Set against the contrasting backdrops of Manhattan and Los Angeles, this film examines the life of one of the world’s greatest celebrities of print journalism – Dominick Dunne.
Drawing on the memories of big names in Dunne’s field, including Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, Tina Brown, Joan Didion and octogenarian New York Post gossip columnist Liz Smith as well as legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans (The Godfather, Chinatown), the film uncovers what lies beneath a life.
The film examines Dunne’s life from childhood, and his early days of being “an outsider on the inside”: a theme that has informed his whole life. From his World War II service that made Dunne return an unlikely hero – awarded the Bronze Star for bravery – to his rise and ultimate fall in Hollywood and then total reincarnation as a writer in his fifties, this film explores the nature of reinvention, belief in oneself, and the all-pervasive cult of celebrity.
Covering one-time star music producer Phil Spector’s murder trial in Los Angeles, Dunne returns to the scene of the famous crime that he covered over the years as Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine. The notorious trial of OJ Simpson, which divided a nation, cemented Dunne’s reputation as America’s default commentator on celebrity crimes – “the Trollope of our time,” as sister-in-law, novelist and journalist Joan Didion describes him.
Dominick Dunne gained fame through his vociferous campaigning on behalf of the victim – something close to his heart, as his own daughter died at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, John Sweeney, in 1982. Sweeney’s skilful defence attorney ensured he spent just two years in prison for this violent crime. Phil Spector’s case – as Dunne sees it – is yet another example of a theatrical defence team prepared to stop at nothing to secure their client’s acquittal.