The 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson was ahead of Rachelle Spector‘s time. The 32-year-old singer only came into legendary music producer Phil Spector‘s life months later (the two were married in 2006), but when it comes to the David Mamet movie Phil Spector, starring Al Pacino as her husband and airing on HBO March 24, she insists she knows just why it’s billed as a work of fiction.
"It’s pretty much to cover their own butts from getting sued," Spector tells The Hollywood Reporter, "because it’s not accurate to depict him gun waving and swearing and yelling. I don’t know where they come up with these things."
Phil Spector is imprisoned in Fresno’s California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility for 19 years to life, and Mrs. Spector lives alone in the Castle, the house where Clarkson died. "I come home and I think I hear him call my name," she says. "It’s weird, it really is."
But though Mrs. Spector, a night person like her husband, says it’s scary to be a woman alone there, the vast mansion itself is "far from" weird and spooky, as the film depicts it. She deplores the film’s "wacky stuff" about Mr. Spector as a "gun nut." That legendary episode of Phil firing bullets into a studio ceiling while recording a John Lennon album? "It didn’t happen," she says. "What’s kind of disturbing is the closeness of the relationship between Al and Helen Mirren [who plays Spector’s attorney]. Because that relationship was not that close. So that was kind of a fail. I don’t know why they started out with her thinking he was guilty, because she always thought he was innocent beyond a reasonable doubt."
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But Mrs. Spector applauds the scene that suggests Mr. Spector would have been far more splattered with gore if he’d really fired the gun in Clarkson’s mouth. "What they were trying to do is build it up to show the forensic demonstrations that actually weren’t admitted to the courtroom, which was great." (The trial did feature evidence of blood mist on his collar.) Still, she adds, "They really could’ve taken it to the next level if they’d just met with him. They should have focused on the music."
That’s what Mrs. Spector is doing. "I’ve been VP and CFO of his companies for nine years, and manage the estate, and have my own record label and publishing company. He’s one of the few people who still owns his song rights and his masters. We deal directly with Sony Legacy in New York, vice president Rob Santos. We’re releasing a new box set this fall and also like his early Philles label stuff, and a smaller compilation that’ll be sold in Target and Wal-Mart."
"Gold diggers don’t hang around for ten years. If that were the case, I would’ve taken the money a long time ago and left." — Rachelle Spector
"I’m actually working on a Broadway musical that’s going to showcase my husband and his life’s work. It’s in the beginning stages now, but we’re writing the book, the screenplay. I have a confidentiality agreement about it, so I can’t really talk about it yet, but it’s going really well. I do run everything. I hold the cards, so nothing can happen without me approving it. It’s going to show a whole different side of my husband. My main focus is going to be on his career and how he changed music."
She’s not sure she will permit scenes of his troubled childhood or work on Beatles albums and others. "It just depends on how far back I want to go, and getting rights for some of the John Lennon songs. There are a lot of people who, as you know, don’t like my husband, so the music is really going to dictate the direction I go for the musical."
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Mrs. Spector wrote her own song about Mr. Spector, "PS I Love You," released March 18, and a six-song EP will follow this spring, much different from her 2010 album Out of My Chelle. "I wrote the song based on love letters my husband and I wrote. I’ll make little voice notes to myself on my phone, and build a song around those ideas. I already did the video for this song, so that’s coming out next week [after the HBO film airs]. I did the video myself. I’m like a jack of all trades. This time around I wanted to really create my own identity and stay away from the shadows of ‘Phil Spector’s wife.’" she says.
She sang her songs to Mr. Spector over the phone, but he hasn’t seen Phil Spector. "Oh, he’s not going to be able to see it. He can barely make a phone call. They don’t have HBO there. I was able to send him this clear CD player. They make clear typewriters, the TV’s clear, everything." (See-through devices foil prison drug smugglers.)
Mrs. Spector, who recently got her pilot’s license so as to visit her husband each weekend, as well as a private detective license to investigate his case, thinks it’s clear she’s no gold digger. "Gold diggers don’t hang around for ten years. If that were the case, I would’ve taken the money a long time ago and left."
If she had it to do again, would she marry Phil Spector? Her answer: "You know what? I definitely stepped in it. But I just don’t think people take their marriage vows seriously anymore. If one little thing goes wrong, they’re out the door — ‘I don’t like the color of your socks!’ Whatever happened to standing up for what they believe?"