David Mamet is a Murderer – or was Phil Spector Innocent?

Phil Spector, innocent?



David Mamet’s “Phil Spector” HBO film is an embarrassment to all Mamet fans and a total disgrace as history.


I am a historian. I analyze films.


Rarely, if ever, has a historical movie been worse in relating actual events than the  HBO  film “Phil Spector.”

David Mamet committed two murders. First, he murdered the truth. Then he murdered the reputation of Lana Clarkson, whose only real crime was to get in a car and go home with an egomaniacal misanthrope with a penchant for guns.

I don’t know if the bizarre disclaimer before the film – which essentially gave Mamet permission to simply make up fictional stories about real people during a real trial – was Mamet’s idea or that of a network which would be liable for the many blatant lies told in a supposedly historical film, but either way it set the tone for an evening of sheer nonsense. Was Phil Spector innocent?  No.

Check out the weird disclaimer:

(This film is) not based on a true story. It is a drama inspired by actual persons in a trial, but it is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the trial or its outcome.”

Was Phil Spector innocent? After watching the film, Ricardo Enriquez, a juror in the actual trial told me:

“Total fantasy and not a bit of resemblance to the events connected to the trial that I participated.”

Was Phil Spector innocent? Mamet does not believe Spector is guilty. In that regard, he disputes Phil Spector himself, who confessed at least twice – once to his limo driver, once to police officer Bea Rodriquez. Mamet also disputes 22 out of 24 jury members who heard all of the facts, not Mamet’s stories. He also disputes the trial court, several appellate courts, and the United States Supreme Court, all of which affirmed the conviction. To arrive at his bizarre conclusion, Mamet’s movie must do two important things. First, he must ignore or distort the forensic evidence. Then he must ignore all common sense. That is quite a burden, even for a filmmaker of Mr. Mamet’s enormous talent.

In fairness, Mr. Mamet never claimed to be telling the truth. When the mainstream media mostly ignored the retrial, as the evidence against Spector was overwhelming and his guilt obvious, the blog Trials and Tribulations edited by Sprocket (twitter: @SprocketTrials) followed the case minute by minute. She was harassed and bullied by Spector’s wife. Was Phil Spector innocent? Search the blog for specific topics that interest you about the REAL facts of the case.

Did Blood Splatter Patterns Prove Phil Spector Innocent?

The film argues that blood splatter patterns in Spector’s home could be interpreted as indicating Lana Clarkson shot herself. Assuming that was true, it ignores why the blood splatter patterns were inconsistent. They were marred because Phil Spector, instead of calling 911 or offering Lana Clarkson any first aid whatsoever, spent 45 minutes wiping down the crime scene – including Ms. Clarkson – with a diaper he dipped in the toilet. By trying desperately to clean up the crime scene, including changing clothes, wiping down the bannister, wall and smearing the blood on Lana Clarkson, Phil Spector attempted to cover up his crime.

After Phil Spector shot and killed Lana Clarkson, he confessed to his limo driver who clearly saw the gun in Spector’s hand outside the house. When the police arrived – remember that Mr. Spector did not choose to call them – they found the gun behind the left foot of the right handed Ms. Clarkson. Think about that. In Mr. Mamet’s warped view, the right handed Lana Clarkson shot herself in the mouth from the front and died instantly, but the gun somehow ended up behind her left foot. During the time Phil Spector refused to call the police or offer any first aid to Lana Clarkson, he put the gun he had carried out of the house back inside and placed it on the wrong side of Lana Clarkson.

Phil Spector confessed a second time. This time he told a police officer, who gave a statement under oath.


Q: As you were standing there alone covering
that hallway, what did you hear the suspect say?

A: He (Phil Spector) said,

“What’s wrong with you guys? What are you doing? I didn’t mean to shoot her. It was an accident.”

The injuries to Lana Clarkson’s hands indicate her palms were up in a defensive posture. One of her acrylic nails was actually stolen off the carpet by a member of Phil Spector’s defense team. How do we know? Sara Caplan, another lawyer DEFENDING Spector testified under oath that she saw it happen!

