‘Spector’ review: Showtime docuseries examines Phil Spector’s legacy while giving Lana Clarkson almost equal time


Phil Spector offers another cautionary tale about legacy — and what will lead to the obituary — thanks to the four-part “Spector,” which seeks to contextualize the producer’s musical genius to emphasize his erratic behavior and eventual doom for murder Perhaps most notably, this Showtime docuseries gives almost equal time to victim Lana Clarkson, including how she was posthumously vilified by the media.

“Spector” opens with a startling bit of audio tape, as Spector’s driver calls 911 to report, “I think my boss killed somebody.”

The docuseries then revisits who Spector was and how his “wall of sound” developed, leading to hits by the likes of the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers and John Lennon.

Spector’s success produced a level of celebrity unusual for a behind-the-scenes producer, as the clips demonstrate, and the wigs and flamboyant eccentricities that followed only fueled those perceptions. But even his early creative brilliance was accompanied by abuse of the young artists, mostly women, who worked for him, followed by a history of substance abuse, paranoia and gun-related threats to those who pass through its orbit.

Those dark chapters culminated in 2003 with Clarkson’s death in Spector’s “castle,” as he called it, before resorting to the far-fetched defense that the actress – whom he met through her work as a hostess on the House of Blues- had arrived. at home and shot himself.

“Phil Spector saw himself as a victim of all kinds of things,” says Vikram Jayanti, who interviewed the producer for a BBC documentary. “His characterization of himself as a victim that night was equal to that.”

As directors Sheena M. Joyce and Don Argott make clear, the real victim that night, Clarkson, was misogynistically portrayed by coverage of the trial that disparagingly described her as a “B-movie actress” in what was felt, consciously or not, as an effort to diminish. she Spector’s lawyers fed it by playing a reel of her appearances in films like “Barbarian Queen” in court, which some observers noted only served to humanize her.

If the stunt appeared to backfire, the hung jury that concluded the first trial highlighted the difficulties surrounding celebrity justice in the wake of the OJ Simpson trial, and prosecutors’ subsequent commitment not to let the case go. By the time of Spector’s second trial, biographer Mick Brown notes, “All the celebrities had sold out.”

“Spector” finds a way to touch on both sides of the tragedy, talking with friends of Clarkson and her mother, Donna, about her life and loss, as well as those who knew, worked with and admired Spector professionally about the impulsiveness and excess that ruined his.

“What a horrible fate for a legend,” says Paul Shaffer, leader of David Letterman’s band and one of Spector’s friends. “What else can be said?”

“Spector” actually has a lot to say about the man, the music and the woman he was convicted of killing, while providing the starkest illustration imaginable of the possible dark side of genius.

“Spector” premieres Nov. 4 on Showtime’s streaming service and Nov. 6 at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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