Thursday Jan 31 19:00 AEDT
By ninemsn staff
Plans to broadcast footage of Heath Ledger at a drug-fuelled party on US TV were pulled today 'out of respect for the family' — but Hollywood insiders say it had more to do with keeping in good with other celebrities.
The highly influential firm ID Public Relations, which represents A-list celebrities like Jake Gyllenhall, Ellen Page and Ben Stiller released a letter condemning Entertainment Tonight and The Insider for planning to release the drug video.
In the statement, the firm said 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".
Insiders say the powerful firm which formerly represented Ledger released the statement as an ultimatum.
"They essentially released a statement condemning this video," entertainment correspondent Sam Reubin told A Current Affair.
"If you dump on Heath Ledger in this incredibly unsavoury way, then guess what, we won't make our dozens and dozens of high profile clients available to you and your show.
"Shows like ET in the most part work in co-operation with celebrities and they didn't want to jeopardise all those relationships and this video certainly would have done that."
ET and The Insider dominate entertainment reporting on US television and a boycott by certain high profile celebrities would deal a major blow to the Paramount-produced TV shows.
"Certain media outlets' attempts to exploit and profit from his death is shameful and in the poorest of taste," ID PR partner Mara Buxbaum told Entertainment Weekly.
"We implore the media and the public to let this grieving family bury their son in private and with dignity."
Reps for Entertainment Tonight and The Insider had no further comment and referred to their earlier statement: "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."
I saw cheery Mary Hart announcing last night that ET was going to play this video today.
"Tomorrow -- the video of Heath Ledger in a room full of strangers and a table full of drugs while Michelle and Matilda were upstairs."
I was so pissed off. Heath's body is barely in the ground and trolls like the ET staff are already trying to stir up shit on his reputation. I'm glad that the agencies stood up and used their leverage to get this blocked. It's a bunch of bullshit. What a bunch of vultures. The Hollywood ratings mill makes me sick.