- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. (AP) - A prominent Hollywood publicist who promoted the Academy Award-winning movie “Driving Miss Daisy” and other major films was found shot to death Tuesday in her Mercedes-Benz in Beverly Hills.

Ronni Sue Chasen, 64, of Los Angeles was shot several times in the chest shortly before 12:30 a.m., and her Mercedes-Benz E350 sedan crashed into a light pole along Sunset Boulevard, a police statement said.

Chasen died less than an hour later at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

No suspects or motive were immediately known, police Lt. Tony Lee said.

Chasen headed the public relations firm of Chasen and Co. Calls and e-mails to company representatives were not immediately returned.

Fellow publicist Howard Bragman called Chasen’s shooting death bizarre.

“She wasn’t a shady character,” he said. “It’s a small community and she was one of the fixtures in it.”

Nahid Shekarchain, who lives near the scene of the shooting, told the Los Angeles Times she heard at least three gunshots sometime after midnight then found Chasen in the car with blood on her chest and gushing from her nose. The front passenger’s window had been shattered.

The driver was breathing heavily and did not respond, Shekarchain said.

Chasen was involved in Hollywood publicity since the 1970s, working on campaigns for movies and artists. She promoted “On Golden Pond,” which won Academy Awards for best actor, actress and screenplay in 1981.

She worked with a number of music clients in recent years, including Janet Jackson, composer Hans Zimmer, producer Glen Ballard and Diane Warren, who wrote the song “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” which Cher sings in the new movie “Burlesque.”

At the time of her death, Chasen was working for Screen Gems on a campaign to promote the soundtrack of “Burlesque” for an Oscar nomination, according to the trade publication Variety.

She also was also working with 20th Century Fox on the best actor Oscar campaign for Michael Douglas in “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps,” Variety said.

Ronni did it her way,” Bragman said. “She was not a woman who was a slave to the fashion of the day. She played to her own vision and integrity. She was very bright, very successful.”

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