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David Poland

By David Poland

Good… But Has The Lesson Taken At All?

Entertainment Tonight/The Insider decided NOT to run the Heath Ledger tape. I was traveling, so I haven’t heard the on-air excuse. But I read this AP story and while I think the choice was right, that’s still about the only thing that was.
From The Story:
Executives at “Entertainment Tonight” refused to talk publicly about the retreat. There was some bewilderment and anger at the company about why its show was singled out when many other publications and TV outlets were talking about the same thing. The party video is likely to be seen soon in England, and is already available over the Internet.
Well, the reason ET/Insider was singled out is, a) they are the biggest, b) they are truly MAINSTREAM Media, meaning they have not turned completely into trash gossip rags and no one wants to see them become one, and c) is answered in the next pull…
Ledger is seen standing in the doorway of a room where the party was taking place, swigging from a beer bottle. The actor is heard saying that he was “going to get serious (word bleeped) from my girlfriend” for being at the party.
The show made clear that there was nothing on the video showing Ledger taking any drug. At one point, however, the then-26-year-old said he “used to smoke five joints a day.”
But a person who has seen the entire video, who asked not to be identified because of its sensitive nature, said Ledger then points to his tattoo of “M” (for his daughter, Matilda Rose) and says, “this is to remind me never to smoke weed again.” That part of the quote was not used in Wednesday’s preview.
Later, with Ledger in the background, an unidentified man, his face blurred, seems to snort cocaine from a table.

So… not only is the tape NOT shocking… and NOT heartbreaking… it doesn’t even contain an image of the man doing a drug of any kind aside from alcohol in the form of BEER!
Will the off-the-record complainers at ET wake up and get it? This is the WORST form of gossip mongering… it tarnishes without actually delivering the goods.
It would be sad and disgusting for them to run a video of Mr Ledger snorting 3 or 4 lines of cocaine… and in Hollywood, not remotely shocking. But this is so much worse… he isn’t even doing drugs and they have Dr. Drew Pinsky

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8 Responses to “Good… But Has The Lesson Taken At All?”

  1. IOIOIOI says:

    Heat, the people love discussing the royalty. The celebs are the defacto loyalty and so it goes. Yes this stuff can get worse. Or it could simply stop being interesting. It was never this big in the past. If you go back only 10 years on the net. This sort of gossip and carrying-on about celebrities does not exist. Hell. If I could find a freakin US magazine from 10 years ago this very week. I doubt it’s a third or even a fourth as hardcore as this week’s US magazine. So we have gotten more hardcore.
    The thing with being hardcore is… it can only last so long. There will come a point when people — or let’s state that the people who are caught up in the gossip now — will simply walk away.
    Sure the core audience will still be there. Yet the people — or those folks — will move on to something else that’s maybe less HARDCORE and less up people’s asses.
    That’s the thing with you Heat. You always tend to go DOCTOR DOOM with your analysis about the future. The future of the tabloids could be that ugly, or the people could stop caring. However, one must always remember this fact: THE HUMAN RACE BECAME BORED WITH SPACE TRAVEL! If not as a whole but a collective. We found something people could only dream of in the past… BORING!
    If people can find space boring. They may at one point find all of this nonsense boring. The net is a young medium. You know. It has a ways to go before it’s mature enough, that people stop giving a shit about celebrities. Here’s hopin. HUZZAH!

  2. Tofu says:

    Huh, the more and more we read on Heath over these past days, the cooler he becomes. Even his ‘drug video’ is a noble call to cleaning up (as he did).
    Two joints a day wouldn’t be bad, though. -_-b

  3. IOIOIOI says:

    The Late Mr. Ledger does come across now like a stand-up guy that had problems like most stand-up guys. Being a stand-up guy takes it’s toll on people. It’s not an excuse as much as it seems to be the case. Nevertheless, his passing sucks and will continue to suck for years to come. The rags are simply trying to supply some reason to something that simply has no reason behind it. So it goes. So it is.

  4. THX5334 says:

    Interesting story on Defamer that names some certain celebs as threatening to blackball ET & The Insider access to them if they aired the video.
    I don’t know if it’s true, but intriguing if so.

  5. Aris P says:

    David, I don’t know who’s giving you heat about your stance on Finke, but I for one applaud you. She’s nothing more than a disgusting gossip monger and, as we say in French, a “profiteur de l’occasion” (the perfect description in english escapes me at the moment).
    Sadly, however, I dont think anyone’s getting bored of this sensationalism anytime soon.

  6. jeffmcm says:

    It seems like the lesson of this tape is much ado about nothing, and that to get outraged at the excesses of the news organization is also to, partially, give them the attention they desire.

  7. hatchling says:

    I would have liked to see this commentary posted in the moribund Hot Button editorial column. It’s serious food for thought and deserves a bit more exposure than a daily blog entry gets.

  8. hendhogan says:

    i’m a cynic by nature. reading your post, david, led me to wonder if ET ever intended to air the video.
    there’s a bump in awareness for the show just by being part of the controversy. that they were “pressured” to not air it will be lost to the ether. if anyone recalls it, they’ll just remember that ET could and didn’t.
    if there’s no hue and cry, they air the video, get a rating bump during sweeps and people expecting titillation are disappointed.
    it seems very win/win to me on ET’s part, also calculated.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

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“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon