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Police Reviewing Brynn Hartman’s Script

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A week after actor Phil Hartman’s wife shot him to death and then killed herself, police are reviewing a film script co-written by Brynn Hartman, but said the violent, dark comedy did not appear to have played any part in the murder-suicide.

Los Angeles police detectives interviewed Sherree Guitar--who began writing “Reckless Abandon” with Brynn Hartman three years ago after the two met through their children’s preschool--on Wednesday evening.

“We heard a couple of rumors and we wanted to know the contents of the script,” said Det. James Gollaz of the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division. “We just thought we should take a look at it.”

Gollaz said he was only tying up loose ends on an investigation that seemed to be “winding down.”

“Reckless Abandon” revolves around two women who become involved in a drug-smuggling operation, Guitar said. One of the women is a cocaine addict and the other’s husband is slain by a drug dealer.

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According to several friends of the Hartmans, Brynn struggled with cocaine and alcohol addiction for many years. One friend said Brynn Hartman had checked into a treatment center for substance abuse as recently as a year ago.

Police say Brynn Hartman shot her sleeping husband, who starred on the television sitcom “NewsRadio,” in the predawn hours of May 28, then went to a friend’s house in Studio City for several hours. She and the friend, Ron Douglas, 44, returned to her home, where she locked herself in the bedroom with her husband’s body as Douglas called police.

Police say Brynn Hartman then killed herself as officers were shepherding her two young children out of the home.

Guitar, who has written for such sitcoms as “Roseanne” and the “Days and Nights of Molly Dodd,” said she also failed to see significant parallels between the screenplay and the murder-suicide.

“The current spin that’s out there is that this screenplay is somehow indicative of motive or psychological disposition,” Guitar said. “If you were to use that kind of logic, the people in the lives of Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese should be watching their backs.”

Brynn Hartman, like most writers, included fictionalized elements of her own life in the script, Guitar said.

“When you’re writing something, it comes from within you,” said Guitar, noting that one character, a drug-dealing thug, is named Omdahl, Brynn’s maiden name.

A spokesman for the Hartman family said Wednesday he had not heard of the screenplay, and added that the family was concentrating on the welfare of Sean and his 6-year-old sister, Birgen.

Funeral services for the Hartmans will be private, the spokesman said.

Times staff writer T. Christian Miller contributed to this story.


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