Was Lana Clarkson So Depressed That She Killed Herself In A Stranger’s Home She Had Never Been To With A Gun She’d Never Seen Before?

Again and again, in the fantasy world of the David Mamet movie about the Phil Spector trial, the real evidence is ignored. As in so many rape cases, the defense theory appears to be blame the victim for the crime perpetrated against her. On the day she was murdered by Phil Spector, Lana Clarkson had asked her mother to buy her several pairs of new shoes for her new job. Her desk, surrounded by uplifting motivational posters and sayings, was neatly laid out with the information she needed to do her taxes. Her purse was over her shoulder, indicating she was ready to leave Spector’s bizarre castle and head home. It is true that her film career had dried up, but she was working, optimistic and resilient. The “friend” (“Punkin Pie” and, no, I am not making that up!)  who testified Lana Clarkson was depressed and suicidal not only changed her story over time, but was exposed as having lied under oath by famous director Michael Bay. Her weird behavior and obviously made up testimony in the first trial was so patently false that she was barely used in the second trial.

Was Phil Spector innocent? On the basis of Spector’s confessions, his refusal to call 911 or administer any first aid to Lana Clarkson, and the overwhelming weight of the forensic evidence, coupled with common sense, clearly shows Spector’s guilt. And that is before we add in his long documented history of threatening women with firearms when they tried to leave his home. His misanthropic, jealous and violent attitudes towards women (attested to by Ronnie Spector, his son, and testified to under oath by many people, including a former NYC detective) make it impossible to believe Phil Spector innocent. When David Mamet had no evidence to prove Phil Spector innocent, he simply ignored the facts.  That is not my interpretation.  David Mamet said “I don’t give a s**t about the facts”  Twenty-two out of 24 jurors who heard all of the evidence in the Phil Spector trial agreed. The only way to prove Spector is innocent is to do what David Mamet did. Murder the truth.






27 thoughts on “David Mamet is a Murderer – or was Phil Spector Innocent?

  1. I suppose this HBO film got made on the strength of Mamet’s name along with its sensational appeal. I only saw the first half-hour. Between the obvious distortions in the facts and Al Pacino’s (usual) hamming it up, I found it unwatchable.

    • Eve,

      I am actually a Mamet fan – we even went to the same tiny college, although in different years and we have never met. His script for The Verdict is one of the best courtroom dramas ever. And as a huge fan of Broadway theater, I have seen most, if not all, of his plays.

      This movie was an abomination. It has been savaged by critics, participants and historians for being such a wildly inaccurate and dishonest retelling of the events.

      It represents a mind boggling low point in Mamet’s career. I only hope he rebounds.


  2. Thank you for your story on the HBO movie. I am glad you devoted some time on your blog. I saw the movie and I should not have wasted my time or the time on my DVR.

    • Mr. Enriquez,

      Thank you for serving on the actual jury that tried the Spector case. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and provide me with helpful insights.

      Could you respond to the ludicrous contention that because the limo driver was from Brazil, he could not have clearly understood Spector’s confession?

      Thank you!


  3. Stepping in here to answer the question about the limo driver.

    I watched the police interview of Adriano DeSouza, twice. Once during the first trial and during the second trial.

    I also heard the 911 call DeSouza made.

    During the police interview, it was clear that DeSouza understood the detectives interviewing him, but that the detectives had a hard time understanding DeSouza. It was DeSouza’s accent.

    Same issue with the 911 call. The 911 operator thought that DeSouza said something totally different that “Phil Spector.” What comes to mind is, she thought DeSouza said “Seal Inspector.”

    It was DeSouza’s accent that they had a hard time undestanding.

    In both instances (the 911 call and the police interview), DeSouza understood his questioner perfectly.

    What most people don’t realize is, DeSouza studied English in his native country from a young age until he left. He was not an ‘uneducated’ man. He had college degrees in computer science in his native country.

  4. Ms. Sprocket,

    It is an honor to have you here. You were a champion for justice and I have infinite respect for the unbelievably long hours you put in to blogging about the case. My readers should know that when the mainstream media all but ignored the second trial, top reporters would call on Ms. Sprocket for her insights, observations, and information!

