regular citizen, they never would have indicted him."[12] When Mick Brown asked him in 2013 what he thought about the case, however, Mamet replied "It’s nobody’s business. That’s what the movie is," although he addressed his 2011 statement by adding, "I do think there’s reasonable doubt. But that’s very different from saying he was railroaded.”[2] When Brown asked him why he had given so little attention to the prosecution's case in his script, Mamet replied, "Well...I'm not making a film about the prosecution."[2] Mamet also dismissed Brown's concern that the film would mislead many viewers, who would assume it was an accurate depiction of history and would never bother to look up the facts of the case, saying, "I’m entitled under the First Amendment to write whatever the hell I want, and if someone’s fool enough to put it on television that’s their problem. But the right is moot if there’s going to be some overriding authority that at some point says, 'Aha! But what about x, y and z?’ Well that's a problem between me and God, you know...I don’t give a shit about the facts."[2]

In a March 2013 statement defending the film, HBO said that Phil Spector is an "exploration of the client-attorney relationship between [Spector] and his defense attorney. Mamet approaches the story of Phil Spector as a mythological one, not as a news story, and the film is not an attempt to comment upon the trial or its outcome. HBO’s goal is to provide a creative platform for three great artists. While there may be many disparate interpretations of the film’s intentions, we feel the film speaks for itself."[14]

Awards and nominationsEdit

The film was nominated for eleven Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries or Movie, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for Al Pacino, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for Helen Mirren, and Outstanding Directing and Writing for a Miniseries or Movie for David Mamet.

The film has also been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film (Pacino) and Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film (Mirren).

The film has also been nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie (Pacino) and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie (Mirren) - with Mirren winning.

Pacino was also nominated for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Movie/Miniseries Actor at the 3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards.

Year Association Category Nominee Result
2013 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Movie/Miniseries Actor Al Pacino Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or a Movie Patrizia von Brandenstein, Fredda Slavin, Diane Lederman Nominated
Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or Special Debra McGuire, Lorraine Calvert Nominated
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Movie Stanley Hall, Cydney Cornell, Michael Kriston Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Al Pacino Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Helen Mirren Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or a Movie Chris Bingham, Hildie Ginsberg, John Caglione, Jr. Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie Gary Alper, Roy Waldspurger, Michael Barry Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special David Mamet Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special David Memet Nominated
Outstanding Miniseries or Movie Phil Spector Nominated
2014 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Al Pacino Nominated
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Helen Mirren Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Al Pacino Nominated
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Helen Mirren Nominated
Best Miniseries or Television Film Phil Spector Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Helen Mirren Won
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Al Pacino Nominated


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  6. ^ Lloyd Grove. "Phil Spector's Jersey Girl Lawyer: Meet the Real Linda Kenney Baden". Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d Bianculli, David, "You Can't Trust HBO's 'Phil Spector,' But You Can Enjoy It,", March 20, 2013, 3:34 p.m. EDT. Retrieved June 23, 2018
  8. ^ Steve Pond. "HBO's 'Phil Spector' Issues Odd Disclaimer: 'We're Not Based on a True Story'". Retrieved April 5, 2013.
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