'Outrageous Tonight'

I don't often comment on our competition, but because we have so much of it in the "entertainment show" genre these days, we are often lumped in a group together. The fact is, we're very different, and that stems mostly from the difference in scruples of the respective Executive Producers.

”Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” ran a promo tonight for their Heath Ledger drug use video, which they "reportedly" (love that lawyer enforced word) bought for a couple hundred thousand dollars. A still frame of this video which shows Heath apparently doing cocaine ran on the east coast feed of “ET,” but on the west coast feed, the tasteless still shot was replaced with a shot of someone's feet (Heath’s, I guess). The voice over by Mary Hart had not changed, however. She still spoke of the incriminating scene and still promo'd the full video tomorrow.

Yes, the still shot was just a taste. Tomorrow is Day 1 of the sweeps ratings period.

Gross. Totally gross.
And add to that some predictability:

”ET” and “The Insider” higher ups released this tonight:

"Out of respect for HEATH LEDGER's family, ‘Entertainment Tonight’ and ‘The Insider’ have decided not to run the Heath Ledger video which has been circulating in the world media,"

"Out of respect" — Oh my. How about, "in response to a letter of outrage, written by Heath's publicist, circulating the industry hotter and faster than nude Brangelina photos could, we have decided to duck and run here.” That would be refreshingly honest.

Here's an excerpt of that aforementioned letter by Heath's publicity firm and clearly in defense of those loved ones of Heath's still reeling from the loss:

”Tonight Entertainment Tonight/The Insider are previewing an extremely distasteful segment regarding Heath Ledger. The segment centers around a two-year old video ET purchased 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. The two outlets did not even have the courtesy to wait until after Heath’s burial to broadcast this segment. They intend to air the full segment tomorrow.”

For the sake of his grieving family and friends, his child, and common decency, we hope to pressure “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” to do the right thing and pull the spot. This is not journalism, it is sensationalism. It is a shameful exploitation of the lowest kind, to a talented and gentle soul, undeserving of such treatment.

Wow. I don't always leap to the side of publicists, because objectivity is sometimes an afterthought. They are hired to shape an image, but --

Heath Ledger's family has not even had the chance to bury their son. We know he had problems, but this kind of salacious opportunism is poisonous.

I struggle with every type of borderline exploitive material. I'm a constant pain to our Executive Producer as I worry too much that things go too far. Ask him.

I am shocked that Mary Hart would read this crap. I know her and she is a very nice lady, but its clear to me she's "checked out" of that place, basically taking whatever they put in her hand and reading it with the same excitable veneer you'd expect to hear at a 50's sock hop.

Mary gets paid a lot of money. She must have the clout to say 'no.' Their Executive producer used to run “Hard Copy.” She doesn't hit the brakes for anything. But Mary, you are the June Cleaver of entertainment news; this cannot be OK.

Let's see how long the outrage lasts.

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