    Mr. DeSouza has an accent, but I had no trouble understanding him when he was on the stand. I believe it was Mr. Enriquez – who also has an accent – that pointed out that having an accent does not affect one’s ability to understand English.

    It should also be noted that Mr. DeSouza had worked for Phil Spector before and was very familiar with Spector’s voice and speech patterns. And I’ve yet to understand how having an accent would make him misunderstand the gun that Spector carried in his hand, then wiped down, then placed under the wrong side of Lana Clarkson.

    Ms. Sprocket, I am honored to be your friend!


  5. Pingback: The Crime Of The Century: Evelyn Nesbit & Stanford White | Speaking For A Change

  6. I must say reading your editorial and the comments, I feel like a shmuck. Perhaps because I was locked in a Virgin america flight with no food, I bought this show on their system and thought the writing was really fun…and that in fact, Pacino did a very good job playing a genius shlameel..and because I didn’t follow the story, know someone who was good friends w Phil, and to my discredit like to believe that talent if not denoting character, would at least protect Mr Spector from being able to commit such a heinous act, bought the story, aka as you say fairytale that Mr Mamet so artfully concocted. And then again the bit about Unreasonable Doubt..the way he wrote it, there seemed to be an reasonable Doubt ///for the record, I hate being a juror.

    • Thank you for reading my blog!

      Your comments point out the danger of learning history from the movies! Most Americans probably paid little to no attention to the actual trial. Although Spector is the only celebrity ever convicted of murder in the USA, his years of great fame were decades behind him when he killed Lana Clarkson. Had the murder occurred during the 1960s, it would have been much bigger news and a writer/director would have had a much harder time creating a fairy tale version of events. Mamet simply decided to change whatever facts he wanted to support his ridiculous notion.

      However, since most of the viewers of the HBO travesty had no knowledge of the actual facts, many probably just assumed they were seeing the truth. Thus, fiction replaces fact in our minds.


  7. The movie says that her head basically exploded. I would expect that from a close rangr 38. The crime scene photos looked like she just had a bad nosebleed. It could not have happened then like the demonstrations in the movie. That blows oped the defense case.
    Im just curious though, what first aid do you offeer someone with a bullet bouncing around in their skull.?

    • Ms. Clarkson’s head definitely did not not explode. the defense case makes no sense on so many levels. For instance, both sides agreed that she died almost instantly. There is no disputing the fact that want to Clarkson was right-handed. However, the gun was found under her left foot. Think about that for a moment. The ridiculous defense contention is that Ms. Clarkson, holding the gun in her right hand, shot herself in the mouth and then the gun somehow flew out of her hand – after a recoil which would naturally take the gun away from her body toward the right – and then the gun somehow boomerang to through the air and landed under her left heel.

      A more logical conclusion – as reached by 22 of the 24 jurors – is that the witness who saw Phil Spector walk out of the house with the gun in his hand placed it under her foot while he was covering up the crime scene.

      You asked what first aide Phil Spector could have given Lana Clarkson. The answer is that there was nothing Phil Spector could have done to save her life. However, a jury is told to apply common sense in the interpretation of the facts. If Phil Spector were truly innocent, what would have been a rational reaction to seeing someone commit suicide in his house? The first thing you would expect would be an emergency call to 911. He did not do that. Second, even if it seemed hopeless, trying to help the victim seems like a rational response. Specter did not do that. Instead, he spent 45 minutes dipping a diaper in the toilet and wiping down the crime scene to distort the blood splatter patterns. He washed his hands. He wiped down the gun. Does any of that seem like an action consistent with innocence?

  8. Er. Why would a guy spend 45 minutes cleaning up a crime scene only to later confess the crime to his driver and the police? Senseless nonsense.

    • Bill,

      It makes sense when you view it in sequence.

      First, after killing Ms. Clarkson, Spector came out and told his limo driver what happened. He confessed the first time BEFORE he began destroying the crime scene. He may have been in shock or disbelief, as he had pointed loaded guns at women many other times, but never had the gun fire.

