Friday, February 01, 2008

The Power Of Heath Ledger....And The 'Drug Video'

An early poster showing Heath Ledger as The Joker in the Batman sequel, The Dark Knight. Already tipped to be one of the most collectible movie posters in years.

One of the world's most popular TV shows focusing on Hollywood yesterday went all-out with its heavy promotion of a cell phone video it planned to air "exclusively" tonight showing Heath Ledger talking about how heavily he used to smoke pot, while others in the hotel room snorted (presumably) cocaine off a table.

But within hours of pumping the 'Ledger drug video', Entertainment Tonight has pulled the plug on its plan to air the video, which would have likely proved to be one of the biggest ratings draws of the year.

The show's producers claim they decided to dump the "exclusive" out of respect for Heath Ledger's family.

Yeah, right.

But the word coming back from friends in LA is that everyone is talking about a planned boycott of Entertainment Tonight by some of the world's biggest movie, music and TV stars if the screening of the 'Ledger drug video' went ahead.

That Entertainment Tonight had even planned to air the video has apparently caused a number of high-profile movie stars, with big movies to promote in the coming months, to already pull out of scheduled interviews with Entertainment Tonight. One LA friend claims the list includes Christian Bale (co-star of The Dark Knight, in which Ledger plays The Joker) and Harrison Ford (who is about to start pumping the fourth Indiana Jones movie).

So the threat from the movie, TV and music stars was : do this and you won't have a show, because you won't get anything more from us.

The threat clearly worked.

But while Ledger clearly had some close friends in Hollywood, and many admirers as well, there's more to the planned boycott of Entertainment Tonight than mere good will and respect to Ledger's family.

The other part of the story is that the owner of the 'Ledger drug video' reportedly scored more than $200,000 for his/her cell phone clip. This was big news across all the American TV networks.

That sort of bounty might prove to be far too tempting for many Hollywood movie, TV and music stars to continue trusting their personal staff, drivers, office secretaries and just about anyone they come into contact with.

Not everyone supposedly involved in the planned boycott threat to Entertainment Tonight is afraid they will be videod banging back drugs and rambling about their consumption, because plenty of them have left those days far behind, but there are obviously still enough big stars doing drugs to worry about what sort of precedent Entertainment Tonight was about to set.

Hollywood stars will tolerate shows like Entertainment Tonight, with vast audiences, reporting on their infidelities, their marriage breakdowns, their divorces, their drunk driving convictions, but lifting the lid on Hollywood & Drugs appears to go beyond the beyond.

Clips from the 'banned' video, meanwhile, are getting massive air-time on Australian TV and online media.

So much for Ledger's family and friends being spared having to be exposed to the footage.

UPDATE : The story of how Hollywood stars rallied to stop Entertainment Tonight airing the Ledger 'drug video' has now hit the mainstream media.