November 18, 2011 1:35pm PT by Matthew Belloni
Christopher Walken Hires Lawyer to Handle Natalie Wood Investigation (Exclusive)
As the investigation into the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood heats up, Christopher Walken has hired a lawyer in connection with the case.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Mathew Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor turned litigation specialist at Los Angeles' Greenberg Traurig firm, is now representing Walken. The actor was one of the last people to see Wood, his co-star in the film Brainstorm, before she mysteriously died in 1981.
Sources tell THR that Los Angeles Sheriff's Department investigators do not consider Walken to be a suspect in the inquiry, which was officially reopened Friday.
At a press conference, Lt. John Corina said the case is still being treated as an accidental drowning but refused to provide details on the inquiry or say who would be interviewed in connection with the probe. Corina said the department had received new, credible information that prompted further investigation.
VIDEO: 5 of Natalie Wood's Most Memorable Roles
Walken, Wood and Wood's husband Robert Wagner were all aboard a boat off the coast of Catalina Island when Wood disappeared and was later found dead in the ocean. Corina said at the Friday press conference that Wagner is not a suspect.
Sources say Rosengart has come aboard to advise Walken in the inquiry. Though the attorney spent 10 years as a prosecutor with the U.S. Justice Department, his hiring does not mean Walken is expecting an adversarial process. Rosengart is a civil litigator with a strong entertainment litigation practice, and Walken is expected to cooperate fully with investigators during the probe.
On Friday, new organizations reported an erroneous story which claimed Walken called in to a radio station to comment on the night of Wood's death. However, the segment the station aired was done by a Walken impersonator who has a weekly bit on ESPN980, and not real.