      Second, he DID NOT call 9-1-1, nor did he ask his driver to do so.

      Third, realizing what he had done, he made every effort to wipe down the crime scene. Ms. Clarkson’s fingerprints were NOT found on the gun. Since she was dead at the moment of impact, she could not have wiped down the gun. Spector wiped down the gun, but not her face.

      Fourth, he placed the gun under the wrong foot of Ms. Clarkson, as noted above.

      Fifth, he behaved erratically and needed to be restrained by police as he swore at Ms. Clarkson.

      He DID confess to his driver and to the police. They have sworn to it under oath. His every action after he shot Ms. Clarkson is the action of a guilty man.

      To believe in Spector’s innocence, you have to believe:

      (1) Spector lied each time he confessed;
      (2) He wiped down the crime scene in order to help police;
      (3) The fact that he put guns in the faces of a number of women who had previously tried to leave his domicile is irrelevant;
      (4) After shooting herself and dying instantly, Ms. Clarkson moved the gun to the wrong side of her body, placing it in a spot where it could not have fallen on its own;
      (5) After watching a virtual stranger kill herself in his house, he decided not to call police or an ambulance to demonstrate his concern for her and his desire to help…

      I could go on pointing out the absurdity of believing Spector, if you really need me to…

  9. Barry:

    To be honest, I did not follow the Spector trials. From the initial press articles, I concluded that his guilt was not questionable.

    Today, I watched the HBO film for the first time all the way through. Strangely enough, I felt that there was probable cause for doubt based on the blood evidence as depicted on the show.

    After I read the end cards stating that he was found guilty, I became curious as to why. That is what led me to your blog.

    I wanted to thank you for your rational summation of the events surrounding the murder. It is outrageous that HBO would allow such a distortion of the facts of the case. Spector deserves the death penalty for killing Clarkson in such a diabolical manner.


    Robert Ingria

    • Thank you very much for your comments. One of the greatest fears I had when the movie premiered was that people who had not learned much about the actual facts would be persuaded into accepting the nonsensical position that Phil Spector was innocent. I’m glad that you – and a number of other readers who have contacted me – have taken the time to look at the objective facts of the case.

      It’s a truth of our media age that media exposure connotes a sense of importance or factual alley to the most trivial or false assumptions. What percentage of Americans do you think could identify the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts, from a picture? Compare that number to the number of people who could correctly identify Judge Judy from a photograph.

      People who hold strongly held positions not supported by the facts – like Holocaust deniers, those who denied the Newtown school massacre happened, or those who believe Phil Spector is innocent, can chip away at the truth simply by repeating their falsehoods through the media. The Internet, particularly, because it does not demand fact checking or liability, is a great avenue to promote false ideas. In the case of David Mamet, his fame allowed him to use an entire network to promote a wacky idea.

      There are so many debates in American life where the truth is hard to know and opinions have an important place. People can rightfully disagree about Obamacare or gay marriage, or abortion. All sites need to be heard. But in matters of fact, where hard evidence proves the existence of historical truth, we need to demand better of our media and ourselves.

    • Thank you for your comment and question.

      I suppose it is possible that Mr. Mamet has drunk the Phil Spector Kool-Aid and actually believes that all of the evidence is wrong and that Phil Spector is innocent.

      While I would not hazard to speak for Mr. Mamet, it does seem clear that he is using a nonsensical view of the Phil Spector trial to make a point about the American media. However, in my opinion, that point could be better made in one of Mr. Mamet’s fictional plays than in this context.

    • I am not sure what “fact” you are referring to. Phil Spector is guilty. A jury declared himself. The first jury hung 11 to 1 to convict him. The conviction is been upheld by three different courts, including the United States Supreme Court.

      In addition to Phil Spector’s confession to the crime, the overwhelming physical evidence, his history of violence towards women, and the lack of a credible theory which would explain how Lana Clarkson, who was killed INSTANTLY by a gunshot through the mouth somehow wiped down the gun and put it under her left foot after shooting herself with her right hand.

  10. Hi Barry,

    I watched it last night, and like many of your commenters, I was curious as to why Phil Spector was found guilty after the film portrayed him as, literally, completely innocent.

    Although I am only in my early thirties, I heard all the crazy stories about Phil Spector and his wild temper coupled with his fascination of guns. Before watching the movie, I had a preconceived notion that it would portray him as guilty and paint him in an unflattering light. I was surprised to see all the evidence pointing to Lana committing suicide and Phil just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    After watching the startlingly abrupt ending, I was amazed to find that the jury found him guilty (I did follow the trial at the time, but forgot the outcome). After reading your piece, I really can’t believe how much this movie embellished the truth. You are right; it is disturbingly unfair to Lana, the jurors and everyone involved in the prosecution.

    Thank you for getting this out there. I can just hope that others see this and do not think that a misunderstood, eclectic innocent victim is sitting in prison for the rest of his life.

    P.S. There is a scene in the movie where they show video footage of Phil Spector in a music studio firing a gun into the air. Did this actually happen or was it also a complete fabrication?

    • Dan,

      Thank you for your comments!

      In answer to your question, Spector shot a gun off at a recording studio with John Lennon. He also pulled guns at recording studios with Leonard Cohen, Debbie Harry, Ronnie Spector and with the Ramones. Click here for the details.

  11. Thanks for making this page! I, like many who came here before, have just seen the film, and was wondering how Spector was convicted after Mamet clearly shows a case for reasonable doubt. (Fictionalized as the storyline may be… I think he does make the point that our society still prejudges the different/disliked/odd…a point much better made in the Paradise Lost movies… but I digress…)

    I have to admit…I’m still leaning on the “reasonable doubt” side of things. The gun below the left leg…. could be explained by it being kicked/moved post-shooting. As for the fact Ms. Clarkson was right handed (and I am not a forensic expert)… but in the case of a gun in the mouth situation, her dominant hand would be the thumb on the trigger, whereas the least dominant hand could conceivably be supporting most of the weight of the gun… thus, it “may” fall to the left side of a right-handed suicide victim.

    As for the confessions – there is the “misunderstanding” version as shown in the movie regarding the chauffeur – which however unlikely, is a possibility. The confusion may not be due to poor English comprehension by a very well educated Brazilian, but more due to the ramblings of a drunk man in shock.

    As for the sworn testimony of Officer Rodriguez – it isn’t 100% convincing. I’ve watched enough episodes of The Wire to know that homicide cases are under a lot of pressure to be solved quickly, and neatly. Not in anyway saying that Officer Rodriguez’s was not being honest, but her memory may slant or interpret Spector’s words to reach a conscious goal of prosecution. Somebody overhearing, “I didn’t mean to shoot the girl, It was an accident,” is very damning (If those are his words verbatum… and who was he talking to?) – but does not qualify as a confession. The scenario as presented in the film with the “garage door opener” plastic guns could fulfill the requirements of a scenario where an innocent Spector may say those words verbatum, and mean something completely different than presented in the court transcript..

    For me, a confession would be a sworn statement signed by a sober individual.

    The diaper – as shown here …


    is an awful piece of evidence,,, but still does not go in any way go towards proving Spector intentionally/unintentionally killed Clarkson. he may have wiped up blood, spread it on bannisters, but that does not mean he shot Ms. Clarkson.

    It does show that Spector is a man of questionable priorities, and horrible judgement. Clearly, one would expect a normal human being to immediately call an ambulance. But being a despicable human being in the face of a situation where no amount of medical care can do anything is not the same as murder/manslaughter.

    The previous history of gunplay etc (in my humble, non-legal mind) should not have been admitted into evidence as it does not relate to the case in hand. Questionable witnesses who come forward after the fact with awful stories of similar situations (that were not prosecuted) are suspicious at best.

    Studio shootings – another bizarre action – can be associated with a creative process… as ludicrous as it sounds, and I can’t imagine John Lennon responding too well to it, but Phil Spector was not alone in using firearms to inspire the creative process,,, William Firedkin did it on the set of The Exorcist for example.

