SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN HOLLYWOOD - 10.25.2021
October 25, 2021
Good Monday afternoon. I'm author Richard V. Rupp, writing from Burbank, California. Welcome to RUPP'S NOTES/FBI SPECIAL AGENT HARTMAN SERIES posts.
It's later in the day than usual for me to be making this post. That's because I had to do a lot of thinking about it. It involves an actual death by shooting, not one of my made-up tales. But, what happened on the movie set of "Rust" in New Mexico troubles me, and I'm not sure why.
Hundreds of film workers gathered Sunday evening at the IATSE Local 80 parking lot on Olive Street, just three blocks from me here in Burbank. They were there to pay tribute to Halyna Hutchins, a 42-year-old rising star as a director of photography killed by Alec Baldwin, on the film set of "Rust" in New Mexico. Vocal and hushed conversations are going on all around my town about the incident.
This is a case that my character FBI Special Agent Hartmann, and his team would love to investigate. First, they would need to get around the slanted conversations. Like Joe Friday, on Dragent would say, "just the facts, ma'am." Hartmann would apply the FBI's textbook 5-W's the backbone of good investigations - WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY.
I write crime novels, and to do this, I have taken several law enforcement and CSI courses and read actual crime reports daily. And, yes, as a fiction writer, my imagination can get away from me. But, I can't understand why so many in the film industry are dancing around the real question of the Hutchins killing. WHY was there live ammunition in the gun handed to Alec Baldwin? The Motion Picture and Television Industry Safety Bulletin #1 – Recommendations for Safety with Firearms And Use of "Blank Ammunition" says explicitly, "live ammunition is to never be used nor brought onto a set." This Bulletin is written and distributed by the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee for weapon and prop safety standards.
WHO put the live round in the gun? And, WHAT was their motive for putting it there?
I want to know whose fingerprints were on the shell casing for the live round that killed Hutchins. I assume the law enforcement team investigating this incident is asking the same questions. If there were no fingerprints on the casing, it would even further raise my suspicions about what was going on.
As respects the WHEN and WHERE, we know there was dissension on the New Mexico set. Before the incident, the camera crew had walked off the set protesting poor working conditions, with Hutchins advocating for safer working conditions.
Was someone just negligent, or were they trying to create an incident of spite that went further than planned? A number of the crew members expressed concerns about the lack of gun safety on the set. There were several accidental gun discharges, including one where Baldwin's stunt double accidentally fired two rounds of what he thought was a "cold" gun. Multiple sources connected to the production indicate that the gun that killed Hutchins had been used by crew members offsite for target practice with live bullets.
Since the "Rust" incident, attention has been drawn to the relative inexperience of the film's 24-year-old armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 24, who had served as a lead armorer on only one film before "Rust." It should be noted that Gutierrez is the daughter of famous Hollywood armorer and stunt man Thell Reed.
Here's what the Sheriff's office has determined so far – On Thursday, October 21th Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souze "were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin, 68, producer, and actor." Baldwin was practicing drawing his gun when the weapon was discharged. Baldwin was apparently "sitting in a pew in a church building setting, and he was practicing a cross draw" when the gun discharged. Souza was looking over Hutchins' shoulder checking camera angles on a monitor "when he heard what sounded like a whip and then loud pop," the affidavit states. In the immediate aftermath, Hutchins was apparently "complaining about her stomach and grabbing her midsection."
Armorer Mike Tristano, who has hundreds of screen credits, indicated that he had worked with Balwin on the 1999 film "Thick as Thieves" and "never had an issue with him" when it came to gun safety on that set. Halyna Hutchins's father says he doesn't blame actor Alec Baldwin for his daughter's death. Instead blamed the film's prop team for handing Baldwin a dangerous loaded weapon.
It is reported that investigators from the Santa Fe sheriff's department were focusing on the actions of the "Rust" assistant director Dave Halls, based on concerns raised by crew members. A search warrant states that Hall selected the weapon that killed Hutchins from a tray of three prepared by the movie's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, and haded it to Baldwin with the words: 'cold gun,' indicating that the prop weapon was not loaded. As respects Halls's frame of mind, Mamie Mitchell, a scrip supervisor, told authorities that Halls had yelled at her earlier in the day.
Until there is a coroner report, should not the word "incident" be used instead of "accident"? After all, Hutchins was killed by a bullet from a gun.
Mary Carmack-Altwies, Santa Fe District Attorney released a statement indicating that "At this time, we do not know if charges will be filed. We will look into all facts and evidence of the case with great discretion and have further information at a later time."
Like most of you, I will be following this killing closely. I have a feeling something is rotten in Hollywood. At least as respects this incident.
Richard V. Rupp, Author
Website – www.richardvrupp.com
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright©2021 by Richard V. Rupp