Friday, August 8, 2014

Aziz Ghazal -- The Not So Brave

Ghazal (born in Israel in 1955) emigrated to California where in 1983 he became the stock room chief at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television.  While working there in 1990, Ghazal produced the low-budget alternative film The Natural History of Parking Lots, which won critical raves.  By 1993, the 38 year old was becoming noticed by industry power players hot to film a book property he had optioned, Gregory McDonald's The Brave, a novel about an unemployed father who agrees to let himself be killed for money in a "snuff" movie so that his family could reap the profits.  However, unknown to Jodie Foster's Egg Prods. and Touchstone Pictures, Ghazal had signed concurrent legally binding deal memos with both companies for the same property.  As the scheme unraveled, Ghazal was fired from USC in October 1993 following a dispute over a missing camera.  Almost simultaneously, Ghazal's wife of 16 years, Rebecca, sued him for divorce, citing years of family and spousal abuse.  In one documented incident, Ghazal arrived at 13-year-old daughter Khadijah's school and administered a brutal beating to her in front of dumbfounded classmates.
 

 Armed with a restraining order against her volatile husband, Rebecca Ghazal and her three children were living in the couple's get-away home in the small California mountain town of Pine Cove, near Idyllwild in central Riverside County.  On December 1, 1993, Ghazal arrived at the two-story cabin, bludgeoned his wife and daughter Khadijah to death and, after torching the cabin with Molotov cocktails, fled the scene.  His two sons were out of the house at the time of the slayings.  Authorities discovered Ghazal's blood-spattered car stuck in mud some 300 yards from the house, but the aspiring producer's decomposed body was not found until January 9, 1994, when two hikers in a secluded area south of Mt. San Jacinto stumbled across the scene.  A .380-caliber pistol was found near the body.  Forensics suggested that Ghazal had probably shot himself within hours of killing his estranged wife and teenage daughter.  In notes penned three days before the tragedy found in Ghazal's Los Angeles residence, the producer had written, "I can't subject my kids to anymore of this," and "Please forgive me for what I'm about to do."


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