    In any case, as Ms. Mirren says in the movie… He may not be innocent, but there is definitely reasonable doubt (for me…).

    Wish Mamet was making better movies though…

    Anyway, thanks for reading, and please correct any faulty logic should you have the time.

    • Anon,

      Thank you for reading my blog. Your reasoning is filled with so many holes that I don’t know quite where to begin. Have you ever heard of Occam’s razor? It is a standard used in logic and problem-solving. It states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Put more simply, a famous forensic expert once said, “look for horses, not for zebras,” an expression that means to begin with the most logical explanation and assume it’s true unless there is overwhelming evidence to prove it is not. if you see a large four-legged horse-like animals with no stripes, assume it is a horse and not some sort of mutant zebra. Your reasoning leans towards the mutant zebra explanations! There is a reason why 23 out of 24 jurors say you are wrong. Let me recap:

      (1) Under your scenario, Lana Clarkson, who died immediately, got up from the dead, handed the gun to Phil Spector who walked out of the house and showed it to a sworn eyewitness, and then after Phil Spector handed the gun back to the dead Ms Clarkson she wiped all of the fingerprints off of the gun and put it under her left leg. Even the high priced experts for hire employed by Phil Spector could not sell that ludicrous scenario to the jury. Why would Ms. Clarkson, after she was dead, wipe her fingerprints off of the gun? Why would she put it under the wrong foot?

      (2) The limousine driver who testified under oath that Phil Spector confessed to him is a completely credible witness. While he does speak with an accent, he was clearly understandable to the jury. More important, as one of the Hispanic jurors pointed out, just because you speak with an accent does not mean that you hear with an accent! The limousine driver consistently repeated what Phil Spector said any number of times. He knew Spector’s voice and he heard what he heard. To mitigate this evidence you cannot question the jurors understanding of the witness nor can you question the witnesses understanding of English. Both were clearly demonstrated in open court. Also importantly, the driver in question had worked for Phil Spector any number of times and was very familiar with his voice.

      (3) In citing “The Wire” as a source for discounting the testimony of a police officer, you ignore the facts of the actual situation. Ofc. Rodriguez did not enter the building assuming that Phil Spector was a murderer. For all she knew, there were multiple people injured and Phil Spector might have been in danger. The only reason that she tackled him and that he confessed to her was because he had, illogically, walked in a threatening manner toward armed police officers entering a murder scene with his hands in his pockets and refused to comply with their orders to show his hands. Somehow, you interpret all of this as signs of Phil Spector’s innocence. Fiction writers, like David Mamet, can simply ignore facts. David Mamet admitted that he “…did not give a s**t about the facts.” Juries, on the other hand, MUST pay attention to the facts!

      (4) It is unclear as to why you find five different women to all be “questionable” witnesses when they testified that Phil Spector pulled guns on them when they tried to leave his home – the exact same scenario that occurred with Lana Clarkson. The court did not allow testimony of Phil Spector’s numerous other gun incidents, brushes with the law, or psychotic behavior. Three different courts, beyond the trial court, have all affirmed that it is perfectly legitimate to allow the jury to hear evidence of often repeated, consistent, and unquestioned pattern of behavior in which Phil Spector aimed guns at women who tried to leave his home. Again, look for horses, not for zebras. If you were accused of a crime such as Phil Spector, could the prosecution find five different women who would lie about you pulling guns on them over the years? Could they easily find a New York police detective who witnessed you pulling guns on innocent women at a Christmas party? Could they find previously published books, written long before the crime, that talked about your tendency to pull guns on women? Look for horses, not for zebras.

      There is a reason why 23 of the 24 people who heard the actual evidence voted to find Phil Spector guilty.

  12. Pingback: The Crime Of The Century: Evelyn Nesbit & Stanford White

  13. Pingback: Phil Spector And Watergate - Speaking For A Change

  14. Pingback: Anna Before and After The King And I - Speaking For A ChangeSpeaking For A Change

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *