Martha’s Vineyard attracts many celebrities — the Obamas are currently vacationing there — and Bill Murray is a summer fixture. A part owner of the collegiate summer baseball team, the actor was leading a slow clap in the stands at the Vineyard Sharks’ playoff game on Tuesday. The low-key star flies on and off the island so routinely that he’s a regular at the airport restaurant (there’s one), where he’s been known to eat french fries off the plate of a fan while having a friendly chat.
Murray’s night out grabbing a bite at Lola’s in Oak Bluffs was anything but friendly, though. He was checking out a band at the eatery, known for its buck-a-shuck happy hours and solid entertainment lineups. But things got hairy when Peter Simon, a well-known local photographer and the 71-year-old brother of island resident Carly Simon, snapped some photos — that Murray thought he was the subject of — and that laid-back island vibe dissolved into a full-on drink-throwing dispute.
A police report obtained by the Boston Globe said Simon was at the restaurant, which borders Barack Obama’s favorite golf course, on assignment for his column in the local Martha’s Vineyard Times when he claims he was accosted by Murray. Simon spoke to the Globe to fill in the gaps (Murray didn’t speak to the paper, or us — he has no publicist and is notoriously difficult to reach), saying he took some photos of people enjoying the music, provided by the Marotta Brothers Band, and stepped away to an alcove to look at them. That’s when he claims Murray — whom he didn’t recognize (“He doesn’t look anything like he used to look,” Simon said, throwing some shade) — grabbed him from behind, spun him around, slammed him against a door, and threatened to throw him out of the restaurant.
“He looked like he was ready to strangle me,” Simon — whose portfolio includes photographs of tons of musical acts, including Bob Marley, the Grateful Dead, and Led Zeppelin, in addition to celebrities including Murray’s late friend John Belushi — told the newspaper. There seemed to be some chest puffing on both sides (Simon asked, “Do you know who I am?,” alluding to his local celebrity as a photographer and gallery owner, and Murray replied by asking the same question), before they were pulled apart.
It should have ended there but didn’t. Simon said that after he resumed taking photos, Murray poured a glass of water on Simon and his camera. Police were called, and, according to the incident report, a “visibly upset” Murray told officers that Simon, who was uninjured, was “taking pictures of him and harassing him while he was quietly minding his business.” Simon, who was advised by police that “he could take out a criminal complaint for assault and battery,” told the paper that Murray “treated me like the scum of the earth.”
Oh, but it still doesn’t end there. The owner of the restaurant, Katherine Domitrovich (aka “Lola”), took Murray’s side in the fracas. She told police that Simon had “no business photographing anyone in the restaurant” and that Simon is — wait for it — “generally annoying.” She said Simon found out Murray was there and showed up with his camera to take pictures. She’s since banned Simon from the restaurant and said police will be called, citing trespassing, if he ever returned.
The local newspaper that Simon said he was working for that night sided with him. An editor for the Martha’s Vineyard Times said Simon really had been assigned to take photos of the band and people enjoying the music. The newspaper was unaware Murray would be there, according to the editor, who added, “We pride ourselves on giving celebrities their space.” They also said Simon was a mild-mannered and professional guy.
Simon now wants an apology from Murray and Domitrovich. Well, if he plans to seek one out — which we’re not recommending, as we’re peace-loving folks in these parts — he’ll be able to find Murray tonight on the field at the Sharks’ next playoff game. The team just posted a photo of the star — not appearing to have a care in the world — ahead of his gig this evening throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for the team as they kick off their championship series. But maybe Simon should just let it go. Ya know — no harm, no foul.
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