Thursday, January 31, 2008

'Entertainment Tonight' pulls Heath Ledger party video after PR firm applies pressure


In response to industry pressures, Entertainment Tonight and The Insider have pulled a planned segment on the late Heath Ledger, according to a spokesperson for the shows. Celebrity PR firm ID Public Relations had released a statement on Wednesday, condemning the Paramount-produced TV shows for planning a segment that was to feature a video of Ledger allegedly under the influence. IDPR, which has represented Ledger, contends that ET "purchased [the two-year old video] for a large sum of money in the hopes of stirring up a salacious and exploitive story about Heath, which would win them big ratings on the first day of sweeps." Reps for ET had no further comment.

When contacted by EW.com before ET announced it would not air the video, ID partner Mara Buxbaum explained via e-mail that "those who knew Heath know he was a kind-hearted, immensely talented artist, and a devoted father. He tried to live his life quietly and with humility. Certain media outlets' attempts to exploit and profit from his death is shameful and in the poorest of taste. We implore the media and the public to let this grieving family bury their son in private and with dignity."

In its statement, ID included the e-mail addresses and office numbers of ET executive producer Linda Bell Blue and Paramount executive Brad Bessey in an effort to "pressure" the shows to pull the planned segment, which was due to air tomorrow. Although ID represents a raft of A-list talent, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Ellen Page, and Ben Stiller, Buxbaum would not comment on whether that pressure might have also included a boycott of the show. —Adam B. Vary

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