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HBO Film About Phil Spector Starring Al Pacino Airs Tonight

Image courtesy of Phillip V. Caruso/HBO (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Phillip V. Caruso/HBO (via ABC News Radio)

Al Pacino and Helen Mirren star in the new movie Phil Spector , which premieres tonight on HBO.  The film is a fictional tale based on the client-attorney relationship between the legendary music producer and Linda Kenney Baden , a defense attorney who represented Spector at his first murder trial for the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson at his California mansion.

That trial ended in a mistrial.  Spector was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 19 years to life in prison.  He has always insisted that he is innocent and claims Clarkson committed suicide.

The film is written and directed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet , who opens the movie with the on-screen declaration, "This is a work of fiction.  It's not 'based on a true story.'  It is a drama inspired by actual persons in a trial, but it is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, not comment upon the trial or its outcome."

Pacino says he studied tapes of Spector for hours while preparing to play the music producer.

The movie has been criticized by some for being biased in favor of Spector.  Mamet says he wanted to explore the story after watching a documentary called The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector .  Mamet explains that after watching that film, he came away thinking maybe Spector is not guilty.

Spector, of course, is known for originating the so-called "Wall of Sound" production technique that was used by many 1960s rock and pop legends.  Among the artists with whom he's worked over the years include The Ronettes , Ike and Tina Turner , The Beatles , John Lennon and The Ramones .

Phil Spector 's debut screening airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio