Entertainment Tonight has been pressured to pull a Heath Ledger segment that featured the deceased actor allegedly under the influence. Hollywood Insider states that at issue was two year old footage that has been gobbled up by Entertainment Tonight for a hefty sum of money in the hopes of profiting from Mr. Ledger’s recent increase in name recognition.
What is euphemistically called “under the influence” is actually reported to be January 29, 2006 footage from a party taking place at L.A.’s Chateau Marmont where the late actor is said to have been filmed – without his knowledge or consent – snorting coke. A suggestive trailer of the video can be found here.
The driving force behind the pressure put on the show was a public relations firm by the name of ID Public Relations which in the past had represented Mr. Ledger. Using age old pressure tactics of making public the names, email addresses and telephone numbers of those most likely having any influence on the Entertainment Tonight segment, they succeeded in having their will done.
Entertainment Tonight is the kind of show we all love to hate (or hate to love). Its claim to fame of course are sensational stories, such as the one that claims allegations of Mr. Ledger’s drug and alcohol abuse were common knowledge to insiders, and sources (conveniently unnamed) have been peddling this information to US Weekly. Citing respect for Heath Ledger’s family, the show will not run a video which it suggests is making the rounds in the world media.
In case you are not sure whether to believe the sincerity of Entertainment Tonight’s conversion of taste, you will do well to remember that it was this very show which paid about one half million dollars (US) for the rights to film and televise the wedding celebration between Vili Fualaau and the teacher who seduced and raped him, Mary Kay Letourneau.
It is apparent that this show and its creators are perhaps not mavens of good taste and arbiters of politically correct or socially responsibly television programming.
ID Public Relations, which is supposed to have represented Mr. Ledger and also is home to several other celebrity business interests – listed are Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, and Mary Tyler Moore – is a much less visible presence, and their website says much in that it says nothing. Jointly headed up by Mara Buxbaum, the publicist is vociferous in her denial of Mr. Ledger’s supposed drug use and goes on record calling it “heinous.”
Of course, the question now remains whether or not Entertainment Tonight should have pulled the segment or aired it as intended. While some decry the involvement of Mr. Ledger’s publicist, the more cynically minded will find that in their own way the PR Company is engaging in the best possible form of self promotion: the protection of a deceased client.
Those with both feet planted firmly on the ground of reality will not find anything wrong with Ms. Buxbaum’s attempts at not having Mr. Ledger’s name dragged through the mud posthumously, while at the same time they are most likely also those who would not have TiVo’ed the Entertainment Tonight segment and probably would not be able to pick out the show’s hosts in a police lineup in the first place.
As the toxicology tests are still outstanding, the viewers who make their homes with the Hollywood ghouls that are forever noshing from the table of innuendo and circumstantial evidence dished up by unnamed sources allegedly close to the actors or family members will continue to inhale every rumor that will circulate.
Should it turn out that Mr. Ledger did indeed have a drug problem, it will be up to the “sources close to the actor” and also to Ms. Buxbaum to explain their failures to get the young man the help he so desperately needed to get on with his life.
On the other hand, if the tests turn out to be negative for any drug abuse, the rumor mills will continue to flow and dish up conspiracy laden drivel that is teetering on the edge of being actionable in its assertions – in other words, it will be business as usual.
Of course, complicit are those who consume sensational television shows and scandalous articles by supporting this industry and its stalkers (nee paparazzi) with their hard earned dollars.